On friendship and breast-healthy foods
October. It isn’t just Birthday Month, it also happens to be Breast Cancer Awareness Month. My best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 37 years old. 37! That number boggles my mind. I didn’t know her then, and she is — thank the heavens — now almost five years cancer free. I love her undeniably, but it embarrasses me to admit that I am grateful I didn’t know her then. I don’t think I could have handled it.
She is my hero. I tease her that when we first met, it was love at first sight. We were destined to be friends forever from our very first “friend date,” that long, dry, wine-filled hike up Kunde’s hill. Many hikes and many, many glasses of wine later, she improves my life daily whether she knows it or not. Just knowing she is there, like a big sister, she is always there for me with the sort of wise advice you sometimes don’t want to hear, and many friends wouldn’t tell you, or flowers from her garden when I am not feeling well.
I think, when we first met, food was not very important to her; it was a neccesity, but not really appreciated. I am not sure how much food came into the cancer equation for her or her recovery, all I know is that macaroni and cheese makes her happy and she now practically lives on a steady diet of tea and kale. I know that all of that stuff, happiness included, is pretty darn good for you.
Her big, real, laugh reminds me, every single time I hear it, that life is precious and hard and amazing. She reminds me, whether she knows it or not, that life is short, that it can be snatched away from you at any second. It’s almost impossible for me to not think of my own breast health when I think of her, but because of her, I shall embrace every second of this amazing life, living here in this amazing place.
I know that there are so many uncontrollable factors that up my risk of breast cancer, but I shall try my darnedest to, in the very least, eat well, and eat for optimum breast health. I read recently that a woman can cut her chance of cancer by as much as two-thirds with weight management and good nutrition. So, after a bit of research on what foods specifically boost your chances for staying breast cancer free, I will be tossing these items in my grocery cart!
Plums and peaches. Researchers recently found that these fruits have antioxidant levels to rival “superfood” blueberries, and that they contain two types of polyphenols, or antioxidants, that may help kill breast cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact.
Walnuts. Experts think walnuts’ anti-inflammatory properties, which could come from the omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid, phytosterols or antioxidants, may give them their tumor-fighting potential.
Broccoli. Sulforaphane, a compound in the vegetable, reduced the number of breast cancer stem cells in mice, according to recent research. To get the most you can, eat your broccoli raw or briefly steam or stir-fry the green florets.
Salmon. Taking fish-oil supplements for at least 10 years can shrink your risk of ductal carcinoma, the most common type of breast cancer, according to many studies. It’s thought that the omega-3 fats in fish oil reduce inflammation, which may contribute to breast cancer, but you can skip the supplement aisle, and eat about eight ounces of oily fish (salmon, sardines, tuna) a week.
Olive Oil. Another reason to reach for extra-virgin olive oil: when researchers gave rats with breast cancer a diet in which fat came predominantly from extra-virgin olive oil, versus corn oil, they found that the olive oil’s antioxidants and oleic acid quelled growth of malignant cells.
Parsley. University of Missouri scientists found that this herb can inhibit cancer cell growth. Animals that were given apigenin, a compound abundant in parsley and celery, boosted their resistance to developing cancerous tumors.
Coffee. Drinking about two 12-ounce coffees a day may lower your risk of an aggressive form of breast cancer, says a 2011 study in “Breast Cancer Research.”
Beans. According to a new report, upping your fiber intake may help lower your risk of breast cancer. It was found that for every 10 grams of fiber a woman added to her daily diet, her risk of breast cancer decreased by seven percent. That’s about a half-cup to one-cup of beans, depending on the variety. Other foods packed with fiber include barley, bulgur, lentils, peas, artichokes, dates and raspberries.
This month I encourage all of my female readers to also be inspired by my best friend’s story. Please get a mammogram and practice self-exams. Visit nbcam.org for more information on Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
On The Menu
Chef Rob Larman and Cochon Volant host a “La Poste Bistro Dinner” at the Valley Wine Shack on October 18 from 5:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. The tres yummy sounding menu includes an heirloom tomato salad with wild arugula and Burrata, duck legs braised in red wine, with a puree of root vegetables and Romano beans, and mixed berries with lemon curd and biscotti. The dinner costs a mere $35, with affordable Valley Wine Shack wines available by the glass and bottle. Make your necessary reservations by calling 938.7218. The Valley Wine Shack is located at 535 West Napa Street.
“The Story of Wine in the Park,” is a conversation and tasting at Jack London Historic State Park. Explore this fascinating history with Lou Leal, Sonoma Valley winemaker and Jack London historian, and Marvin Collins, photographer and writer for Wine & Spirits Magazine. The duo will lead a conversation about the wineries and wine made on the lands of Jack London Historic State Park and in the surrounding Glen Ellen area from 1860 to the present. In addition to their talk, they will lead a tour of Beauty Ranch to explore the old winery buildings and vineyards and conclude with a tasting of Kenwood Vineyard wines. This fabulous afternoon takes place on Saturday, October 27, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Purchase tickets in advance or obtain more information at jacklondonpark.com. Seating is limited.
The Epicurean Connection always has plenty of great food-related happenings in-store. On October 24, they host a “Dinner with Idell Family Vineyard & Hamel Family Vineyards,” featuring a menu courtesy of guest chefs from The Depot Hotel & Crisp Bakery. On November 14, “Dinner with Paula Wolfert” boasts a complete Moroccan menu prepared by Sheana Davis. The Epicurean Connection is located at 122 West Napa St. Contact 935.960 or Sheanadavis.com
Kristin Jorgensen is one of Sonoma’s most passionate, food obsessed residents. In this weekly column, she covers all the delicious happenings, foodie events and restaurants in Sonoma, the rest of Wine Country and beyond. Email her with comments, questions, or your food related events at email@example.com.