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You’ve probably heard the stats. About 1 in 8 American women will develop invasive breast cancer at some point in their life.

What you may not have heard is that what you eat can dramatically improve those odds.

This week I made a vegetable soup from one of Candice Kumai’s recipes in her new book Clean Green Eats. CleanGreenEatsBook

The book contains over 100 “clean eating” recipes that emphasize fresh greens and nutrient-rich vegetables and whole grains. (Yes, please!)

This soup is delicious, simple and easy to make. (Even better!)

But don’t let the simplicity fool you. A closer look at the main ingredients – barley, greens and walnuts – reveal this soup to be a breast cancer fighting meal worthy of frequent rotation.

Get this simple and easy soup started by sauteing diced onion, carrot and celery in olive oil.

Get this simple and easy soup started by sauteing diced onion, carrot and celery in olive oil over medium-low heat.

Barley

The recipe in the book calls for hulled barley, while the slightly modified recipe on her website calls for pearled barley. I prefer hulled barley. It takes a little longer to cook than pearled barley, but pearled barley has the bran layer removed, so it is no longer a “whole grain.”

Why is this important? A diet high in fiber from whole grains and fruits has been shown to be protective against breast cancer in both pre- and post-menopausal women, lowering their risk by as much as 52%!

Greens

This recipe calls for chopped kale. I used a mix of beet greens I had on hand (resulting in a lovely pink tinge to the broth – very appropriate!) and some chopped baby “power greens” blend that includes spinach, kale, collards and other greens.

Dark leafy greens are an important part of a healthy diet.

A study on adult women living in New England showed intake of spinach to be inversely related to incidence of breast cancer.

Intake of kale and collard greens is closely associated with the prevention of a number of cancers, including breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

After adding the broth and cooked barley, toss in some chopped baby greens at the end.

After adding the broth and cooked barley, toss in some chopped baby greens at the end.

Walnuts

Move over, almonds.

The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant phytonutrients found in walnuts helps explain the decreased risk of prostate and breast cancer associated with this nut.

In one interesting study, women consumed whole walnuts, walnut oil or walnut skin. Then their blood was dripped onto breast cancer cells in a petri dish. The blood of the women that ate the whole nut suppressed the growth of breast cancer cells, while the blood of women who consumed just walnut oil or walnut skin did not. When it comes to breast cancer prevention, walnuts dramatically outperform almonds.

WalnutBarleyGreensSoup_FinalReady to make this soup? Here’s the link to the recipe online. Remember to sub hulled barley for the pearled barley. The leek is optional, and I used organic vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

And if you are wondering if your family will like it, my 13 year old son ate it every day for several days – and asked for more!