This book has been a godsend. Jake found it online prior to starting chemo and his mom so graciously purchased it for us. I cannot give Rebecca Katz enough praise.
This cookbook is not just any old cookbook, but a guide to helping me prepare meals for Jake that serve a purpose and are bursting with the nutrients he needs to help his body repair and replenish during chemotherapy.
Each chapter deserves its own spotlight, so I have broken them down for you.
Chapter 1: “Cancer-Fighting Tool Kit” is bursting with helpful and insightful information. This is the chapter that I have been referring to on a daily basis. It discusses chemo side effects and has a list of recipes under each side effect to help keep Jake nourished while dealing with them. It also offers a section on meal planning which talks about what foods and recipes should be eaten days before, during and after chemotherapy treatments.
One of the most helpful things I have learned about in this chapter is FASS.
Fat-Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Acid- Fresh lemon or lime juice or vinegar
Salt-Sea Salt as it doesn’t have a bitter taste and has the nutrients that table salt does.
Sweet-Grade B organic maple syrup, honey or agave nectar. These sugars are not refined and have a more distinct flavor.
Chemotherapy damages a patients taste buds and essentially makes food taste metallic, bland or just flat-out bad. Katz uses FASS to adjust the recipes to the patients tastes buds. Essentially you are tricking their taste buds and making the natural flavors in the recipe really stand out.
The cool thing is that each recipe in the book offers suggestions on how to adjust the taste. For example if a meal tastes metallic, try adding maple syrup or agave nectar and a squeeze of lemon. Or if Jake thinks it tastes like cardboard, add more sea salt or fresh lemon juice until the flavor of the dish moves towards the front of the mouth. Who knew? 😉
Chapter 1 also has a “Culinary Pharmacy” section where it lists cancer-fighting ingredients and discusses there healing powers. Some of them are things we eat on a regular basis such as bananas, bell peppers, and yogurt. But it also has a few new ones to us such as ginger, kale, and spelt flour.
Chapter 2: “Strategies for Thriving during Treatment” talks about the importance of being open to support, optimizing your nutrition, exercising and having a positive attitude. I would say we are good to go on this one!
Chapter 3: “Nourishing Soups and Broths” has lots of yummy recipes for soups. We have already made two of them and they do not disappoint.
Chapter 4: “Vital Vegetables”. I haven’t tried any recipes in this section yet, but have plans to get some meal planning done this weekend and excited to work a couple of them into our week.
Chapter 5: “Protein-Building Foods” is full of recipes that are loaded with good proteins to make sure that chemotherapy patients are getting enough of it into their diet. Did you know that according to some cancer experts, chemotherapy patients need as much as 50 to 70% more protein in their body to help them rebuild the cells and tissue that is being destroyed??
Chapter 6: “Anytime Foods” is the perfect compilation of foods that are healthy, easily accessible and desirable. When you receive chemotherapy, your eating schedule no longer works like clockwork and your appetite goes haywire. Chemo patients are encouraged to eat many small meals throughout the day instead of three square meals.
Chapter 7: “Tonics and Elixirs” is chock-full of smoothies, tea, and granita recipes that will be so soothing to Jake’s mouth and give him the nutrients he needs when eating becomes difficult.
Chapter 8: “Dollops of Yum!” is all about the little things that truly make a meal better. Blueberry compote, avocado cream and cilantro lime vinaigrette just to name a few. I cannot wait to try some of these!
Chapter 9: “Sweet Bites” provides me with a list of sweet treats that are not full of empty calories and actually serve more of a purpose than just tasting good. I have already made one sweet treat that I am happy to report Jake and I devoured in a couple of days.
**Each recipe also comes with nutritional information along with information on how long it will keep in the refrigerator and freezer. Win, Win for sure.
It has officially been one week since Jake’s first chemo treatment and I have already made several recipes from this book. Some have been super simple, other’s a little more intensive, but all worth it. The thing I love the most about these recipes is that they all serve a purpose for our bodies and can be eaten by anyone and everyone. While I am not thrilled about the reason for changing my eating habits, I am overjoyed that I am learning more about healthy foods and excited for this to become a life-long habit.
While I give this book praise up and down, there are a couple of drawbacks I do want to point out.
- This book may not be for every cancer patient. You really have to want or be willing to try new ingredients and foods. This book has several ingredients that are not typically in everyone’s cabinets and does require some additional money coming out of the pocket.
- Some of the recipes are time-intensive and tedious for the cancer patient themselves to make. While every cancer patient should know and truly understand their side effects and what foods are helpful, the recipes would ideally be made by a caregiver. (Completely in my opinion).
With that being said, I am super excited to share some of the recipes I have made and give you our initial thoughts and changes I will make for next time.
I will also add this note:
While I have dubbed this my new food bible, I am not exclusively cooking from this book. I have searched online for other healthy recipes as well as have continued to make some of our favorite recipes, with minor adjustments to make them a wee bit more healthier. Jake and I have also created a community on Lotsahelpinghands asking for help with meals being made for us on the weeks Jake has chemotherapy. While cooking these new recipes has been fun, it certainly has taken a lot more time and commitment on my part as we are no longer able to eat out much, if at all, along with Jake not being able to help out as much as he used to with his fatigue.
Please feel free to share any healthy recipes you have as I am always looking!