Healthy Chicken Fried Rice
Craving takeout? You can have this healthy fried brown rice with chicken and asparagus on the dinner table in 30 minutes, about the same amount of time you’d wait for delivery. This recipe swaps fiber-rich brown rice for white rice, which helps keep you full and keeps blood sugar steady.
2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
1 pound chicken breast, chopped into bite sized pieces
½ yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, trimmed and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 cups chopped asparagus, from approximately a 1-pound bunch
⅓ cup water
2 cups cooked white or brown rice, chilled
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
¾ cup frozen green peas
Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add chicken and cook until golden on all sides and cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside in a bowl.
Wipe skillet clean. Add remaining tablespoon oil to the skillet and heat on medium-high. Add onion, carrot, garlic, and ginger. Saute 2 to 3 minutes until onion is translucent. Stir in asparagus and ⅓ cup water, scraping up any browned bits at the bottom. Cook until asparagus is tender but still bright green and water has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Stir in rice and soy sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly crispy and warmed through, about 5 minutes total. Stir in peas and cook an additional minute to warm through.
Ingredient Variations and Substitutions
If you’re usually not a fan of the heavier flavor of brown rice, you may be surprised to find you like it in this dish. The nutty flavor of brown rice is brought out by a quick stir fry in peanut oil. However, if you’re still not sold, you could try a mix of white and brown rice or make this with white rice.
Think of this quick and easy recipe as a template for making grain and vegetable stir fries. Look beyond rice and try different whole grains. Quinoa is packed with protein and has the same fluffy texture. Millet has a mild flavor that many people who do not enjoy brown rice will find pleasant. You could even make this with other whole grains like farro or spelt grains, which lend a nutty flavor and chewy texture from their larger grains.
To make this dish vegan, swap cubes of tofu for the chicken. You may want to marinate it first or toss with a seasoning spice, like lemon pepper seasoning. Tofu by itself is pretty bland. You could also make this with chunks of pork tenderloin or lean ham.
For gluten-free fried rice, use tamari instead of soy sauce.
Tamari is a soy sauce made from only soybeans rather than a blend of soy and wheat. If you are allergic to soy, look for coconut aminos, which has a similar umami flavor.
Feel free to use any combination of vegetables you or your family enjoy! I’ve made this with zucchini, green beans, broccoli, and peppers—whatever is on sale or seasonal at the grocery store.
For those with peanut allergies, make this with sesame oil, which adds a similar nutty flavor, or your favorite neutral flavored oil, like canola or avocado oil. Avoid olive oil, which is too strongly flavored for this dish.
Health and Wellness Associates
- For the Balsamic glaze:
- 1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar, preferably aged
- 1 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, preferably aged
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 3 (9 to 12-inch) carrots, sliced lengthwise, 1/4-inch thick
- 2 celery roots, trimmed and cut in 1/4-inch slices
- 3 large red onions, cut into rounds, 3/8-inch thick
- 2 (7 to 8-inch) zucchini, sliced lengthwise, 1/4-inch thick
- 4 (4-inch), crooked neck squash, sliced lengthwise, 1/4-inch thick
- Oil, for brushing grill
In a medium saute pan over medium heat, add vinegar, sugar, and honey. Let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until reduced by half. Keep warm for glazing on grill.
In a 1 gallon re-sealable bag, add the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and garlic and mix until combined. Next, add the carrots, celery root and onions, remove excess air. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes. Then add the zucchini and squash and allow to marinate for 10 more minutes.
Preheat grill to medium-high.
Brush grill with oil. Add onions, carrots and celery root. Cook on both sides for 3 to 5 minutes brushing with balsamic glaze. Mark and brown evenly on both sides. Remove to holding pan and cover with aluminum foil. Add squash and zucchini to grill, brush with glaze and cook for 2 minutes per side, until marked and evenly brown. Remove to holding pan, and cover until service.
Drizzle veggies with remaining glaze and serve on a warm platter.
Recipe courtesy of Guy Fieri, 2007
Health and Wellness Associates
Your Health Begins in the Soil
There’s no question your health is directly related to the quality of the food you eat, and that the quality of the food in turn is dependent on the health of the soil in which it is grown.
Most conventional farmers and gardeners use commercial fertilizers such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK). But very little is done to address the need for carbon.
Increasing the carbon content or the organic content of your soil is actually a key component of soil fertility, as the carbon will feed microbes and help retain moisture, allowing everything to grow much better, and provide far more nutrient-dense foods.
Microbes Are an Integral Part of the Ecosystem
In recent years, we’ve learned a lot about microbes. We’re now starting to get an understanding of just how important they are—both inside (and on) your body—as part of your microbiome—and in soil. According to soil scientists, there are about six billion microorganisms thriving in each teaspoon of healthy soil.
People have known ever since microscopes were invented that there were these things in the soil that we couldn’t see with the naked eye… But people did not understand, for decades, what role those things in the soil were playing.
When we talk about ecosystems, we typically think about everything that’s above the soil line. We think of plants and animals, and humans… But we haven’t thought about this vast kingdom of life that’s underneath the ground.
To really understand our world, we have to understand this ancient partnership between plants and soil microorganisms….
For starters, consider this: through their leaves, plants use sunlight (photosynthesis) and remove carbon dioxide from the air, converting it into a carbon fuel that they use to stimulate and promote their own growth. But that’s not all.
Up to 40 percent of that carbon fuel actually goes to the roots of the plant, where it’s leaked out into the soil. There, it becomes food for soil microorganisms. So the plant nourishes the soil as much as the soil nourishes the plant…
Soil microorganisms use the carbon to sustain themselves. In other words, it’s used both as nourishment and for creating a suitable habitat, with the appropriate amounts of water and air.
In exchange, the soil microbes bring the plants micronutrients from the soil. There are about 98 naturally occurring elements in healthy soils, and these micronutrients are liberated from particles of rocks, sand, silt, and clay by the enzymatic activity of soil microbes.
A complex and sophisticated communications system also exists between plants and the soil microorganisms, whereby the plants can signal their nutritional needs to the microbes.
Conventional Farming Causes Enormous Environmental Damage
The toll our modern, chemical-based farming practices takes on the environment is significant. Conventional farming is a factor that is speeding up the depletion of water reservoirs, for example. Farmers are using more water than nature can replenish, and by digging ever deeper wells, water tables are being exhausted.
Most conventional farmers also tend to leave much of the soil bare, which allows water to evaporate, and hastens soil erosion. A simple answer is to use cover crops and mulch, to provide, as Gabe Brown would say, an “armor” over the soil.
This armor can virtually eliminate the need for irrigation when done right. The standard practice of plowing is also inadvisable, as it not only disturbs the microorganisms, it also releases valuable carbon from the soil. Then there’s the chemical assaults of pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers, which are not only killing soil microbes, they’re also killing off bees, butterflies, and other flora and fauna. More than one billion pounds of pesticides are used in the US each year, an amount that has quintupled since 1945. As with antibiotic overuse, the onslaught of pesticides and herbicide to combat pests has led to the development of weeds and bugs that are now resistant to the chemicals.
The answer to increasing resistance has been to apply greater amounts of chemicals just to keep up. Now we’re also facing the next-generation of genetically engineered (GE) plants designed to withstand even more toxic chemicals, including 2,4-D (an Agent Orange ingredient), and dicamba. Add to all of this the destruction of diversity through the practice of monocropping, and what you end up with is a recipe for all-around destruction—everything within the ecosystem is detrimentally affected: soil microbes (and hence the soil), plant life, air, water, animals, and ultimately mankind itself, through our food.
Strategies to Regenerate Top Soil
The good news is that we now know how to help regenerate soil, and actually create new fertile topsoil. It basically comes down to mimicking what goes on in nature. In nature, the surface of the soil is not cleared away. It’s never bare, or very rarely so, and the ground is not turned over as is done when plowing. You also never see a monocrop. In one square foot of pristine prairie land, you’ll find about 140 different plants!
There’s an incredible diversity of plant and insect life going on. In nature there’s also the impact of animals. You can’t really separate out the plant life from the animal and insect life, and expect that piece of land to flourish. Gabe Brown and other regenerative farmers are basically just mimicking nature, to the best of their ability. They use no-till and try to minimize the disturbance of the soil as much as possible. They also pay great attention to diversity. That’s when cover crops come in.
If you realize that there’s this community of soil microorganisms underground that are depending upon plants to bring it varied sources of food, varied sources of exudates, you know that you have to have not just one plant growing there; you need a lot of plants bringing all those different nutrients that community of soil microorganisms need.
Gabe Brown could have 25 to 30 different cover crops growing on a piece of land that he’s not planting for harvest, just to improve the soil.
The key is to not have any bare soil, ever, if at all possible. Native grasses and pastured products are the best way to support this regenerative and sustainable form of agriculture.
I don’t really like the word ‘organic’ anymore even though it’s still in use because it has a legal meaning now. A lot of people think of it as a word that just reflects what you can’t do. You can’t use this spray. You can’t use this chemical. I think ‘regenerative’ is a much more valuable word. It’s even a better word than sustainable agriculture.
The Heirloom Seed Movement
Another factor many fail to consider these days is where our seeds come from, and which seeds will be most helpful for regenerative agriculture. Most of us think a lot about the question of GMO seeds but the issue is even bigger than that. Most of the seeds that American farmers have access to are produced by a handful of companies.
These are seeds from plants that were specifically bred to flourish in industrial agriculture—plants that no longer have the capacity to develop strong roots that forage for nutrients, as they’ve been bred to flourish among chemical nutrients. They also lack the natural resilience against insects, pests, and disease, because they’re bred to flourish in a system where pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides are applied. So the heirloom seed movement is really part and parcel of the regenerative agriculture movement.
I think we’re living in a really exciting time. We’re often told that we have a choice between having enough food and having good food. The supporters of industrial agriculture say they’re the only ones who can provide us with enough food… More and more we’re seeing that that is just not true, that we can have both enough food and we can have really good food…
By changing our agriculture, we can have a huge impact on other things that we haven’t even considered as being related—climate, water quality, air quality… All these things are so connected. I think we’re in a very powerful time right now, where we’re seeing those connections and acting upon them.
Take Control of Your Health by Planning a SpringGarden
Ultimately, you cannot be healthy unless you eat good, nutritious food. Growing it yourself is in many cases the simplest and least expensive option. What makes organic gardening so effective is the focus on soil health. And your health truly begins in the soil. By optimizing the soil microbiology, your plants will be healthier and more nutritious, and these benefits translate into health benefits when you eat them. Optimizing soil biology also strengthens plants against pest infestations without having to resort to chemical warfare that kills far more than the insects they’re designed to destroy.
Anti-Cancer Foods: Cruciferous Vegetables
Nutrition scientists have shown over and over that people who eat more natural plant foods – vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, etc. – are less likely to be diagnosed with cancer. But are all vegetables equally protective? To win the war on cancer, we must design an anti-cancer diet, which focuses on the foods with the most powerful anti-cancer effects – then we could eat plenty of these foods each day, flooding our bodies with the protective substances contained within them.
The cruciferous family of vegetables is full of super foods with powerful anti-cancer effects – we should eat vegetables from this family every day. This family includes green vegetables like kale and bok choy plus some non-green vegetables like cauliflower. For a full list of cruciferous vegetables, click here.
Cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates and in a different area of the cell, an enzyme called myrosinase. When we blend, chop or chew these vegetables, we break up the plant cells, allowing myrosinase to come into contact with glucosinolates, initiating a chemical reaction that produces isothiocyanates (ITCs) – powerful anti-cancer compounds. ITCs have been shown to detoxify and remove carcinogens, kill cancer cells, and prevent tumors from growing.1
Observational studies have shown that eating ITC-rich cruciferous vegetables protects against cancer – here are a few examples:
- Twenty-eight servings of vegetables per week decreased prostate cancer risk by 33%, but just 3 servings of cruciferous vegetables per week decreased prostate cancer risk by 41%.2
- One or more servings of cabbage per week reduced risk of pancreatic cancer by 38%.3
- One serving per day of cruciferous vegetables reduced the risk of breast cancer by over 50%.4
Cruciferous vegetables and breast cancer
Cruciferous vegetables are especially helpful for preventing hormonal cancers, such as breast cancer, because some ITC, such as indole-3-carbinol (abundant in broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage), can even help the body excrete estrogen and other hormones.5 In fact, new research has shown additional anti-estrogenic effects of both indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane (most abundant in broccoli); these ITCs blunt the growth-promoting effects of estrogen on breast and cervical cancer cells.5-7
Eating cruciferous vegetables produces measurable isothiocyanates in breast tissue8, and observational studies show that women who eat more cruciferous vegetables are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer: In a recent Chinese study, women who regularly ate one serving per day of cruciferous vegetables had a 50% reduced risk of breast cancer.4 A 17% decrease in breast cancer risk was found in a European study for consuming cruciferous vegetables at least once a week.9 Plus, breast cancer survivors who eat cruciferous vegetables regularly have lower risk of cancer recurrence – the more cruciferous vegetables they ate, the lower their risk.10
Within an overall nutrient-dense eating style, cruciferous vegetables can provide us with a profound level of protection against cancer. Don’t forget: chopping, chewing, blending, or juicing cruciferous vegetables is necessary to produce the anti-cancer ITCs. To learn more about cruciferous vegetables, read Healthy Times Newsletter #32.
- Higdon J, Delage B, Williams D, et al. Cruciferous vegetables and human cancer risk: epidemiologic evidence and mechanistic basis. Pharmacol Res 2007;55:224-236.
- Cohen JH, Kristal AR, Stanford JL. Fruit and vegetable intakes and prostate cancer risk. J Natl Cancer Inst 2000;92:61-68.
- Larsson SC, Hakansson N, Naslund I, et al. Fruit and vegetable consumption in relation to pancreatic cancer risk: a prospective study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2006;15:301-305.
- Zhang CX, Ho SC, Chen YM, et al. Greater vegetable and fruit intake is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer among Chinese women. Int J Cancer 2009;125:181-188.
- Yuan F, Chen DZ, Liu K, et al. Anti-estrogenic activities of indole-3-carbinol in cervical cells: implication for prevention of cervical cancer. Anticancer Res 1999;19:1673-1680.
- Meng Q, Yuan F, Goldberg ID, et al. Indole-3-carbinol is a negative regulator of estrogen receptor-alpha signaling in human tumor cells. J Nutr 2000;130:2927-2931.
- Ramirez MC, Singletary K. Regulation of estrogen receptor alpha expression in human breast cancer cells by sulforaphane. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry 2009;20:195-201.
- Cornblatt BS, Ye L, Dinkova-Kostova AT, et al. Preclinical and clinical evaluation of sulforaphane for chemoprevention in the breast. Carcinogenesis 2007;28:1485-1490.
- Bosetti C, Filomeno M, Riso P, et al. Cruciferous vegetables and cancer risk in a network of case-control studies. Ann Oncol 2012.
- Nechuta SJ, Lu W, Cai H, et al: Cruciferous Vegetable Intake After Diagnosis of Breast Cancer and Survival: a Report From the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study. Abstract #LB-322. In Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2012 Mar 31-Apr 4. Chicago, Il; 2012.
Health and Wellness Associates
Archived Article ; JF
The Allium family of vegetables includes onions, garlic, leeks, chives, shallots, and scallions. Epidemiological studies have found that increased consumption of Allium vegetables is associated with decreased risk of several cancers. For example, one large European study found striking risk reductions in the participants who consumed the greatest quantities of onions or garlic for oral, esophageal, colorectal, laryngeal, breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers. A fifty-five to eighty percent reduction of almost all major cancers. Amazing!1
Anti-cancer effects of onions and garlic Allium vegetables are rich in cancer-fighting organosulfur compounds, which are produced when the cell walls of the vegetables are broken down by chopping, crushing, or chewing. These compounds are thought to be mostly responsible for the cancer-protective effects of Allium vegetables. In scientific studies, organosulfur compounds prevent the development of cancers by detoxifying carcinogens and halting cancer cell growth. These garlic and onion phytochemicals are also anti-angiogenic, which means that they can prevent tumors from obtaining a blood supply to fuel their growth.2 In studies of breast cancer cells, garlic and onion phytochemicals have caused cell death or halted cell division, preventing the cancer cells from multiplying.3-5
Onions, garlic, and their family members also contain flavonoids and phenols. White onions are not as rich in these antioxidant compounds as yellow and red, and shallots are especially high in polyphenol levels. Red onions are particularly rich in anthocyanins (also abundant in berries) and quercetin.6 Flavonoids such as quercetin can contribute to preventing damaged cells from advancing to cancer, and also have anti-inflammatory effects that may contribute to cancer prevention.7-1
Fighting Heart Disease
Consuming onions and garlic also might help you prevent heart disease. Onions are rich in natural chemicals called flavonoids, which can protect you from heart disease, says Vegetarian Nutrition.info., and onions also might reduce your risk of blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks and other forms of heart disease. Garlic might also decrease your risk of blood clots, help keep your arteries flexible and help reduce your blood pressure, the Linus Pauling Institute reports.
Onions and the other vegetables of the Allium family can be added to any and every vegetable dish for great flavor and anti-cancer benefits. Remember that they must be eaten raw and chewed well or chopped finely before cooking to initiate the chemical reaction that forms the protective sulfur compounds. When you cut onions and your eyes begin to tear, they are creating the anti-cancer sulfur compounds.
Adding Onions and Garlic to Your Diet
Allium vegetables such as onions and garlic are the richest food sources of healthy sulfur compounds, which recommends eating them regularly to obtain their full health benefits, rather than taking supplements that might contain widely varying amounts of the healthy compounds. Onions and garlic have complementary tastes, so you might eat them together in the same meals. You can also add onions to stir fry dishes and use them to flavor soups, salads and dips. The Linus Pauling Institute recommends eating garlic cloves raw, or crushing or chopping garlic cloves before cooking them to help them retain their beneficial compounds during the cooking process.
How to cut an onion to maximize anti-cancer compounds and minimize eye irritation:
- Make sure that the onion is cold before you cut it. Even putting the onion in the freezer for 5 minutes is sufficient.
- You can use a fan to blow the gaseous compounds away from you if you like.
- Cut the end of the root off with the root facing away from you, preserving as much of the onion adjacent to the root as possible. The root is the part of the onion with the highest concentration of these anti-cancer compounds.
- Make sure to then cut or chop the onion finely, slice thinly, or put it in a food processor before adding to your soup, salad, or vegetable dish to maximize the production of sulfur compounds.
References 1. Galeone C, Pelucchi C, Levi F, et al. Onion and garlic use and human cancer. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;84:1027-1032. 2. Powolny A, Singh S. Multitargeted prevention and therapy of cancer by diallyl trisulfide and related Allium vegetable-derived organosulfur compounds. Cancer Lett 2008;269:305-314. 3. Modem S, Dicarlo SE, Reddy TR. Fresh Garlic Extract Induces Growth Arrest and Morphological Differentiation of MCF7 Breast Cancer Cells. Genes Cancer 2012;3:177-186. 4. Na HK, Kim EH, Choi MA, et al. Diallyl trisulfide induces apoptosis in human breast cancer cells through ROS-mediated activation of JNK and AP-1. Biochem Pharmacol 2012. 5. Malki A, El-Saadani M, Sultan AS. Garlic constituent diallyl trisulfide induced apoptosis in MCF7 human breast cancer cells. Cancer Biol Ther 2009;8:2175-2185. 6. Slimestad R, Fossen T, Vagen IM. Onions: a source of unique dietary flavonoids. J Agric Food Chem 2007;55:10067-10080. 7. Ravasco P, Aranha MM, Borralho PM, et al. Colorectal cancer: can nutrients modulate NF-kappaB and apoptosis? Clin Nutr 2010;29:42-46. 8. Miyamoto S, Yasui Y, Ohigashi H, et al. Dietary flavonoids suppress azoxymethane-induced colonic preneoplastic lesions in male C57BL/KsJ-db/db mice. Chem Biol Interact 2010;183:276-283. 9. Shan BE, Wang MX, Li RQ. Quercetin inhibit human SW480 colon cancer growth in association with inhibition of cyclin D1 and survivin expression through Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway. Cancer Invest 2009;27:604-612. 10. Pierini R, Gee JM, Belshaw NJ, et al. Flavonoids and intestinal cancers. Br J Nutr 2008;99 E Suppl 1:ES53-59.