Evolutions Of Thought... And A Nutrient Dense Recipe - Ellen's Tastes Blog at Allrecipes.com - 264741

Ellen's Tastes

Evolutions of thought... and a nutrient dense recipe 
Jan. 20, 2012 6:02 am 
Updated: Jan. 28, 2012 6:21 pm
I've probably posted this before, but I was positive I wouldn't get another breast cancer after my second one. So number three came as a surprise. At first I just shook my head and thought: "... I need to go through this again." After a whole lot of research, consultations, and soul searching, I wound up with a treatment plan I'm comfortable with. It's not the mainstream approach but I'm not a mainstream patient. If it's rare, it'll happen to me. Or, put another way, health-wise I'm at the extremes of the bell curve, and have been pretty much all my life. A medication that would ease your pain would increase mine. It's just the way it is.

So, if you haven't been following my blog, I opted to pass on "standard treatment" after I had the lump removed and, instead, I've turned to changes in my lifestyle (diet and exercise). I've also recruited the assistance of a Naturopathic Doctor whose first step was to take samples of my blood to determine what parts of my immune system are in need of help. It turns out my "natural killer" while blood cells aren't as active as they should be. So now I'm taking supplements to boost their activity.

But the real work for me has been in how I think about all this. As a seasoned "survivor", I know the facts pretty well: one in three women die of breast cancer; recurrence is highest in the first two years after diagnosis; if you've had breast cancer before you're considered a high risk for recurrence (or another one); breast cancer can spread (metastasize) to the liver, pancreas, bones, lungs, brain; after you're diagnosed with a primary breast cancer (vs. a recurrence), there's an 85% chance you won't get it again; body fat aids in the production of estrogen, so if your breast cancer is estrogen receptive positive, it makes sense to get thin; red meat has been linked with breast cancer; over 75% of breast cancers have no risk factors associated with them (they just appear out of the blue) and, in my case, I don't carry either of the known breast cancer genes.

These thoughts are in the back of my mind, probably always, although I'm not always consciously aware of them. But one or more pop up more frequently now. For example, instead of bringing my (really delicious) beef stroganoff (http://caloriecount.about.com/ellens-light-bison-stroganoff-recipe-r72149) to an upcoming potluck supper — which was my first thought — I changed my mind and am bringing a Mexican Flavored Quinoa Salad instead (http://allrecipes.com/personalrecipe/62663808/mexican-flavored-quinoa/detail.aspx). And, although my lower back and knees hurt from arthritis, I get myself to exercise each day (swimming, yoga, walking). When I feel a new ache, I take note (so far they've each gone away on their own).

None of what I'm doing is a big deal, or different from what so many others do for their own reasons. The only reason it's remarkable is that I was raised on Wonder Bread and other processed foods of the 1960s and beyond. Learning to think differently about what I eat (and drink) has been in my world for a dozen years or so, but now it's become a demanding necessity. How can I object? I'm already 20 pounds lighter (20 more to go) and feel healthier than I have in years. 

More importantly, though, is my approach to each new day. I can finally enjoy leisure time without feeling guilty. I laugh more, and am able to make others laugh as well. I seek and create happiness...for myself and others. I'm more lovingly honest and kind with people I care about. I don't long for something I don't have. I don't wish I was younger, or that things were different. I've come to accept — on a deeper level than I had — that life really is what I make of it, and (not to scare you) death is ahead of me at some point. Nature has seen to that and has given me the blessing of bringing it into clearer focus. I could be gone in a year or two. Or maybe in 30 years. That's not what matters. What matters is what I do with my life between now and then. I learned this after my first breast cancer. It's an even stronger guiding light today.

It probably helps that I believe death is as natural as a fading rosebush... one that will produce new roses before too very long. Which is to say I don't believe death will be the end. Instead, I believe it's a birth into the next phase of existence. It's in that thought where I've found my faith.

Practicing random acts of kindness is a great way to spend a day. I've been dabbling in this for a while, but it's becoming the norm now. I don't get angry anymore (or not much). I understand everyone has their own battles and (for the most part) they're doing their best, even if that means they're mean or grouchy or judgmental. If it relieves their pain, God bless.

So this is where I've landed — back where I was after my first diagnosis, but with a deeper appreciation for the blessings of breast cancer than I had before. I accept this. I can live with it. In fact, I'm better for it.

And now for those of you interested in nutrient dense recipes, here's one that's easy to make and has become a staple:

Lentils, Rice, and Mushroom Casserole
Serves 10... lasts for up to 5 days

1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minded
1 c. brown rice
1 c. dried green lentils (uncooked)
1/4 c. low sodium tamari
14.5 oz. can of low sodium diced tomatoes
4 c. vegetable broth
1-1/2 c. mushrooms, (cremini, shitake, button... one type or mix them together)
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. dried rosemary
1 tbsp. dried basil
1 tbsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. dried red pepper flakes
1 c. nutritional yeast flakes*
2 c. kale, torn into bite-size pieces**
Pre-heat oven to 350°

In a large dutch oven, mix together all ingredients except for the nutritional yeast flakes and kale (they come toward the end of the baking process).

Cover and bake for 90 minutes, stirring every 30 minutes to keep the casserole from sticking.

When there are 10 minutes left to bake, add the nutritional yeast flakes and kale and stir well. Cover and finish baking.

*Nutritional yeast flakes are available in the organic section of some grocery stores (under the "Bob's" label), and is available in bulk at health food stores. It adds a cheesy flavor and texture to whatever you add it too.
** Kale is one of the most nutritional dense foods on the planet. It blends in so well that you might not know it's in this dish.

I've used this dish as a hot meal, a cold salad, and as taco filling! It's versatile and tasty.
Jan. 20, 2012 7:00 am
Love, love, love your attitude Ellen. I went to church with a woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer 15 years ago and she decided to go the natural route as well... raw diet, no sugar, etc. She did some other things as well (her daily regimen was complicated!) but 15 years later she is cancer-free. No chemo, no radiation. I'm not saying this works for everyone, but it seems there is merit in it for some.
Jan. 20, 2012 8:21 am
Hi Ellen, so good to hear from you. I hope you got my post on your previous blog. I put a site on there for you with plant based recipes. How are you my friend? When I juice I think of you and when I go to bed at night I say a prayer for you. Be well. Hope to hear from you again soon. -Patricia.
Jan. 20, 2012 10:19 am
This food choice plan surely is healthy as long as you are getting enough protein. But I wonder if you should reconsider some of the conventional therapy you have opted out on in the past given you are now in your third occurrence. It seems to me your regimen needs some changes. Just a thought, everyone is individual and you know your body best. I wish you all good things, health and otherwise. God Bless.
Jan. 20, 2012 10:54 am
Love your outlook Ellen! Hoping and praying everything clears up soon. And many thanks for the delicious looking recipe.
Jan. 20, 2012 12:48 pm
Hi, Ellen! I too, appreciate your attitude! Could you explain to us what a Naturopathic Doctor is and how he/she relates to an MD or DO?
Jan. 20, 2012 1:53 pm
I admire your outlook, but I do think I would want the conventional treatment along with what you are doing. I make something similar to your lentil recipe, but I never thought of adding kale - what a terrific idea. Thanks for sharing it.
Jan. 20, 2012 5:09 pm
Thank you all for your kindness, and for caring enough to reply. To those who are worried I'm not getting enough protein, I'm eating enough: I promise (legumes are loaded with it). To those who'd like me to reconsider conventional treatment, I simply ask that you accept I've weighed my decisions very carefully. And maybe re-reading the first paragraph of this blog post will (in part) answer your concerns. But I can add this: the side-effects to conventional treatment are so painful, women are going off them after 1 or 2 years. As I think I've made clear, I'm the sort who care more about quality of life than quantity. I really am at peace with where I am. Thanks for your concern. Mike, my Naturopathic Doctor is licensed in the state I live in to provide alternative medical care. In my case, she's worked in conjunction with my western PCP and surgeon. The blood tests she ordered aren't standardly ordered by oncologists, but they made a lot of sense to me. In addition to providing this kind of help, she's a skilled acupuncturist (who's worked several miracles on me), and is trained in homeopathic care. She also has a firm grasp of the body's biology. In the US, she could closely be compared to a DO. I see one of those as well :) Does that answer your question?
Jan. 20, 2012 6:50 pm
Ellen, I am enthralled with your attitude, careful consideration of your options and courage! You have very articulately explained a very personal involvement in your own well being and healing. Do you juice? We started this year right after Christmas and feel fantastic. Our daughter, a breast cancer survivor has also gotten involved in her own health care. I love what you said about random acts of kindness and practicing NOT getting angry or allowing drama to control you. I believe toxic emotions destroys our health. Please keep blogging. You are a very positive influence and much needed. P.S. I forwarded your blog onto my sweet Lisa. You're Awesome Ellen! May God Bless you abundately!
Jan. 20, 2012 8:01 pm
Jan. 20, 2012 8:03 pm
I thought of you when I watched this. A different disease but not so different. Blessings to you. Your outlook is refreshing and enlightening. I think of you often and wish you all the best. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.
Jan. 20, 2012 8:53 pm
I was just asking Baking Nana earlier today (seriously) if she had seen any blogs from you since I don't always come in here. So, lo and behold, here you are. I am so glad to hear from you. You are a true inspiration to everyone.
Jan. 21, 2012 5:12 am
I'm so touched that some of you have been looking for me. I'll try to post a bit more often. Candice, yes, I juice (well, hubby makes me morning fruit with spinach smoothies; and afternoon veggie with fruit juice). Rosebud (Patricia) has given me a fabulous bunch of juicing recipes as well, which you can find in an earlier post if interested. Patricia, I hadn't seen your post until mentioned here (or if I did, I'd forgotten it). I'll be checking it out within minutes! And Nana, thanks for the video. I stumbled onto that one myself not long ago. Fascinating, isn't it?
Jan. 21, 2012 9:41 am
As cancer goes, I had a very easy time but every day I still felt like my butt had been kicked by Sasquatch! I know your cancer experience is much more serious than mine and I believe that you have made your decision very carefully. In my ignorance of your chosen treatment/therapy, I worry for you. I promise you I will be better informed when you make your next post by learning whatever I can until then.
Jan. 21, 2012 11:30 am
Hi Ellen, I hope that site gives you something else to try, a bit of variety. Good to hear you're still juicing. I have a recipe you may be interested in.Cauliflower Crust Pizza Serves 2; Ingredients: 1 cup cooked, riced cauliflower 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 1 egg, beaten 1 tsp dried oregano 1/2 tsp crushed garlic 1/2 tsp garlic salt olive oil (optional) pizza sauce, shredded cheese and your choice of toppings* Directions: To "Rice" the Cauliflower: Take 1 large head of fresh cauliflower, remove stems and leaves, and chop the florets into chunks. Add to food processor and pulse until it looks like grain. Do not over-do pulse or you will puree it. (If you don't have a food processor, you can grate the whole head with a cheese grater). Place the riced cauliflower into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 8 minutes. There is no need to add water, as the natural moisture in the cauliflower is enough to cook itself. One large head should produce approximately 3 cups of riced cauliflower. The remainder can be used to make additional pizza crusts immediately, or can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. To Make the Pizza Crust: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup cauliflower, egg and mozzarella. Add oregano, crushed garlic and garlic salt, stir. Transfer to the cookie sheet, and using your hands, pat out into a 9" round. Optional: Brush olive oil over top of mixture to help with browning. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. To the crust, add sauce, toppings and cheese. Place under a broiler at high heat just until cheese is melted (approximately 3-4 minutes). Enjoy! *Note that toppings need to be precooked since you are only broiling for a few minutes.
Jan. 21, 2012 11:46 am
I found this to be interesting...www.meatoutmondays.org
Jan. 21, 2012 12:45 pm
Thanks Patricia! Looks like a great pizza recipe! I need to tweak it some (I'm off dairy entirely) but I'll bet I can figure it out ;) Thanks too for the website. I'll have a look. You're awfully sweet to lend so much support! Mike, I wish you wouldn't worry about me, but I love the fact that you care. Worry is energy that I'm trying to steer clear of. One of the best books I've read recently is "The Emperor of All Maladies; a Biography/History of Cancer". It's fascinating in it's honesty about what the "conventional" doctors know and what they're still trying to find out. There are also many anecdotal stories of patients who've "cured themselves" with diet, exercise, special water, magnetism.... you name it. I think each person has to do what feel most right to them. Without confidence that my road is right for me, I'd be at the mercy of someone else's idea of what's right for me. And I'm just not that kind of person. I'm more involved with my medical care than most patients doctors have run into. A radiologist and I got into talking about the statistical outcome of radiation for breast cancer and, after I'd told him my thoughts on it, he smiled and said "I love patients who've taken the time to study their options and know the facts." But what I do for ME wouldn't be right for someone who has a different leaning. I have faith that my comfort in my own road is a very real part of my health. Thanks again for your care.
Jan. 21, 2012 12:49 pm
Ellen, I never meant to imply your way was wrong, only that for myself, I would do it differently. Maybe. It is silly of me to think I know what I would do in your shoes. Just take good care of yourself and know we do think of you and wish you the best.
Jan. 22, 2012 8:42 am
Thanks Big's Mom... I do know how it feels to watch another approach a health issue differently than I would. I've mentored a few women who were diagnosed with breast cancer and I learned very quickly that everyone has their own preference for how they want to deal with it. I can honestly say I've responded differently to each diagnosis I've had, and I have no way of knowing how I'd respond if I have another one. Because the statistics are what they are, at some point, each of us has to go with our gut. And that's where I am ;)
Jan. 22, 2012 8:52 am
@Rosebud: LOVE LOVE LOVE the Meatout site! Thanks!!!
Jan. 22, 2012 2:53 pm
Ellen, I'm so glad you like that site. I liked it too. Have a great evening.
Jan. 22, 2012 5:02 pm
The book will be here Wednesday or Thursday, Ellen. Thanks for the tip!
Jan. 23, 2012 5:11 am
@Mike, I hope you enjoy it. For me it was a page-turner, but I'm a researcher at heart. I think the author won a Pulitzer Prize for it though. Fascinating stuff.
Jan. 23, 2012 10:07 am
Hi Ellen, how are you today? I just thought I'd mention to you I tried a recipe from meatoutmondays. Its Mushroom Pistachio Rice and it is wonderful. The berry muesli is really good too. Have a good day. Big hug comin your way!-Patricia.
Jan. 23, 2012 11:34 am
Three years ago, a book like this one would never have found my interest. Since my own occurrance, I have become a "researcher" as well. It seems the more I've learned, the less I know. I have, however, become very passionate about being an advocate of cancer awareness for women and men. Perhaps, I will find some talking points for the advocacy. (Facts have never hurt anyone.)
Jan. 23, 2012 12:34 pm
Cauliflower Rice This is the basic preparation for transforming cauliflower florets into a rice alternative – season as you would any rice dish. 1 head cauliflower 1 tablespoon butter of coconut oil 1 shallot or onion finely chopped (optional) Sea salt and pepper to taste 1. Coarsely chop and wash cauliflower florets. 2. Pulse cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles rice grains. 3. Heat the butter or oil in a wide skillet and and sautee onions if using. Add the cauliflower “rice” and sautee until softened – do not overcook. 4. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. Some optional variations; Curried cauliflower rice – add 1 tablespoon turmeric or curry powder. Herbed Rice – Add 1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsely, cilantro, mint or other herbs. Chinese “Fried Rice” – add 2 eggs to the middle of the pan with the cauliflower and stir until the eggs start to cook. Begin incorporating it with the rest of the cauliflower until cooked. Season with naturally fermented soy sauce and green onions. Rice salad – mix in chopped cucumbers and tomatoes and season with an oil and vinegar dressing. **How about this one?
Jan. 25, 2012 6:31 am

**Ellen, what about this one?
Jan. 26, 2012 12:31 pm
GREAT site/blog Patricia. Gonna try the recipe. Will report. Thanks!
Jan. 27, 2012 11:08 am
Hi Ellen. Run these by your husband if he does the juicing and see what you like here. Spinach-Mixed Tropical Fruit 1 large banana, ripe and peeled 1/4 avocado flesh 6 oz spinach, fresh 1/2 cup pineapple, frozen 1/2 cup mango, frozen 1/2 cup grapes, frozen 1/2 cup strawberries, frozen 1 1/2 cup water For this smoothie, I’m using frozen mixed fruits Spinach-Pear-Celery 2 pears 1 stalk of celery 1 cup spinach 1 cup water Spinach-Peach 6 peaches 2 handfuls of spinach leaves 2 cups water Spinach-Kiwi 1 banana 2 peaches 2 handfuls of spinach leaves 1 cup water Spinach-Watermelon-Strawberries One half small seeded watermelon, peel and all 10 strawberries 1 bunch spinach 1 cup water Spinach-Mango Green Smoothie 1 large banana, ripe 1 cup mangoes 1/2 cup strawberries 5 oz spinach 1 1/2 cups water Spinach-Banana-Orange Smoothie Recipe 2 large ripe bananas 2 oranges 2 large handfuls of baby spinach Spinach and Cantaloupe Melon Smoothie Recipe 1/2 cantaloupe melon 1 cup of spinach Spinach-Tomato Here is a savory recipe for a spinach-tomato smoothie: 4 ripe plum tomatoes 1 handful of spinach leaves 4 leaves of basil leaves Have a great day!!Hope you're doing well. I'm spending the afternoon making jar salads. Works out well.
Jan. 27, 2012 11:13 am
I almost forgot...I tried a couple of these and they're wonderful and a bit of a change.Naturally, I thought of you. Hope you like them too.Makes: 1 large smoothie 4 to 5 carrots 1 beet Juice of 1/2 lemon 1 cup mango 1 cup blueberries In a juicer, juice the carrots and beet. To that juice, stir in lemon juice. In a blender, add the veggie-lemon juices, mango and blueberries. Blend until the smoothie is the consistency of a thick shake. Pour and enjoy. CHRISTOPHER’S KITCHEN’S ‘MAUI’ JUICE Makes: 1 large juice 2 stalks celery 1 cucumber 1/2 lemon 1 small Gala apple 1 small piece ginger, or to taste 1 handful parsley 2 leaves kale In a juicer, juice all ingredients. Stir and enjoy. CHRISTOPHER’S KITCHEN’S ‘SWEET GREEN’ SMOOTHIE Makes: 1 large smoothie 2 cucumbers 2 leaves kale 1 handful cilantro 1 handful parsley Pinch fresh ginger Juice of 1/2 lime 1/2 cup pineapple 1/2 cup mango Raw honey, to taste Goji berries, for topping In a juicer, juice the cucumbers, kale, cilantro, parsley and ginger. To that juice, stir in lime juice. In a blender, add the veggie-lime juices, pineapple, mango and honey. Blend until the smoothie is the consistency of a thick shake. Top with goji berries. Enjoy!
Jan. 28, 2012 6:32 am
Patricia, these are GREAT. Hubby is already making some of these (the carrot/beet/lemon/mango/blueberry being a favorite. I've just discovered a site that gives lots of good info on preventing cancer with foods (http://www.eattodefeat.org). There's a link on the site to a video by Dr. Li (I think that's his name) which explains the approach and lists the foods to use (whether cooked or raw). One of the tips I found fascinating was the recommendation of Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples over other types. This is all geared toward cancer, of course, so may not be your primary focus. Still, an interesting browse ;)
Jan. 28, 2012 9:30 am
Ellen thank you for that site. I am going to check it out. I use all kinds of apples everyday from juices, sauces and eating. I've just discovered Nikola apples. They are really nice. Personally, I like raw foods for the taste as well as the health benefits. Thanks again. Chat with you later.
Jan. 28, 2012 6:21 pm
Dropped by again to let you know that the book is a fascinating read. I am only 29 pages into it and I would still be reading it if my wife had not called me.
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About Me
I've loved cooking since I was a kid, and still have my first (very battered) cookbook. Other than cooking, I adore interior design, writing, and playing bridge. Oh... and tasting new wines (or old favorites).
My favorite things to cook
As I've grown older, my tastes and philosophy have changed. I now use organic ingredients whenever I can, and I prefer using unprocessed ingredients.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Well, my mother (bless her) had 8 people to feed, so she made foods that were easy to prepare. My favorites were her baked ribs with barbecue sauce; english muffins topped with cheese, tomato, and bacon, and then broiled; and spaghetti noodles with tomato soup and cheddar cheese stirred in. I wouldn't make these dishes today, but they're full of fond memories.
My cooking triumphs
Adding orange juice to diced tomato sauce • Adding Cointreau to fresh fruit salads or a chocolate sauce • Adding tequila and bittersweet chocolate to chili • "poaching" salmon in orange juice, sprinkled with Old Bay and tarragon • adding cidar vinegar and soy sauce to vegetable soups • adding fresh mint to steamed red potatoes • knowing how to bail out a botched dish (example: over-steamed broccoli mashed with bleu or swiss cheese isn't nearly as bad as over-steamed broccoli on it's own).
My cooking tragedies
Over-steaming broccoli and most any other veggie... and a lasagna that was so loaded with oregano, no one could eat it.
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