November 06

Celebrate Movember: Paint Your Plate Red!

By Sharon Palmer, RDN

If you’ve been noticing more mustachioed men around town lately, it’s a sign of the times: it’s Movember. Movember is a month-long event during which people raise awareness of prostate cancer by growing out their mustaches to help “change the face of men’s health.” There’s no better time to support the men in your life—grandfathers, fathers, husbands, partners, brothers, sons, and friends—by waging a war against prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men in the U.S. Unless we do something about it, prostate cancer rates will double in the next 15 years. By joining the Movember movement, you can help support research to fight prostate cancer. There are plenty of ways you can get involved besides growing out your moustache (hey, that’s you ladies!), including “Move for Movember”, hosting an event, or just spreading the word.

Fighting Prostate Cancer with Your Fork

One way you can help fend off prostate cancer is with your own lifestyle. According to the National Cancer Institute, you can help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer by avoiding smoking, losing weight, maintaining a healthy diet, and exercising. In addition, it’s important for men to be aware of the benefits of early detection and treatment for prostate cancer.

And that’s not all, a body of research suggests that the humble tomato—packed with lycopene and a symphony of protective nutrients—may be one of the most promising foods that can help protect you against prostate cancer. Researchers have been studying the prostate-cancer fighting potential of tomatoes for decades, noticing that people who consume more tomato products tend to have a lower rate of prostate cancer. This has led to dozens and dozens of studies demonstrating that tomato product consumption may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer development.

Scientists think that it’s the powerful arsenal of nutrients in tomatoes—vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber, potassium and carotenoids—working together in the tomato that offer these benefits. The most abundant carotenoid in tomato products is lycopene, the pigment responsible for the deep red color of ripe tomatoes. Tomato products—the second most popular vegetable in the country—account for more than 80 percent of the lycopene in the American diet. To top it off, the lycopene from processed tomatoes—canned tomatoes, pasta sauce, salsa, and soup—is more bioavailable than in fresh tomatoes.

A recent study found that eating ten or more servings of tomatoes per week cut prostate cancer risk by 18% (Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers Prevention, 2014). And a new review further supports tomato products and lycopene in reducing the risk of prostate cancer progression and death (World Journal of Urology, 2017).

Paint Your Plate Red to Fight Prostate Cancer

So, this November (or Movember!), paint your plate red with healthy, cancer-fighting tomatoes with these tips:

  • Stock your pantry with tomato products such as canned tomatoes, tomato paste, salsa, tomato juice, and tomato soup.
  • Put a healthy, Latin-inspired dish on your menu, such as tacos, burritos, and enchiladas, served with a healthy dose of salsa.
  • Stir a can of diced tomatoes into your soup, chili, or stew pot.
  • Dish up a healthy serving of pasta with your favorite pasta sauce.
  • Put the healthy in pizza with a veggie-rich recipe slathered with red sauce.
  • Put a little spice in your life with a tomato-infused curry dish.
  • Start your meal with a bowl of classic tomato soup.

Try one of my favorite recipes highlighting tomato products, Pasta with Marinara and Roasted Vegetables. Join the Tomato Wellness Team in the fight against cancer. You can join the team, or donate to the cause. To learn more about health benefits, cooking tips and recipes featuring tomato products, visit

Pasta with Marinara and Roasted Vegetables


Turn to marinara sauce and a cornucopia of vegetables—summer squash, eggplant, bell peppers, and onions—to make fresh pasta sing with rustic simplicity.


3 assorted small summer squash (i.e., scallop, yellow, zucchini), sliced

1 small eggplant, sliced

½ red onion, sliced

1 bell pepper (red, yellow, or green), sliced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

3 cloves garlic, finely diced

2 teaspoons ground oregano

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Sea salt to taste (optional)

2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

12 ounces fresh pasta (may substitute dried pasta)

2 cups marinara sauce

¼ cup fresh basil, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Arrange summer squash, onions, and bell pepper on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with garlic, oregano, black pepper and sea salt. Toss together on pan to distribute ingredients.
  3. Place on top rack of oven and roast for about 30 minutes, until golden brown and tender. When done, remove from oven and set aside.
  4. To toast pine nuts, place them in a small baking dish in the hot oven for about 5 minutes while vegetables are roasting. Remove and set aside.
  5. Meanwhile, bring water to boil in a medium pot. Add pasta and cook to al dente stage (according to package directions). Place in colander and rinse and drain.
  6. Add marinara sauce to pot and heat until bubbling. Remove from heat and add cooked pasta, stirring gently to distribute ingredients.
  7. Divide pasta with marinara sauce among 4 pasta bowls (or plates). Top with roasted vegetables, pine nuts, and fresh basil.

Makes 4 servings

Recipe and Image by Sharon Palmer, RDN, The Plant-Powered Dietitian.


Sharon Palmer has created an award-winning career based on combining her two great loves: nutrition and writing. Sharon is an accomplished writer, editor, blogger, author, speaker, and media expert. In particular, her expertise is in plant-based nutrition, cooking, and sustainability. Sharon has authored over 950 articles in a variety of publications,

including Better Homes and Gardens, Prevention, and LA Times. Her book The Plant-Powered Diet: The Lifelong Eating Plan for Achieving Optimal Health, Beginning Today (The Experiment, July 2012) was a critical success, which was followed by her second book Plant-Powered for Life: Eat Your Way to Lasting Health with 52 Simple Steps & 125 Delicious Recipes in July 2014. In addition, she has contributed to several book chapters on nutrition and sustainability. Sharon serves as the editor of the acclaimed health newsletter Environmental Nutrition, and nutrition editor for Today’s Dietitian. And she still has time to blog every day for her popular online community (35,000 members strong) at The Plant-Powered Dietitian. Sharon also serves as a judge for the prestigious James Beard Journalism Awards, and is currently attending graduate school at Green Mountain College in Vermont in order to obtain a Master Degree in Sustainable Food Systems. Living in the chaparral hills overlooking Los Angeles with her husband and two sons, Sharon enjoys tending to her own organic garden, visiting the local farmers market every week, and cooking for friends and family.