Friday, July 16, 2010

1000th post and Anti Cancer Mushroom and Onion Soup

I had originally intended to do something completely different for my 1000th post. But I thought that sharing with you what I learned watching Dr. Fuhrman’s cancer lecture yesterday seemed much more appropriate. As many of you know by now I started this blog to share good tasting but healthy recipes that were also appropriate for everyone even those currently battling or in remission from cancer. I also wanted to pass along anything new I was finding on cancer and nutrition since much of the information on the web is either hard to find or garbage. When anyone is faced with cancer the last thing the need is to wade through the nonsense to find useful information and recipes. With that in mind a cancer post seemed per very appropriate for my 1000th post.

My general food philosophy is to make dishes that taste great but that don’t compromise anyone’s health. It is very easy to make food taste good using sugar, fat and salt without restriction. That would be a good description for how I used to cook, before I was focused on health first. It has been a long and somewhat difficult journey to clean up our food. I will say that healthy food is now second nature to me and when we go out to eat the first thing I notice is the fat followed by the sugar and finally the salt content in food not made by me. I wanted to add that note for anyone that is struggling to clean up their diet. Your taste buds will adjust to your new way of cooking if you stick with it, it just takes a little time.

Dinner last night is something I developed after watching Dr. Fuhrman’s lecture. It contains a number of the foods he discussed. I will summarize some of the points from the lecture below. However since this is the food blog, we should start with the recipe. Here is the soup we had last night:

Anti Cancer Soup – aka Mushroom and Onion
Makes 4 servings


0.88 oz (25grams) package dried maitake mushrooms (I used Eden Brand)
2 cups water
1 large yellow onion (approximately 2 cups)
6 cloves garlic
6 cups water
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/3 cup oats, ground into flour
1/3 cup walnuts
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sherry or wine vinegar
sea salt and pepper, to taste
cashew crème fraiche for garnish - optional


Combine the mushrooms and 2 cups of water and heat until boiling then turn off the heat and allow the mushrooms to steep in the water for 10 minutes. While the mushrooms are steeping peel and slice the onions and garlic and allow them to stand 10 minutes before cooking. The standing time of the garlic and onions allows the anticancer compounds to develop.

Heat ½ cup water in a large sauté pan or soup pot and sauté the aromatics (onions and garlic) until they are just beginning to soften. Add the remaining water, paprika, thyme, tomato paste, and nutritional yeast and simmer to cook the onions through completely.

Process the oats into flour in your blender. Add the walnuts and strained mushroom soaking liquid to your blender and process until smooth. Add the processed oats and walnuts to your pan.

Give the rehydrated mushrooms a rough chop so they will all fit easily on a soup spoon and add them to your simmering soup pot. Add the Dijon mustard to the pot and simmer until the soup thickens. The wine vinegar should be added just before you are ready to serve the soup. Vinegar brightens the taste so that you need less or no salt. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to your tastes.

Serve hot topped with cashew crème fraiche if desired.

Nutritional Information (does not include the optional cashew crème fraiche):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 168.82
Calories From Fat (38%) - 64.5

Total Fat - 6.92g
Saturated Fat - 0.71g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 83.6mg
Potassium - 366.55mg
Total Carbohydrates - 21.35g
Fiber - 4.19g
Sugar - 4.43g
Protein - 4.41g


This soup has a fairly complex flavor from the variety of seasonings. I wanted to give it depth of flavor without using much fat or any sodium.

Salt has definitely been my nutritional Achilles heel. I have to admit I am a bit of salt addict. But I have decided to eliminate salt from our diet. I have been working on this for a while now. I will continue to say add salt to taste, but know that at our house there is no sodium being added to food. With this in mind I am relying on other seasonings to flavor our food. That is the reason you see so many seasonings listed. I didn’t want any of them to stand out, but each added a little something to the mix.

Both Dan and I were happy with both the depth and overall flavor of the soup. This will show up at our house often from now on.

Notes from the Cancer lecture:

I am going to out cover a few highlights from the lecture that I found to be useful. Overall I was pleased to find out that I was doing almost everything right in terms of nutrition based on the most recent nutritional science. However I think all of us can make a few tweaks and I picked up a tip or two.

Foods we should concentrate on eating for cancer prevention and/or survival are:

mushrooms (not white button, cremini or portobello rather concentrate on shitake, maitake, oyster, trumpet, etc.)
onions (slice and allow to stand before cooking which was news to me)
garlic (slice and allow to stand before cooking) no time was given I am sticking with 10 minutes
cinnamon (this was a new idea for me, glad I use it liberally)
berries (contain ellagic acid which fights cancer as I frequently mention)
whole soy reduces all forms of cancer by 25-30%. It is a myth that whole soy causes cancer!
green leafy vegetables - a variety
flaxseeds/hempseeds/chia seeds – a combination regularly
fresh vegetable juice and blended salads are good

For those of you that don’t know the “seeds of cancer are sown” early in life by what we ate as children. However since cancer takes decades to manifest itself that also gives you time to make changes. One point the doctor made which I have seen other places is that excellent nutrition can stop of reverse prior damage. Since so many Americans will be diagnosed in our lifetime why not do anything within your power to reduce your risk?

Some studies have shown a positive association between the consumption of grapefruit and the occurrence of breast and prostate cancer. They think this occurs through the interference with cytochrome P450 gene allowing estrogen to build up. Until there is more data it may be wise to limit grapefruit consumption.

Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to an increase in cancer. Get your vitamin D checked and supplement appropriately to bring your level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D to between 35 and 55.

Other Dr. Fuhrman information:

Additionally when I was searching the Doctor Fuhrman website I came across some information on TVP (textured vegetable protein). This caught my attention because Dr. Block mentioned in “Life Over Cancer” that TVP should be rarely used. Dr. Block didn’t give a reason but I stopped using TVP after reading that to be safe. According to Dr. Fuhrman TVP is isolated soy protein. As soon as I heard that I knew exactly why it was on Dr. Block’s rarely use list. The TVP at our house immediately went into the trash. Isolate soy protein is found in many processed vegan foods and should be avoided or at least severely reduced due to its link to hormonally induced cancers. 

I spent hours online today watching the webcast and listening to previously recorded teleconferences. It is clear that I will need to spend some time doing this everyday if I am going to read or listen to everything that is available over the next six weeks. While so far the majority of the information has been things I knew. However, I don’t want to miss anything so I am trying to read/watch or listen to it all.

If you sent me an email and I haven’t responded as quickly as usual now you know why. The backlog in my email is growing fairly rapidly at the moment. I apologize and will try to respond to all of your email as soon as possible, hopefully this afternoon.

Unrelated note:

Before I forget we tried a test last night with Dan’s beloved Strawberry Banana soft serve. The experiment did not go well. I made a batch without the walnuts to lower the calories and get Dan’s opinion. His first comment, was “what did you do?” Followed closely by “We are going back to the original formula tomorrow right?” I supposed I don’t have to tell you what Dan thought. The walnuts are critical ingredient from his perspective. ;-)

Since today is Friday it means I have to run my usual errands today. However I will be back later today with an update and a recipe. I got up this morning craving zucchini spaghetti and want to make a healthy version of watercress pesto with walnuts.


  1. That soup sounds heavenly. I know that's one we'd both enjoy as we're both mushroom lovers. Looking forward to the pesto recipe. That sounds really good right now - it is getting close to lunchtime.... ;-)

  2. Heather,

    Thanks, we enjoyed the soup. I love it when things that are good for you also taste good. ;-)

    Hmmm, maybe I need to make the pesto for myself for lunch. Good idea, LOL.

    talk to you later,

  3. Thanks for the great post!

    Did Dr. Fuhrman say why we should let the onion/garlic stand?

    I know I haven't commented lately
    yet, I am always reading your posts. Thanks for all you do! :)

  4. Naina,

    Yes Dr. F did say we should let the onions and garlic stand cut before heating them. He didn't give a time so I am going to do 10 minutes for the onions like I do the garlic. I will try to find the study to back that up the onions to see if they give a time.

    talk to you later,

  5. Congratulations on the 1000th post! Wow--what an accomplishment :-) I can't imagine how time consuming keeping up the blog and taking photos of all your food must be, but know that it is appreciated! I love reading your posts and seeing all the recipes, so thank you!


  6. Ali, I am wondering why we should let the onions/garlic stand?
    Does it get rid of a toxin, or does it improve nutritional content?

    Thanks :)

  7. Courtney,

    You are very kind. Thank you so much! I also appreciate your responses and learn much from you. ;-)

    talk to you soon,

  8. How is cutting salt from your foods going to affect getting a good amount of sodium in your diet? I've been tracking my sodium for a while and when I'm home and eating 'normally', it can easily stay below 500mg/day.

  9. Naina,

    You know how many of my recipes say let the crushed garlic stand for 10 minutes so the allicin can develop? There is a chemical reaction that takes place when the garlic and other memebers of the allium family (like onions) are crushed or cut. Allowing them to stand gives the reaction time to take place. If you cook them too quickly after chopping heat stops the reaction. I hope that helps.

    When I have time I will look for the article on the reaction in onions so I can explain it in more detail.


  10. Carolyn,

    I don't completely understand your question. But I am trying to eliminate added sodium in all forms from our diet. I may use a little miso here or there but not more then 200mg and not everyday or even every week. Did that answer your question?


  11. Good to know! I always like to know what to eat to prevent cancer. I heard before that shitake mushrooms were really good for you, but couldn't remember why. Ok, so I guess I'll have to stop buying the crimini and portabellos then huh?

  12. Carissa,

    I wouldn't stop buying portobello and cremini mushrooms if you like them. But I would add more shitake, maitake, oyster and trumpet mushrooms to your pantry.


  13. Congrats of your 1000th post!! I so love your blog and feel so lucky to have access to such great info!!

  14. Meg,

    Awwww, gee thanks! *blushing* You are too kind and I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. Thank you so for letting me know. :-)


  15. That does answer my question. I had read (on SparkPeople) that sodium intake should be around 1500mg/day, or between 500 and 2300mg/day. Elsewhere I read that consistently having less than 1000 mg/day could lead to health issues... it looks like there isn't really a consensus on that, though. Thank you!

  16. Carolyn,

    Sodium is usually given as a upper limit which they are about to reduce to 1500mg for everyone. I checked with a nutritionist friend and there is no lower limit or risk from not adding sodium to your diet.


  17. Congratulations on this milestone. Wishing you to write gazillion posts.

  18. RV,

    Thank you so much! Since you also have a blog I know you understand how much time goes into writing these posts. With my propensity to share things I may reach a “gazillion”, LOL. ;-) At the very least it will seem like it.


  19. congratulations on the 1000 post!!!! great job ALicia. and all of them have been fantastic.i had read in his book about tvp and remember what you had told me about it, its a very sparsly used item at ou house because of it.

  20. Wow Ali! Congrats on reaching your 1000th post! I'm impressed!

    I'm headed back to MIA tomorrow night, and an email will be coming your way this week.


  21. Hi Michelle,

    Glad you brought up the TVP. Dr. F mentioned on this member site that including TVP in his early book was a mistake and it will be removed from the next edition. ;-)

    Thanks for your kind words! :-)

    talk to you later,

  22. Hi LJ,

    Thank you very much for the congratulations. :-)

    Can't wait for that email. I really want to hear your thought process.

    have a safe trip home, hugs,

  23. Congratulations! That's quite a milestone and your followers sure do appreciate all your hard work!

    I'm thinking of making your soup tonight with mixed dried mushrooms. Could you please tell me approximately what volume mushrooms to use? I'd guess somewhere between a half-cup and a cup.

  24. CONGRATULATIONS on 1000 posts! That is truly amazing and inspiring! :D And glad to hear that soy isn't the health demon some make it out to be.

  25. Ricki,

    Thanks, I appreciate that! :-)

    The scientific literature seems clear that whole soy is protective. The problem is that most people in the west consume soy protein isolates which increases IGF-1.

    talk to you later,

  26. Just made the soup for dinner -- delicious!!! I used a couple handfuls of dried mushrooms (should have measured for next time!), a small can of tomato sauce instead of tomato paste, and spicy brown mustard instead of Dijon; everything else the same. I didn't expect it to be that good because I'm not a big mushroom fan. Will definitely make it again!

  27. Laura,

    Glad you liked it! Thanks for letting me know. :-)



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