Cooking ideas for the cancer patient and her family
Drugs can do miracles these days, but the body has a wonderful aptitude for helping itself get better. Like using the proper octane in a car, we have to fuel the body with nutrients that help it do its job. This is just as important, if not more so, for cancer patients as it is for folks with a cold.
The internet abounds with information on every subject, and chicken soup as part of a healthy cancer diet, is all over the place. What makes this soup different than grandma’s cold- fighter is the extra ingredients. Researchers all over the world are looking at what works best.
A lot of the information out there is common sense. Eat a wide variety of foods and as close to natural as possible. Paint you plate with bright colors. Avoid saturated fat and too much of anything. Salt makes food taste good, but you don’t need a lot of it. Fat carries flavor but olive oil does it as well as butter can.
You don’t see much information touting red meat as part of an anti-cancer or cancer-
fighting diet. Red flags fly high on the subject of processed meats . . . bacon and cold cuts. Type in “cancer diet meat” and you get enough information to keep you busy for days.
WebMD has an article by Karen Collins, RD, nutritional advisor for the American Institute for Cancer Research, that puts it in a nutshell. Eat a predominantly plant-based diet. “If you have two-thirds of plant food on your plate, that seems to be enough to avoid excessive amounts of food high in saturated fat.”
Dr. Oz (and who doesn’t believe Dr. Oz?) recommends a diet high in antioxidants, fiber, and isoflavinoids. For a typical day, his diet includes blueberries, yogurt, green tea, tempeh (a soy product), chard, tomatoes, flaxseed, quinoa, garlic, onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, broccoli, beans, and turmeric. He especially recommends five foods that starve cancer: Bok choy, cooked tomatoes, flounder, strawberries, and artichokes. You might want to take such a dogmatic list with a grain of salt and go beyond the prescribed foods. Bok choy is in the same family as cauliflower and broccoli. Flounder is rich in Omega 3 and low in mercury, but so are many other fish. Strawberries are great, but so are blueberries.
For patients with little appetite, the American Cancer Society recommends high-calorie snacks such as hard-cooked eggs, peanut butter, cheese, ice cream, granola bars, liquid supplements, pudding, nuts, canned tuna, and trail mix. Eat whatever you want, whenever you want, such as having breakfast for dinner.
Stanford Medicine Cancer Institute in Stanford, California, is huge. Its nutritionists have come up with hundreds of recipes designed to help cancer patients. Check cancer.stanford.edu and go to nutrition services recipes.
Here are a couple of recipes from the American Cancer Society. Brie and Apple Grilled Cheese is recommended for patients who have nausea or unintentional weight loss. Creamy Mac and Cheese is also good for people losing weight or those who have a sore mouth. The whole family can enjoy this dish. It has 400 calories per serving.
Brie and Apple Grilled Cheese
1 1⁄2 ounces Brie, rind removed, or other cheese, room temperature
2 slices raisin bread
2 to 3 peeled slices of Granny Smith or other apple (try firm pear)
1 teaspoon butter, softened
Spread the Brie on both slices of bread. Top the cheese with apple slices. Top with the other slice of bread, cheese side down, encasing the apple. Spread the butter on outside. Cook in a skillet over medium heat until the bread browns lightly. Turn carefully. Two turners make this easier.
Creamy Mac and Cheese
2 cups low-fat milk
1 cup regular (not low-fat) cottage cheese
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Salt and pepper
1 pound extra sharp Cheddar cheese, grated, divided
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (wheat bread whirred in a food processor)
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1⁄2 pound elbow macaroni, uncooked
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat an eight-by-eight baking dish with non-stick spray. Blend milk, cottage cheese, mustard, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
In a bowl, mix 1 cup grated Cheddar, bread crumbs, and Parmesan cheese. Set aside. For a variation, try a mixture of cheeses.
In a large bowl, combine the rest of the Cheddar, the milk mixture, and raw macaroni. Pour it into the dish and cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Uncover, stir gently and top with reserved cheese and crumb mixture. Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes or until just set. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with salad or steamed vegetables. Makes 8 servings.
by TRENT ROWE, Food Editor