Battling Cancer from the Kitchen
Growing up, I was surrounded by many kind women in my church congregation who were always quick to cook a meal and bring it to someone they knew who was newly diagnosed or struggling with a chronic illness. These meals generally included a freshly made casserole or some combination of meat and potatoes along with a favorite dessert or two, and they always had a common theme: simple comfort food. While I have no doubt the generously prepared foods tasted delicious, I fear the home cooks did not always consider the nutritional value of their meals. We often get the idea that when someone receives an intimidating medical diagnosis the best thing to offer is traditional comfort foods. Unfortunately, while these “comfort” foods provide initial happiness they also tend to contribute high amounts of saturated fat, refined grains, and concentrated sugar—none of which are conducive to battling cancer nor preventing recurrence.
In this post, you will find 3 simple dishes that rival the flavor of traditional comfort foods and triumph in cancer-fighting properties. Make them for someone you know who is battling cancer or benefit from their cancer-preventing properties as a survivor.
This lentil soup recipe from Jeanette Chen at Eat to Beat Cancer provides complete plant-based protein and a variety of antioxidant sources in tomatoes, dark leafy greens, carrots, and celery. And the best part for the cook? Just combine all the ingredients and let the stove do the rest!
Tomatoes are the star of this recipe from Cook For Your Life. And why shouldn’t they be? The American Institute for Cancer Research supports that tomatoes and the antioxidants they contain called lycopenes actively fight and prevent cancer growth. Stuff fresh tomatoes with a delightful combination of quinoa, herbs, and lemon for a filling main course meal packed with vibrant flavors, right out of the oven.
For those who still want some meat in their diet, mix up a home-style meatloaf with this recipe from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, which substitutes the traditional pork and beef mixture with ground turkey, limiting red meat consumption and its negative health effects. The recipe also sneaks in vegetables like onion, zucchini, and carrot to increase vitamin and antioxidant content in this favorite comfort dish.
Current guidelines from the American Cancer Society suggest limiting red meats, processed meats and refined grains while incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet for cancer prevention. The same suggestions are relevant for individuals already diagnosed with cancer. Caregivers who have their loved one’s best interests in can cook healthy balanced meals from scratch without extensive kitchen knowledge, time, or money. The three recipes above are just a few examples of wholesome dishes that combine powerful cancer-fighting ingredients without sacrificing flavor.
Sarah Wagner, Senior Student in the Lipscomb University Didactic Program in Dietetics