Nutrition Before During and After Cancer

Information on nutritional needs for cancer patients

Start your Day Right

Breakfast Energy Drink 

Breakfast energy drink

Super greens, kale and spinach, are the leafy base providing vitamins, most notably vitamin C and vitamin A. This recipe calls for blending your favorite fruit, nuts and seeds. As a result, the flavors and colors will vary. Find which fruit works best for you, as each has its own level of sweetness or tartness. Take advantage of seasonal fruits. Using previously frozen or store-bought frozen fruits makes a thicker, colder drink.

This recipe has a core fruit ingredient. Pumpkin. Although its flavor and color are masked by other fruit, pumpkin adds a boost of beta-carotene and fiber. Chia seeds thicken the drink and are loaded with protein, fiber and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.

Your choice of nuts – such as almonds, pecans and walnuts – and seeds – such as pumpkin and sesame – add protein, fiber and their respective health-promoting phytonutrients. They do give drinks a slightly grittier texture than your typical smoothies, so use a straw if preferred. Milk also contributes protein. If using soymilk or other plant-based milk, then buy calcium-fortified ones. Using sweetened or unsweetened is your choice depending on your calorie needs. Science is revealing the health benefits of spices, so make use of cinnamon and nutmeg for their sweet flavors and nutritional benefits.

  •  2 medium kale leaves, stems removed and 1 cup spinach leaves loosely packed
  •  1/2 cup fresh or frozen fruit and 1/3 cup plain canned pumpkin*
  •  3 Tbsp. seeds or nuts
  •  1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  •  1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  •  1¼ cups soy or dairy milk
  •  1/2 cup water and 6-8 ice cubes (1 cup)
  • Combine all ingredients in blender or food processer and blend on high until smooth. Let sit for 1 minute to thicken before serving.
  • Makes 2 (aprox. 1½ cup) servings.

Per serving: 231 calories, 12 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 24 g carbohydrate,  13 g protein, 8 g dietary fiber, 111 mg sodium.

No-Knead Rustic Bread with Fruit and Nuts

Rustic Bread

Bring the comfort of homemade bread to your kitchen without the hours of kneading. This easy rustic bread is filled with whole grain goodness, naturally sweet dried fruits and a flavorful assortment of nuts. The creative combinations are endless and all contain fiber and phytonutrients, important in a cancer-protective diet.

  • 2¼ cups white whole-wheat flour or whole-wheat flour and 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dried fruit (dried cranberries, raisins, currants, cherries, chopped apricots, chopped dates), plus 1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, pistachios)
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon, 2 tsp salt and ¼ cup honey
  • ½ tsp instant/rapid rise yeast (not active), 1¾ – 2 cups water, plus ¼ cup water if needed.

In large mixing bowl, stir all ingredients together until sticky dough forms, about 30 seconds. If dough is not sticky to touch, add water in 1-tablespoon increments. Dough should be somewhat tacky when touched and loose, known as being shaggy.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough sit at room temperature (about 70 degrees F) in draft free spot anywhere from 8 to 24 hours. After first rise, dough surface will be dotted with bubbles and dough will have doubled in size.

Line baking pan with parchment paper or grease pan with oil. Using your hands, gently fold in sides toward center, like closing box top flaps. Shape dough into a round loaf, similar to a French boule. Dough should feel tight and not completely spring back when poked. Lift dough from bowl in one piece and place seam side down on baking pan. Cover dough with a dishtowel and let sit 2 hours. After second rise, dough will be puffy.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place top baking rack in middle of oven and bottom rack on lowest level. In casserole dish add 1 cup hot water and place on bottom rack for steam while baking.

Bake bread 55-70 minutes. Insert cooking thermometer in thickest part of loaf. Bread is done when thermometer reads 205° F. If not using thermometer, tap bread with finger. If bread sounds hollow, it is done.  Place bread on cooling rack. Let cool for easier slicing.

To store, wrap cooled bread in plastic or place in plastic bag for a few days. Bread may be sliced and frozen for quick toasting later or made into French toast.

Makes 1 (9-inch x 3-inch) boule, 22 servings.

Per serving: 149 calories, 4 g total fat (<1 g saturated fat), 27 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein, 2.5 g dietary fiber, 214 mg sodium.

Kale Frittata with Tomato and Basil

Kale Frittata

Kale, which has been cultivated for over two millennia, was the most widely eaten green vegetable in Europe until the middle Ages. It was particularly prominent in cold climates due to its hardiness. In Scotland kail was so plentiful it was even a generic term for dinner. For this recipe baby kale works well, but you can just as easily use the regular variety if it is chopped into small bite-size pieces and cooked properly.

After the kale and onion are softened it is important to turn the heat down to medium to medium-low to ensure that the eggs cook slowly to maintain a moist quality. Some chefs stir all the Parmesan cheese into the egg mixture, but this recipe calls for some to be sprinkled on top allowing for it to brown lightly under the broiler to further accentuate its great taste. This easy to make frittata is finished in the oven, so you will need an ovenproof skillet.

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 9 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil or 1/2 tsp. dried basil, or to taste

In a 9-inch or 10-inch iron, nonstick or regular, ovenproof skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. (If using a regular or cast iron skillet, make sure sides are coated with oil). Sauté kale and onion until wilted, about 3 minutes.

In large bowl, whisk together eggs, half of cheese, salt and pepper.

Stir kale and onion into egg mixture and then return egg mixture to skillet. Sprinkle in tomatoes, basil and remaining cheese. Turn heat down to medium to medium-low and cook uncovered for 10-12 minutes or until frittata is just about set. While cooking, pre-heat broiler.

Remove skillet from burner and place under oven broiler until frittata top turns light golden brown, about 1 minute. Remove from broiler and let frittata rest a minute before cutting into wedges. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature.

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 168 calories, 11 g total fat (4 g saturated fat), 4 g carbohydrate, 12 g protein, < 1g dietary fiber, 289 mg sodium



All you need to know about….

Milk, Meat, Fish and Eggs

isolated pitcher

Compared with conventional milk, organic milk has higher levels of omega-3 fats, which protects against heart disease and may decrease the risk of depression, stroke, cancer and other diseases, but the quantities are too small to be very meaningful. (It takes 11 quarts of organic milk to equal the omega-3s in four ounces of salmon.) Milk’s omega-3 content is a function of the cow’s diet, and higher levels reflect more grass.

Neither organic nor conventional milk contains antibiotics. By law, every truckload of milk, organic and conventional, is tested for veterinary drugs, including antibiotics, by trained dairy workers. Any load that tests positive is pulled out of the food supply.

Both organic and conventional cows have IGF-I in their milk. Some research has linked IGF-I to cancer. The American Cancer Society found that “some early studies found a relationship between blood levels of IGF-I and the development of prostate, breast, colorectal and other cancers, but later studies have failed to confirm these reports or have found weaker relationships.



As with milk, the main issue is omega-3 fats. Some organic meat and poultry have more of them than conventional products. The reason is diet: Animals that eat more grass have lower fat levels overall and higher omega-3 levels than animals fed more grain.

Although measurements of omega-3 fats in beef vary, the numbers are low and substantially below what can be found in a serving of salmon.

The bigger concern is pathogens. Studies of bacterial contamination levels of organic and conventional meat show widely varying results. These findings suggest that organic meat may be slightly more likely to be contaminated, possibly because no antibiotics are used. But conventional meat is more likely to be contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The 2012 Stanford review found that slightly more organic chicken samples were contaminated with Campylobacter than conventional samples and that organic pork was more likely than conventional to harbor E. coli. But the risk in meat overall was essentially the same. And whether meat is conventional or organic, the solution is adequate cooking.

There doesn’t seem to be much difference, health-wise, between organic or conventional meats. Grass-fed beef has a slight edge over grain-fed because of higher omega-3 levels, but the amounts are probably too small to affect human health.



As with milk and meat, the omega-3 levels of eggs are affected by the hens’ diet and can be increased by pasturing or diet supplementation for either organic or conventional hens. Eggs high in omega-3s are generally labeled.

There is very little research on contaminants in eggs. The USDA’s 2011 National Residue Program tested 497 egg samples and found no residues of pesticides, contaminants or veterinary drugs, including antibiotics, laying hens aren’t routinely given antibiotics, and there is a mandated withdrawal period after they do get the drugs (to treat illness) before their eggs can be sold.

There are no significant differences affecting health between organic and conventional eggs.



The USDA has not issued any organic standards for farmed fish or shellfish, but several overseas organizations have. (Because there’s no way to control the diet of wild fish, “organic” doesn’t apply.) Canadian standards prohibit antibiotics and hormones, restrict pesticides and set criteria for acceptable feed. There’s not enough research comparing organic and conventional fish to draw any conclusions about their health benefits at this time.

Tall Tales…

Certain nutrition-related misconceptions have been passed along for decades that they’ve been accepted as facts.

We should all drink 8 eight-ounce cups of water daily.

Glass of water

It’s not clear just how or where this recommendation originated, but it’s misleading for a couple of reasons. First, 64 ounces isn’t necessarily how much we all should be consuming. Secondly, it doesn’t have to be just pure water.
A more accurate way to determine your individual fluid requirement is to divide your body weight in half – that’s approximately how many ounces you need daily. (For example, a person who weighs 150 pounds would need 75 ounces of fluid per day). If you lose large amounts of sweat through exercise or working in the heat, add another 16 ounces for every pound of sweat lost.
For some, this can add up to 150-plus ounces of fluid daily, but that doesn’t have to mean carrying around a jug of water everywhere you go. Fluid can come from a variety of sources, including fruits, vegetables, yogurt, and soup, as well as coffee and tea.

Caffeinated beverages are dehydrating.

coffee-beans-cup Soda

Alcohol-containing beverages do not add to hydration due to their diuretic effects, an abundance of research has shown that caffeine-containing beverages like coffee and tea can count toward our fluid intake, the key word here is caffeinated beverages. Caffeine itself is a diuretic, meaning it increases urine output, so caffeine pills and shots are dehydrating. But the volume of water in standard servings of tea, coffee, and even soft drinks serves to more than offset caffeine’s diuretic effect.
Use caution we do not want majority of our fluid intake to come from caffeinated drinks; most health organizations recommend that we limit our caffeine intake to 300 milligrams a day, the amount found in approximately three cups of coffee.

Only Red Wine has health benefits.


Red wine has additional health benefits from the antioxidant-rich grape skins and seeds that are retained in the wine-making process, but all types of alcohol, including white wine, beer and liquor, are associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
Moderate consumption of alcohol, is not more than one drink a day for women, and two for men, can raise ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, help prevent blood clots, and decrease levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that’s linked to increased heart attack risk.

Protein powders and drinks are harmful to kidneys.

Consuming adequate protein is important for growth and maintenance of muscle mass, plus it has satiety value, you’re less likely to overeat later. And while there’s nothing special or miraculous about protein powders, drinks, and shakes, they can be a portable, convenient way to add a boost of protein to meals and snacks.
A serving of many of the popular protein powders, drinks, and shakes has 17 to 25 grams of protein, about what you get in two to three ounces of skinless chicken breast, yet there’s concern that supplementing with protein can stress the kidneys.
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight (approximately 0.36 grams per pound), though the Institute of Medicine doesn’t have an upper limit for protein intake; instead recommending simply that protein intake contribute 10 to 35 percent of total calories.
For athletes and other physically very active people, a protein intake of 1.4 to 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight (approximately 0.63 to 0.86 grams per pound) has been shown to be safe, and also may enhance training and performance. There’s no significant evidence that supplementing with protein damages kidney function in healthy people.

All saturated fat is bad for you.


The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend that we get less than 10 percent of our calories from saturated fat, and less than 7 percent to further reduce the risk of heart disease. For an average 1,800-calorie diet, this translates to an upper limit of 14 to 20 grams of saturated fat per day.
But recent studies suggest that saturated fats might not raise our risk of heart disease as previously thought, and that certain plant-based saturated fats may have a neutral – or even positive – effect on cholesterol.
Most of the saturated fat found in chocolate, for example, is stearic acid, a type of saturated fat that appears to have a neutral impact on our cholesterol levels. And a few studies have suggested a positive correlation between coconut oil and higher levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels, especially when coconut oil is used in place of animal-based saturated fats like butter. These plant-based saturated fats are still calorie-dense, around 120 calories per tablespoon, so keep an eye on the portion size.

Eggs are not good for heart health.


Eggs have been shunned for decades, ever since the 1970s when they were tagged as a culprit for raising cholesterol levels. And nearly 40 years later, the belief that eggs are bad for us still prevails, despite the fact that multiple studies have shown no correlation between eggs and heart disease.
The reality is that eggs are low in saturated fat (1.5 grams per large egg), and most major health organizations say that they’re fine in moderation, as long as we limit our intake of other cholesterol-containing foods. However, it is wise to limit your intake to three or four eggs a week. when it comes to limiting eggs for cardiovascular purposes, we’re only talking about the yolks. Egg whites are primarily protein and only 16 calories each.