Have you done a self breast examination yet? If not, pause from reading this post, head over to the Vitality Guide for Women Facebook page and get the how to guide (you may have to scroll to see it) and DO IT; then come right back and continue reading. Every woman should know how to examine her breasts, so if something changes she is aware; because that’s what October is all about, Breast Cancer Awareness. And if you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times, our health and wellness is our responsibility, not that of our doctors.
Broccoli in my opinion should be considered vegetable royalty, as it finds itself on many “Top Healthy Food” lists; and broccoli has been lauded for its cancer fighting properties for years. As a member of the brassica family of cruciferous vegetables- the same family as cabbage, kale and Swiss chard- broccoli is an excellent source of anti-cancer phytochemicals called isothiocynates. Isocthiocynates fight cancer by neutralizing carcinogens by reducing their poisonous effect and stimulating the release of carcinogen scavengers, and speed their removal from the body.
So why is it important that women eat broccoli?
The anti-cancer properties of broccoli have been well established, due to various compounds that impact our health; but the one that deserves a special mention is the indoles. Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C), which is not only a powerful antioxidant and stimulating detoxification enzyme, seems to protect the structure of DNA. It also reduces the risk of breast and cervical cancer.
I3C is important to women because of estrogen. Now estrogen has three basic metabolites, and they all behave differently in the body. Two of these metabolites- 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone and 4-hydroxyestrone possess carcinogenic action, but the third, 2-hydroxyestrone, is benign and has protective effect. I3C increases the ratio of the benign estrogen metabolite to the harmful ones. And since men also have estrogen, vegetables with indoles are protective and helpful to them as well. As if that weren’t enough to get you on side with broccoli, I3C has also been shown to protect against the carcinogenic effect of pesticides and other toxins.
Although broccoli is available year round, the best of the bunch is available fall through winter to spring. With dark green broccoli, the heads should be dense with no separation between the green buds and no yellow flowers showing; the presence of even one flower means the plant is turning fibrous and woody. Broccoli, despite many people carrying longstanding aversions to it, is quite versatile; and it plays nicely with bacon, anchovies, cheese, pesto, hollandaise sauce, lemon garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and the list could go on forever.
This leek, potato and broccoli soup recipe is a delicious way to meet your indole requirement; and virtually effortless to prepare. Truthfully I was simply going to make leek and potato soup, but I’m always looking for ways to boost the nutritional content of my food, and the addition of broccoli fit the bill rather nicely. Soup has been a longtime favorite of mine, as I love layering flavors; and that’s the beauty of soup. Crafting a delicious soup required that you take simple flavors and build on them; which seems simple enough but there is an art to making soup. Throwing all ingredients into a pot with water does not a delicious soup make; the key is layering the ingredients in the right order- onions, celery and carrot go first (but this soup only has onions), then the main component like broccoli and potatoes along with spice and then the liquid component, this ensure the maximum achievement of flavor.
Although this leek, potato and broccoli soup recipe has very few ingredients, don’t let that fool you; in this case less is more! One slurp of this delicious soup will show you that cancer fighting has never tasted this good!
Leek, Potato and Broccoli Soup Recipe
6 potatoes, cubed
1 leek, washed and sliced- white part only
1 head broccoli, roughly chopped (reserve some florets for garnish)
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp pepper
2 tsp salt
1 cup water
4 ½ cups vegetable broth
1 tsp chili flakes
To blanch broccoli floret for garnish, boil salted water and plunge the broccoli in the water; cook until they are the brightest of green, about 1 minutes and set aside. Heat oil in pot on medium high heat, add the leeks and 1 tsp salt; cook until the leeks are fragrant and transparent, about 4 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook stirring for an additional 4 minutes; add the broccoli, stock and water. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a rolling simmer; cook for 25 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to fall apart. Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender until completely smooth. Garnish with blanched florets and chili flakes.