Nutrition Before During and After Cancer

Information on nutritional needs for cancer patients

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Game Time Snacks

Chips are a party food staple, but are generally high in calories and low in nutrients. Baking your own apple chips makes for a delicious, crunchy snack that’s great for a crowd, packed with plentiful nutrition, and fat-free.

Baked Apple Chips

There’s more than one benefit to this slightly sweet snack. Apples contain dietary fiber, as well as a variety of flavonoid and triterpenoid phytochemicals, such as quercetin, being studied for their anti-cancer effects. In laboratory studies, quercetin and other flavonoids in apples have slowed the development of cancers of the colon, lung, and breast in several stages of cancer development.

This recipe (below) also calls for a little cinnamon and sugar, creating a wonderful, spiced aroma throughout the house as they bake .

Healthy Halftime Show Stoppers

Toast strips of whole-wheat pita bread to go with dips including light hummus, sundried tomato, and your favorite salsa, or use blue corn tortilla chips. Blue tortilla chips get their color from anthocyanins, which are naturally occurring plant antioxidants that may protect against cancer.

Toasted Pita Bread with Hummus

Baked Apple Chips

  • 4 large apples (any variety)
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

Slice apples horizontally into very thin rounds, using a sharp knife or mandolin (remove any seeds that do not fall out as you cut). Lay the slices in a single layer on parchment paper, and sprinkle lightly with the cinnamon sugar (combined). Bake at 250°F for 1 hour, flip slices, and bake for an additional hour (2 hours total). Chips will continue to crisp up as they cool.

Tip: Don’t peel your apples! The peel contains a third or more of its phenolic (cancer-fighting) compounds.

Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 60 calories, 17 g carbohydrate, 3 g dietary fiber, 0 g total fat,

0 g protein, 0 mg sodium

Berry Yogurt Popsicles

Yoghurt Berry Popsicle

Layers of mashed red cherries, blackberries and white Greek yogurt make for a healthier, lower sugar version of store-bought treats. Berries are rich in phytochemicals like anthocyanins and ellagic acid, compounds that counter inflammation and act as antioxidants.

Makes 12 paper cup popsicles.

Per serving: 69 calories, 0 g total fat (0 g saturated fat),

12 g carbohydrate, 5 g protein, 1 g dietary fiber, 18 mg sodium.


  • 1½ cup pitted fresh or frozen cherries
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 24 oz. vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 12 (3 oz.) paper cups and 12 popsicle sticks


In small mixing bowl mash cherries and berries. Drizzle on honey and mix together.

In paper cups, layer alternating spoonfuls of yogurt and fruit until full. Place Popsicle stick or plastic spoon in each cup. Freeze.

When ready to serve, tear paper cup off Popsicle and enjoy.


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Boost Your Energy with Healthy Snacks

Although the word snack brings up images of chips and candy bars but snacking can be a great opportunity to get healthy nutrients instead of relying on supplements. 

Small nutrient-rich snacks eaten throughout the day are a wonderful way to get enough vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, calcium and potassium as well as dietary fiber. 

Foods over Supplements

AICR’s expert report found that the phytochemicals and nutrients in foods work together to protect your health, while in supplements they are isolated. “For snacks, foods that supply protein, fiber and a little fat are the best”.


Super Snacks

Here are some tasty, satisfying snacks. Each provides 250 calories or fewer – less than a small bag of chips or a 1.5-ounce candy bar. These healthy snacks will keep your hunger at bay and provide long-lasting energy.


Dip your fruit: Create a yummy dip for fresh melon, peach, apple and mango chunks using 1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese or Labne, a tablespoon of peanut butter, a teaspoon of honey and a pinch of cinnamon.


Veggie bean dip: 2 Tbsp. chickpea spread (“hummus”) with carrot and celery sticks and strips of bell pepper, plus 1 6-inch whole-wheat pita bread toasted and cut into wedges.


A pick-me-up: 1 hard-boiled egg with a handful of cherry or grape tomatoes and 1 slice whole-wheat bread.


Say cheese: Pair a 1-ounce slice of low-fat Swiss cheese with a slice of whole-wheat toast and a sliced apple or pear.


Soup it up: 1 cup of low-sodium broth-based soup with 1/2 cup frozen mixed veggies and 1/4 cup cooked chicken breast. Heat through and serve with a slice of whole-grain bread.


Sweet potato dunk: Half a steamed or boiled sweet potato that’s been chilled and cut into wedges, dipped in a mixture of 1 tsp. brown mustard, 1 tsp. honey and 2 Tbsp. of Greek yogurt or Labne’.


Bake an apple: Core an apple and slice it. Place on a microwave-safe dish. Top with a dash of cinnamon and 1 tsp. of orange juice, cover with damp paper towel and microwave 5 minutes; or bake on a pan, uncovered, at 350 degrees in conventional oven for 25-30 minutes. Top with low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt and enjoy.

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Chickpea and Butternut Squash Fritters with Field Greens


Butternut squash and chickpeas are the perfect combination for this vegetarian entrée.  Legumes like chickpeas pack protein and the B vitamin folate, and winter squash is rich in carotenoids, a group of phytochemicals. Both are also rich in fiber, which has been shown to support growth of health-promoting bacteria in the gut and reduce risk for colorectal cancer. Plus these healthy fritters are lightly sautéed instead of deep-fat fried, cutting down on calories and fat.

  • 2 cups (10 oz.) cubed butternut squash
  • 1 can (15.5 oz.) chickpeas, drained
  • 3 Tbsp. whole-wheat flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 scallions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil or extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 8 cups field greens (5 oz. pkg.)
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted skinless hazelnuts 

Yogurt Dill/mint Sauce

Yoghurt with Dill sauce

  • 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill or mint
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground white or black pepper 

Salad Dressing

  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


For Yogurt Dill Sauce, in small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Pour into small serving bowl and set aside.

For Salad Dressing, in small bowl, combine lemon juice and oil, season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

For Chickpea and Butternut Squash Fritters, in large saucepan with a steamer basket, steam squash until tender, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer squash to food processor. Add chickpeas, flour, egg, scallions, garlic, sage, cumin and pepper flakes. Pulse until blended yet slightly chunky. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Gently drop six scant 1/4-cup portions of mixture into pan and gently press into round patties with back of measuring cup or spatula. Don’t over crowd skillet. Sauté fritters until golden brown on bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Heat may need to be adjusted for optimal browning. Carefully turn over each fritter and sauté until other side is golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer fritters to plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Use remaining oil to sauté remaining six fritters. There should be 12 fritters in total.

In large bowl, add salad greens. Stir salad dressing and pour over greens. Add hazelnuts and gently toss together.

Arrange greens on large serving platter or four individual dinner plates. Arrange all fritters on top of greens if serving on platter or 3 fritters on each individual plate. Serve with Yogurt Dill Dressing on the side or drizzle on fritters and serve. 

Makes 4 (three fritters each) servings. 

Per serving: 400 calories, 18 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 47 g carbohydrate, 17 g protein, 10 g dietary fiber, 392 mg sodium.

Cranberry Apple Salsa


This classic raw relish combines fresh cranberries, Fuji apple, lime juice and spicy jalapeño. Its sweetness means remarkably little sugar is needed to offset the tartness of the cranberries. Serve with whole grain crackers before the big meal or alongside some other favorite dish.

Cranberries are good sources of vitamin C and dietary fiber. In cell studies, cranberry extract and their anthocyanins decrease free radical damage to DNA that can lead to cancer.

Cranberries grow in northern bogs on low-lying vines, just above water. These bright red gems are native to North America and at one time whalers and mariners carried cranberries on their ships to prevent scurvy. Today you’ve probably heard claims that cranberry juice helps prevent urinary tract infections; though it appears to help some women, it is not a treatment.

We do know that with their healthful nutrients and phytochemicals along with the rich color and flavor, cranberries make a great addition to any meal, not just at Thanksgiving.

  • 1 bag (12 oz.) fresh cranberries, or frozen, unsweetened
  • 1/2 medium Fuji apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 strips (1-inch x 1/2-inch) lime zest, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, without seeds, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. turbinado/raw sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
  • Salt

In food processor, pulse cranberries just until coarsely chopped. Add apple, onion, lime zest, jalapeño, sugar and lime juice. Pulse (quick pulses) until salsa is still slightly chunky, about 15-20 times.

Add cilantro and pulse until it is chopped but not mushy, about 10 times, stopping to scrape down bowl as needed. Season with a bit of salt, just to lift flavors.

Let salsa sit 20 minutes for flavors to marry. Serve same day.

 Makes 8 (1/4 cup) servings.

 Per serving: 36 calories, 0 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 9 g carbohydrate, 0 g protein, 1.5 g dietary fiber, 2 mg sodium

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Snacks that work


The difference between a snack that has staying power and one that leaves you hungry an hour later is Protein. This nutrient slows digestion and keeps blood sugars steady.

Here are some healthy snack ideas for people who are unable to eat enough at mealtime’s to get adequate amount of protein and maintain that muscle mass.

Cottage Cheese


Protein: 20 grams per 5-ounce serving

A single-serving container of nonfat cottage cheese boasts 3 grams more protein than a typical serving of Greek yogurt and it gives you 125 milligrams of calcium.

Hard boiled Eggs

Hard Boiled Eggs

Protein: 6 grams per egg

Eggs are a powerhouse breakfast or snack when enjoyed in moderation. In addition to protein, the egg gives you a hearty dose of vitamin D and vitamin B-12. Convenience and grocery stores sell hardboiled eggs in packages of two, so they’re great when traveling or when you are too tired.

Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter

Protein: 8 grams per 1.15-ounce pack

A single-serving portion of peanut butter contains 190 calories and is made with just peanuts and palm fruit oil—no added sugars, eat with an apple or a banana, to up the antioxidants and fiber.

String Cheese


Protein: 6 to 8 grams per serving

Personal packages of cheese like Mini Babybel wheels or Sargento sticks are great; they’re individually wrapped for easy portability. The portion is small enough and can be had with a fruit.

Single serve oatmeal packets


Protein: About 4 grams per packet or cup

Just add hot water, stir, and you’ve got a warm bowl of protein- and fiber-packed oats in minutes. Slice a banana, some berries or add walnuts or almonds. To increase protein content make the oats with milk.



Protein: 8 grams per half cup

In addition to protein, a 90-calorie microwave package of edamame (soybeans in their pods) supplies 3 grams of fiber. One serving of dry roasted edamame has even more protein: 14 grams.

Roasted Chickpeas

Roasted Chickpeas

Protein: 7 grams per quarter-cup serving

These beans offer 5 grams each of protein and fiber. Better yet, a daily serving of dietary pulses like chickpeas (as well as beans, lentils, and peas) can lower LDL cholesterol levels. Make your own by mixing rinsed and drained chickpeas in a bowl with olive oil and your choice of spices, like chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper and then baking them in an oven preheated to 425 degrees for about 45 minutes.

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Small Snacks when Eating is next to impossible

Crackers with Chocolate-Hazelnut spread and banana

Spread 2 bread crackers with 1 tablespoon chocolate-hazel nut spread, top with 1 sliced small banana.

Calories: 214, Protein: 4g, Fiber: 6g, Fat: 7g


Rice cake with peanut butter, Coconut and dried cherries


Spread 1 rice cake with 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter, sprinkle 2 teaspoons toasted unsweetened shredded coconut and 2 teaspoons of dried cherries.

Calories: 177, Protein: 5g, Fiber: 2g, Fat 11g

Tropical fruit Parfait


Top ½ cup plain low fat Greek yoghurt with 1 sliced Kiwi and ¼ diced mango sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts,

Calories: 204, Protein: 12g, Fiber: 3g, Fat: 7g

Pea and Mint Dip with Pretzel chips


Mash ½ cup frozen peas with 1tablespoon of fresh mint and 2 teaspoons of lime juice, enjoy with 15 pretzel chips

Calories: 209, protein 8g, Fiber: 5g, Fat: 0g

Dark Chocolate and Nut Clusters


Mix together ¼ cup of unsalted roasted nuts and 1 ounce of melted dark chocolate (70-80% cocoa). Drop into wax paper and cool

Calories: 195, Protein: 4g, Fiber: 3g, Fat: 14g

Spicy Watermelon and Pistachios


Toss 2cups cubed watermelon with 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice and ½ teaspoon grated lime zest. Sprinkle with a pinch of cayenne pepper or black pepper and 2 teaspoons of chopped unsalted pistachios

Calories: 126, Protein: 3g, Fiber: 2g, Fat: 3g