Methodist Healthcare - March 01, 2023
by Taylor Brizzee, Registered Dietician and Darnell Adams, Chef

Chef and Dietician Partner for Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

In honor of March being Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Darnell Adams, Head Chef, and Taylor Brizzee, Bariatric Dietician from Methodist Hospital | Metropolitan, have come together to create a healthy colon recipe and tips to reduce your risk for colon cancer.

Pistachio-crusted salmon with a fig gastrique sauce served over a warm pasta salad (with gnocchi, sautéed swiss chard, and kale with pesto)

Pistachio Crusted Salmon


  • 6oz wild salmon
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 TBS of minced garlic
  • 3 TBS of dijon mustard
  • ½ cup of honey
  • ½ cup of crushed pistachios
  • Olive oil


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Prep the salmon by rinsing and patting it dry. Place the salmon on a lined baking sheet and season it with salt and pepper. Set it aside.
  3. Make the pistachio topping. In a small bowl, combine garlic olive oil, mustard, lemon juice, and honey. Spread ¾ of the mixture evenly over the salmon. Next, add the pistachios to the remaining mixture and stir to combine. Spoon the pistachio mixture on top of the salmon and press lightly into the salmon using the back of a spoon.
  4. Bake the salmon in the preheated oven for 15 minutes until the salmon is flaky. Remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Gnocchi with Sautéed Swiss Chard and Kale Pesto

Kale Pesto


  • 2 cups of roughly chopped kale leaves
  • ¼ cup of fresh mint
  • 2 TBS of toasted sunflower seed kernels
  • 1 garlic glove
  • ¼ cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • 1 TSP of lemon juice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


Combine the kale, mint, sunflower seeds, garlic, parmesan, olive oil, and lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse it until it’s a fairly smooth paste, scraping the sides as necessary. Season it to taste with salt and pepper, and set it aside.

Gnocchi with Swiss Chard


  • ¼ LB of potato gnocchi
  • 1 TBS of butter
  • 1 ½ cups of thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 TSP of sugar
  • 1 TSP of kosher salt
  • 4 cups of chopped swiss chard
  • 1 TBS of olive oil


  1. Cook the gnocchi in a pot of boiling salted water (about 3 TBS of salt per 6 quarts of water) until they are tender or according to the package instructions. Drain the gnocchi then set it aside.
  2. In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 TBS of butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté to evenly coat the onions with the butter. Cook them, stirring occasionally, until softened (about 10 minutes.) Lower the heat to medium-lo and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the onions start to caramelize about 10-15 minutes more. Stir in salt and sugar and continue cooking until they are evenly browned.
  3. Add the chopped swiss chard and sauté until the greens are wilted and tender (about 5 minutes. ) Season the mixture to taste with salt. Transfer the onions and greens mixtures to a plate of bowl and wipe out the skillet with paper towel.
  4. Return the skillet to the stove and heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the gnocchi and stir to evenly coat it with oil. Spread the gnocchi into a single layer and cook, undisturbed, until golden and rips on the underside. Turn the gnocchi and cook, turning occasionally, until golden and crisp on the other side.
  5. Remove it from the heat and stir in desired amount of the pesto.

Fig Gastrique Sauce


  • 1 TBS of butter
  • 1 finely chopped shallot
  • ½ LB of finely chopped dry figs
  • 1 zested orange
  • 1 zested and cut in half lemon
  • 2 TBS of champagne vinegar
  • 1 TBS of sugar
  • 1 TSP of fresh, finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 TSP of sea salt
  • ½ TSP of white pepper


  1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter.
  2. Add the diced shallots to the sauce pan and continue to cook until they are translucent.
  3. Add the figs, orange zest, and lemon zest. Then squeeze the leftover lemon juice into the sauce pan. Continue to add the champagne vinegar, rosemary, and sugar.
  4. Simmer the fig mixture, stirring occasionally, until the figs have softened and broken down. This should take about 15 minutes.
  5. Taste the gastrique and adjust the flavors to taste.

Nutritional Value of this Recipe

This recipe is an excellent fiber, antioxidants, and healthy fats source. All three are linked to reducing your risk for cancer and other health challenges.

  • Salmon is rich in essential Omega-3 fatty acids, so you must get them from your diet since your body cannot create them. It is also a healthier alternative to red meat due to its fat profile; beef is substantially higher in saturated fat, which has been found to lead to an increased risk of cardiometabolic disease.
  • The pistachio crust is a healthy additive to the dish due to the ppistachio'snutrient profile: high protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Antioxidants help fight free radicals that damage cellular DNA. They help keep cells healthy and less susceptible to becoming cancerous. They can be found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. The fig sauce is also a great source of antioxidants (figs being a fruit).
  • The pasta salad contains high-fiber ingredients, which have been shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Kale and swiss chard are both sources of antioxidants and fiber. The National Cancer Institute recommends consuming 5-9 servings (2.5-4.5 cups) of fruits and vegetables daily, so this side dish is an easy way to add vegetables to your day.
  • Pesto is a nutrient-packed sauce that adds flavor and many health benefits to your food. It is full of antioxidants and a great source of Vitamin D and Calcium. However, it is a high-calorie condiment due to its high-fat content. Consume in moderation. The olive oil in the pesto is rich in monounsaturated fat and loaded with antioxidants.

You can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer by:

  1. Keeping your weight within a healthy range and avoiding weight gain in adulthood; partake in 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity weekly.
    • Excess body fat, particularly visceral fat, is tied to the association of metabolic syndrome with an increased risk of colorectal cancer and early-onset colorectal cancer.
  2. Creating eating habits focused on whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans/legumes - aiming for about 30g fiber/day.
    • The American Institute for Cancer Research analysis found strong evidence linking high-fiber diets and greater whole-grain consumption with a lower risk of overall colorectal cancer.
  3. Limiting red meat consumption to 12 to 18oz per week.
    • A high intake of red meats, mainly processed meats, is strongly linked with overall colorectal cancer risk.
  4. Limiting sugar-sweetened beverages, highly processed foods, and refined grain products.
    • Sugar-sweetened beverages have long been linked to cancer risk by promoting weight gain and excess body weight when consumed frequently.
  5. Avoiding or limiting alcoholic beverages (one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men).
    • Excess alcohol consumption consistently increases colorectal cancer risk by consuming 30g of ethanol or more daily—TThat'sthe equivalent of two or more standard alcoholic drinks.

Sources: The American Institute for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society