Monday, December 21, 2009

Jamie Oliver, TED, and Christmas Treats from Cancer Education Center

If you've been around this site long enough, you know I am a big fan of It's a great site to visit on those days when you lose faith and wonder if there is an intelligent person left in the known universe. I visit there often.

Ever wish you could change the world?

At the end of each year they announce a special grant recipient, known as the TED Prize. This person gets their "wish" for changing the world granted, or at least the platform to try and launch the improvements. Past winners have included James Nachtway and his photography series about antibiotic-resistant TB, and the Encyclopedia of Life project, and Sylvia Earle's wish for creating protected marine areas.

So, what does this have to do with food, Beth?

Well, this year's winner is none other than Jamie Oliver. The actual "wish" will be unveiled in February at TED2010, but looking at Oliver's focus these last years, it's a safe bet that the project will center on the obesity epidemic. Notable programs he developed included School Dinners and Feed Me Better, both of which strive for better school lunches and nutrition for kids.

What's notable is the recognition, not just of Jamie Oliver, but of placing the obesity epidemic on the same level of magnitude as the other TED prize issues.

No one really likes to think about obesity at the holidays, though ...

True. But if you are beginning to feel some of that holiday guilt creeping in as the scale creeps up from all the parties and events of this month ... well, read on. The Center for Advancement in Cancer Education is urging people to enjoy holiday foods with "informed moderation."

According to a report released just last month by the American Institute for Cancer Research, about 100,000 cases of cancer each year are linked to a patient's history of excess body fat. These cancers include liver, kidney, breast, and colon. Almost like a dietary double-whammy, research from the Huntsman Cancer Institute at University of Utah shows that sugars can even "feed" cancer cell growth since cancer cells use a lot more glucose than normal cells.

Okay, Scrooge, it's the holidays, what gives with the no sugar thing?

Definitely, I know, it is the holidays. But not everyone can indulge, especially those at risk or with a history of diabetes. If you have family with special diet needs, the following recipes will be a welcome sight at your family table.

"Don't worry. You can have your proverbial cake and eat it too," says Susan Silberstein, PhD, Executive Director of the Center for Advancement in Cancer Education authored the recipe book "Hungry for Health."

Silberstein created these simple, guilt-free, healthful dessert recipes, which are included in the book:

1/4 C flaxseeds, ground
1/4 C unsweetened carob powder, sifted
1/3 C walnuts, finely chopped
1/3 C raw almond butter
1/3 C honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
small bowl of unsweetened shredded coconut

Process all ingredients until mixture forms a dense ball. Remove from processor and roll small portions between palms of hands to form one inch balls. Roll in coconut to coat. Place on serving platter and refrigerate.
Yield: About 18 truffles

18 Deglet Noor dates, pitted
1 C almond butter
1/2 C shredded unsweetened coconut
18 pecan halves (optional)

Fill dates generously with nut butter. Roll top of date in coconut. Press a pecan half into top of each date, if desired.
Yield: 18 pieces

1 1/2 C raw almonds
1 1/2 C raw cashews
1 T flaxseeds, finely ground
1/4 C sesame tahini
3/4 C honey
1 T vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 C unsweetened coconut

Place almonds and cashews in food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add flax, honey, tahini, vanilla, coconut and salt and pulse a few times more. Press firmly into 9 by 5 by 1 inch brownie pan and refrigerate several hours. Cut into small squares and store in airtight container in refrigerator. Remove just before serving.
Yield: About 24 pieces

Which means a Merry Christmas for ALL, and for all, a little dessert.

For more information about "Hungry for Health," or about the scientific data linking diet to cancer prevention and control, contact the Center for Advancement in Cancer Education.

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