This weekend, my heart and mind have been focused on family in Michigan, where my mom is in the hospital awaiting surgery. My mom, who has stomped cancer for 18 years, is in a new fight to rebuild her cardio vascular system that has taken a beating through the years of chemo and radiation.
The 11 million cancer survivors in this country like my mom are the next frontier in the cancer fight. They’ve beaten the disease with courage to spare, but the medical community is struggling to care for survivors who have unique and complex medical needs that are difficult to untangle in our dysfunctional healthcare system.
When mom is back home and recovered, she’ll tweak her cooking a bit to give every bite a little extra vitamin-oomph for her long-term health. Mom & Dad eat a fairly healthy diet as it is – I learned to cook from my mom, and “cooking from scratch” is nothing new for her.
Their food shift will simply be to focus on cooking whole foods, eating more greens, cruciferous veggies and incorporating new and interesting grains into their diet. In essence, my parents will be eating in the Whole Kitchen. I think they can live with that.
Are you looking to tune up your food lifestyle? I’m pondering writing a “back to basics” series, so tell me if you’re interested. I’ll delve a little deeper into HOW to eat for maximum health, including weekly meal planning and prep outlines to help get you started. Please drop me a comment and tell me what your challenges are in creating a healthy eating plan, any health goals you would like to share, and what you would like to learn.
Serves 4 as a side dish, or two as a main course
The first lesson in healthy eating is to “taste the rainbow” – and I’m not talking about Skittles. Try to incorporate a wide variety of colors of vegetables into your meals. Each color carries different vitamins and illness-fighting nutrients, as well as looking beautiful on your plate. And as you know, I LOVE cabbage – there’s always at least one head of it in our crisper at all times, and this “caesar slaw” is great way to take advantage of one of vegetal stars of winter. If you’re not a fan of anchovies, just leave them out – the salad will be just as good, though you’ll miss an extra hit of omega-3s from those briny little fishies. The walnuts and parmesan both add a nice nutty, savory quality to this salad that make it feel substantial enough to stand in as a main dish.
¼ head of green cabbage
¼ head of purple cabbage
1 large carrot, peeled
¼ cup walnuts
4 T parmesan grated with a microplane
fresh ground pepper
pinch of salt
2 minced anchovies (optional)
2 T Dijon mustard (Mustard Girl is my favorite)
4 T lemon juice
4 T olive oil
- Shave the green and purple cabbage into fine threads using the finest blade on your mandoline, or cut into thin ribbons with a chef knife. Use the mandoline to slice the carrots into thin coins, then use your chef knife to roughly slice them into matchsticks. Scoop all the shredded veggies into a large mixing bowl.
- Combine the lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, salt, pepper & anchovies in a small bowl and whisk with a fork to emulsify into a dressing. Taste the dressing – if it’s too tart, add a bit more olive oil and if it’s too smooth, add a bit more mustard or lemon juice.
- Add the walnuts to the shredded veggies & toss with tongs to mix all the beautifully colored veggies together. Drizzle the dressing over the veggies and toss the salad until everything is lightly coated. Sprinkle half of the parmesan over the salad and toss again, then add the remaining cheese and toss once more, so that every bite of salad gets a shred or two of parmesan. Serve.