Eat.Fit.Well
The Evolved Lunch: Cauliflower 'Rice' with Ham

by Kristina C. - November 16, 2015


Science writer , from Victoria, BC, is a freelancer whose work has appeared in publications throughout North America and Europe. She currently worked as a web editor for the Gut Microbiota for pharmacy online Canada

Photo Credit: by Kristina C.
Photo Credit: by Kristina C.
The classic lunchtime ham sandwich is going through an existential crisis after a new release from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (an arm of the World Health Organization) declared that, based on the scientific literature to date, processed meats cause colorectal cancer and red meats probably do, too. Delicious though it may be, now ham, along with bacon, salami, hot dogs, and sausages, has been labeled one of the biggest saboteurs of health.

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A flurry of news articles quickly identified some of the reasons not to banish bacon from your diet forever: portion size matters; the actual increase in cancer risk from eating processed or red meat is relatively small; meat quality may matter. Still, did you notice bacon and ham on sale in the grocery stores these past weeks?

Research on diet is notoriously hard to interpret. A key point in this story is that most of the evidence came from epidemiological studies, where people's diets and disease patterns are tracked over time. This type of research involves people who are very complex and very different from each other – making it impossible, for example, to have a group that eats a lot of processed meat and another group with an otherwise identical diet that eats none – so instead they must try to find patterns without really knowing what caused what.

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So while it's true that researchers found more cases of colorectal cancer among those who ate more processed and red meats, they didn't control other parts of the diet. What about fiber, for example, which is known to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer?

Nutrition researchers know that a diet high in fat (i.e. one with lots of meat products) goes hand in hand with a diet low in fiber and higher in fast-burning carbohydrates: think pulled pork sandwiches, hamburgers, and Chinese sausage buns. Remember, fiber protects against colorectal cancer. So those who eat lots of meat and very little fiber are giving themselves two strikes against their health.

For many working people, the opportunities for eating these combinations of high-glycemic-index carbs with red or processed meats are particularly high at lunch hour. From a deli sandwich to a quick slice of pepperoni pizza, many of the standard lunch options are exactly what colorectal cancer cells are calling for.

So forget about that ham sandwich. What about switching up the usual accompaniments to processed meat, and bulking up on cancer-preventing fiber? Here's a satisfying lunchtime meal – the ham sandwich 2.0. – that lets you indulge in the meat without its partners in crime.

Follow up this packed lunch with a dessert of watermelon or strawberries -- these lycopene-rich foods are also linked with a decreased risk of colorectal cancer.

Cauliflower 'rice' with ham

INGREDIENTS:

1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets

1 tsp olive oil

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Pepper, to taste

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

4 thin slices deli ham, cut into strips

INSTRUCTIONS

Pulse cauliflower florets in a blender or food processer until they resemble rice. (Alternatively, you can use a grater to achieve the grainy texture.) Then heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and fry for two minutes until browned. Add cauliflower, salt, and pepper and sauté for about ten minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add lemon juice.

Transfer mixture into a lunch container to take the following day. Sprinkle ham on top and refrigerate overnight. Serve warm or cold.

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Comments:

Arthur says at 2017-10-26 10:47:31:
Going to put this aritcle to good use now.

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