Seeing Beyond Pink — October’s Palette of Produce for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we’re seeing pink — pink croissants, pink cupcakes, pink M&Ms. These products may support the cause but they’re not promoting true health or doing you and your breasts any favors. Get in the pink — and green and red and orange and gold — with the whole rainbow-bright natural palette of produce.

In a rare and happy convergence, October is also Vegetarian Awareness Month. Start by being aware of vegetables. And fruit. Two new studies* add to the growing evidence that a plant-forward diet — one rich in fresh produce, satisfying nuts and beans and whole grains — is a cancer fighting prescription with no side effects other than boosting your health and delighting your senses.

Among the foods associated with reducing risk of breast cancer:

sweet potato
winter squash

Every food on this list has a unique health and phytonutrient pedigree, whether it’s an outrageous amount of Omega-3s or anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, but none by itself is cancer’s magic bullet. In another happy coincidence, most of these fruits and vegetables are coming into season now. Enjoy them in delicious combination, the way they’re meant to be.

So many sweet and sultry flavors, so many healing perks — weight loss, for starters. It’s one of the keys to reducing risk of breast cancer. A whole foods, high-produce diet will help you there, too. No one needs to increase their RDA of processed white flour and sugar and artificial coloring. Skip the pink cupcake or pumpkin spice muffin (which contains no pumpkin), eat the pumpkin. My mantra — less processed, more produce.

Observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Vegetarian Awareness Month all in one delicious go by celebrating the sumptuous flavors of fall. It’ll get you and your breasts in the pink. Naturally.

*American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Four cancer-fighters and two autumn vegetables combine with one simple cooking technique that results in flavor to the max — roasting. Roasting coaxes the sweetness from vegetables. It caramelizes the natural plant sugars and concentrates the flavors. It also adds to the toasty taste of nuts. Best of all, your oven does all the work. Roast the broccoli and the pumpkin at the same time, for a terrific time-saving two-fer.
These two recipes are satisfying all by themselves but to make them mightier and more of a meal, serve with earthy lentils or creamy white beans. Beans, after all, are also among your top cancer-fighting veggie friends.


Sherry-Roasted Pumpkin With Walnuts

Serves 4


  • 4 cups pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2-1/2 pounds)
  • 4 teaspoons walnut or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • a few sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together pumpkin, walnut or olive oil and sherry. Pumpkin will be moist, but not wet. Spread out on the roaster or baking sheet.
  4. Roast for 20 minutes, giving the pumpkin an occasional stir to facilitate cooking evenly. Pumpkin should be fragrant, tender and darkening at the edges. Add walnuts and thyme sprigs and give everything another stir. Continue roasting for another 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and season generously with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.


Cumin-Roasted Broccoli With Turmeric

Serves 4


  • 6 cups broccoli florets and stems, chopped into 1-inch pieces chopped stems (yes, you can use the broccoli stems) (about 1 large head broccoli)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.


  1. Line a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together broccoli, garlic, olive oil, cumin and turmeric, so broccoli is lightly coated with spices. Spread out on the roaster or baking sheet.
  3. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to facilitate even cooking. Broccoli should be darkened and tender
  4. Remove, squeeze on lemon juice and season generously with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.