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Fresh Tuna and Tofu Sauce

"Eat to Beat Prostate Cancer"

reviewed by J. Strax

Eat to Beat Prostate Cancer by David Ricketts. Publisher: Stewart, Tabori, & Chang

This is the best cookbook ever of simple, delicious recipes for men battling prostate cancer and for their families and friends. David Ricketts had published a dozen cookbooks before he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After primary treatments, David, with his doctors' encouragement, went to work with all his skills to create a new way of eating for himself and other men hit by this disease.

The result, Eat to Beat Prostate Cancer Cookbook, is a classic that draws on a wealth of tasty traditional and ethnic foods and achieves healthsmart magic. Information and recipes are laid out in clear and attractive format with no distractions. No, you do not have to eat cottage cheese and flax seed mush to survive prostate cancer -- those ingredients in any case would more likely hasten your demise. This book can inspire and help you to create and manage bright and genuinely man-healthy meals, from quick snacks to generous low-fat, low-calorie desserts for holiday feasts, year round.

David RickettsFrom 1987 to 2004 David Ricketts was the contributing food and recipe editor to Family Circle magazine. He is the author and co-author of a dozen cookbooks. In April 2001 at age fifty-five, David was diagnosed with prostate cancer:

Very early in my treatment, one of my doctors strongly suggested that I tackle a low-calorie, low-fat, high-fiber, no-red-meata diet, with fish two or three times a week, grains and beans, lots of fruits and vegetables, and soy products. Since I've been a cookbook author and food writer for many years, eating good food was, and still is, high on my list of priorities. I accepted the doctor's suggestion as a culinary challenge. What did I have to lose -- it was my life.
In a Foreword on prostate cancer and the newly diagnosed, Simon J. Hall M.D. writes:
Dietary lifestyle changes require commitment and patience. Many patients, early in their diagnosis, make substantial changes in their eating routines, only to retreat to former patterns within a year. The deleterious effect of what we eat may not be years in the making, but the benefits of healthy eating, whether to prevent or treat an existing cancer, require almost daily adherence and can only be achieved through commitment to a new lifestyle.

Eat to Beat Prostate Cancer Cookbook will make a wonderful gift for people who want to move from a high-meat, high-fat, high-dairy diet to a meal plan more suitable for fighting prostate cancer. The two hundred easy-to-make recipes in this cookbook will encourage anyone fighting this disease to take control of their diet and will empower families to use food to enhance day-to-day quality of life. The recipes are grouped under:

Snacks and drinks
Vegetarian Main Dishes
Pasta & Pizza
Breakfast, Brunch & Tea Break

Ahead of the recipes comes an introduction by Alan R. Kristal of the Cancer Prevention Program at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center on "what the studies tell us" about diet and dietary supplements and prostate cancer risk. Kristal gives a clear outline of why and how men fighting prostate cancer should adopt a diet that:

  • provides antioxidants and stimulates antioxidant enzyme systems
  • reduces androgens and androgen activity
  • reduces inflammation
  • reduces or controls growth factors that cause cells to rapidly grow

In the third introductory chapter, Ricketts tells us that after prostate surgery his Gleason score was upgraded from 6 to 7, and because his pre-operative PSA of 32 never became undetectable, he took a course of external beam radiation:

As I was working with my doctors to make these initial treatment decisions, it became clear to me that my diet was the one thing I could control on my own, and it was an area where I had expertise and experience to take a creative but sensible approach. And there was some scientific evidence that diet could make a difference. While revamping my meal planning, I began to think about developing recipes for a cookbook. As I complete this manuscript, my PSA hovers around 1, I'm healthy and active, and I've been on no other other therapy since 2002, except a prostate-healthy diet.

Ricketts explains that the recipes in Eat to Beat Cancer Cookbook "reflect my personal style of eating, which includes everything from 'comfort food' casseroles, sandwiches, and spaghetti and meatballs, to chocolate mousse and cheesecake"

I took many of my old favorite recipes, such as franks and beans, cheese enchiladas, the classic Reuben sandwich, and beef stroganoff, and with a few twists and turns, transformed them into prostate-healthy versions.

For traditional meat and the cheese dishes, these twists and turns make use of some of the excellent soy products available today in supermarkets and health food stores. If you're cooking for family members who eat meat, Ricketts points out, you can make half or more of the recipe the traditional way for them. And many of the recipes for vegetable and ethnic dishes -- Mexican, Caribbean, Peruvian, Thai, Chinese, Indian and Greek -- can be "beefed up" for family members and friends if that's their preference. A primer of prostate-healthy foods and nutrients includes a couple of useful charts of soy isoflavone content and lycopene content of commonly available foods.

Two Hundred Recipes
All of David's recipes have clear, descriptive names -- from Sweet Potato Skillet Hash with Red Bell Pepper to Blueberry Pancakes; from Apple and Sausage Skillet Dish with Sweet Potatoes and Cheddar Cheese, to Three Mushroom Stroganoff, Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Topping, Lemony Snapper with Vegetables in Packets and Spicy Cabbage Salad, to Orange-Almond Snack Cake. Each recipe is a jewel and the collection as a whole is balanced and bountiful.

While it may be easy to find all the ingredients for David's recipes if you live in or near a big city, in many parts of the USA you may have to search for some of them. For example, does your supermarket stock "Italian style or chorizo-style soy sausage," called for in David's recipe for Lentil Soup with Kale and Sausage? I live in a soybean growing state, but my local supermarkets have not caught up with what's out there. Online, I found a soy sausage supplier, El Burrito foods, and I guess I'll start nagging my Kroger's and County Market managers. Even watercress and arugala -- both crammed with nutrients -- are hard to find in many areas of the country. Well, requests may change that.

Secondly, this is a cookbook that avoids hype altogether. Ricketts encourages readers to bear in mind that while diets rich in specific vitamins, grains, fruits, and vegetables are widely associated with lower cancer rates compared tojunk food diets, there's still a lot that specialists don't yet know. Alan Kristal in this cookbook's Introduction, says:

our current base of scientific knowledge is quite limited. While waiting for the results of ... studies ... we can make reasonable recommendations about diet, based on two factors: our understanding of the basic molecular events that cause healthy cells to develop into cancer; and scientific studies that have examined prostate cancer in large samples of men.

Diet may affect genes, but exactly how and at what point in life will take a while to unravel.

In many mens' diets, specific nutrients like selenium, lycopene and genistein as well as an array of antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains are likely to be deficient. But -- one caveat -- even good things can go to excess. Soy products seems much healthier than red meat, but some recent studies advise moderation in use of soy. Dairy foods may undermine prostate health but may help prevent colon cancer.

Prostate cancer is, by and large, linked less with deficiency than with caloric overload (the same seems to be true of breast cancer, coronary disease and type-2 diabetes). David Ricketts is well aware of this and his recipes follow his own decision to keep his snacking, especially, "low-calorie and low-fat." Which brings me to the dessert section! Fresh fruit (without any flour, oil, or sugar) can be delicious and nutritious. When you want to go for some true dessert pleasure, with this cookbook in your kitchen you will have all the guiltess indulgence you'll need -- including Surprise Chocolate Layer Cake, Carrot Spice Cookies, Rich Carrot Bundt Cake, Hazelnut Sponge Cake, Apple and Pear Crisp with Cranberries.

All in all, Eat to Beat Prostate Cancer Cookbook is unbeatable. The recipes add up to a wide range of delicious meals. The directions are clear and easy to follow. Cook from this book and you'll have a friend in your kitchen. Teach it to your friends and sons -- the next generation will thank you.

Visit the cookbook website and check out Sample recipes.


photo: chili pepper,david allag

Hot peppers shrink tumors and kill cancer cells updated March 20.

Soy genistein and sulforaphane from green veggies reverse DNA hypermethylization (i.e. normalize DNA) in lung and prostate cancer cells

Veggies Contain Chemicals That Boost DNA Repair And Protect Against Cancer Feb 12, 2006

The Facts About Fat Dean Ornish in Newsweek, Feb 7 2006

Cancer, genes and Broccoli -- you may need to eat more green veggies. Dec 7, 2005.


Eat to Beat Prostate CanceCookbook, buy from Amazon

Eat to Beat Prostate Cancer Cookbook Author: David Ricketts; Buy New: $12.97

Visit the cookbook website for Sample recipes.


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