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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Creamy Almond Butter Sesame Dressing (Vegan, Gluten-Free) + Powerful Foods That Prevent Breast Cancer & Why Mammograms May Not Be The Answer

Salad dressings can really make or break a salad, don't you agree? It should be the perfect complement to the greens and other vegetables in the salad - not overpowering, not too oily, not bland. I made the same homemade salad dressing for a very long time, the one from my very first post, but I desperately needed to spice things up. This almond butter sesame salad dressing is one of the tastiest I've ever had and the best part about it is that it can be whipped up in just a few minutes time!

I'll 'fess up - I haven't always loved eating salads and leafy greens were never first on my list of favorite foods. I actually avoided them at all costs up until 2 years ago but I've found 2 ways to not only tolerate them, but to love and appreciate them. Drinking them first thing in the morning blended up in smoothies and enjoying them in a salad accompanied by a delicious dressing has definitely helped secure their position as some of my most favorite foods. I'm still learning to love some of them, but luckily over time our taste buds adapt to the new foods in our diet.

As I've mentioned before, I eat a salad full of raw vegetables before lunch and dinner to help with portion control (thanks, fiber!) and to ensure I'm consuming an abundance of raw and living foods in general. Some nutrients can be destroyed during the cooking process (but some nutrients can also become available and therefore more absorbable if cooked - however not fried, grilled or cooked at really high temperatures where browning occurs), so I find it easiest to have a salad with a dynamite dressing before most meals to balance that out. And again, drinking a green smoothie in the morning a few days, or everyday, out of the week is also an awesome way to get raw veggies into your body for optimal digestion and health.

I constantly change up my salads so that I don't get bored but in the salad pictured above, it's a simple mix of romaine lettuce, celery, and red and yellow bell peppers. I also sprinkled 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds on top after I took the picture, for an added boost of fiber, heart-healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids and lignans (which act as antioxidants). I put spinach and kale in my smoothies because I don't love them on their own - I know! I'm the weirdo who's forcing myself to pretend to love kale on its own because everyone else lives and breathes for it - but romaine is so great in salads because it has a neutral taste, not too bitter like some other leafy greens I know, *ahem* kale, watercress, arugula, and collards!

Another thing I'd like to address in this post is breast cancer, especially with October being breast cancer awareness month. Now, what I'm about to say might set some people off but hear me out. We are bombarded with the message that the most important thing we can do to protect ourselves from breast cancer is to get a mammogram. What if I were to tell you that mammograms are contributing to breast cancer? In a study reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, it was found that at-risk women who were advised to get a mammogram as early as age 30 had an even greater risk for breast cancer due to the radiation emitted from the mammogram.

Researchers used data from 22 pedigree studies, consisting of 8,139 subjects, and found that for women who carry the BRCA1 or BRCA-2 mutation and are 25-29 years old, that annual mammograms actually increased the risk of radiation-induced breast cancer. The exposure to radiation from the mammogram has proven to be harmful.

A group of 6 studies showed that for post-menopausal estrogen-positive women who underwent chemotherapy, no significant benefit was found following the treatment. In other words, current screening methods and treatments are causing more damage and are not prolonging lives or reducing deaths like people may think. Evidence is showing that few, if any, lives are saved because of mammograms. After all, it is still the second leading cause of death in women, after heart disease. 

It's important to mention that this doesn't mean those who have been successful at detecting breast cancer early with a mammogram should be disregarded, it is just that it is very rare and if it does happen, it's usually too late for medical care to make a substantial difference. 

Let's face it, health care is a big business. So much emphasis is put on getting a mammogram, but we're not seeing breast cancer rates decrease. They're actually rising and have been for decades. How is that happening with the millions upon millions of dollars that go to breast cancer research and with all of the mammograms that are done? 

PLEASE express your concerns with your doctor before making any major life-altering decisions with regards to your health. I am sharing this information with you to encourage you to take control of your health, to listen to your gut and to do your own research before going through with something that has the potential to be very damaging with seemingly more risk than benefit.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, board-certified family physician and New York Times best-selling author says, "the problem is that instead of the focus being on the environmental, lifestyle and nutritional causes of cancer that really has the power to beat this disease, our nation and medical authorities are focused solely on mammograms, biopsies, radiation, and chemotherapy" and goes on to say, "breast cancer month is all about promoting mammograms to the astonishing exclusion of what women really should do to protect themselves." Fortunately, we have the answers within us. We have the capability to heal and protect ourselves from illness.

In this articleDr. Fuhrman gives us a few super powerful weapons to use against breast cancer and all cancers in general. He recommends taking a vitamin D supplement daily, which I have been doing for awhile now since I found out I was deficient in it a few years ago, like many people are. I use this brand. A study was published where 1,000 women received 1,100 IUs of vitamin D and were tracked over a 4 year period. The results were astonishing. Cancer incidences (all types) decreased by over 50%.¹ I've heard this a lot lately, that if vitamin D were a drug, it would be the most powerful cancer-fighting drug ever discovered. 

Another way to help combat cancer is to incorporate Dr. Fuhrman's anti-cancer food acronym GOMBBS into your life. That is, Greens, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, Beans, and Seeds. Mushrooms have been shown to have anti-estrogenic effects and have also been found to inhibit tumor growth. In fact, eating one mushroom (portobello, white button, etc.) a day has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer by 60-70%!!!! 

Flaxseeds and mushrooms both block an estrogen-producing enzyme called aromatase. The lignans in flaxseeds, chia seeds and sesame seeds bind to estrogen receptors and help to protect us from hormone-related cancers. According to a source Dr. Fuhrman referred to in the article cited in the paragraph above, "women with breast cancer who began consuming flaxseed regularly showed significant tumor cell death after only one month" and "women who consumed more flaxseeds with higher levels of circulating lignans were found to have a 42% reduced risk of death from post-menopausal breast cancer and a dramatic 40% reduction in all causes of death." Why aren't these statistics and natural cancer-fighters on the cover of a popular magazine or in a TV advertisement that runs year-round?? Where are our dollars really going?

Click here for another informative article on this topic.

The truth is, you have your own personal pharmacy in your kitchen if you decide to make it that way.

Creamy Almond Butter Sesame Dressing

YIELD: Approx. 1 cup

• 1/2 cup raw almond butter
• 3 Tbs raw apple cider vinegar (Bragg brand is my favorite)
• 2 Tbs reduced sodium tamari (gluten-free fermented soy sauce)
• 2 Tbs freshly squeezed lime juice
• 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled
Liquid stevia, to taste (I used 20 drops)
• 1 tsp dijon mustard (optional)
1 Tbs water (optional - if needed to dilute)


1. To peel the garlic: on a cutting board, place the garlic clove flat side down, curved side up. Take your large chef's knife and place either flat side of the blade on top of the clove. Make sure the clove is positioned under the top part of the blade near the handle, not underneath the center or bottom part. With one hand holding the handle, use the other hand to quickly and firmly press the blade with your palm and smash the garlic. Peel the skin off and discard (the skin is on the left in the picture). Cut off the tough end of the garlic clove (the top part of the clove shown on the right). Place the garlic cloves in the food processor and process for a few seconds until minced.

2. Add in the remaining ingredients to the food processor and process until smooth. You could also use a blender but add 1/2 cup water - keep in mind that it will yield more than 1 cup. The dressing will be watery at first but it will thicken up within 10-15 minutes.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

My kitchen has looked like a war zone lately with all of the experimenting I've been doing. I have a lovely fall soup featuring MY BELOVED KALE ;-) coming soon and a divine guilt-free dessert in the works. I'm tweaking away to make them worthy of sharing with all of you. I refuse to post anything that I don't love 100%.

With love & care,

"It is no coincidence that four of the letters in the word 'healthy' are 'HEAL'." Unknown

¹ Lappe JM, Travers-Gustafson D, Davies KM, et al. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr.  2007; 85(6):1586-91. 


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