Does Eating Broccoli Help Cancer?

Marissa Holzer
Marissa Holzer

Marissa is a 40-something "flattie" in sunny SoCal living with metastatic breast cancer, her boyfriend (and high school sweetheart) and the memory of her not-so-mini schnauzer, Heidi, who was taken too soon by canine lymphoma. She enjoys reading, stress baking and roller skating. She hopes to inspire others with her stories about life with cancer.

A woman with metastatic breast cancer shares a story about a woman with the same diagnosis and a recipe that was distantly inspired by their conversation.

I met a woman a few years back who also had metastatic breast cancer. She chose to treat her cancer in a way much differently from the treatment path I chose. In no way am I saying her way was wrong, it was just different from my choice and my beliefs.

There are no wrong opinions when it comes to cancer, just varying thoughts and ideas. We had a long conversation about how she believed in highly concentrated broccoli supplements and vitamin C therapy to cure her cancer. I listened to what she had to say and took it with a grain of salt, as I do with any alternative treatments suggested to me. I was skeptical, yet still intrigued by her choice.

After doing a little of my own research regarding her treatments I decided to continue on my standard of care treatments and for whatever reason I have survived thus far. She, unfortunately, is no longer with us. It saddens me that all the broccoli in the world couldn’t cure her cancer.

I believe the foods we eat most definitely play a large part in our health in general and keep our bodies functioning properly, but it’s nowhere near a cure. If only it were that easy. I agree cruciferous vegetables and fruits do contain antioxidants that have anticancer properties. Some studies have shown a connection between eating foods rich in vitamin C and reducing the risk of cancer.

Sulforaphane is a natural plant compound found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables that has been shown to have health benefits. Incorporating more broccoli into your diet is a nutritious way to boost your overall health and can improve quality of life.

I love a good chicken satay and I also enjoy roasted vegetables, specifically broccoli. That sweet and spicy, nutty dipping sauce for the satay is so irresistible I could just eat it alone with a spoon. Most Thai restaurants have a version of chicken satay along with several types of broccoli dishes. My favorite Thai restaurant in town went out of business a few years back. I really miss their chicken satay. The chicken was grilled on skewers with a peanut dipping sauce served on the side. It was on the menu as an appetizer, but you could order it as your meal.

One day as I was perusing the local newspaper, I came across a recipe for a sheet pan version of chicken satay with broccoli. With a few of my own tweaks, this recipe has a similar flavor to the Thai version with the addition of broccoli. It’s quick to make in the broiler and uses one pan, making cleanup easy. I like to serve it with some rice on the side. This could easily be made vegan and be just as delicious if you were to leave out the chicken.

While broccoli or vitamin C can’t cure me of cancer, I do enjoy finding new healthy recipes to try. This easy sheet pan chicken and broccoli satay is a winner on the dinner rotation when I’m missing my favorite Thai restaurant. It not only satisfies my cravings for Thai food, but is also the answer to that never-ending question: “What are we having for dinner tonight?”

Ingredients:

Sheet Pan Chicken Satay with Broccoli

1 tbsp. dark brown sugar
1⁄4 cup plus 2 tbsp. peanut butter
1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. sriracha sauce
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1⁄4 cup warm water
1 tbsp. lime juice
1 lb. broccoli florets
1-1 1⁄2 lbs. thin-cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts

To prepare:

1. Place a rack 4 inches from the heat source. Preheat broiler. Line sheet pan with parchment.

2. Whisk together brown sugar, peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, sriracha, vinegar, water and lime juice in a medium bowl until smooth. Set aside 1⁄4 cup of the peanut sauce for dipping.

3. Toss the broccoli florets and chicken with the remaining sauce to coat and arrange in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil until the chicken is cooked through, the broccoli is well charred and the sauce is bubbly and deeply browned, about 10 to 12 minutes. Watch closely to prevent burning and flip chicken halfway through.

4. Serve the broccoli and chicken with the dipping sauce and some rice on the side.

5. Enjoy your delicious meal and all the health benefits of broccoli.

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