By Diana Price
Two new cookbooks describe the healing power of delicious, plant-based foods.
We all know that increasing fruits and vegetables in our diet is a good thing. Plant-based foods are taking an ever-more prominent place in healthy-plate guidelines from the US Department of Agriculture, and research about the value of a plant-based diet in chronic disease prevention continues to emerge. Now two new stylish, engaging cookbooks offer up delicious recipes and helpful insights for those who want to learn more about a diet based around plant sources (grains, beans and lentils, fruits, and vegetables), incorporate new recipes into their repertoire, and better understand the role of a plant-based diet as a tool for cancer prevention, treatment, and recovery.
In Crazy Sexy Kitchen (Hay House, 2012; $29.95), New York Times best-selling author Kris Carr together with chef Chad Sarno aims to “ignite a mouthwatering revolution” by highlighting the benefits of a “plant-empowered” diet. The book is written in Carr’s signature irreverent, saucy voice and provides background into her personal journey, practical tips and tools for navigating a plant-based kitchen, and more than 150 recipes. “My goal is quite simple,” Carr writes. “I want to redefine today’s kitchen and I want you to feel comfy and cozy in it. The kitchen has heart, soul, and powerful medicine.”
Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen (Running Press, 2012; $22), written by young cancer survivors and certified holistic health coaches Annette Ramke and Kendall Scott, is presented in two parts and serves as a “girlfriend’s guide” and a recipe collection. Part I is filled with information about the role that food and nutrition can play after a cancer diagnosis—along with insights from the two authors’ experiences—and part II presents recipes that allow readers to put the advice to work in the kitchen. Though the book focuses on plant-based foods, the authors call their approach “flexitarian”—a “mainly vegetarian diet that allows for some animal protein on occasion.” Written in a chatty, upfront style, the book offers “real-world tools in and out of the kitchen for the woman facing cancer, from diagnosis through treatment and beyond.”
Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen
If you are new to kale or looking for some new ways to enjoy it, this Cashew Kale is a fabulous place to start. Kale and other leafy greens should be a staple in every diet, and that’s not hard to do when it’s so tasty. This dish is flavorful, simple, and seriously health promoting. We love to see our friends’ and families’ eyes light up when they try one of our healthy dishes that also tastes amazing.
Cashews give this quick-and-easy greens dish a sweet and nutty flavor and up the protein, mineral, and antioxidant content. These nuts are a particularly great source of magnesium, important for healthy bones and muscle relaxation. You can easily substitute collards, Swiss chard, or your favorite green for the kale in this recipe.
blood boosting / brain boosting / constipation kicking / detoxifying / fatigue fighting and adrenal support / hormone balancing / immune boosting / respiratory-system support / vegan / vegetarian
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large carrot, thinly sliced into rounds (about >½ cup)
2 bunches kale, thick stems removed, thinly sliced (about 8 cups)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 to 3 tablespoons tamari
½ cup raw cashews
¼ cup raisins
Heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the carrot for five minutes. Add the kale, garlic, tamari, cashews, and raisins and sauté a few minutes until cashews begin to soften.
Yield: 2½ cups
Annette’s Tasty Tip: Double this recipe and serve on the side at breakfast to start your day with those important cancer-kicking greens.
Berry Almond Smoothie
Simply put, smoothies rock. They’re quick and easy, and you can throw in a whole slew of powerful ingredients to feed your beautiful body. The Berry Almond Smoothie is creamy, sweet, and dairy- and sugar-free, and it can replace a meal, be part of a meal, or fulfill a midafternoon snacking urge. Smoothies were also our go-to food during chemotherapy, when we were too tired to spend time making meals or felt too nauseated to eat anything solid.
This smoothie is energizing, filling, and supertasty. Bananas offer potassium to help replenish lost electrolytes, and berries give a boost of antioxidants, those awesome little cancer fighters. From the almonds you get your protein and some fabulous nutrients, such as iron, calcium, and magnesium. Anemia is common in those undergoing chemotherapy treatment (and in many other people), and iron can help treat this. Almonds are also helpful in relieving constipation.
brain boosting / constipation kicking / dehydration defending / fatigue fighting and adrenal support / immune boosting/ mood balancing / mouth sore friendly / raw / vegan / vegetarian
12 ounces almond milk (homemade or store-bought)
½ cup fresh or frozen raspberries
½ cup fresh or frozen strawberries
3 tablespoons raw almond butter
Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix at medium speed for about one minute or until mostly smooth. If a thinner smoothie is desired, add more water or almond milk and blend for a few more seconds.
Yield: 24 ounces
Chocolate-Cherry Fudge Brownies
These should be an obvious favorite—they’re chocolate, baby! And the even better news is they’re pretty darn good for you so far as decadent brownies go. They feature mild sweeteners, tangy cherries, plenty of antioxidant-rich chocolate, and no flour. Make a batch and invite your gal pals over to share (or not—more for you!).
These brownies are made with black beans instead of flour, so you get plenty of protein, fiber, and extra nutrients. The oats and the pecans add even more vitamins and minerals, so you enjoy a chocolaty, decadent dessert that is nutritious. Create a flax egg by whisking together one tablespoon ground flax seeds with three tablespoons of lukewarm water for each egg needed. Allow to sit for five minutes before using in recipe.
comfort food / constipation kicking / fatigue fighting and adrenal support / mood balancing / mouth sore friendly / vegan / vegetarian
12 ounces organic dark-chocolate or vegan chocolate chips
3 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil, plus additional for greasing
15-ounce can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
3 flax eggs (or organic free-range eggs)
½ cup real maple syrup
½ cup organic rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup pecans, finely chopped
¼ cup dried cherries, small dice
Preheat oven to 350º. Lightly grease a 9-by-9-inch pan with coconut oil. Place the chocolate chips and 3 tablespoons of the coconut oil in a heat-resistant glass container in a pot of water on medium heat. Heat until melted, stirring occasionally. Transfer the melted chocolate mixture to a blender or food processor. Add all the remaining ingredients except the pecans and cherries and blend them until smooth, scraping sides as needed. Stir in the pecans and cherries. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for approximately 50 minutes (30 or 35 minutes if using regular eggs) or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the dish comes out mostly clean. For a warm, gooey brownie, allow the brownies to sit and then serve; or, for a firm, fudgy brownie, place them in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight before serving.
Yield: sixteen 2-inch brownies
Recipes reprinted with permission from Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen: The Girlfriend’s Cookbook and Guide to Using Real Food to Fight Cancer © 2012 by Annette Ramke and Kendall Scott, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.
Crazy, Sexy Kitchen
Kris Carr shares a few of her favorite recipes and describes the nutritional kick they offer.
If you do one thing to change your health today, start juicing. Adding fresh vegetable juices to your daily regimen floods your body with minerals, vitamins, and a burst of alkalinity. I start each day with a tall glass of green!
1 large cucumber
Fistful of kale
Fistful of romaine
2 or 3 stalks celery
1 big broccoli stem
1 green apple, quartered
½ peeled lemon, quartered
Wash and prep all ingredients, then combine in a juicer.
Yield: 2 servings
Squash Pasta with Sage Pesto
You won’t believe that this pasta is made from just one ingredient—raw zucchini! I like to use a spiralizer or a veggie peeler to create these noodles in a snap. The sage pesto makes this dish an elegant centerpiece at dinnertime, especially when I want to impress my guests.
2 cups chopped basil
3 tablespoons chopped sage
2 tablespoons chopped leek
½ cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
2½ tablespoons nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup olive oil
3 green zucchini, sliced into noodles
1 yellow zucchini, sliced into noodles
½ cup sunflower sprouts (alternatives: buck wheat sprouts or pea shoots)
½ cup thinly julienned red bell pepper
½ cup Sage Pesto
1 tablespoon olive oil
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Basil, ripped or chopped coarsely
To prepare Sage Pesto, remove stems from basil and sage. In a food processor, gently pulse basil, sage, leek, pine nuts, garlic, yeast, and salt until finely minced. Add the oil slowly and in a thin, even stream, pulsing until sauce has reached a coarse consistency.
To prepare Squash Pasta, combine green and yellow zucchini noodles with sprouts and bell pepper in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together ½ cup of the Sage Pesto, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and black pepper.
To serve, slowly spoon the pesto onto the noodles, mix together gently with hands, and serve. If you prefer it lightly sauced, don’t add all the pesto to the mixture.
Yield: 6 servings
Curried Nada-Egg with Watercress Wraps
Transitioning to a plant-based diet can seem overwhelming, but not when you have recipes like this one in your holster. Tofu is a super veg-source of calcium and iron, plus its texture can be deceptively similar to many (less healthy) animal-based foods. When I’m looking for a quick and delicious lunch, this is one of my favorites, but it’s also great as a snappy snack when spread on rice crackers.
Two 14-ounce packages of firm tofu
¾ cup Vegenaise
3 tablespoons finely diced green onions
¼ cup grated carrot
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1½ tablespoons curry powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
6 whole-grain tortillas (alternatives: sprouted or gluten-free)
1½ cups watercress or baby arugula
1 tomato, thinly sliced
Crumble tofu with your hands in a bowl. Add Vegenaise, green onions, carrot, parsley, cilantro, yeast, Dijon mustard, curry powder, salt, and pepper, and mix thoroughly. Place a generous amount of tofu salad in the center of wrap. Top with watercress and sliced tomatoes. Tuck in the sides of the wrap and roll firmly. Slice in half and serve.
Yield: 6 servings
Recipes reprinted with permission from Crazy Sexy Kitchen: 150 Plant-Empowered Recipes to Ignite a Mouthwatering Revolution © 2012 by Kris Carr, Hay House>.