New book: Reducing the odds of cancer with healthy cooking

Who says upping your odds of avoiding cancer can't taste good? In her new book, The Anti-Cancer Cookbook: How to Cut Your Risk With the Most Powerful, Cancer-Fighting Foods, Julia Greer ’92 offers recipes and information that can help people consume more antioxidants and stem their chances of developing cancer.

Greer, a physician, has married her love of cooking and her medical specialty -- cancer research -- to come up with more than 200 recipes for soups, sauces, main courses, vegetarian dishes, sandwiches, breads, desserts, and beverages that are loaded with ingredients that have antioxidants known to reduce the risk of several cancers. On each recipe (which she collected from a variety of sources including other cookbooks, magazines, Web sites, friends, family members, and her own kitchen), Greer notes what antioxidants the food includes and what types of cancers it helps fight.

Some of her favorites are banana bread, low-fat blueberry muffins, balsamic chicken, and chocolate-almond biscotti. In the book she also explains what cancer is and how antioxidants work to prevent precancerous mutations in the body's cells, and she describes which foods have been shown to help prevent certain types of cancers. An epidemiologist whose work focuses on pancreatic, ovarian, and breast cancers, Greer is a faculty member of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition. By Katherine Federici Greenwood

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Below, Greer's recipe for Adzuki Bean-Citrus Salad, created while she was a student at Princeton. (The recipe won first prize in Suburban Living magazine's salad contest.)

Adzuki Bean-Citrus Salad

Adzuki beans are a flavorful bean perfect for soups and stews as well as salads. This sweet and savory salad contains antioxidants galore. Its saponins (beans) and isoflavones (miso) may help prevent pancreas and breast cancer, Greer writes.


1 cup dried adzuki beans (can substitute black beans or other small beans)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons mellow white miso (soy paste)

3 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced

3 scallions, chopped

2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 small carrot, chopped

3 tablespoons pecans, chopped

1-1/2 cups baby arugula

1 cup baby romaine lettuce leaves

1 orange, peeled and divided into sections

Preparation: The night before preparing salad, place beans in a bowl. Add water to cover by 2 inches. Cover and let stand overnight. Rinse and drain beans and place in a medium saucepan. Add water to cover by 2 inches and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in pepper. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 to 40 minutes or until very tender. Drain beans and place in a serving bowl about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together miso, orange juice, lemon juice, oil, and ginger. Stir in scallions, cucumbers, carrot, pecans, and adzuki beans. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Divide mixed arugula and baby romaine among 4 serving plates. Add 1/4 bean salad to middle of mixed greens and surround with a few orange slices. Makes 4 servings.

Reprinted with permission from The Anti-Cancer Cookbook: How to Cut Your Risk With the Most Powerful, Cancer-Fighting Foods (Sunrise River Press).

(Photo courtesy Julia Greer ’92)