Friday, July 9, 2010

Guiltless brownies packed with anti-oxidants!

When I was a kid we would travel to Alabama to visit my mom's family in Petrey. Every summer we had our family reunion at the Petrey Community Center across from the Wholesale Warehouse that the Petreys had built and every year Helen Willis would make her brownies. I can still taste them. I am sure those were real marshmallows (if there is such a thing) marbled into each chewy brownie and I am sure that each square probably had a stick of butter. Those were the days. Now if you are like me and have foresworn white sugar and just need something that tastes like a brownie, Diana Stobo (author of "Get Naked Fast: A Guide to Stripping away the Foods that Weigh You Down) has a brownie for you. She is a leader of the Raw food movement, lives in Northern California. She says she weighed 247 pounds when she decided to heal herself through food. She had a simple mantra and taped it to her refrigerator: "No sugar, no wheat, no dairy, no alcohol, no caffeine, no meat." She is now a poster child for fitness. But more importantly she has a brownie to die for (sorry Helen Willis!)

Walnut-Pecan Brownies

1/2 cup raw walnuts
1/2 cup raw pecans
1/4 cup raw cacao powder (not cocoa powder - make sure it says cacao)
1/2 cup Medjool dates, pitted and firmly packed

Place walnuts and pecans in food processor fitted with s-blade and pulse until nuts are finely ground. Add dates and cacao and process until mixture begins to stick together. Do not overprocess or they will become gooey. Place mixture into a 4X9 loaf pan lined with parchment paper, garnish with chopped walnuts (anti-inflammatory) and slice into 6 squares. Form the brownies with your fingers pressing the mixture firmly into squares. Yum! Cacao and walnuts and dates - it is so satisfying, tastes like a brownie, you are satisfied after one square and bang! You are packing a powerful anti-oxidant punch.

What's cookin'...

A few fun ideas that I have gleaned from my travels out here in the land of organic foods...

For breakfast, Lila has introduced me to 'oat groats'. They are even less refined than steel cut oats which I had been using for oatmeal each morning. You buy the oat groats at Whole Foods in the bins. Then you soak them for 24 hours in cold water. Then you toss them into the food processor. You can keep them in the fridge for a quick room temperature oatmeal for about 3 days. You can heat it on the stove with some raw almond milk and then add your chia or ground flax seeds, chopped banana and apple and prunes or goji berries and top it off with some agave or raw honey or Maple syrup. I promise you won't be hungry until lunch and you will be totally satiated. Oat groats remind me of muesli - the Swedes and Swiss have been eating the real, unprocessed stuff and it makes you ready to climb the Matterhorn.

Then for lunch we have been putting hummus (either homemade or organic store bought) on Ezekial tortillas - you buy Ezekial sprouted grain tortillas and Ezekial 4:9 sprouted 100% whole grain bread (the original flourless low glycemic bread) in the frozen food section of Whole Foods. It is the best bread you can eat because it is sprouted and has the lowest glycemic (sugar) index. Compare to your average baguette and you get the picture. It won't take you on that blood sugar roller coaster. So we spread on the burrito some of Rebecca Katz's curried hummus (see recipe below) then slice an avocado, a mango and place some baby spinach leaves on the top. Toss on some sprouts and voila roll it up, slice it on the diagonal with a sharp knife and tell me if you get hungry before dinner. Yum!

You can take the same idea and place the hummus and greens on an open faced slice of Ezekial bread. Ezekial bread is found in the frozen food section and needs to be kept in your fridge or freezer so that it doesn't get moldy because it doesn't have cancer causing preservatives. Yay! Haven't you always wondered why so much packaged bread lasts more than a week, but those made in a bakery get stale after 2 days.

Curried Hummos "The Cancer Fighting Kitchen"

1/4 cup currants
2 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 15 oz. can drained, rinsed, and mixed with a spritz of fresh lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon tahini
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Place the currants in a small bowl of hot water to soak and plump up.
Combine the chickpeas, water, lemon juice, tahini (tahini is ground sesame seeds - great anticancer phytochemicals), olive oil, curry powder, ginger, and salt in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Taste! Add a spritz of lemon it if needs a little zing.
Before serving, drain the currants thoroughly and stir them into the hummus.
Thanks, Rebecca!

Food As Medicine

Chez Panisse...Homage to Alice Waters

We made the trek to Berkeley and found the kitchen that launched the movement - slow foods that is - eat locally and sustainably, eat seasonally, shop at Farmer's Markets, plant a garden, cook simply, cook together, eat together. It's that simple.
Chef Alice Waters began the movement but to be totally honest her restaurant has not kept up with the times. It is not on the forward front of the movement, just as Restaurant Nora is no longer on the cutting edge in Washington, DC - even though Nora opened the first organic restaurant in DC in the 80's. Both are still lovely and beautifully presented, however, but they have lost their edge. Their philosophy and ingredients are still fresh and organic and local, but they seem not to have kept up with how we've now figured out how to cook these items with a third of the saturated fat and still make it delicious, lively and "clean". Lila and Pete and I sampled and paid homage. It's an institution, like Restaurant Nora is in DC but it is no Sushi Ran in Sausalito (more on that later).

Super Foods

Top Ten (according to David Wolfe)
1) Goji Berries (eat them dried like raisins in your oatmeal, anti-aging, Chinese herbalists believe they can extend life.)
2) Cacao (Raw chocolate) (Chocolate is made from cacao beans - high anti-oxidants, high iron - just make sure it is extra dark)
3) Maca (highest altitude crop on earth, Incan ancestry, like a beet, can get in powder form, increases fertility, put it in your smoothies)
4) Bee Products (honey, royal jelly, etc.) (buy raw and local, bees boost your immune system and prevent allergies. Honeybees visit 2 million flowers to make a one pound jar of honey)
5) Spirulina (algae, source of protein, chlorophyl, 8 essential amino acids, alleviates anemia,
6) AFA blue-green algae (Omega-3's)
7) Marine phytoplankton (improves omega-3 absorption)
8) Aloe vera (raw liquid from cactus plant)
9) Hempseed (same family as mulberry - buy hempseed bread - and 'no, you can't smoke it!)
10) Coconuts and coconut products (powerful anti-oxidants, good kind of fat, increase speed of the thyroid, increase metabolism, help absorption of Omega-3s, no cholesterol, satiates you so you don't feel hungry for hours - the key to all of this is to regulate your blood sugar levels so that you don't have shooting insulin levels and the roller coaster of hunger that causes you to grab foods that take your system on an adrenalin filled ride.)

"Superfoods are both a food and a medicine," according to Wolfe, who imports Sacred Chocolate. More bang for buck, improve health and boost immune system, elevate seratonin levels, cleanse, help your cells throw off toxins (important for cancer patients) and make our bodies more alkaline (more on that later. Remember chronic acidity in our diets can lead to chronic illness.) Eat 'em raw and in organic form. - An Intifada against Breast Cancer

(Photos courtesy: Mal James)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

And then we took the kids on a forced march

through Tennessee Valley, where there are usually sea lions and seal pups. Million year old cliffs and a stranded star fish. Four miles round trip. A few whimpers from our pups.

Next stop Oahu

OK so most post-mastectomy patients are not trying out for the role of gondolier in Venice. Our pecs are much too sore and tight. Our shoulders hunch forward because the muscles tighten overnight. The typical rowing motion would be like stretching a rubber band to capacity. Most post-mastectomy patients also aren't friends with Lila Rifaat Steinle (former All-American lacrosse, led Harvard to a National Championship, brought Bikram yoga to Marin, friend from 5th grade.) Lila doesn't let a lot of grass grow under her wheels. So after we dropped the kids at Impressionist Art Camp, we made our way to Richardson Bay within eyeshot of the San Francisco Bay Bridge - the city off in the foggy horizon. I suddenly really felt like a California girl. She handed me several layers of skin tight wickable tops, some running shorts, a long paddle and a stand-up paddle board. It was like a scene out of Charlie's Angels except it wasn't. The stand-up paddle board is a technique that requires a lot of core work (thank you, Joshua and Joseph (Pilates)). First, you have to dip your bare feet, knee-high into the icy Bay waters. You put your paddle across the board and get on your knees (very Hawaii Five-O.) Then you attempt to stand up on the water. Once I was up, there was only one way to go - out to sea. You start paddling like a gondolier and voila suddenly you are in the middle of the Bay near some island that looks like Alcatraz until Lila says, "OK, Jen, make a U- ee (as in U-turn)." That's when there was trouble on the high seas - a good 30 minute paddle from shore without a life jacket. Boom - it was like bumper cars, I backed into Lila's board full-on and nearly knocked both of us into the icy waters. I started dancing for my life ("So you think you can dance" had nothing on my moves.) I felt like I was a cartoon character running on those rolling barrels trying to catch my balance. Phew! We both regained our footing, avoided the icy seas and were bent over double laughing so hard - until we realized we had a 30 minute paddle back to shore. It was all fine and dandy until the wind picked up and my post-surgery shoulder froze (along with my toes.) Like the Little Engine that Could, I made my way back into the harbor. It was quite a thrill. Next year: Honolulu. "Book 'em Dan-O."

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Streets of San Francisco

(and eating organic and hiking Mount Tam with Lila, Pete, Ava and Brooke Steinle.)

The Dirty Dozen

These are the 12 most "dirty" (pesticide laden) foods you can eat. Buy them organic.
1) Peaches
2) Apples
3) Bell Peppers
4) Celery
5) Nectarines
6) Strawberries
7) Cherries
8) Pears
9) Grapes (imported)
10) Spinach
11) Lettuce
12) Potatoes

(prepared by the Environmental Working Group, EWG, a not-for-profit environmental research group that collected pesticide residues from produce collected by the USDA and FDA between 2000 and 2004.)

The Cleanest 12

1) Onions
2) Avocados
3) Sweet Corn (frozen)
4) Pineapples
5) Mangoes
6) Asparagus
7) Sweet Peas (frozen)
8) Kiwis
9) Bananas
10) Cabbage
11) Broccoli
12) Papayas

Stinson Beach

California Livin'

From the moment we stepped off the plane I knew this was going to be my kind of town. Fellow journalist and friend Anne-Marie Johnson who had been a dear friend when Greg and I lived in Cyprus picked us up with her children, Rowan and Molly. We headed straight for Stinson beach with a quick stop at the most amazing Whole Foods I had ever been in. It was newly opened in Mill Valley. We bought up every locally grown fruit and vegetable we could find. Some sprouted spelt and raisin bread, corn on the cob that was so sweet it could melt in your mouth. Some agave nectar (cactus nectar) to sweeten our oatmeal. Yum! Eliza Finkelstein and Alexis Laurent had lent us their house in Stinson right on the beach. We arrived at this magical house with a full size volleyball court in front and a pizza oven and hot tub and sand dunes that made it so private and secluded. We kayaked and went to Bolinas for one night - a hippy, surfer town where the locals are so intent on keeping it private that they tear down the signs so that outsiders can't find it. It was the only place we could find gas. After two days we crossed back over the Golden Gate bridge and made our way down the Slow Coast to the Republic of Santa Cruz. Anne-Marie and Martin have a slice of heaven - 9 acres on top of a peak overlooking the valley and ocean. Their Bernese Mountain dog, Sebastian, greeted us like a bear. I watched the fog roll in and roll out from the hot tub while Anne-Marie took the kids down to the boardwalk and roller coasters. I lay in the hammock looking up at the Redwood treetops while reading an old profile of General Petraeus in Vanity Fair. I started the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I know. I know. It had been sitting on my bedside table, a gift of my aunt Catherine since my diagnosis, but I just couldn't concentrate until now. On the 4th of July we made our way back up the coast to dear friends Lila Rifaat and Pete Steinle's home in Marin. (Lila and I have been best friends since 5th grade and were roommates at Harvard. She has two girls, Ava and Brooke.) This morning we went on a 2 and a half hour hike up and around Mount Tam (not far from where we started in Stinson). The girls all went to Impressionist painting camp. Lila, Pete and I climbed above the roiling fog. The smell of eucalyptus was pungent. Lila is studying at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York - she has been dialed into the Slow Food and locally grown and low glycemic index, super food diet for some time. We are going to go to Chez Panisse on Wednesday to pay homage to Alice Waters and then have dinner with Rebecca Katz ("The Cancer Fighting Kitchen") on Thursday. I had cleaned up my diet quite a bit since Lila last saw me, but most of the nutritionists had told me one cup of black coffee a day was ok in terms of anti-oxidants. Lila has learned through her studies and Ayurvedic lectures with John Douillard that coffee is a real drain on the lymph system. It jacks up the adrenal system (of course, that's why we get the rush) putting us into a panic state and leads to the production of too much mucus in our intestines and bogs down the lymph system (dairy does the same). It is acidic and we want to create an alkaline environment in our blood through our food to prevent the spread of disease. Acidity leads to disease. Disease proliferates when our bodies are ingesting too many acidic foods and liquids. Americans drink 400 million cups of coffee per day. This American is going to switch to green tea.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

And the Pilates Comes to You!

This is the view from Anne-Marie Johnson's front yard in Santa Cruz - 9 acres on the top of a mountain looking down over the sea in the distance. Her pilates instructor and acupuncturist, Rose Mulhearn gave our cores a run for their money this morning. Ahhh! California living. This is the life.


First, I graduated from physical therapy. It was a few weeks before radiation ended. But there weren’t the usual Commencement speakers. Instead, I drove myself to Georgetown hospital - the scene of the crime. Not the initial diagnosis - that took place in Dr. Birnkrant’s office on M Street. Georgetown was the scene of the weekly chemo appointments, the teary initial meetings with Dr. Claudine Isaacs and Shawna Willey and the mourning of my breast loss in the office of the talented Dr. Scott Spear, who certainly did a fine job in the replacement category. On the one hand, Georgetown saved my life. On the other, returning to its bowels for physical therapy just two weeks after I had emerged from the operating room and then my drug-induced stay 7 floors up made the journey to the flourescent lit basement all the more difficult for me psychologically. I was always late for those appointments, as well. Fortunately, Blair and Joanna understood. In those first sessions they massaged vitamin E cream on the wounds. The scars are major, but I wear them with pride and the radiation made one of them nearly disappear. Go figure. At first I couldn’t lift my arms above my waist but by the end of twice weekly PT therapy, I could lift them straight up - even if it pulled and even if my shoulders pulled forward because every night my muscles shortened. I had to stretch them out again every morning. When I woke up, I would stretch and then again try to rehabilitate the range of motion in my Pilates session with Joshua Dobbs. Some days all I could do was lay on those long foam rollers just to massage the shoulder blade to release the tension in the pec muscle. I was/am so tight. The expanders are placed under your pecs - hence the no bra option for jogging. And the pec muscle got really angry during radiation - and by the end of PT I was pretty burned from the radiation.

Not bad enough to stop or interfere with the radiation sessions, but just bad enough to be very uncomfortable - like a sunburn. Strangely, after running out of Biafine and using a test jar of Miaderm from the radiation oncologist’s office, my skin is so much better. It is even looking like the other breast - the radiation did not encapsulate (grip and lift) as the plastic surgeon said it might. In fact they are still very Bionic woman looking and remarkably even. And for anyone going through radiation out there, please ask about Miaderm. Its cooling properties and whatever is in it heals the skin within 2 weeks. My skin was bright red when I ended radiation. It is now just a bit pink. Amazing really.

The last PT session, Blair had me raise my arm above my head and measured the range of motion with what looked like a slide rule or some instrument used to measure angles in geometry class. Tears welled up in my eyes for no reason and slowly filled my ear. It wasn’t that day per se and I wasn’t even sad. It was just the reminder of how far I had come. Anything could bring on the flashbacks. It all happened so fast, afterall. And then it was done. After I put my top back on, Blair gave me a hug and sent me out into the world. I was ready, but I still needed to finish radiation.

Memorial Day came and went. We spent it at my neighbor Chris Downey’s house with our other neighbors Joe Cicippio and his wife Elham from Lebanon. Joe, you may remember, was one of the hostages held in Lebanon by Hezbollah. He had been the comptroller for American University there and was kidnapped less than a year after he married Elham. He was held 7 years. Can you imagine? And yet he is the least bitter person I have ever met in my life. He doesn’t look back. He says he and Elham don’t dwell on it. Unlike some of the other hostages, they went on to aggressively live their lives. He even fought off non-Hodgkins lymphoma and Elham was treated for breast cancer. Georgetown’s Shawna Willey was the surgeon for both of them. Small world. Joe travels back to Lebanon. He began going there shortly after he was released by Hezbollah. I couldn’t help myself but the journalist in me wanted to know more. So while he and his wife said they rarely talked about that period, I made them tell me everything. He explained how each day they looked forward to something that was coming up - thinking the next day they would be released. Christmas then New Year’s then Easter. There was always something to look forward to. He said if he had known how long they would be held, he never could have gotten through it but living each day with hope pulled him through and they never gave up hope. And he didn’t lose his mind in the process unlike some of the hostages.

That night when Annalise was going to sleep, for some reason she was out of sorts. Overtired and a bit weepy. She said she had had a hard day and that she was sad two of her best friends were leaving for another school. I said, “Let me tell you about a bad day.” I then went on to ask her if she had known the man we had been sitting at dinner. I told how he had been a hostage for all those years in Lebanon and how he always looked one day ahead - not more. Suddenly, she was intrigued with Joe’s story. We Googled it. She was amazed. Suddenly, her troubles didn’t seem quite so overwhelming. I felt a little manipulative telling her Joe’s story but I felt there was no time like the present to continue learning that life is tough and you cannot wallow or feel sorry for yourself. She went to sleep in my arms.

It’s been a crazy few weeks. The end of radiation was really an anti-climax. I knew it would be. It’s the end of the road - though I have follow-up sessions with a host of doctors almost every month for the near future. And I’ll have another operation to switch my expanders for silicon in about six months.

The last day of radiation was not emotional. I asked Andrea to meet me there and videotape it. I had had some amazing conversations in the lobby each morning. A whole new set of characters. There was Vergin, the wife of a Turkish doctor. He looked so sad and depressed. She knit to calm her nerves. It reminded me of Annalise when someone asked her about this year. She said, “It’s been like knitting, Mom. You go up the mountain and then down the mountain.” She always puts it just so. I sent Vergin Rebecca Katz’s books. She then brought me a winter white scarf that she had knitted and placed in a Whole Foods bag. Then there was the mother from our elementary school whose son was in Kindergarten this year. I didn’t recognize her at first and she hadn’t told anyone at the school or her son what she was going through. It broke my heart, but I know others who have made the same tough choice. They tell me that their child had already lost grandparents to cancer and they just didn’t have the heart to tell them. I don’t know how they did it. Then there were the ladies who were speaking about which private schools their kids were going to and how much it all cost and frankly those conversations are so annoying, especially in a cancer lobby. Then there was the young Jamaican sounding woman who nearly cried as she told me how she couldn’t get her mom to eat. On and on.

On the last day, June 24, Andrea followed me into the room with the Chernobyl warning on the door. A yellow radiation sign. I showed her the fake beach lit up poster. I showed her how I lifted my arm above my head and they drew on my tattoos and lined up the beams of light. They tried to keep the sheet from lifting too high and revealing my raw, red breast to the camera. They didn’t know that I didn’t care. It’s so detached from me. They zapped me. I saw the doctor, Joan cut up my id card like it was an expired credit card and off I went.

I must admit to feeling a bit drained. I flew to Northern California just days after radiation ended. I took the girls. Poor Luke is at home. I miss him like I left a limb at home but he just doesn’t travel well right now. My friend Anne-Marie says that I stare off quite a bit. I am a bit sad, though I love California. It is the land of my organic people. The Whole Foods in Mill Valley put ours so much to shame that it was embarrassing. And when we stopped at Swanton farm - an organic strawberry farm en route to Santa Cruz - it was so wonderfully crunchy that there was no one at the till. It was the honor system and everyone just left their money for their strawberry shortcake and chocolate covered strawberries and truffles. What a place. Home to the Slow Food movement. I got a t-shirt that says Slow Coast.

In DC when we got on the Virgin America plane (which some have compared to flying inside your iPod because there is so much technology and so many ways to entertain oneself.) When we got onboard, the pilots let the girls come up to the cabin and sit in the cockpit. Perhaps Richard Branson hasn’t heard about 9-11. I snapped a photo and it reminded me of the time the Austrian Airways flight put me on a jumpseat in the cockpit en route back from Athens to Cyprus. I was a newlywed at the time and had been away in China for a month and missed Greg and pitched a fit when they tried to bump me from the flight because they had overbooked. To quiet me, they told me to pretend I was an off duty stewardess and they would put me on the jump seat between the two pilots. I did and it was the most beautiful take-off and landing I had ever seen. This was long before 9-11 and never would be allowed to happen today. The pilots kept turning to talk to me and I kept wanting to say, “Turn around. Pay attention!”

Anyway, our Northern California journey is likely to become an annual pilgrimage because it is just so nice out here. The strawberries taste better. Stinson beach is my idea of heaven and my dear friend Anne Marie Johnson who flew out to take me to chemo during my darkest days when it was really looking bleak picked us up from the airport with her two lovely children and I haven’t had to think about anything except what to do with the rest of my life.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Power of Yum!

I was introduced to her in the first days after I was diagnosed because Alana Anyse who had worked at Fox as a freelance producer had written to me about her own chemo nightmare - she too had been diagnosed shortly after giving birth but had kept her ordeal quiet at Fox because she was freelancing and just because. (I have met so many women/mothers who have made similar choices and to them my hat is off because they did it all without the layer upon layer of support that we had from friends and colleagues and more friends and family. I’ve described the last year to friends as a sort of “This is Your Life” with connections from childhood to the present and every friend I’ve ever known stepping forward and reappearing and helping in some extraordinary way both big and small. The circles grew so large that it became overwhelming at times because we knew there was no way to ever properly thank or give back to all of those who stepped in to help us in those dark days. The only way to move forward I decided in short order was to “pay it forward.”

So I have tried to spread the word about Rebecca Katz’s cookbooks to any cancer patient or their family member whom I came across in hospital waiting rooms, in book stores, through e-mails from friends of the newly diagnosed. I had to shout it from the rooftops. Much as Alana had helped me more than she will ever know. For her, she says she couldn’t have gotten through chemo without Rebecca’s “Miracle Broth” from “One Bite at a Time,” Katz’s book specifically for chemo patients and their friends and family. The most important thing for a chemo patient is not to get undernourished. You need protein, protein, protein so that you don’t lose muscle mass and get weak so that you can ingest the poisons that will save your life. But you also need phytochemicals - the nutrients found in green veggies that literally starve the tumors and make sure that they aren’t able to create the network of blood vessels that allows the tumor to be fed. Starve them and you don’t have to worry about the tumor growing or cells spreading. This is called “anti-angiogenesis.” Say it ten times really fast. There is even a non-profit foundation named for it that is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where scientists look at the cancer fighting properties of food and what makes green tea, for instance, such a powerful cancer-fighting tool. So starving the tumors is the name of the game, even after treatment. But starve yourself and your body can’t cope with the strong drugs you need to get the cancer back in check. So the cancer patient must eat.

Enter San Francisco gourmet chef Rebecca Katz. She came up with a Culinary Pharmacy originally to help her own Dad who had been diagnosed with throat cancer. She had studied at the National Gourmet School of Culinary Healing in NY and then was out working at Deepak Chopra’s School for Wellbeing when she got the call that her Dad was sick. She says that she knew she could not feed him what she calls your usual “hippy gruel”: potions of grains and whole foods that didn’t taste good. I followed her recipes through my treatment and felt so empowered as I wandered the aisles of Whole Foods. I started gravitating to organic Medjool dates (full of anti-oxidants) to put in my steel cut oatmeal along with walnuts, whose anti-inflammatory qualities keep cancer at bay. She taught me that lemon added to all of the water that I was drinking to flush the chemo drugs from my system actually cut through the chemical wasteland that was my tongue and stimulated my tastebuds which are the first thing to go along with a chemo patient’s appetite. So I added lemon to everything.

She came to lunch at our Washington DC home on a Friday. (She was in town for a conference on the healing nature of food along with nutrition gurus from Johns Hopkins who I have since befriended.) I invited my mom and friend Andrea Wilson to join us. It was a bit last minute. I didn’t leave enough time between my Pilates lesson that ended at 12 and a quick trip to the grocery store to find the freshest ingredients. I was going to cook for Rebecca Katz - the hutzpah! And really I don’t cook. I prepare. I visualize. I chop and I eat really fresh things. What could I possibly throw together. Well, fortunately the lovely Christine Merkle (the personal chef that my friends had continued to spoil me with) had delivered some thinly sliced pork tenderloin (herb crusted) and ratatouille. I then concocted a beet salad. The beets were boiled and then the greens were cooked with garlic and a little olive oil (that’s the only oil I use anymore). And then I sprinkled some chopped walnuts and some organic goat cheese (crumbled) on top and a little Marakan Seasoned Rice Vinegar. Delice! I must say I was very proud of the plate which was artfully presented on some platters that had been made for me by Mallory Sarobin in Jerusalem. We had a little lentil salad and a green salad with avocados (Andrea says if there is one thing I make really well it is green salads - without fail - as long as I have a good cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and my rice vinegar.) The presentation was artful. And Rebecca’s “Power of Yum,” that’s the best way to describe her philosophy was at work and voila! you wouldn’t even know you were eating to ward off the deadly beast. It was perfect.

In the process I learned a few more tricks from Rebecca. For one, add fresh mint to everything. It has a powerful anti-cancer punch. All you need is about a tablespoon a day - put it in tea, chop it into your salad, chop it into your rice or garnish on top of your organic freerange chicken. I can walk out the back of my kitchen and it is growing about as fast as our bamboo and grab a few sprigs en route to the garage. I eat it all the time - it helps you digest - the Moroccans certainly know that. Then there is turmeric. Very, very powerful in the anti-angiogenesis and anti-inflammatory department. Rebecca suggested in addition to eating Indian dishes with turmeric which in essence turns off the switch that allows cancer cells to multiply. If you add black pepper to the turmeric it multiplies its effect, she says. So make your salad dressing with a 1/4 tsp of tumeric, some black pepper (ground), lemon juice and olive oil and voila! Cancer beware. There’s a new sheriff in town.

Green tea - we all should drink as much as possible, but Rebecca says the anti-angiogenesis folks say mix your types of green tea into one brew and get a magnified effect. The blending makes the ingredients more powerful. Her philosophy is not to take away anything from your diet but add the ingredients to your arsenal so that the cancer starves: shred some carrot, chop a cooked beet, add some mint and add some olive oil and salt and pepper and before you know it you are eating a “rainbow.” The Power of Yum! I think I will go make a pot of green tea.

But, be careful, dear Triple Negative readers - you, like me, need a very low saturated fat diet. And I just learned from Johns Hopkins’ Linda McIntyre that a teaspoon of olive oil has 5 g of fat. A tablespoon 15 g. And we Triple Negative patients should only have 33 g of fat a day - even of the good fats in, say, avocados and nuts. Don’t eat more than 20 almonds and walnuts a day or you may be undermining your attempt at low-fat as a means of keeping Triple Negative recurrence at bay. I was eating what Linda told me was an excellent Mediterranean diet that would have been perfect for my estrogen positive sisters. So now I measure my olive oil - very tough because I was eating it on all of my veggies with reckless abandon. Moderation, moderation, moderation. And breathe....