From the Archives: Spring 2004 Issue of Lupus Now
Splish Splash: For optimal health, give fresh produce a bath—or, actually, a nice shower
By Kristine Napier, M.P.H., R.D.
Good food is great medicine. But making sure your food is safe is essential. For example, did you know that unwashed fruits and vegetables are responsible for about the same number of reported cases of food-borne illness (a.k.a. food poisoning) as beef, chicken, fish and eggs combined? This can be a big problem for people with compromised immune systems.
“People who are immunosuppressed are more likely to get sick from the bacteria and other pathogens on food that is not washed or cooked properly,” says Barbara J. Pyper, registered dietitian and expert consultant in food-safety training and system development. Pathogens are those pesky microscopic organisms we commonly call germs, which can cause infection and illness.
Also, people who have lupus frequently take medications that suppress the body’s natural infection-fighting ability. Corticosteroid medications (such as prednisone) and cytotoxic drugs (such as Cytoxan®, methotrexate, and CellCept®), which are commonly used to quiet the lupus disease process, make people with lupus more susceptible to everyday illnesses.
“The good news is that you don’t have to give up raw fruits and vegetables,” says Pyper. “You just have to give them a long shower.” That includes produce you peel (such as bananas and oranges), triple-washed bagged salad, and packaged baby carrots. Here’s how to shower—not bathe—your produce so that you can enjoy it worry-free.
- Use cool, drinkable tap water.
- Wash even those fruits and vegetables you plan on peeling and cutting (such as melons), because bacteria on the surface can be transferred into the middle on the knife.
- Don’t use dish detergent, bleach or special produce washes, recommends the Food and Drug Administration. Produce is porous, which means it can absorb detergents and bleaches—and you will end up consuming them.
- Scrub firm produce—such as squash, cucumbers, melon, potatoes and other root vegetables—with a clean produce brush. Again, that’s the rule even if you plan to peel them.
- Rinse berries and other fragile fruits and vegetables in a colander with plenty of water.
- Cut away damaged or bruised areas immediately because bacteria thrive in them.
- Remove and discard outer leaves of leafy vegetables (lettuce, cabbage, spinach) before washing. Shower for two to three minutes in clear, cold running water.
Of course, all this begs the question: Should you ever avoid raw produce?
“Just to be on the safe side, people who are immunosuppressed might want to be extremely careful with imported fruits and vegetables [check the label], as sanitation procedures may not be as strong in other countries as in the United States,” says Pyper. Her advice: Cook them, or choose a variety grown in the U.S.
Every case of lupus is unique, so dietary recommendations must be tailored to the individual. As always, please check with your physician before making any significant dietary changes.
Blueberries for Breakfast—or Anytime
A sweet treat with cancer-fighting anti-oxidants built right in. Serves 2.
Vegetable oil spray
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, unsweetened
2 tablespoons rolled oats (quick okay, but not instant)
2 tablespoons flaxseed, ground
2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
4 teaspoons trans-fat free canola
1 tablespoon brown or white sugar
substitute (or use regular sugar when appropriate)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Spray 2 custard cups with vegetable oil spray.
3. Place 1 cup blueberries in the bottom of each cup.
4. In a small bowl, blend ground flaxseed and wheat germ.
5. Divide the flaxseed/wheat germ mixture evenly and sprinkle over top of blueberries. Toss gently.
6. Dot each dish of blueberries with 2 teaspoons canola margarine.
7. In a small cup or bowl, mix brown sugar substitute, cinnamon and granulated sugar; divide evenly and sprinkle over the top.
8. Place custard cups in oven uncovered and bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until blueberries bubble.
9. Store extra covered in the refrigerator up to 4 days.
Per Serving: 238 calories; 5 g protein; 34g carbohydrates; 7.7 g fiber; 10.8 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 38% calories as fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 180 mg potassium; 54 mg sodium.
Ginger Lentil Soup
Call it comfort food, fusion or just plain good. You will make this soup again and again. The addition of green tea adds flavor—and may help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Serves 4.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/2 red onion, peeled and chopped
4 teaspoons vegetable bouillon (low-
sodium bouillon is available)
1/2 cup dry lentils
1/2 cup uncooked noodles (substitute gluten-free soba noodles, if desired)
6 cups water
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
4 green tea bags (remove paper tags)
1 inch-long piece ginger, finely diced
3 small green zucchini, washed, not peeled
1/2 medium red bell pepper
1/2 medium green bell pepper
1. In a heavy kettle (that can be covered later), heat olive oil over low heat. Add garlic and onions. Sauté a full 5 minutes, to release flavor into the oil.
2. Add bouillon, uncooked lentils, uncooked noodles, water, carrots, tea bags and ginger.
3. Simmer, covered tightly, for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the veggies for the next step. Slice the zucchini and then quarter the slices; chop the bell peppers.
4. After 30 minutes, add the zucchini only; cover and simmer an additional 30 minutes.
5. After the second 30 minutes, remove tea bags and stir in the red and green peppers; cover and simmer just 5 minutes, leaving these vegetables crunchy.
Per Serving (1/4 batch): 251 calories; 12 g protein; 44 g carbohydrates; 14 g fiber; 4.1 g fat; 0.6 g saturated fat; 14% calories as fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 718 mg potassium; 584 mg sodium; 0.1 g omega-3 fatty acids.
Pasta Primavera with Spinach Noodles
As colorful as it is delicious. Serve a moderate amount of pasta with loads of veggies for a filling, lower-calorie meal. Serves 4.
6 ounces spinach egg noodles, uncooked (substitute gluten-free soba noodles, if desired)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 medium red onion, peeled and chopped finely
12 ounces raw baby spinach, washed and drained
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup cooked black beans (canned okay, but drain, rinse, and drain again)
4 tomatoes, chopped
8 tablespoons soy Parmesan cheese (or regular dairy Parmesan cheese)
1. Gather all ingredients, cleaning and chopping as necessary. The goal is to cook the vegetables while the pasta cooks, so that the two are done at about the same time. Tossing just-drained hot pasta with rich-tasting ingredients helps the pasta pick up the flavors. Cook pasta according to package directions as you work on the next set of directions.
2. In a large nonstick pan (that can be covered later), heat olive oil over low heat. Add chopped garlic and chopped onions.
3. Sauté for at least 5 minutes (one of the tricks to releasing the flavor of the garlic and onions).
4. Add spinach, lemon juice and black beans; cover pan.
5. Increase heat to medium and steam for 5 minutes only, just enough for spinach to wilt but remain brilliant green.
6. When pasta has finished cooking, drain but do not rinse. Transfer to a large bowl.
7. Add hot veggies to pasta and toss gently.
8. Divide pasta/veggie mixture among 4 plates.
9. Top each with 1 chopped tomato and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese.
Per Serving: 351 calories; 20 g protein; 53 g carbohydrates; 10.6 g fiber; 7.9 g fat; 1.1 g saturated fat; 20% calories as fat; 40 mg cholesterol; 1094 mg potassium; 353 mg sodium.