The Edgy Veggie

Healthy recipes with plant-based foods are weapons against cancer

Mild and slightly sweet: Wafuu is a Japanese curry built from tofu, broccoli, miso and turmeric.
Mild and slightly sweet: Wafuu is a Japanese curry built from tofu, broccoli, miso and turmeric. For the Miami Herald

Pink is the official color of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but the foods recommended for breast cancer prevention are green, white, red, yellow and brown.

They’re all — no surprise — the foods of the earth: fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, nuts, seeds. October is, conveniently, also Vegetarian Awareness Month. This is not a matter of overbooking; health and plant-based food go together.

Behold, your cancer-fighting all-stars:

▪ Broccoli: A 2011 University of Michigan study found the plant sterols in broccoli reduce breast cancer stem cells. Broccoli’s just coming into season here, so buy local and eat up.

▪ Coffee: Java junkies and cold-brew fiends, this one’s for you. A 2011 Breast Cancer Research report shows the antioxidants in 2 cups a day protects cells from cancer growth.

▪ Parsley: This ubiquitous garnish is high in vitamin C and apigenin, another phytonutrient we never knew about before. Apigenin may be cancer’s WMD, according to findings by the University of Missouri. Celebrate with some parsley-rich tabbouli.

▪ Pomegranate: In season now, these sweet-tart beauties can arrest cancer cell growth and destroy existing cancer cells, according to a University of California study. The fine print: You need to consume a lot of pomegranate, about 3 cups a day, for the goodness to kick in.

▪ Soy: Organic whole soy, the way they eat it in Asia — tempeh, tofu, edamame and miso — has received the blessing from the American Institute for Cancer Research. Choose that rather than the GMO soy isolates present in much American processed food.

▪ Turmeric: Gold dust. Antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, this wonderful warming spice seems to inhibit or erase cancer cell growth, according to a 2011 Cancer Prevention Research study.

▪ Walnuts: High in omega-3s, the same awesome anti-inflammatory amino acid in salmon. A joint study by the journal Nutrition and Cancer and the American Institute for Cancer Research found walnut consumption reduces breast cancer risk and retards cancer cell growth.

Ellen Kanner is a Miami-based writer and author of “Feeding the Hungry Ghost: Life, Faith and What to Eat for Dinner.”

Go vegan, win cash

Vegan and health go together. And this month, vegan and wealth go together, too.

In honor of Vegetarian Awareness Month, the North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS) offers a cash incentive to omnivores who register at worldvegetarianday.org and pledge to go veg. Do it for the whole month, for a week, or just for a day. A random drawing determines the winners.

Main dish

Wafuu Curry

Broccoli and tofu, two of the greatest cancer-fighting foods are, ironically, often the ones people most resist eating. Here they come together in a golden, mild (and mildly sweet) Japanese curry known as wafuu. The dish gets its richness from two other cancer fighters: turmeric and miso. It’s Japanese comfort food that just happens to be good for you. Serve with brown rice for extra whole-grain goodness. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

3 tablespoons canola, grape seed or other neutral oil

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, chopped

3 tablespoons unbleached flour

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 tablespoon curry powder (preferably S&B brand, see note)

3 cups vegetable broth

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

1 apple, peeled and finely chopped

1 teaspoon agave

1 tablespoon white miso

1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets, stems thinly sliced

1 pound firm tofu, pressed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish (optional)

In skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the ginger, chopped onions and garlic, cooking for about 5 minutes, or until onions are softened and translucent. Sprinkle in flour, turmeric and curry powder. Stir, so the vegetables are coated in the flour and spice paste. Add the broth and tomato paste, and stir, incorporating all the crusty bits stuck to the bottom. Bring to a boil.

Gently add the broccoli florets and stems and chopped tofu. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cover. Simmer, until broccoli is tender and the sauce has reduced and deepened in color to a burnished pumpkin shade, about 30 minutes. Stir in the finely chopped apple, which will incorporate into the sauce, the agave and miso. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and garnish with the optional chopped cilantro.

Note: S&B is a mild Japanese curry powder available at Asian markets like Lucky’s and at some natural food stores.

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