Going through chemo is tough on your body. There are days when you’ll feel like eating and days you’ll barely be able to get a smoothie down. I was lucky in that I never got sick, and I know it’s because I had great anti-nausea meds (Zofran and Emend).
Many days, I didn’t feel like eating so I had to get creative with my diet. I had lost 27 pounds from the de-bulking surgery so my main goal was to beef up during that time. That’s a difficult goal when you’re not hungry, so I had to focus on high-fat, high protein foods.
Don’t get me wrong. There were some days when all I felt like eating was Cheerios, a banana and milk. So don’t beat yourself up if you can’t eat “healthy, cancer fighting” foods every day!
My oncologist told me to go home and eat cheeseburgers and milkshakes to gain the weight I had so quickly lost. But I knew something about that didn’t sound right. They were already poisoning my body with chemicals, so the last thing I wanted to do was feed my body more chemicals from my food.
I began to research and reach out to friends I knew could help me with a cancer fighting diet. Some of my favorite books are Kris Carr’s “Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips” and the “Crazy Sexy Kitchen.” Both were great resources for me to find quick and easy recipes that I knew would help my body fight this deadly disease.
That’s why it’s so important to start planning your meals before you have your first treatment, because while you’re going to have zero desire to chop, cook or nibble on anything, you need to keep your strength up, rest and take care of yourself.
Some of my favorite stand-bys are quick and easy. Even though my taste buds were irate that I would even dare to put something in my mouth, I could get this much-needed nutrition into my body and move on (or back to the couch).
Because I’m not a culinary expert, I consulted with local alternative chef Hannah Riley (“Chef Hannah”), who has taught me so much about the power of choosing ingredients mindfully. She has been kind enough to help share easy, healthy recipes with you here, every month!
I chose to work with Chef Hannah because of her dedication to clean eating and working with as many local North Carolina ingredients as she can. She is a proud member of the Piedmont Culinary Guild, which allows chefs, farmers and restaurateurs to collaborate. “Connecting the Food Chain in our Piedmont region of North and South Carolina, the PCG strengthens the local chef and culinary community by sharing resources, educating consumers, and establishing regional recognition,” according to its website.
Each month, we’ll share new recipes. This month’s recipes:
Spinach arugula zucchini “ravioli” with basil cream sauce
Ingredients for ravioli:
- Olive oil
- 1-2 zucchini
- 5 oz spinach
- 5 oz arugula
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 2T non-dairy cream cheese (I use Kite Hill)
- 3T fresh chives
- 1T nutritional yeast
- Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions for ravioli:
- Slice 1 to 2 zucchini 1/4in with mandolin. Heat pan with 1T olive oil and sear squash on each side until golden, 1 to 2 min, then set aside.
- Saute 5 oz spinach and 5 oz arugula with 1 clove minced garlic for 4 to 5 min, squeeze out excess liquid.
- Stir together spinach mixture with 2T non-dairy cream cheese, 3T fresh chives and 1T nutritional yeast, add salt and pepper to taste.
- Crisscross layer zucchini strips and fill with a heaping spoonful of filling, then close into a pocket and secure with toothpick.
Ingredients for sauce:
- 1.7-oz package fresh basil
- 3T non-dairy cream cheese
- 1/4 c olive oil
Instructions for sauce:
Add fresh basil, non-dairy cream cheese and olive oil in food processor and mix for 2 to 3 min.
Ginger poached shrimp with braised cabbage and apples
- 1/2c purple cabbage
- 1/2c green cabbage
- 2 whole carrots
- 2 Fuji apples
- Half an onion
- 1T olive oil
- 1.5in knob peeled ginger
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1c chicken broth
- 1 lb whole shrimp
Shred purple and green cabbage. Chop carrots, fuji apples and julienne onion. In large hot pan add olive oil and sear onions and apples until golden. Set aside. Add cabbage and carrots plus salt and pepper to taste and cook down 5 to 7 min.
In food processor, finely chop ginger and garlic. Add to pot with chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add shrimp, then simmer 7 to 10 minutes, drain and serve with cabbage and apples.