Monday, October 29, 2012

Watercress and Red Cabbage Salad

Today’s recipe is from Elyn Jacobs, who has not only overcome breast cancer, but was inspired by her own healing journey to help others in theirs. Following her treatment, she gave up her high-flying Wall Street job and became a cancer coach and radio host. 

Here is Elyn’s story (told by herself), followed by her delicious recipe for watercress and red cabbage salad:
“You have cancer” – the words you never want to hear. 

Yet, I heard them just days after I had decided to take a break from the long hours of a Wall Street bond trader; I had put in 23 years; I was 45. My husband had convinced me to leave the relentless stress and enjoy the boys.  Our youngest was just about to turn one, his brother was two.  I then spent a glorious weekend with my girlfriends as we celebrated our time together and my break from the “real world”.

Well, my world was rocked when I returned home, went for my routine mammogram and learned how very real my world was: stage one invasive breast cancer; micro-calcifications were widely distributed throughout my left breast, resembling constellations in the galaxy.  I decided that a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction was the best option for me, for my cancer.

My margins were declared clean and no nodal involvement was found; my prognosis was good.  No follow up treatment was necessary. Still, I felt that if cancer liked my body once, it might like it again. My mother lost her battle just after my surgery; my sister was diagnosed a few months later.  I was highly motivated to learn all I could about this disease.

I began extensive research and found there was much I could do to help prevent recurrence.  I consulted an integrative oncologist and he has since been instrumental in my journey for wellness.  We tweaked my diet, added many supplements and worked on reducing my stress.  He suggested meditation, and while I am not very good with this, I have a modified version that works for me.

I did not know this then, but I would not return to Wall Street.  My encounter with breast cancer propelled me on a life-changing course.  What I discovered was that I had an amazing team; my husband, family, friends and yes, my incredible team of doctors made my journey relatively easy.  I realized this was not the case for many, especially as more and more people started coming to me for advice.

So I decided to become a coach to others, to empower them to find the best treatment and team for their cancer.  I travel with my clients to their appointments, to make sure their questions are answered and to take notes and provide clarity.  I help my clients become active participants in their care and their health.  

Together we work on lifestyle changes supportive of wellness; small steps, big payoffs.  My goal is to help them beat cancer, thrive and live well.” 

You can visit Elyn at Or join her on her radio show, Survive and Live Well, Tuesdays at 1pm, EST, on or listen via ITunes.

Watercress and Red Cabbage Salad

Wash one bunch of watercress and chop (if using hydroponic, use two bunches if small)
Remove outer layers of red cabbage and shred, slice thin or chop (use about ¼ of a medium head for one bunch of watercress).
Organic extra virgin olive oil, to taste, but approximately 2-3 Tablespoons
Aged Balsamic vinegar, to taste, but approximately 1-2 Tablespoons
Optional—add a handful of raw pine nuts or ¼ cup chopped parsley
Toss salad with a pinch of salt, fresh pepper (if desired) and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Note:  use the best quality oil and vinegar you can find; most grocery store brands lack flavor and depth and are often derived from chemical processes.
Serve at once

Nutritition notes:

Watercress offers a hefty dose of beta-carotene, copious amounts of calcium, carotenes like lutein, and trace amounts of omega-3’s.  Watercress also contains a high amount of PEITC (phenylethylisotiocyante) which appears to block cancer-causing chemicals, perhaps even protecting the lungs of smokers from the carcinogens associated with tobacco (however, please don’t smoke…I tell you this to understand the power of watercress).

Red cabbage boosts immunity and is a member of the cruciferous family, whose indoles help with estrogen metabolism.  It also contains anthocyanins, a class of flavonids that provides as many as 36 different varieties of anticancer chemicals. Cabbage also contains a significant amount of glutamine, an amino acid that has anti-inflammatory properties. Red Cabbage boosts the immune system’s ability to produce more antibodies. Red cabbage contains large quantities of sulfur and other minerals that work as cleansing agents for the digestive system.  Raw red cabbage cleans the bowels, thus helping to prevent indigestion and constipation.

Parsley has potent anti-inflammatory and anticancer abilities. The phytochemicals in parsley can slow the speed of cell division, leaving time for the cell to correct DNA mistakes or to activate apoptosis, and recent research shows that one particular compound found in parsley and celery, apigenin, can stop certain breast cancer tumor cells from multiplying and growing, so it’s a good idea to have some everyday.

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