Feast On Phytochemicals

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 - 10:42am

You don't have to memorize a long list of phytochemicals to add more to your diet. These cancer-fighting substances are plentiful in foods you already know are healthy -- fruits, vegetables and grain products. They're also found in soy foods, as well as herbs and spices like parsley, chives, garlic, and ginger. Here are 10 tips to get more phytochemicals into your diet without radically changing the way you eat.

  1. Berry season isn't far off. Everybody knows about blueberry pancakes, but how about strawberries sprinkled with balsamic vinegar, raspberry-yogurt pops or chicken adorned with blackberries and peach slices?

  2. Jazz up cabbage-and-carrot coleslaw with shredded green, red or yellow peppers, radishes, onions or even the broccoli stems you might normally throw away. Don't forget the low-fat dressing.
  3. You can usually fold up to a cup of grated carrots, apples or zucchini into your favorite muffin batter without altering other ingredients. Add corn kernels or finely chopped sweet or hot peppers to cornbread.
  4. Reinvent pizza from the tomato sauce-and-mozzarella routine with novel combinations: artichokes, asparagus and onions; sliced yellow tomatoes drizzled with a little pesto; or spinach and slivered garlic with a bit of crumbled feta cheese.

  5. Still find tofu too exotic? Serve it with an old favorite: dice a block of firm tofu into half-inch squares, add to marinara sauce and pour over pasta.
  6. Look at the supermarket for jars of chopped garlic, ginger, and basil. You're more likely to add them to whatever you're cooking if you don't have to chop and peel.
  7. Update a Waldorf salad by using chopped fennel and dried fruit bits along with the apples and celery. Toss with low-fat raspberry dressing.
  8. With the many frozen vegetable mixes now available, it's a snap to get a variety at one meal -- just add rice, pasta, couscous, or other favorite grain.
  9. Using fresh lemons, limes or oranges in a recipe? Don't toss out the peels without first grating the zest and throwing it into your dish for extra flavor -- and phytochemicals.
  10. Look to other cuisines for fruit and veggie combinations you might not think of, like the Mediterranean salad of oranges, olives, and red onion or the Latin-inspired black bean, corn and avocado salad.

Reprinted with permission from the American Institute For Cancer Research.