Seasonal Food Alternatives for Cancer Patients

Maintaining nutrition for your body is particularly important for those undergoing cancer treatment. Not least because the disease and the subsequent treatments can harm your appetite and change your body’s tolerance of specific foods.

Ensuring your body receives the nutrients it needs to maintain your strength and energy through long, arduous treatments, heal and recover and reduce your risk of infection is part and parcel of successfully fighting cancer.

The side effects of chemotherapy can curb your appetite, which makes it even more important to get creative and feel inspired by what you eat in between treatments. This article is designed to encourage you to try new and interesting seasonal dishes throughout the year to help you consume the carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals your body so desperately needs.

Spring dishes

  • Roast Chicken and Spring Vegetables
    If you want to create a healthier alternative to a roast dinner over the Easter period, consider a herby roast chicken, complete with roasted spring vegetables. Marinade oil, garlic and tarragon in and around the chicken and arrange carrots, leeks and fennel around the chicken on the same baking tray. Serve with some seasoned new potatoes. The dish can be ready in less than two hours – ideal when time is of the essence.
  • Spring Pea Salad
    A pea salad is not only one of the most aesthetically pleasing spring salads, it’s one of the healthiest too. Combine fresh or frozen shelled peas with shallots, ruby chard, radishes and shelled baby lima beans before topping with fresh mint or flat leaf parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice. Those on a neutropenic or antimicrobial diet should wilt down the fresh herbs along with the chard leaves.

Summer dishes

  • Blueberry and Avocado Smoothie
    Perfect for those with poor appetites that struggle in the summer heat, these healthy smoothies are a hugely refreshing and nourishing snack at any time of the day or night. Mix half a peeled avocado and half a peeled banana with 150g of blueberries and 200ml of cherry or blueberry fruit juice and a handful of crushed ice. Blitz until smooth for a cooling drink that’s jam-packed with vitamins.
  • Tomato, Raisin and Pine Nut Bruschetta
    Another fresh, summery snack that’s ideal as a finger food when time is at a premium, this bruschetta features slowly stewed tomatoes that are perfect both warm and at warm temperature. Stir in raisins and pine nuts once the tomatoes have simmered and cook through the raisins until plump and set aside before spreading onto the bread that should be lightly toasted and coated with olive oil. It’s dairy-free, rich in protein and very easy to put together.

Autumn dishes

  • Butternut Squash Lasagne
    Butternut squash is one of the most versatile autumnal vegetables for cancer patients. Replacing meat with butternut squash is a lighter alternative and it contains around half of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C and four times the recommended daily intake of Vitamin A. Be sure to roast the butternut squash fully for at least half-an-hour until soft and then blend it in a food processor until smooth to layer between the lasagne sheets.
  • Autumn Apple Crisp
    There’s nothing better than a sweet treat to put a smile on your face, even when things appear bleak. Autumn is a great time of the year for fresh apples from the local farmer’s markets and farm shops. This autumnal apple crisp dessert combines fresh apples with orange zest, honey and dried cherries, topped with a mixture of rolled oats, flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and soda, brown sugar, butter and yoghurt.

Winter dishes

  • Kale and Carrot Soup
    Kale is a superfood that is very prominent in the colder, winter months. Research has suggested that kale can minimise the risk of certain cancers and is also a rich source of organosulfur compounds and other compounds that prevent the growth of cancer cells and help to kill existing cancerous cells. A kale and carrot soup packs a punch of flavour, combined with sweet potato, bay leaves, fresh ginger and garlic and a small onion. It’s a heart, warming soup that’s a great lunchtime or evening dish.
  • Winter Pumpkin Pasta Bake
    If comfort food is what you’re looking for, this cheesy pasta bake is a delicious option that’s full of fibre and protein, ideal for when you’re feeling fatigued mid-treatment. Use whole wheat pasta and combine pureed winter pumpkin with milk, rich gruyere cheese, nutmeg, allspice and salt and fold it all in to a greased baking dish. Top the pasta with parmesan cheese to create a textured, crispy topping.

This broad range of nutrients play a unique role in maintaining your strength and weight when times get tough during your cancer treatment. When times get tough and tiredness or nausea sets in, hopefully these seasonal food alternatives can help to maintain your interest in food and help you to lead a balanced ongoing diet.

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