Eating right is a good defense against certain types of cancer


April 17, 1991|By Carleton Jones

If you have changed your dining habits to more healthful fare -- fruits, vegetables, fish and grains -- you're on the right track.

A low-fat, high-fiber diet may not only prevent heart disease; it may also protect against cancer, according to medical experts. And tomorrow that diet theme will be highlighted nationally when the society stages events around the country to celebrate its second annual health promotion, the "Great American Food Fight."

"Diet might be linked to as many as 35 percent of all cancers," according to the American Cancer Society.

For one of these events, three junior members of the American Culinary Federation will demonstrate stir-fry techniques, a healthful cooking method that has been recommended by the cancer society, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. tomorrow at Lexington Market on the first floor in the south (newer) section of the main market.

Wendy Rhule, Amy Worrell and Muriel Homesack, students of Baltimore's International Culinary College, will prepare a stir-fried beef entree, and a vegetable and pasta casserole seasoned with tomato flavoring.

Health is not the only benefit to be gained while eating this type of fare.

"Generally speaking, reducing caloric intake translates into spending less on food, especially on costly junk food and alcohol," the cancer society argues. "Over a year, even small savings can add up significantly for individuals and families."

Basically, the foods are simple, but nutritional. For example, foods such as cabbage, broccoli and brussels sprouts are at the top of the list for delivery of essential A and C vitamins.

Here's how to make 10 diet changes that can help guard against cancer:

*Avoid frying foods and eliminate deep frying. Poach, steam, bake, oven broil, stir fry or roast instead.

*Use only lean cuts of meat and shun the skin. Use vegetable cooking sprays instead of fat frying.

*Cook vegetables as quickly as possible and in as little water as possible.

*Use herbs, spices, onions, garlic, ginger, lemon, limes and mustard to season instead of butter, fats and oils.

*Thicken gravies with flour or cornstarch and avoid fatty thickeners, such as cream or butter.

*Chill soups and other liquid dishes such as stews so the fat solidifies and rises to the top, where it can be skimmed off.

*Substitute skim or nonfat milk for whole milk and plain yogurt wherever possible for sour cream.

*Adapt dessert recipes that use these milk products.

*Select products and recipes with the least amount of fat.

*Add a little bran or wheat germ to recipes, even casseroles and main dishes, for extra nutrition.

Here are some healthful recipes from the American Cancer Society:

Ground beef stroganoff

Serves two.

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 tablespoons yellow onions, diced

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup red or green bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup sliced green onions

1/2 pound lean ground beef or veal

1/2 cup evaporated skim milk

2 tablespoons cornstarch (dissolved in 4 tablespoons water)

4 ounces cooked noodles

1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

parsley sprigs for garnish

In a saute pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Saute onions, mushrooms, bell peppers and green onions 3 to 5 minutes, or until vegetables are softened. Add ground beef and cook until golden brown, stirring constantly for 10 to 15 minutes. Pour off excess oil as meat cooks and continue stirring until meat is no longer pink and well separated. Add skim milk and bring to a low simmer, add dissolved cornstarch and continue to stir until mixture thickens. Season to taste with pepper. Add pasta noodles, stir into sauce mixture and garnish with parsley sprigs.

Breast of chicken Italian

Serves two.

8 ounces skinned, boneless chicken breast

2 ounces Italian dressing (low-cal)

4 tomatoes sliced 1/4 -inch thick

2 tablespoons Italian bread crumbs

1 teaspoon chopped basil

1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese

1 cup of cooked angel hair pasta

1/2 cup frozen green peas

1 teaspoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Marinate chicken in Italian dressing in refrigerator for two hours. Place chicken in baking pan and top with Italian dressing. Cook approximately 10 minutes, then top with tomato slices, bread crumbs, basil and Parmesan cheese. Continue to bake until bread crumbs are browned and chicken is done, about 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, quickly saute angel hair pasta and green peas in olive oil over brisk heat. Serve cooked chicken over heated pasta. (Note: If angel hair pasta is hard to find, a very thin spaghetti like capellini or spaghettini No. 9 could serve as a stand-in.)

Braised filet of whitefish

Serves four.

1 pound of whitefish,(catfish, flounder, pike, orange roughy or trout)

8 ounces white wine

4 tablespoons lemon juice

4 teaspoons corn oil

4 tomatoes, diced

6 green onions, chopped

1 cup yellow or green bell peppers, diced

4 cloves fresh garlic

16 ounces tomato juice

4 teaspoons cornstarch (dissolved in 4 tablespoons water)

4 lemons, quartered

Marinate fish in white wine and lemon juice for 15 minutes. Remove from marinade and set aside. In a saute pan, heat oil over medium high heat. Add tomatoes, green onions, bell pepper and garlic. Saute 3 to 5 minutes, or until vegetables are wilted. Add tomato juice and bring to a low simmer. Stirring constantly, add cornstarch and stir until mixture begins to thicken. In a separate non-stick pan, place marinated fish fillet and cover with cooked tomato sauce. Return to heat and allow to simmer until fish is tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Garnish with lemon wedges.

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