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Pink October Food Can Be Pink... and Healthy

A pink, glittery invitation with the two words I love most arrived in the mail last week. “You’re invited!” was splashed in hot pink script across the envelope’s pale pink background. Inside was an invitation to a hospital’s October breast cancer awareness party. I had to decline, but asked marketing friends to share photos of the event staged to bring awareness to the importance of undergoing mammograms and making other cancer preventative lifestyle changes. As a result, I obtained a wealth of cancer-fighting food ideas and pink party ideas.

This wasn’t the first time I’d heard about a pink party. During my hospital marketing days, I staged “Pink October” parties featuring pink lemonade and pink ribbon-shaped sugar cookies with pink icing and sprinkles. Pink parties held around the nation, as well as in our state, have progressed since then. My friends shared photos of pink-clothed tables laden with every pink treat under the sun. Who knew a few drops of pink food coloring and glitter could transform any food into a state of pink perfection?

Pale pink strawberry soufflés, pancakes and cinnamon rolls, raspberry pink sorbet, pink cotton candy, pink and white chocolate covered pretzels, strawberry cupcakes layered with pink frosting in Mason jars, and gift bags of pink “puppy chow” made of sugared Chex cereal and M&Ms in a rainbow of pink pastel hues.

It was hard to play favorites among the pink treats. However, a tray of what appeared to be pink cake balls caught my eye. I learned they were actually miniature apple balls dipped in pink tinted white chocolate. The creative chef used a melon baller to create small bites from a large apple, then added a white stick and finished them off with a coating of chocolate.

It’s an ingenious idea that I plan to use when making caramel apples. The bite-size caramel apples will be the perfect way to enjoy one of my favorite fall treats.

I intently searched the photos, but didn’t spy any pink ribbon sugar cookies in the lineup. Turns out, my basic cookies have been replaced by pink Angel food cupcakes topped with crowns of pink icing and sprinkles arranged in a ribbon pattern. Even more impressive, ribbons composed of fluffy pink meringue are a modern take on cookie dough. Instead of pink lemonade, guests sipped cherry limeade with pink straws in pink-tinted Mason jars.

I’m excited to see progress, not only from my humble “Pink October” days, but in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer. Ten years ago, little was known about the role diet and

exercise play in the progression of the disease that will affect 252,710 women this year, according to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The good news is, there are over 3 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. and the numbers continue to rise.

The American Cancer Society believes a healthy diet may lower cancer risk. They recommend eating mostly vegetables, fruits, and whole grains with less red meat, processed meat, and sweets on the menu. Besides breast cancer and other cancers, a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

With any healthy diet guideline, it seems all the “good things” are forbidden. Luckily, one of my favorite foods is on the acceptable list.

Wild-caught salmon is filled with Omega-3 oils proven to lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease and other diseases and is packed with cancer-fighting nutrients and vitamins. It’s a delicious alternative to grilled steak, interesting ground beef replacement in tacos, a satisfying addition to stir fry vegetables, and a fresh, filling topping for salads and pastas.

True confession: my favorite way to utilize salmon is in a fattening smoked salmon and cream cheese dip. However, in the spirit of breast cancer awareness month, I looked for a healthier way to enjoy it.

The Wild Alaska Salmon and Seafood Company website offers a wealth of interesting ways to utilize their prime catch. I never met a wrapped food I didn’t like, so a recipe for Alaska Salmon En Papillote was an obvious choice. It’s actually a fancy name for a simple, healthy dish filled with salmon and vegetables baked in parchment paper.

Thankfully, the fight against breast cancer has come a long way since my pink sugar cookie and lemonade days. Here’s hoping that in another 10 years, pink parties and breast cancer will be a thing of the past.

Pink October Alaska Salmon En Papillote

4 Alaska salmon, skinless, 4 ounce fillets

4 parchment sheets (10x14)

4 kale leaves, shredded

1/2 cup red potatoes, sliced