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AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION

Times Staff Writer

Health institutions traditionally have remained aloof from the recreational activities of public life. And the American Cancer Society has been no exception.

Not any more.

More health organizations are beginning to see the value of infiltrating a segment of society that patronizes the world of restaurants, follows a premier fashion trend and preoccupies itself with affluence.

In Los Angeles, one study of 1,104 households showed that those with annual incomes of $25,000 or more accounted for a disproportionately larger share of patronage of eating places, especially at dining-type restaurants.

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The American Heart Assn. successfully has filtered into the mass restaurant scene by designating dishes on menus which meet its guidelines for good heart health, but the effect upon public health has not been as spectacular as the group might wish.

The Kidney Foundation has also made use of famous chefs to promote its cause.

Countless other health societies have solicited the assistance of chefs and restaurants to help raise funds. Cake bakes and cook-offs also have been instruments of help.

So it was no surprise last week to find at the Biltmore’s new Rendezvous Court, amid the Florentine fountain, Areca palms and French music chairs, 12 of California’s top chefs participating in the launching of the fifth annual Cancer Awareness Week.

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They were demonstrating to the media, which arrived with much of the same hoopla and paraphernalia needed to cover a political campaign or fashion show, how food that tastes good also can be good for you; that by following guidelines set forth by the cancer society of increasing foods high in fiber, Vitamins A and C, and decreasing fat intake, the public can do for itself what no cancer cure can do: prevent the killer disease from occurring at all for certain cancers.

Even more important, the top chefs had stepped out of the kitchen to give open support to cancer prevention, a concept that has been wracked by confusion and controversy amid the scientific community. Not long ago, the cancer society had a hard time philosophically linking cancer with diet. Environment, substance abuse and hereditary causes, rather than diet, had been the accepted risk factors up to a few years ago. Today, not only is a food connection acknowledged, but it has been made the focal point for cancer health awareness in the last several years’ campaigns.

The gospel of healthful eating emitted by trend-setting chefs is sure to be heard by the increasing number of Americans who dine out, and the effect could be significant. John Sedlar, whose St. Estephe restaurant in Manhattan Beach is a leader in the movement toward a California cuisine, is convinced that support of health by top-echelon chefs will pave the way to public acceptance. “We can’t ignore it any longer. We all have to be involved,” he said.

Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, who is considered the mother of the California cuisine and a veteran supporter of natural foods, echoed those sentiments. “We have to change the way we eat if we are to be a healthy society. We have to be aware of what goes into our bodies,” she said.

One by one, each of the 12 chefs was called to the podium to present his or her healthful dish as might a fashion show model be brought out on the runway. Each dish prepared was deemed healthful according to the guidelines set forth by the cancer society. The style, however, was exquisite and the ingredients exotic and not inexpensive.

“We have to remember that these are gourmet recipes which do use more expensive ingredients. Hazelnut oil is more expensive than vegetable oil. But preparing these recipes at home can be less expensive by using regular counterparts,” said Katherine Boyd, registered dietitian of the cancer society.

Most of the chefs needed minimal guidance for modifying their recipes to meet cancer society standards. “With minor changes and clarification, the chefs were able to meet the guidelines easily,” Boyd said.

Most chefs, in fact, are conscious about high-fat ingredients. Only Roland Gibert of Bernard’s admitted to having to reduce cream and fat from his recipe. “It was a real experience for me,” he said. Others had no problems.

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Waters, who was honorary chairwoman for the event, traditionally has used fresh ingredients in her restaurant cooking, with the garden as a heavy source of supply. “Think of the garden and pull out all you can use for salad--chicory, lettuce, zucchini, cabbage and other vegetables,” she said.

Adhering to the cancer society guidelines, Waters came up with a citrus salad, with imported blood orange and grapefruits and radicchio, a leaf from the chicory family imported from Italy, to emphasize foods high in Vitamin C and fiber. She limited the fat content by going light on oil (virgin olive) and emphasizing the no-calorie-no-fat source of liquid from blood oranges, balsamic vinegar, Champagne vinegar and lemon. The salad, which contains no salt, relies on the natural flavors of the ingredients.

Light Crab Filling

Sedlar brought a dish of chile rellenos, which contained a light crab filling instead of cheese filling, and a sauce made without fat.

Shigefumi Tachibe of Chaya Brasserie, whose approach to cooking is naturally light, as are Japanese dishes in general, showed off a dish made with a square of tofu, which contains few calories and no fat in a vegetable sauce made only with vegetables and wine. It is high in calcium, which corresponds with the cancer society’s advice of increasing calcium in the diet.

Emphasizing the cancer society’s dietary recommendation to increase foods of the cabbage family, Gibert used savoy cabbage with a combination of seafood and vegetables in a nonfat sauce made with fish stock.

Maurizio Binotto of Alfredo’s in the Westin South Coast Plaza Hotel in Costa Mesa, prepared cream puffs filled not with caloric whipped cream, but with low-fat yogurt and bananas and other fruit.

Bruno Cirino of Antoine in Hotel Meridien Newport Beach used not a morsel of fat to prepare an incredibly delicious stew of veal shanks and vegetables.

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Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken of City Restaurant in Los Angeles, who have pioneered the natural and healthful aspects of California cuisine, showcased a dish of marinated tuna dressed with vinegar, soy sauce and rice wine. No fat.

Garbanzo Bean Flour

Giovanni Leoni of Ristorante Buca Giovanni in San Francisco, who thinks of himself as a teacher and student of healthful cooking, used high-fiber garbanzo beans to point out the cancer society’s recommendation for increasing fiber in the daily diet. Leoni’s idea, however, was to use garbanzo bean flour instead of wheat flour for making cannelloni, and filling it with broccoli florets, a member of the cruciferous vegetable family considered helpful in preventing some cancers.

Udo Nechutnys of Miramonte Restaurant and Country Inn in St. Helena used seafood sauteed in a non-stick pan to avoid use of fat and teamed it with steamed spinach, endive and tomato with a vinaigrette made with a minimum amount of hazelnut oil and vinegar.

Biba Caggiano of Sacramento, a cookbook author and cooking teacher, used healthful whole-wheat pasta with yellow peppers seasoned with a small amount of virgin olive oil. The pasta was steamed in a paper bag to avoid heavy use of fat.

Emile Mooser of Emile’s in San Jose, who believes in eating lighter foods, prepared a seafood dish using no butter or other fat, relying, instead on heavy use of garlic (half of a small head) for flavor. Croutons were toasted dry. Mooser emphasized that the dish also appears on his restaurant menu.

For a booklet containing the chefs’ recipes, call (213) 386-1605 or your local American Cancer Society.

Nutrition now is regarded as one of the primary steps in cancer prevention.

About 73 million Americans now living--about 30% of the population--eventually will have cancer, according to present rates. Over the years, cancer will strike in about three out of four families.

The tack of prevention, rather than finding a cure once the disease hits, is well founded. Many cancers can be avoided with proper health practices throughout life. According the cancer society, about 83% of lung cancers are caused by cigarette smoking, and cigarette smoking accounts for 30% of all cancer deaths. Other risk factors include environmental hazards such as overexposure to sunlight.

Smokeless Tobacco Risks

Abuse of alcohol and smokeless tobacco increases the risk of certain types of cancer. Risk of colon, breast and uterine cancers increases for obese individuals. It is now thought that high-fiber foods may help reduce risk of colon cancer. Foods rich in Vitamins A and C may help lower risk of cancers of larynx, esophagus and lung. Eating cruciferous vegetables may help protect against certain cancers. Salt-cured, smoked and nitrite-cured foods have been linked to esophageal and stomach cancer.

Latest research indicates that the risk of cancer can be reduced by eating certain kinds and amounts of food. The dietary recommendations of the cancer society are as follows:

--Cut total fat intake. Limit fat added to foods; limit cooked meat, fish or poultry to six ounces a day, and use only low-fat or nonfat diary products instead of whole-milk products.

--Eat more high-fiber foods. Cereal, bread or flour should be whole-grain or part whole-grain. Choose higher-fiber foods, such as whole fruit rather than juice; eat beans, peas or lentils.

--Include foods rich in Vitamins A and C in your diet. Include two to three daily servings of dark-green and deep-yellow fruits and vegetables and Vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables.

--Include cruciferous vegetables in your diet. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, rutabaga and turnip.

--Limit consumption of alcoholic beverages to no more than one to two drinks per day--counting one drink as 1 1/2 ounces hard liquor, 4 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer.

--Limit consumption of salt-cured, smoked and nitrite-cured foods. Avoid luncheon meats, hams, bacon and sausages, pickles and pickled foods, barbecued or smoked foods.

--Include three servings of calcium-rich foods, such as low-fat or nonfat milk and yogurt, low-fat cheeses, tofu, broccoli, bok choy, collard, dandelion, kale, mustard and turnip greens.

--Limit the amount of sugar added to one teaspoon per serving and salt to 1/6 teaspoon per serving.

GRAPEFRUIT AND BLOOD ORANGE SALAD (Alice Waters, Chez Panisse)

6 blood oranges

2 ruby grapefruit

2 small heads radicchio or bitter green lettuce

Vinaigrette

Peel 4 blood oranges and slice thinly into rounds, reserving remaining 2 oranges for juice. Peel and section grapefruit. Line plates with radicchio. Arrange orange and grapefruit over radicchio. Chill. Pour Vinaigrette over salad when ready to serve. Makes 4 servings. Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons blood orange juice

2 teaspoons sweet balsamic vinegar

Dash Champagne vinegar

Squeeze of lemon

1/8 teaspoon salt

Dash ground black pepper

2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Combine orange juice, balsamic vinegar, Champagne vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Let stand 10 minutes, then stir in oil. ORANGE-BANANA CREAM PUFFS (Maurizio Binotto, Westin South Coast Plaza)

1/2 cup orange juice

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

1 cup plain low-fat yogurt

1 medium banana, finely chopped

1 egg white

Cream Puffs

Combine orange juice, 1 tablespoon sugar, cornstarch and orange peel in saucepan. Cook, stirring, until bubbly. Remove from heat. Cool slightly. Fold in yogurt and banana. Chill 2 hours.

Beat egg white to soft peaks. Gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold into yogurt mixture. Chill. Cut off tops of Cream Puffs. Fill with yogurt filling. Makes 8 cream puffs. Cream Puffs

2 tablespoon margarine

1/2 cup boiling water

1/2 cup flour

2 eggs

Melt margarine in water in saucepan. Bring to boil. Add flour, stirring vigorously. Cook and stir until mixture forms ball that does not separate.

Remove from heat. Cool 10 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating about 30 seconds after each addition. Drop by heaping tablespoons 3 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees 30 minutes or until golden brown and puffy. Remove from oven. TOFU DELIGHT (Shigefumi Tachibe, Chaya Brasserie)

2 (14.2-ounce) cartons tofu

1/2 pound shrimp

4 shiitake mushrooms

1 stem broccoli

1 sprig tarragon

Vegetable Sauce

1 small leek, cut julienne

Slice tofu in halves horizontally and place on serving plate. With spoon scoop out center of tofu about halfway through, reserving scooped out portion for other use.

Chop shrimp, shiitake, broccoli and tarragon. Stuff mixture into cavity of tofu. Place on serving plate on steamer rack over simmering water. Cover and steam 12 to 15 minutes. Drain water off plate. Top tofu with Vegetable Sauce. Garnish with leek. Makes 4 servings. Vegetable Sauce

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/3 cup diced carrot

1/3 cup diced celery

1/2 cup diced tomato

1/3 cup diced zucchini

1/2 cup diced onion

2/3 teaspoon salt

Combine water and wine in saucepan. Bring to boil. Add carrot, celery, tomato, zucchini and onion. Cover and steam until tender, about 5 minutes. Place vegetable mixture in blender or food processor using metal blade. Process until pureed. Add salt. Return to saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer until reduced to 3/4 of original amount. CHINESE EGGPLANT PROVENCE-STYLE (Udo Nechutnys, Miramonte Restaurant and Country Inn)

8 Chinese eggplants, unpeeled (can use other varieties eggplant)

2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons virgin olive oil

1/2 head small garlic

1 small egg yolk, optional

1 teaspoon chopped oregano leaves

1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves

1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash pepper

1 tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped

2 moist-pack sun-dried tomatoes, cut fine

1 shallot, minced

1 bunch watercress

1 (3-inch) piece horseradish, cut julienne

Steam eggplants in steamer rack over simmering water in covered steamer until eggplants are soft, about 25 minutes. While still warm, place in bowl. Pour vinegar over. Set aside while preparing dressing.

Roughly chop 2 cooked eggplants with skin on (unless too thick and tough). Place in food processor with olive oil, garlic, egg yolk, oregano, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper and vinegar used to soak eggplants. Process until smooth.

Place eggplant sauce on bottom of each plate or large serving platter. Starting at bulb end, cut each eggplant into half but not all way through, leaving blossom end intact. Place over sauce. Garnish with fresh and dried tomatoes, shallot, watercress leaves and horseradish. Makes 6 servings. SEAFOOD WITH TOMATOES (Emile Mooser, Emile’s, San Jose)

1/2 cup white wine

3/4 cup fish stock

1 head small garlic, roasted, peeled and pureed

1 cup julienned carrots, celery and leeks

16 baby clams

8 mussels

12 prawns, peeled

12 ounces halibut or sea bass, cubed

12 ounces scallops

2 teaspoons minced fresh basil

4 cups pureed tomato pulp

Salt, pepper

1 baguette, cut into 24 slices, about 1/3 inch thick, toasted

Basil leaves

Heat wine and fish stock in skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon garlic puree, carrot mixture, clams and mussels. Cover and steam 3 minutes. Add prawns, halibut, scallops, basil, tomato pulp and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer 3 minutes. Spread remaining garlic puree on toast. Place fish on plates and place bread slices on top of each portion. Decorate with basil. Makes 6 servings.

Note: To roast garlic, bake at 350 degrees 10 minutes to soften. Peel and puree. SALMON MY STYLE (Udo Nechutnys, Miramonte Restaurant and Country Inn)

2 pounds salmon fillets

6 crayfish tails

10 leaves spinach

1 head endive

1 tomato, diced

2 shallots, chopped

1 bunch chervil, chopped

Hazelnut Vinaigrette

Slice salmon from boned fish at angle, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. Pound thin under dampened plastic wrap. Wrap in plastic and store until ready to use.

Cook crayfish tails in 1 inch boiling salted water. Place spinach, endive and tomato in large bowl. Add shallots and chervil. Add cooked crayfish tails. Sprinkle with Hazelnut Vinaigrette.

Cook salmon in non-stick pan over low heat about 1 to 2 minutes. Divide salad among 6 plates. Place 1 salmon portion on top of each salad portion. Makes 6 servings. Hazelnut Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons hazelnut oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper or to taste

Combine oil, salt and pepper. Shake well. SEAFOOD CASSOLETTE (Roland Gibert, Bernard’s)

6 baby turnips

6 baby carrots

6 small potatoes

1/2 pound mushrooms

6 spears asparagus

6 baby leeks

1 stalk celery

1 small savoy cabbage

2 quarts fish stock

1 bunch parsley

2 cups water

Salt

3 live Maine lobsters (about 1 pound each)

1/4 pound scallops

6 mussels

6 littleneck clams

1 pound Dover sole, cut into uniform pieces

Dash nutmeg

1 1/2 cups nonfat milk powder

Juice of 1 lemon

Cook turnips, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, leeks, celery and cabbage separately in simmering fish stock, 10 to 20 minutes, depending on vegetable.

Remove vegetables and set aside. Puree mushrooms and set aside. Cook parsley in boiling lightly salted water. Puree parsley and set aside.

In large pot containing fish stock used for vegetables, bring liquid to boil. Add lobsters. Cover and cook 10 minutes. Remove carcasses, reserving flesh of claws and tails. Cut into small pieces. Add scallops, mussels, clams and sole to fish stock and poach 5 minutes. About 5 minutes before serving, combine mushroom and parsley puree. Bring to boil. Add nutmeg, milk powder and lemon. Set aside.

To serve, place mushroom sauce on bottom of plate. Add fish and shellfish. Garnish with vegetables. Makes 6 servings. VEAL SHANKS WITH VEGETABLES Bruno Cirino (Antoine, Hotel Meridien)

6 (6-ounce) veal shanks, boned and sliced

Salt, pepper

2/3 cup dry white wine

5 cups water

12 baby carrots, peeled

1 stalk celery, cut into thin sticks

1 pound tiny onions

2 small leeks, cut into 3 sections

1 pound small white mushrooms

4 whole small new potatoes, peeled

1 pound tomatoes, peeled and crushed

1 sprig thyme

1 sprig laurel

2 bay leaves

1 clove garlic

5 basil leaves

Season shank meat with salt and pepper to taste. Place veal on broiler rack 3 inches from source of heat and cook until browned on both sides, turning once. Place shank meat in large saucepan. Add wine and 1 cup water. Cook, covered, over low heat until meat is tender, about 15 minutes.

Place carrots, celery, onions, leeks, mushrooms, potatoes and tomatoes over meat. Add 4 cups water, thyme, laurel, bay leaves, garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Cook 1 1/2 to 2 hours over low heat, adding water as needed to maintain 2 cups liquid in pan at all times.

Place some shank meat on each soup plate. Top with assortment of vegetables, reserving 2 slices cooked potato. Blend together basil and reserved potato with pan liquid to form sauce. Pour over meat and vegetables. Makes 6 servings. MARINATED TUNA WITH SPICED SPROUTS (Sue Feniger and Mary Milliken, City Restaurant)

1 pound fresh tuna, skin and bones removed

2 packages spiced daikon sprouts

2 tablespoons grated ginger root

1/2 cup brown rice vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon mirin

Slice tuna as thinly as possible. Trim roots from daikon sprouts. Roll each piece tuna around small clump of spiced sprouts. Arrange tuna rolls on serving platter. Mix ginger, brown rice vinegar, soy sauce and mirin in small bowl. Spoon over each tuna roll just before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings. GREEN CHILE RELLENOS WITH CRAB (John Sedlar, St. Estephe)

4 fresh Anaheim chiles

10 plum tomatoes

1/2 cup white wine

Crab Filling

Sorrel Arrows

Roast green chiles over medium flame until uniformly charred. Plunge hot chiles into ice water until cool. Carefully peel and slice open on 1 side. Remove seeds. Set aside.

Core tomatoes and place in saucepan with white wine. Simmer over low heat 1 hour or until liquid is absorbed. Place mixture in food processor and puree until smooth. Strain mixture through fine sieve. Set aside.

Open chiles out flat. Place 1/4 of Crab Filling on each chile and fold to close. Wrap in 4x4-inch sheet of plastic wrap. Place wrapped stuffed chiles on steamer rack over simmering water and steam, covered, 7 minutes.

Cool enough to handle. Remove plastic wrap. Spoon reserved tomato mixture (coulis) on plate. Place chile relleno on top. Squirt Sorrel Arrows through small squeeze bottle onto plate to form arrow, if desired. Makes 4 servings. Crab Filling

6 ounces crab meat

1 teaspoon hot mustard

1/2 cup cornbread crumbs

Shred crab meat into bowl. Stir in mustard and bread crumbs until well mixed. Sorrel Arrows

4 bunches sorrel

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon garlic

Rinse sorrel leaves and remove stems. Simmer leaves with water and garlic 20 minutes. Puree sorrel mixture in food processor or blender. Strain through fine sieve. Cool to room temperature. Place in squeeze bottle to use. PENNE WITH PEPPERS IN FOIL (Biba Caggiano, Sacramento)

4 teaspoons olive oil

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

4 red or yellow sweet peppers

4 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks

Salt, pepper

1/2 cup chicken broth (all fat removed) or water

1/2 pound whole-wheat penne or shells

Heat oil in large skillet. Add onions and peppers. Saute over medium heat until onions and peppers are lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and season lightly with salt and pepper to taste.

Cover skillet, leaving it slightly ajar, and cook 15 minutes, stirring a few times. If peppers dry out during cooking, add broth or water. At end of cooking time there should be about 1/3 cup liquid in skillet.

Cook penne in boiling water until tender, but still firm to bite. Drain pasta and place in skillet with sauce. Stir well to blend.

Lay out 3 or 4 large pieces of parchment (about 16-inches square) or foil. Divide pasta into 4 equal portions and place portion on each square of foil. Close to seal tightly. Place bundles on cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees about 10 minutes or until bundles puff.

Place each bundle on individual serving dish. Open carefully to allow steam to escape. Serve at once. Makes 4 servings.


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