Grilled Steak, Mint, Watercress & Bok Choy Salad

steak salad mint bok choyOne of my clients asked for ideas to include more liver cleansing foods in her life—foods her husband and daughter might also eat even though they are less committed to making a health change (yet). So being the smart wives we are, we just make really wonderful food they’ll enjoy and secretly smile to ourselves knowing full well the health benefit.

Among the power houses of liver friends are the cruciferous family of veggies: Broccoli, bok choy, watercress, kale… Like other dark green vegetables, cruciferous vegetables are rich in folate and chlorophyll but they are especially rich sources of glucosinolates.

When we chew our cole slaw (cabbage) or salads with bok choy & watercress (this recipe), we release enzymes that break down these glucosinolates into which are metabolized into isothiocyanates and indoles. These compounds have powerful protective effects against many cancers, including breast, prostate, colorectal, thyroid, bladder and lung cancers. Both help the liver detoxify and eliminate toxic chemicals that can be carcinogens. Dietary indoles reduce the activity of estrogen and prevents the development of estrogen-enhanced cancers including breast, endometrial, cervical and prostate cancers.  Isothiocyanates turn on tumor suppressor genes in precancerous cells.

Folate plays an important role in DNA repair and methylation, which affects gene expression. Chlorophyll is a natural detoxifyer of metals and chemicals. It binds (or chelates—Greek χελος chelos, claw) metals as well as common environmental pollutants including tobacco smoke that are known or suspected to cause cancer. The tight binding of chlorophyll to these potential carcinogens may interfere with their absorption and reduce the amount that reaches susceptible tissues. 

Meals don’t have to discuss health when the food is so delicious  ;-)  There’s no need for “eat it because it’s good for you” when everyone is clamoring for second helpings. This salad is simply amazing. Including meat makes it into a light meal or lunch. Omit the meat and it’s a beautiful side salad. The dressing is amazing. Truly, a top 10 all time favorite.

Serves 4

1 ¼ lb. grass fed skirt steak, at room temperature
¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoon olive or avocado oil
Sea salt, to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
Juice from 2 limes
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons, about 2 thin slices, minced red onion
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
1 Tablespoon wheat free organic soy sauce or coconut aminos
2 Tablespoon Asian fish sauce
5 oz. mixed baby greens
5 oz. watercress
½ cup fresh mint leaves, separated into individual leaves
2 heads baby bok choy, bases, tops and tough leaves trimmed, sliced thinly crosswise


1. Pre-heat your grill to medium-high, a broiler or grill pan can work too.
2. Rub the steak with oil then sprinkle to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside while the grill heats.
3. Make the dressing: In a small Magic Bullet container, whisk together the lime juice, garlic, shallot, mustard, soy sauce, fish sauce and the ¼ teaspoon pepper. Set aside.
4. Grill the steak to medium-rare, about 2-4 minutes per side turning once. Transfer to a cutting board and let stand for 5-10 minutes. Then slice across the grain into about 1-inch wide pieces.
5. Combine the greens, mint and sliced bok choy in a bowl. Toss with the dressing to coat evenly.
6. Divide the greens onto 4 individual serving plates, arrange the steak strips on top and serve.

I’ve made this with sliced grilled Ahi tuna and it is amazing. Just like the rich red steak color, the tuna is a beautiful presentation when cooked medium-rare. Just like steak, the rich tuna flavor complements the mint well.

1. Higdon J, Delage B, Williams D, et al: Cruciferous vegetables and human cancer risk: epidemiologic evidence and mechanistic basis. Pharmacol Res 2007;55:224-236.
2. Wu QJ, Yang Y, Vogtmann E, et al: Cruciferous vegetables intake and the risk of colorectal cancer: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Ann Oncol 2012.
3. Liu X, Lv K: Cruciferous vegetables intake is inversely associated with risk of breast cancer: A meta-analysis. Breast2012.
4. Liu B, Mao Q, Lin Y, et al: The association of cruciferous vegetables intake and risk of bladder cancer: a meta-analysis.World J Urol 2012.
5. Liu B, Mao Q, Cao M, et al: Cruciferous vegetables intake and risk of prostate cancer: a meta-analysis. Int J Urol2012;19:134-141.
6. Lam TK, Gallicchio L, Lindsley K, et al: Cruciferous vegetable consumption and lung cancer risk: a systematic review.Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2009;18:184-195.
7. Bosetti C, Negri E, Kolonel L, et al: A pooled analysis of case-control studies of thyroid cancer. VII. Cruciferous and other vegetables (International). Cancer Causes Control 2002;13:765-775.
8. Dal Maso L, Bosetti C, La Vecchia C, et al: Risk factors for thyroid cancer: an epidemiological review focused on nutritional factors. Cancer Causes Control 2009;20:75-86.
9. Higdon J, Drake VJ: Cruciferous Vegetables. In An Evidence-based Approach to Phytochemicals and Other Dietary Factors 2nd edition: Thieme; 2013
10. Zhang X, Shu XO, Xiang YB, et al: Cruciferous vegetable consumption is associated with a reduced risk of total and cardiovascular disease mortality. Am J Clin Nutr 2011;94:240-246.
11. Hooper LV: You AhR What You Eat: Linking Diet and Immunity. Cell 2011;147:489-491.
12. Auborn KJ,Fan S,Rosen EM, et al: Indole-3-carbinol is a negative regulator of estrogen. J Nutr. 2003 Jul;133(7 Suppl):2470S-2475S


Copyright © 2014 Marie Sternquist. All Rights Reserved

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