Each week we take one food, flavor or idea as it relates to an anti-cancer diet. Your mission is to use the food/flavor/idea in your life during the week!

Amaranth is a grain that lowers the risk of cancer through phytochemicals called squalene. They reduce the blood supply to tumors which inhibits the growth of cancer cells. This week Martha Rose Shulman uses amaranth greens in a killer stir-fry.

Stir-Fried Tofu, Amaranth Greens, Sweet Red Pepper, and Green Garlic

A number of farmers at our California farmers’ markets sell beautiful lush bunches of amaranth greens in the spring. The leaves are dark red and green and the stems are tender enough to include in a stir-fry. If you can’t find amaranth, substitute beet greens or red chard.

I always begin cooking my stir-fried tofu and vegetables by searing the tofu. Then I add the aromatics, the vegetables, and the liquid seasonings.

Tip: It’s very important to read stir-fry recipes through twice before you begin. You won’t have time to be reading a recipe as you stir-fry – it all happens in 5 minutes or less. So you’ll want to know beforehand the order in which you’ll be adding items to the wok, and have them arranged in that order.


1 (14-ounce) package firm tofu, drained and cut into 2 x 3/4 x 1/4-inch dominoes

1 generous bunch amaranth greens, about 1 pound

1 bulb green garlic, papery shells removed, minced

1 hot green chile, such as a serrano, jalapeno, or Thai chile, minced

1 large red bell pepper, cut into 2 inch-julienne

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

2 teaspoons dark sesame oil

1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce (to taste)

1 tablespoon Shao-hsing rice wine or dry sherry

1/4 cup vegetable stock or water

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)

1/8 to 1/4 freshly ground pepper (to taste)

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sugar (to taste)

2 tablespoons peanut, sunflower, or grapeseed oil

2 to 3 teaspoons minced ginger (to taste)

Vegetables of your choice


  1. Wash the amaranth, spin dry, and trim away the thick ends of the stems. Cut the bottom thicker parts of the stems into 1/2-inch lengths. Stem the leaves that have long-stringy stems (discard these stems) and chop coarsely. Place the cut thick stems and leaves together in a large bowl.
  2. Place the tofu dominoes on paper towels. Place another paper towel on top and let sit while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
  3. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the soy sauce, rice wine or sherry, and stock or water. In another small container, combine the salt, pepper and sugar.
  4. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch stainless-steel skillet over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within a second or two when added to the pan. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of the oil by adding it to the sides of the wok and swirling the wok, then add the tofu. Sear for 30 seconds without stirring, then stir-fry until lightly colored, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the tofu to a plate.
  5. Add the green garlic and chile with the ginger and stir-fry for no more than 10 seconds. Add the bell pepper and stir-fry until crisp-tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the amaranth stems and leaves and sesame seeds with the salt, pepper, and sugar and stir-fry until the leaves have wilted and the stems are crisp-tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Return the tofu to the wok along with the soy sauce mixture and sesame oil and stir-fry 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.
  6. Serve with rice or noodles.

ADVANCE PREPARATION: Stir-fries are last-minute dishes as far as cooking goes, but you can prepare all of your ingredients hours in advance. Keep in the refrigerator until 15 to 30 minutes before you cook.

Reprinted with permission of the author.


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