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Ask the Expert: Anti-Cancer Grilling Tips

Thanks to guest blogger Pam Braun, author of The Ultimate Anti -Cancer Cookbook for providing these tips! Pam will present a Healthy Eating Workshop and Demo for cancer survivors and loved ones at the Cancer Support Community in Westlake Village on Tuesday, April 14, May 5 and May 21. RSVP required; click here for details.

Spring is here and summer is just around the corner. However, here in Southern California we don’t wait for summer to fire up the barbeque. We grill all year round. Vegans and vegetarians can still enjoy the barbeque experience. Throw some skewers of veggies and/or fruit on the grill. Nothing says summer better than a marinated, grilled artichoke with a nice creamy dip. There are plenty of foods other than meat that we can throw on the grill.

However, caution needs to be taken when grilling any kind of meat, including red meats, chicken, and yes, even fish. Cooking meats or fish on high heat produces carcinogenic compounds called HCAs (heterocyclic amines).  HCAs have been proven in laboratories to cause cancer. If you are a meat lover (or weaning yourself away from meat) you can minimize the chances of carcinogenic compounds forming when using the grill. So here are some “I can still enjoy the grill” tips and recipes. Enjoy yourselves and the season!

Meat Grilling Tips

  • Avoid flare-ups from fat dripping on the grill. You can do this by:
    • Using a less fatty meat or fish.
    • Keeping a spray bottle with water next to the grill, and dousing the flare-ups as they happen.
    • Not placing the meat/fish directly on the grill, but rather on a piece of foil that has a few holes poked in it.
  • Use a marinade. Marinating the meat/fish prior to grilling has been proven to greatly reduce the production of HCA’s.
  • Do not char or burn the meat. (Flipping the meat/fish often helps.)
  • Use a smaller portion so it doesn’t take as long to cook.
  • Precook the meat before placing it on the grill.
  • Keep the BBQ on a low heat.

Healthy and Delicious Grilling Recipes:

Grilled Marinated Artichokes

artichokeThe little artichoke is an antioxidant giant! It is one of the highest ranked foods in antioxidants per serving.

3 large artichokes or 6 baby artichokes, trimmed and cleaned

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Juice of 1 lemon

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Cover the bottom of a large pot with an inch of water and place the artichokes in the pot. Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until artichokes are par-cooked (about 30 minutes). When done, remove from pot and allow to cool. Split in half lengthwise and remove hairy choke. Set aside.

Prepare marinade by whisking all the other ingredients in a bowl. Dip each artichoke half into the marinade and then place cut side down in a 9” x 13” baking dish. After all have been dipped, pour remaining marinade over them, cover, and allow to sit in the refrigerator for 2 hours to overnight.

Place artichokes on medium-hot grill. Cook for about 5-10 minutes on each side to create grill marks. Serve warm with Garlic Dip.

Serves 5-6

Garlic Dip

¼ cup nonfat sour cream

¼ cup plain nonfat yogurt

1 clove garlic, minced

Juice of ½ lemon

1 teaspoon raw brown sugar

Pepper to taste

Whisk together and chill until ready to serve.

Grilled Fruit Kabobs With Chocolate

Fruit Kabob2 mangos, peeled and cut in 1 inch pieces

2 bananas, peeled and cut in 1 inch chunks

2 peaches, cut in wedges

1 cup cherries, pitted

½ fresh pineapple, cut in 1 inch chunks

Skewer fruit pieces randomly onto six 12-inch skewers. Place on a clean, medium-high, oiled grill and cook until fruit is soft and caramelized, about 5 minutes on each side. Using a pot holder or oven glove, remove skewers and place on a large platter. Drizzle with the Melted Chocolate.

Serves 4

Melted Chocolate

1 cup dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao), cut into small pieces

Place the candy in the top pot of the double boiler and stir until the candy melts and becomes smooth. Be careful not to splash any water into the chocolate in the top of the double boiler or the chocolate will seize and become unusable.

PamBraunPam Braun, a former chef and restaurant owner, was diagnosed in 2004 at the age of 52 with late-stage fallopian tube cancer. She was given a 15% chance of survival and a 75% chance of recurrence. Her fierce determination to do all she could through her cancer journey, in conjunction with traditional medical treatment, compelled her to begin researching the science of food and its relationship to cancer. Her research has led to the development of The Ultimate Anti -Cancer Cookbook, endorsed by Dr. Mary Hardy, bringing her combined passions for good food and healthful living together. Pam currently lives happily, healthfully, and cancer-free in Los Angeles.


Volunteer Spotlight: Jerry Durr

After fifteen years as a volunteer Qi Gong instructor at the Cancer Support Community, Jerry Durr is retiring. His generosity and talent will be greatly missed and we are so appreciative of the many years he offered us. Before we let Jerry go we asked him to share the story of how he got involved and what the volunteer experience has meant to him.

jerrydurrThank you for letting me glance back over the last 15 years at the Cancer Support Community. My first experience with CSC came when I started to notice asthmatic symptoms in my 50’s and thought the stretching and deep breathing exercises of Qi Gong just might be helpful. After attempts with an instruction book didn’t pan out I saw a newspaper article about weekly classes at CSC. Marty Nason was kind enough to allow my attendance even though I didn’t have cancer. At first I had to take double breaths just to keep up with the instructor, Ed Suzuki, but I noticed some improvements after just a few weeks.

When Ed decided to retire from teaching in the late 90’s Marty asked me if I would consider carrying on the classes. And the rest, as they say, is history. And thanks to continually improving my diet and exercises, I’ve come to possibly feel better now in my 70’s than I did in my 50’s.

As for the benefits of volunteering, It’s been said that ‘Into the hands of the giver, the gift is given’, and I realize now that in volunteering to help the participants improve their own health, I too have benefited.

Perhaps one of the most surprising and interesting parts of this experience is how often a student has told me that cancer was one of the better things to have happened to them. It can be difficult to get back on the road to rejuvenation but I now see what a powerful motivator cancer can be.

At this stage of my life I am amazed at just how many people around me have been affected by cancer, and I now realize what a special organization CSC really is by providing such a helpful and wide array of programs and services.

Being part of such a beneficial and high quality organization has been one of the best experiences of my life and I highly recommend it to those who are so inclined.

I always began my class with some Zen thoughts during a brief Zazen-style meditation, so when I was pondering my retirement I noticed my daily Zen calendar stated: “Final job of Teacher, Free Students of Teacher.” With that I felt confident that my “regulars” were going to do just fine.

Two of Jerry’s “regulars,” Suzana and Don Harris, join us in offering their appreciation to Jerry:

We always enjoyed Saturday Mornings with Jerry.  He was always there early to set up and greet us all as we arrived.  We appreciated Jerry’s attention to healthy living and reminders about healthy eating.  He was generous with his time and talented in the art of Qi Gong.  We will miss him and the special music he played for us every other Saturday and the friends who we bonded with over the years. Thank you Jerry – you will be missed.

Ask the Expert: Anticancer Lifestyle with Janet Solie, PA, MS, IHC

The environment is polluted with invisible offenders, ones we can’t see, smell or taste.   In fact today’s environment has over 85,000 chemicals the majority of which have never been tested or regulated prior to their release. The EPA has identified many of these chemicals as carcinogenic, neurotoxic, reproductive toxic or endocrine interrupters.

As concerning, the growing incidence of cancer and neurological disease in the United States mirrors the aggressive use of chemicals in our environment. Prior to World War II, cancer was a disease of old age and neurological diseases like ADHD and autism were exceedingly rare. Not so today which has led environmentalists and public health experts to voice their concerns about the direct connection between these chemicals and cancer and neurological diseases.

As a cancer survivor, this environmental concern has my full attention and the logical place for me to start a clean up of these invisible offenders is in the kitchen. Why? Because a kitchen clean up offers the largest reduction of exposure to chemicals found in food and water. Here are five core strategies for an effective kitchen clean up:

  1. Find out what’s in your tap water. You can request online your water provider’s annual water report. In addition, look up the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) tap water database and search for a five-year history of your EPA tap water reports at This EPA database provides detailed information about specific contaminant’s health risks, which your own water provider may not provide.
  1. Filter your tap water. Once you know what chemicals are in your water, you can determine what kind of water filtration you want to install. Choosing a filter system will depend on the types of contaminants present as well as your budget. EWG’s website is helpful with understanding various filter systems. By state law only registered water filter systems may be sold in California.
  1. Know the foods that contain the least amounts of harmful chemicals. In general, certified organic is the best and GMO produce is the worst. For those with prostate, breast, ovarian, testicular cancers contact with food that contains chemicals that are known hormone interrupters should be avoided. This would include most conventionally produced eggs, dairy, pork and beef.  Eating mostly certified organic plant based food has the least chemical exposure for everyone.
  1. Identify the safest way to store and prepare your food chemical free. Plastic food containers have bisphenol or BPA, which is a known hormone interrupter. Microwaving with plastic containers drives the plastic chemicals into the food. Replace plastic storage containers with glass or ceramic. Replace nonstick pans with stainless steel or enamel or cast iron. If you can’t part with your nonstick pans, use only for low to medium heat and toss once pans are scratched.
  1. Avoid using kitchen-cleaning products with fragrances, triclosans, phthalates, formaldehyde.. Currently there are not any specific brands or uniform labeling that indicates which cleaning products are safe. Many companies are revamping their products in response to decreasing sales as many consumers are beginning to make their own safe cleaning products.

To learn more about Anticancer Lifestyle: Avoiding Cancer Causing Toxins in the Your Personal Environment, come to Janet Solie’s presentation on Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 6:30 pm. She will bring several tap water reports about local providers as well as demonstrate simple water testing.

JanetSolieJanet Solie is a physician assistant by training who has a master’s degree in clinical medicine. For many years, she worked in family medicine as a clinician and teacher. She is a Duke University trained integrative health coach who coaches private clients in the areas of anti-cancer and lifestyle medicine. She owns Health Coach and is a blogger, anti-cancer coach and breast cancer survivor.