City of Hope Tour & Autumn Superfood Stew

BlogHer tour at City of Hope I had a really cool experience recently as part of a special BlogHer tour to City of Hope in Duarte, CA. City of Hope is a biomedical research, treatment, and education institution located just outside of Los Angeles, and one of their specialties is developing groundbreaking treatments for diseases like cancer and diabetes (check out their blog here). City of Hope sign Since I’m a recent cancer survivor myself , I was really excited by the possibility of visiting the facility and learning more about what the scientists and medical team are doing. The grounds were absolutely lovely with lush trees and greenery: City of Hope grounds I enjoyed seeing the “Wish Trees” in the entryway which are adapted from the Japanese tradition: City of Hope Wish TreeCity of Hope Wish Tree tag From the mouths of babes (“Keep Life, Don’t Lose It”): City of Hope Wish Tree tag written City of Hope is doing a really neat marketing campaign right now called Citizens of Hope to help educate and inspire people to join the fight against disease. Part of the campaign is creating a badge saying what give you hope. When I created mine, I decided what gives me hope is community because I know I couldn’t have made it through my battle with cancer without the support of everyone around me, including my amazing blog readers: City of Hope badge After getting an overview tour of the medical center and hearing about their commitment to comprehensive patient care, our group was treated to a fascinating discussion of superfoods from some of the world’s leading scientists: Presentation at City of Hope In addition to this presentation on “Seeking new therapies from nature’s formulary” from Dr. Yim, we also got to hear from Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., who is a leading researcher on using naturally occurring compounds in foods like mushrooms, pomegranates, and blueberries to suppress cancer. It was a real honor to be in the presence of such great minds that are working tirelessly to make discoveries using foods that are easily accessible: BlogHer tour at City of Hope After getting back from this trip, I practically ran to my kitchen to put together a meal using some of the ingredients we talked about, in particular mushrooms and thyme (but not ignoring onions, herbs, butternut squash, bell peppers, garlic, beans, celery, and other spices). What I ended up making is an Autumn-Inspired Superfood Stew in my slow-cooker that is not only super easy, but super delicious! Autumn Superfood Stew I started by water-sauteeing the onion and mushrooms: Mushrooms for stew I added the bell peppers and celery: Water-sauteed vegetables The slightly cooked vegetables got added to the slow-cooker with the butternut squash, beans, and other ingredients and spices: Crockpot ready to go Eight hours later (on low heat) when my stew was done cooking, I chopped up fresh herbs to add some greenery to the dish:Tons of herbs Almost ready: Herbs in the crockpot I served my stew with a topping of fresh chopped onion and some non-dairy yogurt on the side: Close up of Autumn Superfood Stew Here’s the recipe (note: although I use a 7-quart slow-cooker, I have adapted this recipe for the more common 4 1/2 – 6-quart versions):

City of Hope Tour & Autumn Superfood Stew
Recipe type: Autumn Superfoods Stew
Cuisine: Main Dish
Serves: 6
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, sliced (about 18-20 small)
  • 1 cup chopped celery (about 3 ribs)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb. fresh or frozen butternut squash cubes (about 4-5 cups)
  • 1 cup no-salt added tomato sauce
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 15-ounce can cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • non-dairy yogurt (optional), for topping
  1. In a large non-stick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of water over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until softened. Stir often to prevent burning.
  2. Add chopped mushrooms to the skillet and stir to combine. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the mushrooms have softened. Add an additional 2 tablespoons of water if necessary.
  3. Next, add the chopped celery, red bell pepper, and minced garlic to the onion and mushroom mixture, stirring to combine. Cook for 3-4 more minutes.
  4. If using frozen butternut squash, add the frozen squash to the skillet and cook for 5-6 minutes until squash has thawed (if you are using fresh squash, you do not need to cook it before adding to the slow cooker).
  5. Pour the onion, mushrooms, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and butternut squash into a 4 ½ - 6 quart slow cooker.
  6. Add the tomato sauce, vegetable broth, black beans, raisins, dried thyme, red pepper flakes, dried cumin, smoked paprika, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon to the slow cooker and stir to combine.
  7. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours or until butternut squash is tender.
  8. Stir in the chopped parsley, tamari or soy sauce, and lemon juice and serve with a dollop of non-dairy yogurt, if desired.

The stew just kept getting better and better as I served the leftovers in different ways, including over salad greens for an easy, hot lunch: Autumn Superfood Stew served over salad greens Even though I consider myself to be a very health-conscious vegan and use superfoods on a daily basis anyway, this experience was a reminder of how important it is for me to eat a variety of plant foods and to stay on top of the latest information. I’m so grateful to both BlogHer and City of Hope for including me in this event so I could be inspired by the research on cancer prevention and treatment through the use of food and for letting me share all of what I learned with you! Note: My trip was sponsored by BlogHer and City of Hope, but all the opinions expressed here are my own.

My goal is to provide inspiration for healthy, balanced living. You can find more links on my Recipes and Resources pages.

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  1. Andrea says

    Carrie – do you have a recommendation for a good non-diary yogurt? I have tried a couple and don’t like the taste. Mostly I use plain yogurt for a tart and tangy accompaniment to a meal – the way you would add sour cream. Thanks

  2. Lisa says

    Love your blog and your inspiring writings and recipes. Regarding City of Hope. They unfortunatley have decades long history of animal abuse in their research facilities. Conditions are slowing improving , but if you ever have the attention of someone there, please ask that they stop cruel, archaic and financially irresponsible methods of research with far more effective and cost-effective studies that do not entail animals. I am always hoping for compassion in medical research as well as the food industry! It helps to talk about it, as so many are unaware of the atrocities. Very similar to the dairy and egg industries. Just had to mention this as I see you
    as such an aware and compassionate person!

    • says

      Lisa, thank you so much for your comment and information. I am very sorry to hear about this and I do hope that research institutions stop animal testing. I am a supporting of PCRM and I admire their achievements in educating institutions and medical schools on the alternatives to testing on animals. I’m sure you can appreciate that I do my best to highlight the positive things that are going on in the world in regards to science and food, but of course there is still a lot of progress to be made.

  3. Patty says

    Oh, Carrie, this is a beautiful post. Thank you, very much, for sharing this with us. You never cease to inspire me. I just used my slow cooker over the weekend, too, to make a very yummy 3 bean chili. On my learning curve, I made it a bit too spicy for me and hubby, so I’ll definitely modify it next time. 🙂

  4. says

    Hey Carrie! 🙂
    Great post and it sounds like you were able to be a part of such a great experience. Like you, I am always eager to hear how new plant foods are being discovered to have cancer-fighting properties.

  5. says

    While I’m sorry to hear the above re: animal research, this sounds like a cool and meaningful opportunity, Carrie! Glad you enjoyed.

  6. Christina says

    Hi Carrie,
    I am always interested in new therapies for cancer as I am a survivor. I am currently on a plant based regimen, “medicine”, that I inject…..I think you would find this interesting, and you can find all of the information below through the website link. This is a friend of mine, that introduced me to Mistletoe. We were friends for a long time, and we both had cancer at the same time (although different kind)…..on her site, you will see an upcoming event on Nov 9th about cancer and food….AND you will see that she is getting funding for new research using Mistletoe Therapy through Johns Hopkins here in Maryland!!!!! There are exciting things going on here!!!!! I try to remind myself that I have to stay on track and not be relaxed in taking care of myself because it has been 5 years since the chemo …..anyway….thanks for your recipes and check out this site…….

  7. says

    Wow, City of Hope sounds amazing! What a great experience for you =)
    I love your “Community” Badge – that’s beautiful!
    And your recipe sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing this with us Carrie.

  8. LindaWatson says

    Hi Carrie,
    I was just browsing the internet searching for new plant-based recipes, when I stumbled across your blog. I am a breast cancer survivor, 1 year October 2013. Thank you so much for sharing so much of your story. I can’t wait to try your stew! God Bless!

  9. Stacy L. says

    Oh…my…word! This stew is INCREDIBLE! It is a cold and dark night and as was chatting with my neighbor outside our apartment when coming home from work I could smell this wonderful aroma and kept thinking “man, someone’s dinner smells incredible!” and what a surprising treat to walk into MY PLACE and realize it was OUR dinner! 😉 haha!

    I ended up not having time to sautee the veggies this morning before work and threw it all directly into the crockpot for LOW 10 hrs. It was perfect!

    • says

      Stacy, you just made me smile with your story. I’m soooo glad you liked the stew and that you didn’t even need to sauté the veggies ahead of time. Xoxo!!!

  10. Sue Ellen B. says

    I made an interesting/accidental discovery with this recipe. I evidently cut up all of the veggies too small and they sort of dissolved into the broth, with the exception of the mushrooms and beans. The broth was excellent so I used it as a basis for creating different soups and stews all of which had a unique flavor based on what I added. Since I only cook for myself this gave me a new dish every night!


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