Combating Side Effects with Nutrition

Many mesothelioma patients choose to undergo chemotherapy as part of their cancer treatment. Unfortunately, chemotherapy may cause loss of appetite, nausea, sore mouths, and fatigue; often, chemotherapy leads to weight loss. While many patients find it difficult to eat before and after chemotherapy treatments, nutritious food can be a powerful tool that mesothelioma patients may use to combat cancer and the side-effects of chemotherapy.

Rebecca Katz, author of The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen and One Bite at a Time cookbooks, provides cancer patients and their families with nutritious, wholesome recipes that, using science, are specifically formulated to help cancer patients eat well and minimize harsh side-effects. Recipes include “Anytime Bars” to combat fatigue; “Ginger Tea Spritzer” to ease nausea and vomiting; and “Spiced Sweet Potato Soup” to soothe a sore mouth.

All of Chef Katz’s recipes are designed to enhance the cancer patient’s appetite while also incorporating cancer-fighting ingredients.

Unfortunately, many mesothelioma patients find that chemotherapy also affects their sense of taste, making it difficult for patients and their loved ones to make nutritious food that tastes well enough to eat. In fact, some patients complain that food tastes “metallic” or has no taste at all. This can be difficult for not only the patient, but for the patient’s caretaker, who wants to do everything to help their loved one.

Fortunately, there are a few “tricks” that mesothelioma patients may use to make food both nutritious and delicious. Chef Katz offers the following helpful advice:

  1. If food has a metallic taste, add a little sweetener, like maple syrup or agave nectar, or a squeeze of lemon. You could also try adding fat, such as a nut cream or butter.
  2. If food tastes too sweet, start by adding 6 drops of lemon or lime juice to combat the sweetness, and keep adding it in small increments until the sweet taste is muted.
  3. If food tastes too salty, add ¼ teaspoon of lemon juice.
  4. If food tastes too bitter, add a little sweetener, like maple syrup or agave nectar.
  5. If everything tastes like cardboard, add more sea salt until the flavor of the dish moves toward the front of the mouth, and try adding a spritz of fresh lemon juice.

Although chemotherapy can be difficult, mesothelioma patients can ease their symptoms and help their body fight through simple nutrition.

For more information regarding Chef Rebecca’s Katz’s books and recipes, please visit her website.

“Anytime Bars” Recipe from The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen

1 cup raw pecan halves
1 cup whole raw almonds
2 tablespoons spelt flour
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons finely ground flaxseeds
¼ teaspoon sea salt
⅛ teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup pitted dates, quartered (preferably Medjool)
1 cup unsulfured dried apricots, cut in half
1 organic egg
5 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly oil a 9-inch square pan. Spread the pecans in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and toast for 7 to 10 minutes, until aromatic and slightly browned. Watch them carefully, as they can burn easily. Repeat this process for the almonds. Turn down the oven to 325°F.

Combine the spelt flour, all-purpose flour, flaxseeds, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a food processor and process for 5 seconds to combine. Add the pecans and almonds and pulse 5 times to coarsely chop the nuts. Add the oats, dates, and apricots and pulse 10 to 15 times, until the mixture is well chopped but still coarse.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg, maple syrup, and vanilla together until thoroughly combined. Add the fruit and nut mixture and use your hands to mix thoroughly, being sure to separate any clumps of fruit. Spread the mixture in the oiled baking pan in an even layer and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until set and golden brown; don’t overbake, or the bars will be too dry. Let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then cut into 25 squares. Leave the bars in the pan until completely cool so they’ll hold together when you remove them.

“Ginger Tea Spritzer” Recipe from The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen

3 ginger tea bags (you can also try making this with both chamomile and ginger tea bags)
2 cups boiling water
¼ teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sparkling water

Put the tea bags in a small saucepan, pour the boiling water over them, and steep for 15 minutes. Put the saucepan over medium heat and cook until the tea is reduced by half. Stir in the honey and lemon juice, then let cool to room temperature. To serve, put 2 tablespoons of the ginger syrup in a glass and add sparking water.

Reprinted with permission from The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery. Copyright © 2009 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.