Food is Medicine Too

By Beth Ricanati, MD

October brings a lot of Jewish holidays, changing of the seasons, and national Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Most of us know someone with breast cancer, or who had the disease, or maybe who even beat the disease. It’s relentless…and seemingly everywhere. With breast cancer rates at roughly 1 in 8 by the time we’re 80, that’s a lot of breast cancer.

And as overwhelming as that may seem, I am still encouraged. Yes, encouraged: after all, scientific research has demonstrated that about one-third of the expected cancer deaths this year will be lifestyle related, meaning that they are related to a lack of physical activity, obesity and poor nutrition.

Bingo. Sometimes it’s as simple as opting for a different choice and you can perhaps affect the outcome of this devastating diagnosis. What is it about food and breast cancer? Certain foods actually can turn on or off different genes in our body, genes that may either increase our cancer risk or genes that can fight cancer. What you eat can affect your genes. This field of research is called epigenetics.

So whether you steam it (so easy, currently a favorite at our house) or roast it (especially good with a little olive oil and sea salt), or puree it for soup (use broth if you want a vegan option, or try with yogurt), try to add broccoli into your diet once a week…you might just be decreasing your risk of cancer while you eat something delicious! In addition, be sure to include a variety of foods that reduce inflammation to further reduce your risk. In addition to broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables (i.e. brussel sprouts and cauliflower), include antioxidant, gene-changing and cancer-fighting foods such as oranges and other citrus fruits high in vitamin C, omega-rich foods such as salmon, antioxidant-rich berries and herbs and spices such as curry, ginger and garlic.

For more information on healthy living and support before, during and after a breast cancer diagnosis, I want to introduce you to Sharsheret, the national Jewish breast and ovarian cancer organization. Check out their website for great information and to order a free survivorship kit that includes an amazing healthy living cookbook and other resources.

Enjoy this broccoli recipe featured in Sharsheret’s survivorship kit from One Bite at a Time: Nourishing Recipes for Cancer Survivors and Their Friends, by Rebecca Katz.

Szechwan Broccoli


While not as healthy as broccoli, Sharsheret’s annual Thanksgiving Pies for Prevention Bake Sale is looking for bakers! By baking and selling baked goods this Thanksgiving, you are joining volunteers nationwide raising critical ovarian cancer awareness and funds to support Sharsheret’s Ovarian Cancer Program. You can register to become a Pies for Prevention baker here.

Beth Ricanati, MD, has built her career bringing wellness into everyday life. She trained and worked at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City and at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.  She now resides in Santa Monica, California. Follow her on Instagram at @housecallsforwellness, and on her website at www.housecallsforwellness.com

Szechwan Broccoli

Recipe is from One Bite at a Time: Nourishing Recipes for Cancer Survivors and Their Friends, by Rebecca Katz.

2 bunches broccoli
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon mirin
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes or cayenne
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 scallions, both green and white parts, minced

Remove the florets from the broccoli. Peel the broccoli stems with a vegetable peeler until smooth. Slice the stems into bite-size pieces.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the salt. Add the broccoli and blanch for 30 seconds. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a cold water bath to stop the cooking and preserve the broccoli’s color. Drain the broccoli and set aside.

In a small bowl mix the vinegar, tamari, mirin, toasted sesame oil, and maple syrup.

Have all your ingredients ready for a quick finish. Heat a wok or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the sesame oil, red pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, and scallions. Stir quickly for about 30 seconds, just until aromatic.

Add the sauce to the wok and simmer until thickened, about 30 seconds. Add the broccoli and heat through, about 15 seconds. Serve immediately.

Israeli Couscous with Orange, Dried Cranberries and Toasted Nuts


Serves 6

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon coconut oil or canola oil
1 cup Israeli or pearl couscous
1 1/3 cups pareve chicken broth, chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/4 cup dried cranberries or craisins
1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds
1/4 cup sliced scallions
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, juice, zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a good pinch of pepper.
Melt the coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the couscous and cook, stirring, until light golden, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until nearly tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the cranberries, cover, and cook for 1 minute more.
Toss the couscous, almonds, scallions, and mint with the vinaigrette and serve.

Shaved Cucumber Salad


Serves 6

1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons seeded and minced jalapeno or red spicy pepper, like a Fresno chile or a red jalapeno
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
4 medium cucumbers, trimmed and peeled

In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar, jalapeno, and sugar. With a vegetable peeler, shave the cucumbers into the bowl in long, wide strips. Toss and let sit briefly before serving.

Endive and Persimmon Salad with Toasted Nuts and Dijon Vinaigrette


Serves 6

1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, chopped (or other toasted nut)
1 pound Belgian endives, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
1 pound radicchio or other mesclun, torn
1 pear—quartered, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 persimmon, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (if not available or in
season, use mango)
2 cups baby arugula
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup walnut oil, avocado oil or hazelnut oil (or use canola oil and olive oil in equal parts, 2 tablespoons each)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large bowl, toss the endives, radicchio, pear, persimmon and arugula.
In a small bowl, whisk the mustard, lemon juice and vinegar. Whisk in the olive, canola and nut oil and season with salt and pepper.
Just before serving, pour the dressing over the salad, toss well and garnish with the toasted hazelnuts.

Freezing Tips for Make-Ahead Recipes

Yes, some foods like vegetables, fish and select chicken dishes are best prepared fresh. But many holiday items can be prepared and stored in
the refrigerator for up to two weeks, like dips, salad dressings, and marinades. And roasts, soups, saucy chickens and veal, some desserts, cookies, and challahs can be prepared, fully cooled, wrapped properly in plastic or foil, but always air-tight and then frozen. The trick is to defrost them slowly so that no condensation is created (this is what gives frozen chicken that rubbery wet taste). In order to defrost items without condensation, think and plan ahead. Defrost frozen items in the refrigerator, which takes at least but about 24 hours, then bring them to
room temperature before reheating. Do not defrost on the countertop, the temperature drops too low from the freezer and lots of water molecules form and melt into the food, making it wet and just not quite the same.

Rosh Hashanah 2017

Holiday cooking is abuzz! My freezer is filling up with soups, roasts and challah varietals as I prep for the first set of the three day Yom Tov season 🙂
Make sure to search the full index for choices old and new! Hundreds of recipes in every catagory to make your Yom Tov delicious.
A few new recipes to try to spice up your already tried and true menus….more coming, check back weekly for more great ideas.

Rosh Hashanah Quinoa
Endive Salad with Apple Dressing and Roasted Nut Crumble
Asian Maple Glazed Turkey
Apple Pound Cake with Caramel Glaze
Carrot Ginger Soup With Creamy Apple Chutney (coming soon)
Spinach Salad With Roasted Beets, Persimmons, and Sweet Poppy Seed Dressing (coming soon)
Pomegranate Brisket with Three Onion Jam (coming soon)
Wine Baked Apples (coming soon)

Endive Salad with Apple Dressing and Roasted Nut Crumble


Serves 4

⅓ cup apple juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
5 endive, preferably purple
1 cup hearts of palm, sliced

Nut crumble
½ cup pistachios
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

For the dressing: Whisk apple juice, vinegar, lemon zest and juice, oil, salt and pepper until blended.

For the nut crumble: Preheat oven to 300°F. Toast pistachios on a large baking sheet for about 8 minutes. While hot toss iwth oil, honey, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

In a bowl, toss endive and hearts of palm with desired amount of dressing. Spoon nut crumble over salad and serve.

Apple Pound Cake with Caramel Glaze


Serves 12

3 Gala apples or Granny Smith apples 
(1 1/2 pounds)—peeled, cored and sliced 1/2 inch thick

1 tablespoon Apple brandy or brandy
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 ¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar

3 sticks unsalted margarine, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 large eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder


Caramel Glaze
¼ cup sugar

2 tablespoons pareve whipping cream

2 tablespoons unsalted margarine

For the cake: In a large bowl, toss the apples with the brandy, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Let stand for 30 minutes. 


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray. 


In an electric mixer, beat the 3 sticks of margarine with the remaining 2 1/4 cups of sugar and the salt until pale yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time until smooth. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and baking powder until a thick, smooth batter forms. Fold in 
about 8 slices of the apple slices. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. 


Arrange the remaining apples in slightly overlapping concentric circles on the batter and drizzle on the juices. Bake for about 1 hour and 40 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Make the glaze In a small saucepan, combine the sugar with 2 tablespoons of water and bring to a simmer without stirring. Cook over moderate heat, swirling the pan, until an amber caramel forms, about 4 minutes. Carefully add the whipping cream and margarine (the mixture will sputter) and cook, whisking, until the caramel is smooth, about 2 minutes. 


Transfer the cake to a rack and let stand for 10 minutes. Unmold the cake and poke a few times with a toothpick or skewer. Brush the top with the glaze. Let cool slightly and serve warm or at room temperature. 


Asian Maple Glazed Turkey


Serves 6

For the marinade
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Scotch
1 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 (2 to 2-1/2 lb. total) turkey breast or turkey London broil

For the glaze
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon Scotch
2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish

In a large ziplock bag, combine the salt and sugar with 4 cups cold water and stir until dissolved. Add the hoisin and soy sauces, the Scotch, maple syrup, garlic, ginger, and five-spice powder. Submerge the turkey in the brine, cover, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 12 hours.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°F.

In a small saucepan, combine the hoisin sauce, maple syrup, sugar, Scotch, sesame oil, and ginger, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, Take the turkey out of the brine/marinade, shaking off any excess. Pat dry with paper towels, and place on the rack. Brush with about half of the glaze. roast for 30 minutes, brush with about half of the remaining glaze, and roast until the turkey registers 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, another 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve with the scallions.

Rosh Hashanah Quinoa


Serves 8

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 small red onion, diced
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon orange zest
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped apples
½ cup craisins or pomegranate seeds
Garnish: Chopped parsley

In a 4 quart saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add onion and cook until soft and lightly browned. Add water, quinoa and salt and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 13 – 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk maple syrup, vinegar, mustard, zest, pepper and the remaining 3 tablespoons oil.

Add hot quinoa (so that it absorbs the dressing), and stir to coat. Add apples and craisins. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Garlicky Lemon-Thyme-Marinated Lamb Chops


Serves 6
Original recipe courtesy of Food and Wine magazine. I’ve altered it a bit but it’s wonderfully flavorful.

2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice; more wedges for serving
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
8 cloves finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves or 1 ½ tablespoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 lamb rib chops, trimmed

In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, lemon juice, and maple syrup. Add the garlic, thyme leaves, pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper, and stir to combine.

Put the chicken in a non-reactive container or zip-top bag and pour the marinade over them, turning to coat on all sides. Marinate the lamb chops for at least 1 hour at room temperature or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

When ready to grill, heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat (400°F to 475°F).

Remove the lamb chops from the marinade, shaking off the excess. Grill the chops, turning once, until cooked through, about 6 minutes. Season with more salt to taste, and garnish with lemon wedges and thyme sprigs.

Red Wine BBQ Chicken


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

2 shallots, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup ketchup

1 cup red wine
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

½ tablespoon sriracha sauce, or to taste
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

12 mixed chicken drumsticks and thighs
 or chicken pieces

In a medium saucepan, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the ketchup, wine, sugar, sriracha sauce and mustard. Bring to a boil over moderately high heat, then simmer over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly, then puree in a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat your grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Let the grill reach a temperature of about 450°F (use your thermostat on the grill to check the temperature). Turn down the burners to very low, and grill for about 5 minutes per side or until an internal temperature reaches 165°F.
Alternatively, preheat the oven to 425°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and put a baking rack on it. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and put on the rack. Roast for 15 minutes, until the skin is lightly browned. Brush the chicken with some of the sauce and roast for 40 minutes longer, turning and basting every 10 minutes, until nicely glazed and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the 
thickest piece registers 165°F. Transfer to a platter and serve.

Dried Herb Rub

Makes about ½ cup

2 tablespoons dried oregano, rubbed
2 tablespoons dried parsley, rubbed
2 tablespoons dried basil, rubbed
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
In a small bowl, whisk all of the ingredients until combined.
MAKE AHEAD
The dried herb rub can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Pineapple-Soy Marinade

Makes 3 cups marinade
The pineapple and soy sauce tenderize tough cuts of meat. I use this on London broil, minute steak split roasts, brick roast, shell roast and brisket.

2 cups pineapple juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk all of the ingredients until combined. Marinate meats or chickens for 2 hours, then grill or bake roasts covered.

Fresh Herb Marinade, Summertime Favorite

Great on chicken or roasts
Makes about 2 cups marinade

1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped chives
2 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs, chopped (try basil, parsley, mint, tarragon, marjoram, cilantro or any herb of choice)
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Whisk ingredients in a small bowl. In a zip-lock plastic bag, coat chicken or steaks with marinade and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour or in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours. Remove chicken or steak from marinade before grilling.
Heat your grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Let the grill reach a temperature of about 450°F (use your thermostat on the grill to check the temperature). Turn down the burners to medium (and for chicken, turn down to very low). Place the steaks on the grill. Close the grill. Do not disturb for 5 – 6 minutes. Turn steaks over and grill until desired doneness, about 5 – 6 minutes more for rare (or 135°F internal temperature), 7 – 10 minutes for medium (145°F to 155°F degrees).
Instructions above for 1 – 2 lb. pieces of steak, like Delmonico, skirt, hanger, and minute steak roasts.
For individual steaks: Grill on medium-low burners for approximately 4 minutes per side, depending on thickness. For rare, cook until internal temperature reaches 135°F, 140-145°F for medium, and why buy meat to cook it well-done.
For chicken:
Boneless, skin-less: grill on very low heat, about 3 – 5 minutes per side
Chicken on the bone: grill on very low heat, about 5 – 7 minutes per side, approximately 165°F

My Go-To Grilling Marinade


I like to use this on tender, somewhat thin cuts of meat, like a Del Monico steak, or a hanger steak. Ask your butcher for a tender cut if you don’t see a Del Monico, minute steak, hanger steak or a skirt steak (just rinse this well and even soak in water to get out some of the saltiness before adding the marinade) and he can recommend something that works well on the grill. This marinade is terrific and comes together in minutes.
3 pounds Del Monico steak, hanger steak, minute steak split roast
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 – 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 – 2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 cloves garlic, crushed

In a small bowl, mix marinade ingredients. Pour over meat in a non-reactive dish or in a zip-lock bag. Marinate for a minimum of 3 hours or up to overnight.

Heat your grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Let the grill reach a temperature of about 450°F (use your thermostat on the grill to check the temperature). Turn down the burners to medium. Place the steaks on the grill. Close the grill. Do not disturb for 5 – 6 minutes. Turn steaks over and grill until desired doneness, about 5 – 6 minutes more for rare (or 135°F internal temperature), 7 – 10 minutes for medium (145°F to 155°F degrees).

Marinade or Dry Rub?

I am so glad to be back at the grill this week. It’s easy, tasty, and the smoky smell just makes me feel summertime happy. I teach a lot of grilling classes every summer and love learning new techniques too. Here’s a common question I’m asked.

Marinade or Dry Rub? Here’s the meat of it…

Marinades are liquids that are made of herbs, spices, and an acid—usually a citrus, vinegar, or alcohol. They not only add flavor to your meat, but also tenderize it. The acids breaks down connective tissues and make meat more tender. If you are cooking a protein that is already tender (fish, chicken breasts, or individual steaks), then you should marinate briefly for 2 hours or less. Tougher cuts of meat (briskets, roasts, London broil) should be marinated in the fridge anywhere from 4 hours to overnight. Don’t leave your meat marinating for longer than overnight. Room temperature meat can cause food poisoning, so do not leave your meat marinating at room temperature for longer than 40 minutes. Large sealable plastic bags or non-reactive dishes such as a glass or ceramic with plastic wrap over the top are perfect for marinating.

Use leftover marinade to baste the meat or chicken. DO NOT use it as a sauce, it is not food safe to eat uncooked. It can be used if you boil it for 3 – 5 minutes.

Rubs are mixes of spices and seasoning that add flavor but don’t tenderize. Dry rubs are, in fact, dry and powdery. Paste rubs are mixed with enough of a wet ingredient, like oil, soy sauce, or mustard, to form a paste. Both kinds of rubs should be patted onto the meat to form a coating or crust. Dry rubs are wonderful on individual steaks, and dark meat boneless chicken. I also use them on white meat chicken pieces.

Rubs can be applied just before cooking, but for more impact you can put a rub on a few hours before you plan to cook and store the meat in the fridge.

Here are a few great marinade and dry rub recipes below to enjoy.
My Go-To Grilling Marinade
Fresh Herb Marinade, Summertime Favorite
Pineapple Soy Marinade
Dried Herb Rub
Smoky Spiced Sugar Rub
Red Wine BBQ Chicken
Garlicky Lemon-Thyme-Marinated Lamb Chops

Recipe Ideas For The Nine Days

This time of year I get many requests for recipe ideas for the Nine Days. People seem tired of their teriyaki salmon. I’m excited about all the international food trends and using them as inspiration for my Nine Days menus. From fish to vegetarian options, these recipes are infused with wonderful herbs and spices that will make you feel like you’ve experienced international street food from all over the world.

Salmon Schwarma with Peppers, Onions, and a Tahini Sauce
Simple Za’atar Salmon
Red Lentil and Chickpea Stew
Tuna Poke Bowl
Fish Tacos with Mexican-Slaw
Mexican Cabbage Slaw

Mexican Cabbage Slaw

Serves 6

2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons honey or 1 teaspoon light agave
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 2 limes
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bag shredded purple cabbage
1 ½ cups shredded green cabbage
1 ½ cups shredded carrots
¼ cup finely diced red onion
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and julienned

In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, the salt, honey, cumin, chili powder, lime juice, zest and pepper.
In a medium bowl, toss the purple cabbage, green cabbage, carrots, red onion and bell pepper. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and mix to combine. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.