Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Cancer: You Are What You Eat

April 22nd, 2014 · Food for Thought, Science of Nutrition

Yesterday I shared a little of our family’s story, of discovering that my dad had cancer, the shock and aftermath, and my drive to DO something to help him (plus the top 10 fruits and vegetables to fight cancer). Armed with the power of the Internet, I drove north to do some food education and freezer stocking. Here’s what happened…

Can Food Cause or Prevent Cancer

I had done a bit of research before I left home and had purchased gads of food for them so I could make meals and also introduce some new concepts, plus leave lots of ingredients with them (particularly because my folks live in a very rural area and don’t have access to the kinds of fruits and vegetables I do).

When I arrived, I spent a late night combing the Internet for everything I could find. If there was any evidence that a certain food might help diminish the cancer or boost immunities to weather chemo better, I copied it onto my list. (Unfortunately this post might not be incredibly well-sourced, because I was just flying through and making notes for myself, not necessarily keeping track of where the information came from.)

You can find all sorts of “cancer cures” on the web:

  1. Some say asparagus every day will kill cancer, just like that.
  2. Some say juicing 13x/day, coffee enemas and pretty much eating no other food beyond the juice is better than chemo (Gerson Therapy in a nutshell).
  3. Maybe low-carb, high protein diets reduce tumor growth and cancer risk…
  4. …or maybe animal products cause cancer and grains/veggies are the way to go.
  5. Some say mega doses of Vitamin C are the first and best line of defense.
  6. Plenty of sources claim changing your pH by eating alkaline foods will make your body completely inhospitable to cancer.
  7. And tons and tons of sources claim that sugar feeds cancer and you can pretty much starve tumors by cutting sugars.
  8. There’s the Budwig protocol, which claims just eating cottage cheese mixed with flax oil every day will cure cancer, no problem (oh and of course zero meats, fats, oils, and some other things…).

I’ve received links and information from readers as time has gone on as well – everyone has some way to cure cancer, 100% certainty.

All of these “simple cures,” some of which really aren’t so simple but rather a huge commitment and work-intensive, really seem too good to be true. With the exception of the Gerson Therapy, I don’t know that any of them hold much water (not sure about Gerson either, but it’s definitely more well-known and widely tried).

However – I like to believe that there’s an element of truth in all of them.

Eating real food is always a good thing. Certain foods can certainly have protective effects while others definitely have harmful effects, so I figured if I could encourage my dad to cut some of the junk that might hurt him and beef up on the good stuff, it had to be a huge step in the right direction.

I collated all the information, the research-based and the slightly off-the-wall, into a few lists of foods to eat often, sometimes, hardly ever and hopefully never.

On the question of “animal products vs. grains” I went with what we’ve been living the past few years: That grains are inflammatory, high in carbs, and not extremely helpful, and that properly raised animal products provide much needed fat, protein, vitamins and minerals to the system.

An emphasis on vegetables first, then fruits, then animal products is the best way to eat to fight cancer in my opinion.

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Monday Mission: Fight Cancer with Food

April 21st, 2014 · Monday Missions

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to reduce your risk of cancer by deliberately eating cancer-fighting foods.

Top 10 Cancer Fighting Foods

My dad has cancer.

It’s still totally crazy to think about it, even though in another sense it’s become “the new normal” and we’ve had two months to get used to the idea.

Time doesn’t make the reality any easier; it just sounds that way.

He’s battling bladder cancer, which is found in smokers about 50% of the time.

My dad has never smoked in his life.

Let me tell you, one of the first questions you start asking when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer is, “Why? What the heck happened in his life to cause this? Is my mom at risk? Was it something in my childhood home? Is cancer lurking in the ‘someday’ file for me and my brother too, since we lived there for nearly two decades?”

You start to do Internet research. You learn how the bladder is the last stop for most toxins, both inhaled and consumed, and that it gets hit with a lot of junk for most people.

You read that truckers are one profession that has a higher job-related risk of bladder cancer, likely because of the gasoline and fumes from the trucks, as far as you can decipher.

And Then You Start to Wonder…

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God is Like Google

April 17th, 2014 · Mary and Martha Moments

God is like Google

New words crop up all the time in this digital age. I can only imagine Webster’s Dictionary has never been so in flux at any other point in history, and as an English major, I find it totally fascinating and a little hilarious.

Culture and society just creates words as we go, and with the power of the Internet, they become "real words" and even have appropriate linguistic parts of speech in the blink of an eye.

When Twitter became a big thing (a new word in itself, of course, but coined by its creator, not by society as a whole), linguistics became a global conversation:

  • If we tweet something, is the past tense tweeted or twit?
  • Is the 140-character phrase itself a tweet, an update, or something else?
  • Are Twitter users tweeters?

The noun, the verb, and a string of adjectives from people very passionate about the subject flew through cyberspace (ahem, another example) constantly.

One new coined noun that quickly became a verb without any fanfare or controversy is "Google."

"Just Google it," people advise curious information-seekers. "I Googled it and found more than I ever wanted to know," would be the proper past tense use.

The all-powerful Google must be thrilled.

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Sharing Food When You’re a Real Foodie {GUEST POST}

April 15th, 2014 · Call to Action, KS lifestyle, Mary and Martha Moments

Sharing Food When You're a Real Foodie

This is a guest post from a generous reader who responded to my request for “reader driven” Monday Missions. I enjoyed reading her ideas on using food as a blessing, which inspired yesterday’s actual Monday Mission, and I hope you are challenged and inspired, too. -Katie

It all started as a conversation around the garbage can on trash day.

My elderly widowed neighbor and I were partaking in our ritual Trash Day Small Talk. She looked at her watch, then up at the sky – as if pondering the weather. She sighed. “Guess I should go to the grocery store. It’s just so hard to cook for one.” We chatted about the rising prices of groceries, food we liked eating, and our mutual disdain for the never-ending curse of dirty dishes. As we wheeled our garbage cans back to our respective houses, she chuckled in parting: “Let me know if you ever have leftovers you don’t want!”

I would love to tell you that the light bulb came on. That the heavens parted. That I ran inside to bless my neighbor with dinner. (We’re a family of voracious eaters – we always have food on hand.)

Taking a quick moment to help her out would seem logical, right? But I have to confess something embarrassing: I didn’t.

Fast forward three years. Yes, I said it was embarrassing.

Kitchen Kindness

Over the last three years I have teamed up with a ministry at our church called Kitchen Kindness – a group of people who pitch in meals for those in need, like moms with newborns or folks recovering from surgery. My family has also been on the receiving end of Kitchen Kindness meals due to my lengthy stint on bed rest from preterm labor. Receiving over 90+ meals certainly makes you appreciate the gift of food!

While it was natural for me to think of offering food to a friend in crisis, I never considered offering food to my neighbors “just because.” Well, until one day recently.

The Gift of Soup

Thanks to Katie’s Monday Mission on making bone broth, I make a monstrous pot of soup most Monday nights and we eat it for an easy lunch for the rest of the week.

This particular Monday, I divided out the soup for the week … and I had just ONE cup of soup left. Sure, I could freeze it. But one serving? Really? For a family of four? My freezer was already well stocked with little servings of soup. I groaned at the prospect of adding more.

And that’s when my conversation from three years ago came rushing back. With a twinge of nervous excitement, I picked up the phone and called my neighbor.

“Hello, Florence? It’s Bethany from next door. Would you like some soup?”

The Joy of Sharing

Blessing Others with Food
So began a beautiful relationship of sharing food with my neighbors – just because. This past summer we baked mini-loaves of bread and delivered them steaming fresh to nine of our neighbors. (Note to self: be sure to grease those adorable disposable cardboard pans. Nothing like giving away food that is STUCK to the dish. Oops.) At Christmas we delivered cookies. This winter we shared multiple bowls of hot soup at dinner time.

Now, please don’t look at me like some sort of magic Food Fairy who lives in a small Mayberry-esque town. We live in a closed-door neighborhood where everyone is treated as strangers and nobody waves at each other. It still takes guts for me to knock on the door of someone who barely knows me with fresh food in my hands. However doing so has opened doors of conversation that I never thought possible.

Shared food has a way of breaking down barriers.

Two weeks ago, my own doorbell rang. A neighbor baked me a homemade carrot cake as a way of saying thanks for caring about them.

The art of sharing food doesn’t have to require herculean effort. It can be a few slices of fresh bread or two muffins on a plate. It can be a pint jar of soup or a few fresh tomatoes from the garden. It’s often those spur-of-the-moment gifts that create the biggest blessings.

Sharing Food You Disagree With

I consider our family a “whole foods, slow food” family. We eat very little processed food, making pretty much everything from scratch. We enjoy our homemade yogurt, farm-fresh eggs, and local honey. When I share food with others, I am usually sharing extras of what our family already eats.

Warning: What I’m about to write is very, very controversial.

It’s okay to share processed food that you don’t agree with.

It’s okay to give away food you wouldn’t normally buy for your own family.

I recently had the opportunity to bless a friend with a stash of homemade lunches. She’s at that awful stage of pregnancy where just the smell of food makes her queasy and her energy is zapped. She was drowning in self-imposed mommy guilt because she was struggling to spend time in the kitchen.

So I decided to make 2 weeks’ worth of lunches that could be stored in the freezer until needed. I wanted to give them something affordable, FUN, and nutritious. Something her 5-year-old could help prepare, and that her entire family would be eager to eat. So I made and froze 30 PB+J sandwiches, bought 10 jars of their favorite canned fruit, and purchased frozen vegetables in microwavable steam-fresh bags.

This took a big stretch for me. We don’t own a microwave – by choice. We don’t eat canned fruit cocktail – by choice.

And THAT’S the tricky thing in blessing people with food. It’s not speaking love to them if it’s not something they are going to enjoy. Yes, it feels a little strange to purchase cocktail fruit cups — because it’s something I would never do for my family. But my friend was desperate for an alternative to McDonalds and they enjoy fruit cocktail cups. She’s not asking for help: I’m blessing her with a surprise.

So I’m okay buying something that I normally disagree with, because I know that it will be received with relief, gratitude, and open arms.

Because I can still be God’s blessing to them — even if the food isn’t the “best” food. I can’t let my personal preferences (“oh, I’d NEVER buy that”) keep me from helping meet the needs of others.

A Final Visit from the Neighborhood Food Fairy

A few months ago, a young neighbor had a baby. A week after they got home from the hospital, I knocked on her door with hot soup in hand. In the seven years we’ve lived here, we’ve done little more than wave in passing. So to see me on her doorstep – food in hand – overwhelmed her. Her eyes welled up with tears in gratitude. She later returned my jars with a note: “If you ever have more leftover soup, please let me know!”

This time I didn’t wait three years to take her up on her offer.

Have any extra food in your home? Do you have a neighbor you can share your leftovers with? Give it a try and share your story below!

Bethany - Guest PostBethany lives in Ohio with her wonderful husband, delightful 5-year-old daughter, and adorable 2-year-old son. When she’s not busy making a disaster in the kitchen, she enjoys taking all-day cycling excursions with her family and reading books. She comes from a long line of cooks, including ancestors who were chefs to German royalty. Despite her chops in the kitchen, she is completely unskilled at vegetable gardening. (Her consolation is knowing that in a zombie apocalypse, her role would be the town baker and not farmer.) A long-time KS reader, Bethany is thankful for Kitchen Stewardships’ baby-steps and Monday Missions that have completely transformed her family’s life.

I’d love to see more of you! Sign up for a free email subscription or grab my reader feed. You can also follow me on Twitter, get KS for Kindle, or see my Facebook Fan Page.

If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.

Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money. If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post to Amazon from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. See my full disclosure statement here.

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.