KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 — Cooking doesn’t have to be challenging.
As a matter of fact, why does it have to involve cooking in the first place?
An easy weekend treat — be it for a lazy breakfast or a languorous teatime (both could be the same meal depending on what time one wakes up on a Saturday or Sunday) — is simply a thick slice of bread, lightly toasted, spread generously with one’s favourite nut butter.
But that seems almost too simple. We crave meals with minimal effort and fuss, but might this not be too minimal?
It’s hardly fair and a terrible generalisation, but most of us would be happy to spend a couple of extra hours in bed given the occasion. There’s no such thing as a recipe that’s too basic, when it’s your day to rest and recuperate.
Though it might seem odd, at the same time that I’m considering this I am also very cognisant of the fact that it was World Prostate Cancer Awareness Day just over a week ago.
Sobering statistics show that one out of every eight men will develop prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the world (behind breast, lung and colorectal cancers). Among men, it’s the second most prevalent cancer globally, accounting for 1,414,259 new cases in 2020 and trailing only lung cancer.
As my male peers and I enter middle age (around 40-50 years), it has become paramount for us to include prostate cancer screening in our battery of medical tests. Early detection improves the chances of effective treatment.
Which made me think about what superfoods would help. A quick bout of Googling turned up obvious and less obvious suspects – cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, xiao bai cai, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts), cold-water fish (e.g. salmon, sardines, trout), tomatoes (cooked, to increase the levels of lycopene), tea and coffee (wondrous news for those who adore flat whites and filter brews).
Perhaps the most cheerful prostrate-friendly superfood is none other than antioxidant-rich berries, whether strawberries or blueberries, blackberries or raspberries.
After all, who wouldn’t light up with a big smile at the thought of a handful of sweet berries, their juices squirting and staining one’s fingers?
Ask your local bakery to slice your loaf of bread into thick slices.
Suddenly I have the missing piece to the bare-bones recipe of thick toast and nut butter: a profusion of superberries, fresh and juicy and healthy as can be.
Thick toast with dark chocolate nut butter, strawberries and blueberries
There is a plethora of berries — strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and more — and they are lower in sugar than most other fruits and higher in vitamins too.
Now that it is approaching the winter season, one superberry in particular comes to mind: strawberries. Yes, strawberries in winter!
Grown in greenhouses during winter, strawberries are prized in Japan.
Full of antioxidants that help to neutralise the free radicals in our body that cause oxidative stress, strawberries are prized in Japan. These are typically grown in greenhouses during winter but these days, depending on where you source them, strawberries are available all year round.
Antioxidant-rich blueberries can help remove free radicals from our bodies.
More than strawberries though, I love blueberries, which are a great source of fiber, vitamins C and K, and antioxidant anthocyanins; the latter may reduce oxidative stress, thereby lowering the risk of heart disease.
Researchers have discovered that polyphenol compounds in blueberries known as anthocyanins can reduce symptoms of depression too. Given that depression is an increasingly common ailment among men, every bit helps.
Nut butters are also increasingly popular though opinions are divided in terms of which nuts are best. Macadamia, almond, pecan, cashew and good ol’ fashioned peanuts (which aren’t real nuts but legumes).
Dark chocolate peanut butter.
Whichever you like best, suffice to say most of us love nuts! My favourite is a dark chocolate peanut butter that’s luxurious yet rustic, velvety smooth yet rustic with the occasional chunk of peanut.
Choose the nut butter you like best – or the nut butter the man in your life enjoys the most. It is his special day, after all.
2 slices of bread, thickly cut
Dark chocolate nut butter of choice (e.g. peanut, almond, macadamia, etc.)
Handful of strawberries, sliced thinly
Handful of blueberries
Using either a toaster or a dry pan over medium heat, lightly toast the slices of bread. We’re looking for a little colour but too much browning.
When the toast is ready, allow the slices to cool for half a minute before spreading your dark chocolate nut butter. This prevents the residual heat from liquefying the nut butter and causing it to drip from the toast.
A prostate-healthy treat for the man in your life.
Once the slices of toast are covered with an even coat of the nut butter, garnish with the slices of fresh strawberries and the blueberries. Serve immediately, preferably with a freshly brewed pot of black coffee.
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