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The breast cancer-fighting kitchen

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Recipes that beat cancer

A kitchen stocked with healthy foods can ward off breast cancer and other cancers as well as be instrumental in helping a breast cancer survivor nourish her recovering body. The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen

The Cancer Fighting KitchenMalnourishment makes recovery a daunting chore

According to Rebecca Katz, senior chef at California-based Commonweal Cancer Help Program and founder of the Inner Cook, a Bay Area culinary practice specializing in nourishing cancer survivors, 15 million Americans have been diagnosed with cancer and as many as 80 percent are malnourished due to the harsh effects of their treatments. Dietary restrictions, damaged taste buds, nausea, and poor appetite make eating a tiresome chore, even though eating well is a matter of life and death. One-third of all cancer deaths are linked to poor eating.

Embrace your kitchen as a culinary pharmacy

When you are in the throes of cancer treatment, cooking may be the last thing you want to do. Whether you're suffering from fatigue, nausea or having difficulty swallowing, the kitchen can seem the most daunting room in the house. The culinary heart of the house, however, can be the most effective place to start and hasten your healing and recovery.

The very first chapter in The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen, titled Cancer-Fighting Tool Kit, is an informative introduction to this invaluable cancer wellness cookbook. You'll learn why eating is essential to your health and how food can even alleviate the exhausting aftermath of cancer treatment.

Katz describes the typical side effects of cancer treatments and provides specific recipes and meal planning to combat each toil. In addition, the cancer-fighting chef lends helpful cooking tricks that enhance the flavors of foods for cancer survivors and information on the healing power of herbs and spices. By the time you get to chapter two and the cookbook's 150 recipes, you'll quickly realize that your kitchen is truly a culinary pharmacy.

Cancer-fighting recipes

Curry Cauliflower Soup

Serves 6

Cauliflower is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial veggie that also detoxifies the body and even breaks down estrogen. Onions fight tumors and can hasten carcinogens out of the body. The warm spices in this soup provide big flavors as well as stimulate the appetite, aid in digestion, and counter other cancer treatment side effects.

Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
1 cup finely diced yellow onion
2 carrots, peeled, diced small
1 cup finely diced celery
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 cups Magic Mineral Broth
Apricot Pear Chutney, for garnish (recipe below)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Toss cauliflower with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt, then spread it in an even layer on the prepared pan. Roast until the cauliflower is tender, about 25 minutes.

3. While the cauliflower is roasting, heat remaining olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat, then add the onion and pinch of salt and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add carrots, celery, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and saute until the vegetables begin to brown, about 12 minutes.

4. Add curry, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir until spices have coated the vegetables. Pour in a 1/2 cup of broth to deglaze the pan and cook until liquid is reduced by half. Remove from heat.

5. Pour 3 cups broth into a blender then add half of the sauteed vegetables and roasted cauliflower. Blend until smooth then pour the mixture into a soup pot and repeat the process with remaining broth and vegetables.

6. Gently reheat the soup over low heat. Adjust the seasonings. Serve garnished with chutney.

Apricot Pear Chutney

Makes 4 cups

Apricots are a rich source of potassium and iron, which can bring a dehydrated body into balance and promote energy. This versatile sour-sweet relish can be dolloped on soup, roasted chicken or fish, soft cheese and crackers, or generously spread on toast.

Ingredients:
2 pounds pears, peeled, cored, diced
1-1/4 cups chopped unsulfured dried apricots
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup brown rice vinegar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pod star anise (optional)

Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to maintain a bubbly simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 to 50 minutes with the lid partially off so that the liquid begins to evaporate.

2. Once pears are soft but not mushy and the liquid has reduced to a thick coating over the fruit, remove the chutney from the heat. Remove the star anise, if using. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Coconut Rice Pudding

Serves 6

A creamy and rich but healthy dish, this rice pudding is a soothing sweet that is good for the body and the soul. Katz recommends topping it off with a fruit compote or stewed fruit.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup Arborio rice
2 cups water
2-1/2 cups organic milk
3/4 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup raisins or currants

Directions:
1. Combine rice and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

2. Drain the rice, rinse the saucepan, then put the milk, coconut milk, maple syrup, cardamom and salt in the saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the rice, turn down heat to medium-low, and simmer gently, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes. During the last 10 minutes, stir more frequently to prevent sticking or scorching. Pudding is done when rice is tender and starts to stick to the bottom of the pan and the pudding has the consistency of loose oatmeal. It will thicken as it cools.

3. Remove from heat and stir in zest, vanilla, and raisins or currants. Transfer to a heatproof bowl or serving dish and serve warm or chilled. If you're serving it chilled and want to prevent a skin from forming, place a piece of parchment paper directly on the surface of the pudding and chill for at least 2 hours. Top with compote or stewed fruit right before serving.

Designing your diet around big-flavor, nourishing foods will not only promote healthy healing and recovery from your breast cancer treatments, it will improve the quality of your life and bring delicious pleasure to your much-deserving palate.

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