When to Buy Organic: 2014 Dirty Dozen & Clean 15


Many people believe that the pesticides used to grow conventional or non-organic produce may have played a role in their cancer and that removing pesticides from our food may help re-build and strengthen their bodies.  Although there is no definitive research proving either belief, should we avoid buying some or all fruits or vegetables that are conventionally grown?  


To help answer this question, the Environmental Working Group (EWG)the nation’s leading environmental health research and advocacy organization, created the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.  This guide, which is updated each year, highlights the cleanest and dirtiest conventionally-raised fruits and vegetables. The EWG recommends that if a conventionally grown food tests high for pesticides, go for the organic version instead whenever possible.


The 12 most pesticide-laden foods are known as “The Dirty Dozen”. When choosing fruits & veggies included in the Dirty Dozen, the EWG suggests buying these foods as ORGANIC.

2014 Dirty Dozen includes: 

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet bell peppers
  8. Nectarines (imported)
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry tomatoes
  11. Snap peas (imported)
  12. Potatoes

*When possible, the EWG suggests that hot peppers and leafy greens like kale and collard greens should also be purchased as organic as these veggies are often tainted with unusually hazardous pesticides.


The 15 least pesticide-laden foods are known as The Clean 15″.  If the fruit or veggie is listed on the Clean 15, it’s ok to buy it as non-organic or conventional.

2014 Clean 15 includes:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet peas – frozen
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Grapefruit
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Sweet potatoes


*  Keep in mind that the information above is based on produce bought at supermarkets. If you shop at farmers markets, ask about their growing practices. Even if what they sell isn’t certified organic, many local farmers use as few pesticides as possible, making the foods on the Dirty Dozen become good choices, even if they aren’t certified organic.


*  The EWG maintains that the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure So it’s better to eat conventionally-grown produce than not eating fruits and vegetables at all.


*  Download the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce App on your smart phone.  The App is available for an Android phonefor an iPhone or iPad; or for a Windows phone.   



Nutritional Fixes for Common Cancer Side Effects

Super helpful info from Cancer Treatment Centers of America


To learn about fixes for these and other common cancer side effects, check out Cancer Nutrition & Recipes for Dummies.

Click HERE for more on nutrition therapy, tips & recipes from Cancer Treatment Centers of America Dieticians.

All Hail Kale & This Yummy Salad Recipe


Eating healthy, good-for-you foods during and post-treatment can help cancer patients feel better and stay stronger.  Proper nutrition can help them keep up their body weight and strength, keep body tissue healthy, and fight infection.


Dark leafy greens are the rockstars of the produce department as they have the most concentrated source of nutrition we have.  Kale is a nutritional powerhouse.  Calorie for calorie, kale has more iron than beef and more calcium than milk.  Kale is also loaded with vitamin K.  According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating a diet rich in the powerful antioxidant vitamin K can reduce the overall risk of developing or dying from cancer.  Needless to say, I’m always in search of new ways to eat kale.  BTW, whenever possible buy organic kale as kale typically ranks very high on the EWG’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce listing (the higher the ranking, the more pesticides used)


Meet Eris Norman, a certified health coach who lost her mother at the young age of 58 to sarcoma.  Eris shared with me one of her very favorite kale salad recipes…  she says this preparation keeps all of the kale’s nutrients in tact.  The dressing is a hit, even with kids.  Raw garlic is nature’s antibiotic and is best eaten after it’s been chopped up and sitting for 10 minutes to release all its essential oils so we can most benefit.  Nutritional yeast is a vegan food which contains Vitamin B12, high protein, high fiber, folic acid and is gluten-free.  It has a cheesy flavor and is great in recipes or sprinkled on top of food.  As Mikey from the old Life cereal ads used to say “try it, you’ll like it!


Cheesy Goldfish Kale Salad

By Linda Petursdottir of


1-2 bunches organic curly kale, stem removed and leaves rinsed and chopped

Optional additions: cut up apple, sliced onions, siced avocado, dried fruit and toasted seeds


1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup Tamari

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 cloves garlic

1 cup Nutritional Yeast

1 cup organic extra virgin olive oil


1. Place all ingredients for the salad dressing except olive oil in a blender and then gradually pour the olive oil in while blending.

2. Pour a desired amount over the rinsed and dried kale. With your clean hands or salad utensils, rub and mix the dressing into the kale.  The lemon juice and salt from the Tamari will begin to break down the cellular wall of the kale which provides greater nutrient absorption. 

3. The dressing keeps in fridge for 3-5 days. Be sure to take it out of the fridge a few minutes before using it as the oil gets coagulated.

D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S and oh so very nutritious!  Enjoy!!!


(Sources:  WebMD, Environmental Working Group)



Soy for Lung Cancer: 2 Tofu Recipes to Potentially Help Inhibit Malignant Growth


Meet GUEST BLOGGER Faith Franz.  Faith is a writer for The Mesothelioma Center, an organization that provides support and resources for people and families with this rare disease.  Faith also likes to spread the word about the benefits of alternative medicine.

Tofu –it’s what’s for dinner. (If you’re trying to naturally prevent lung cancer growth, that is.)

In a recent 2013 article, researchers from the University of Arkansas found that soybeans with a high oleic acid content could inhibit the growth of several cancers by up to 70 percent. Among the malignancies:

  • Lung cancer (growth reduced by 68%)*
  • Colon cancer (growth reduced  by 73%)*
  • Liver cancer (growth reduced by 70%)*

This was certainly not the first study to identify anti-cancer benefits in soy. Other studies exploring the correlation between soy and lung cancer date back to 1985, and one published this month indicates high-soy diets may correlate with longer cancer survival rates. (That study found that women who ate more than 21 grams of soy protein per day were more likely to reach five-year survival after a lung cancer diagnosis.)*

However, this study was the first note these specific bioactive benefits in three individual soy protein isolates. The University of Arkansas was also the first organization to identify two of the three high-oleic acid soybean varieties, as part of an ongoing soybean breeding program.

Oleic acid – the main fat component in the much-acclaimed olive oil – is also associated with breast cancer inhibition.

Lab workers tested each of the soy isolates against cell lines from lung, colon and liver cancer samples. They found that growth for each type of cancer significantly slowed after exposure to the soy isolates, and that higher doses produced greater results.

Several other food-derived compounds offer lung cancer inhibitory benefits. These include reservatrol, an antioxidant in red wine, and curcumin, the main component of the Indian herb turmeric.

Tofu, Two Ways

Tofu has a bad reputation as a bland, oddly textured food. But when prepared correctly, nothing can be further from the truth.

Just like you wouldn’t serve raw, unseasoned meat, you can’t serve raw, unseasoned tofu. It needs a zesty marinade and some added fat to taste its best.  It also needs to be pressed to remove excess water; without pressing, it’ll be soggy, no matter how long you cook it.

You’ll need to be sure to purchase tofu that’s certified organic or made from non-genetically modified soybeans. (The health effects of genetically modified foods are not completely known, but what we do know suggests that they’re not ideal for health). While the study uses soybeans that are bred to have higher-than-average oleic acid concentrations, there are several natural ways to breed non-modified high-oleic acid soybeans.

The following two soy-based recipes are full of plant-based protein (more than 15 grams per serving):

Crispy Baked Garlic Tofu (serves one)


1/3 package organic tofu

1 whole egg

1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon garlic paste

1 teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon thyme

Salt and pepper, to taste


-  Thinly slice tofu; press between paper towels for five minutes to remove moisture.

- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

- In one bowl, whip together the egg and garlic paste. In another bowl, blend together the Panko, onion, cayenne, thyme, salt and pepper.

- Dip each tofu slice into the egg mixture, then roll in Panko coating. Arrange on a greased cookie sheet, then bake 10-13 minutes until crispy). Serve warm.

Easy Tofu Stir Fry (serves one)


1/3 package organic tofu

1 floret fresh broccoli

½ cup sliced carrots

½ onion

1 can baby corn or water chestnuts

¼ cup organic soybean oil

Teriyaki sauce and soy sauce, to taste

1 serving brown rice or soba noodles


-  Cut tofu into cubes; press between paper towels for five minutes to remove moisture.

-Cook rice/noodles according to package.

- Add vegetables, oil, teriyaki sauce and soy sauce to a wok (or skillet). Sautee for 5 minutes; add tofu cubes. Sautee another 4-6 minutes, flipping the cubes so each side gets firm and brown.

If desired, add another dash of teriyaki or soy; serve over the rice or soba noodles.

Do you cook with soy? If so, what are your favorite tofu or tempeh recipes? If you try out either of these recipes, let us know your thoughts in the comments.



Seaman, A. M. (26 March 2013). Soy tied to better lung cancer survival among women. Reuters. 

Rayaprolu, S. J., Hettiarachchy, N. S., Chen, P., Kannan, A., & Mauromostakos A. (2013). Peptides derived from high oleic acid soybean meal inhibit colon, liver and lung cancer cell growth. Food Research International; 50 (1).

Organic or Conventional: the 2013 Dirty Dozen & Clean 15



Exposure to pesticides in foods has been linked to many health conditions including cancer.  After all, it makes sense that we put both into our bodies and on our bodies affect our bodies.  To help guide consumers on what produce they should really try to buy organic (grown without the use of pesticides), the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the nation’s leading environmental health research and advocacy organization, has released its annual Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.  This guide does change slightly from year to year.


The Dirty Dozen includes the 12 most pesticide-laden foods.  When choosing fruits & veggies listed on the Dirty Dozen (see below for list), try to buy ORGANIC.

2013 Dirty Dozen List

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet bell peppers
  8. Nectarines
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Potatoes
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Hot peppers

*Kale, collard greens and summer squash should also be purchased as organic.  Click here for more info on why EWG recommends this*


The Clean 15 include the 15 least pesticide-laden foods.  If the fruit or veggie is listed on the Clean 15, it’s ok to buy it as non-organic or conventional.

2013 Clean 15 list

  1. Mushrooms
  2. Sweet potatoes
  3. Cantaloupe
  4. Grapefruit
  5. Kiwi
  6. Eggplant
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papayas
  10. Sweet peas – frozen
  11. Cabbage
  12. Avocados
  13. Pineapple
  14. Onions
  15. Corn


*  Keep in mind that the information above is based on produce bought at supermarkets. If you shop at farmers markets, ask about their growing practices. Even if what they sell isn’t certified organic, many local farmers use as few pesticides as possible, making the foods on the Dirty Dozen become good choices, even if they aren’t certified organic.


*  The EWG also maintains that the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.  So it’s better to eat conventionally-grown produce than not eating fruits and vegetables at all.


*  You can download the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce app on your smart phone using these links:  for Android phone; for iPhone or iPad; for Windows phone.   



Recipes for Nutritious, Delicious, Cancer-Fighting Smoothies

Chef Frank Caputo of Cancer Treatment Centers of America Western with Rob Harris, caregiver extraordinaire

Chef Frank Caputo of Cancer Treatment Centers of America Western with Rob Harris, caregiver extraordinaire serving up the most delicious & nutritious smoothies


Last week I had the honor of attending a Blogger Summit at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) in Arizona with some of the most incredible and inspiring kick-ass cancer bloggers EVER.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about many of the new resources I learned about here.


It is at this conference where I first learned that severe malnutrition and weight loss play a role in at least one in five cancer deaths.  Additionally patients who are well nourished throughout their treatments are better able to tolerate their chemo and radiation.  This is why Cancer Treatment Centers of America places such a huge emphasis on nutritional counseling and includes a board-certified nutritionist as part of each patient’s medical team.


Smoothies are an easy and delicious way to add vital nutrients to any diet.  At Cancer Treatment Centers of America, you can order custom-made nutritious, delicious smoothies from the smoothie bar inside their cafeterias.  BTW, every meal or smoothie prepared at any CTCA facility uses fresh, healthy, organic ingredients.  CTCA Western in Arizona even has it’s own organic farm located next to the facility.  A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!


Thank you CTCA for sharing these delicious, nourishing smoothie recipes.  Each recipe contains vital nutrients that can help to ease side effects from cancer treatments:

Super Greens Smoothie which is rich in antioxidant and phytochemicals.

Take a handful of kale, wheat grass, spinach, broccoli, and green apple.  Blend it with coconut water or vegetable stock.  It’s my personal favorite!


Electrolyte Replacer Smoothie can help to quench your thirst and keep your electrolytes in balance.

Blend coconut water, bananas, fresh orange juice with a dash of cinnamon.


Protein Power can give your body that extra protein boost it sometimes needs.

Blend plain yogurt, frozen fruit, milk protein powered, lemon zest and cinnamon.


Detox Delicious is a natural and safe beverage that can help cleanse without stripping the body of benefits.

Blend parsley, spinach, broccoli, lemon juice, raw garlic, green apple and tahini or sesame paste with vegetable stock.


Immune Support helps to support up your immune system, which as we all know can get weakened from cancer treatments.

Blend carrots, broccoli, pineapple, kale, blueberries with cherry juice.  YUM!





10 Green Juice Recipes

My son Ethan "enjoying" a green smoothie.

My son Ethan and his delicious green juice.


I LOVE the color green… light green, bright green, dark forest green, any shade of green.  I especially LOVE  green juices and green smoothies.  They’re nutritious and delicious.  Incorporating more vegetables (and fruits) into your diet can help boost your immune system which often times becomes weakened during cancer treatments.  Juicing or blending veggies into a drink is the easiest way to get lots of them into your body in one sitting.


In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, Reboot with Joe posted their Top 10 Favorite Green Juices.  I am reposting these recipes below as finding good green juicing recipes is no easy task. ;-)  Enjoy!
Morning Green Glory Juice

4 – 5 large kale leaves
1 large handful of spinach
3 romaine leaves
1 cucumber
3 celery stalks
1 green apple
1 lemon, peeled (You can leave the peel on but it will taste very bitter)

Rainbow Bright Green Juice

3 kale leaves
3 celery stalks
4 carrots
2 fuji apples

Mean Green Hulk (my personal favorite)

2 cucumber
4 celery stalks
2 zucchini
6 kale Leaves
6 spinach leaves
1 lemon
2 Tbsp. ginger

The Cabbage Patch Juice

6-8 Green Cabbage Leaves
6-8 Swiss Chard Leaves
3 Carrots
1 Apple
1” piece of Ginger

Pucker-up Parsley Juice

1 bunch parsley
2 lemons
1-2 thick slices horseradish root
2 cucumbers

Green Carrot Ginger Juice

2″ (5 cm) of ginger root (you may add more ginger if you like)
1 medium cucumber
4 carrots
3 stalks kale (tuscan cabbage)
1/2 pear

Green Citrus Juice

1 Green apple
1 navel orange, peeled
3 big handfuls of leafy greens (kale, chard, spinach, romaine, etc)

Lemon-Lime and Bitters Juice

1 Lemon
1 Lime
1 cup Watercress
2-3 Green Apples

Substitutions or Additions:
Lemon – yellow or ruby grapefruit, orange, mandarin, tangerine
Lime – yellow or ruby grapefruit, orange, mandarin, tangerine
Watercress – cucumber, green cabbage, spinach, kale, radicchio, endive, beetroot leaves, rocket (arugula), chicory (witlof), collard leaves, dandelion leaves
Apple – other types of apples, pear, kiwi, green grapes

Crisp and Clean Green Juice

1 large wedge green cabbage
2 small pears
1 bunch romaine leaves
1” ginger root

Joe’s Mean Green Juice 

1 large wedge green cabbage
2 small pears
1 bunch romaine leaves
1” ginger root


Kale & Butternut Squash Saute


Kale & Butternut Squash Saute… DELISH!


WedMD writes this about kale… “Move over Popeye and make room for the “queen of greens,” kale. Gaining in popularity, kale is an amazing vegetable being recognized for its exceptional nutrient richness, health benefits, and delicious flavor.  Eating a variety of natural, unprocessed vegetables can do wonders for your health, but choosing super-nutritious kale on a regular basis may provide significant health benefits, including cancer protection and lowered cholesterol.”


Now most people who know me know that I’m obsessed with kale and am in constant search of new ways to prepare it.  Thanks to Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen, Kale & Chocolate and Pink Kitchen, I’ve made some delicious, nutritious, cancer-fighting meals using my favorite green superfood.  I’d like to share a new yummy recipe using kale I just made from Fitness Magazine.

Kale & Butternut Squash Saute  *Serves 4


2 tablespoons of high quality olive oil
3 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 3 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 1/2 cups chopped fresh kale
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon each of kosher salt AND pepper
4 tablespoons chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted
4 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese



1.  In a large skillet,heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add squash, onion & garlic and cook, stirring constantly until squash is slightly tender, about 7 minutes.  (** Next time I prepare this dish, I instead will lightly toss the squash with olive oil and then roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes until brown and then add it to the sauteed onion & garlic.  I prefer that consistency for the squash.)

2.  Add kale, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper and cook until kale is wilted and tender, 5 to 7 minutes.  Remove from heat.

3.  Add cranberries and nuts; toss to combine.  Sprinkle with goat cheese.  And enjoy!




Don’t Mix Grapefruit With Some Medications


Alan LOVED to eat fruit, any kind of fruit… but his favorites were strawberries, blueberries and grapefruit.  However, I remember when he was taking sutent (typically used to treat kidney cancer), “chemo-in-a-pill” as we called it, he was not allowed to eat grapefruit… or drink his favorite soda Fresca which is made from grapefruits…. but why?  I mean, aren’t grapefruits good for you???  After all, they are loaded with fiber, vitamin C, potassium and other phytonutrients.


Here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)…

Furanocoumarin, a compound found in grapefruits (as well as limes, pomelos, Seville oranges) can interact with certain medications.  According to a new study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, grapefruit or its juices can interact with more than 85 drugs- of which 43 have the potential to cause serious, possibly even fatal, side effects.

Below is a sampling of some of the drugs that can interact with grapefruit:

“Crizotinib: a drug that’s used to treat certain forms of cancer. If patients on this drug eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice, it may cause torsade de pointes, a serious, often fatal, heart problem. It can also cause bone-marrow suppression, or myelotoxicity.

Oxycodone: an opioid narcotic used to treat pain and is also commonly abused. If mixed with grapefruit, it can cause respiratory depression or inadequate intake of breath, a serious condition.

Cyclosporine: an immunosuppressant drug used to prevent rejection of transplanted organs. If mixed with grapefruit, it can be toxic to the kidneys and lead to renal failure.”  (source: Globe & Mail)

So while some foods and drinks may strengthen the effect of the medication and produce an outcome similar to overdosing, others can weaken the effect of the medication. This can make the medication ineffective, and result in a lack of symptom relief or worsening of the disease.


**** When taking any medication, always read the warning label, and speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you are concerned about food and drug interactions.

**** Also check out, a super informative & easy-to-use site that helps to educate cancer patients and caregivers about chemotherapy drugs and their side effects as well as various medical terminologies, insurance basics, patient assistant programs and more.

**** Click HERE  to see a recently updated list of medications that interact with grapefruit compiled by Canadian researcher Dr. David Bailey, who first described this interaction more than two decades ago.


(Sources:  Dana Farber; Globe & Mail; LA Times; NY Times Well Blog)



Food Safety Tips During Cancer Treatments


Anyone can get sick from eating “bad” food.  But cancer patients, whose immune system is already weakened from chemotherapy and radiation, are even more susceptible to infection from food or food poisoning which is why  food safety is such an important part of cancer care.

So here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)… 

When your immune system is weak, you need to stay away from bacteria and other organisms that could make you sick.  With this in mind, Compliance and Safety Training, a top supplier for safety training videos, has compiled Food Safety Tips: A Comprehensive Resource.  Although the tips below were written for the general public, they are especially important for cancer patients  to follow:

1.  Keep your space—and stomach—clean.  Maintain a clean and orderly kitchen.

2.  Practice smart shopping.

  • Purchase non-perishable items first.
  • Never choose packaging that is torn, dented, leaking, rusted, bulging, or otherwise damaged.
  • Check expiration dates and buy fresh products.
  • Note the “best before” label.

3.  Be alert for food recalls or alerts.

4.  Ensure safe storage.

  • Follow storage and cooking instructions as outlined on the label.
  • Set the correct temperature for your fridge (40 degrees F, or less) and freezer (0 degrees F, or less)
  • Cook (or freeze) fresh meat or fish within 2 days; beef, lamb, pork, and veal can last up to 5 days.
  • Preserve meat and poultry by wrapping it securely; you’ll also prevent the juices from leaking and contaminating other foods.
  • High-acid canned food (tomatoes, pineapple) can safely last for approximately 12-18 months on your pantry shelf.
  • Low-acid canned food (fish, vegetables, meat) can keep up to 5 years, if in good condition and in a suitably dry and cool location.

5.  Always wash your hands and, if needed, the food in question (even if it looks clean!).

6.  Keep sinks and counters clean, as clean as possible at all times.

7.  Beware cross-contamination. Keep raw and cooked foods apart. Food safety must always be a priority.

8.  Thoroughly cook your food. Undercooked food is a haven for germs and bad bacteria; ensure your food is hot all the way through with a food thermometer that can measure that internal temperature at the thickest part.

9.  Avoid eating raw meat and all raw seafood. 

10.  Put the fridge to good use;

  • Keep marinated meats (always in a covered dish!) and all perishable leftovers in the refrigerator (microorganisms won’t have a chance to multiply).
  • Don’t leave perishable food out for more than two hours (or, if it’s really hot, an hour at most).
  • Try to consume leftovers within 4 days.

11.  Thaw thoughtfully with these food safety tips:

  • The fridge offers the safest (but slowest) means of thawing. Meats in particular should always be thawed in the fridge.
  • Submerge your food in cold water for quicker thawing; be sure to change the water every half hour, and start cooking immediately when the food has been thawed.
  • Microwave thawing is fast but not as safe or healthy for your food; at least, be sure to cook immediately after thawing.

12.  Maintain the right temperature for your food; serve or maintain hot food at or below 140 degrees F, and cold food at or below 40 degrees F.

13.  Our oncologists also made the following suggestions:

Wear food service gloves when touching raw meat;

Thoroughly wash foods that you cut in to-even if you don’t eat the rind- like lemons, limes, oranges, watermelons, etc.;

Use paper towels (rather than cloth ones that get re-used time after time until washed) to dry off both your hands and foods after washing.

As always, with anything related to your cancer care, talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns.  Also, ask them if they have any other food safety suggestions they’d like you to follow.  And please post them below.  Knowledge is power…. share the power p-l-e-a-s-e.