How to Eat for Cancer: Cooked Caprese Salad – Serves 4

January of 2018 is a month I’ll never forget and in particular Saturday, the 28th. My mother called and notified me that she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) earlier that month shortly after her 70th birthday.  After months of grueling radiation she hit remission however it was short-lived.  On my birthday in October I received a call that changed my world. My mother changed, my family changed, and I changed.  She was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma called Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL) stage four and for her it is incurable since it will always come back.  Recently she has been deemed in ‘remission’ and is about to start a chemotherapy maintenance drug to keep the cancer at bay and hopefully it shall extend the years she has with us free of pain.

As a Registered Dietitian everything was tested for me.  I no longer felt motivated to help people since I felt helpless with my own mother.  I became bicoastal to help my parents whether it was to simply be a distraction with laughs or to navigate the muddy medical terminology world. She endured several setbacks and hospitalizations which tested her resolve but she fought and she’s never looked more beautiful to me.

This past April I left my thriving career in San Francisco, California to permanently come to Melbourne, Florida where my parents reside.  The world works in mysterious ways – since I met my future husband who is Melbourne based.  Now we have the privilege of sharing a new adventure with my parents – a baby boy that is due around Thanksgiving.

For several months my mother has followed a ‘neutropenic‘ diet.  This is basically a diet of sterilized food otherwise known as a way to limit the amount of bacteria in the diet which is necessary with immunocompromised individuals.  Many including my mother think of this way of eating as ‘bland’ and ‘downright awful.’ Foods to be withheld on a neutropenic diet include: certain canned foods, undercooked meats, raw foods (fruits, vegetables, oats, and nuts), protein powders, unpasteurized dairy products, and much more.

Mother’s Day this year was not to be impacted and so I decided to come up with a menu of foods that were tasty but followed the right protocols since she was feverish. Due to her lack of an immune system going out in public was out of the question due to fear of catching the average cold which would be much worse for her.  The menu included: grilled lobster and shrimp, corn on the cob, my Goat Cheese Spiked Brussels minus the butternut squash, and this delicious cooked caprese salad (so yum x 100).

In a basic caprese recipe the tomatoes and basil are raw but in my version it was cooked.  This allowed my mother to eat one of her favorite recipes that she hadn’t had in months.  Sometimes all it takes is some creativity and proper cooking techniques to have mouthful of flavor.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 large heirloom tomatoes (yellow, red, multi); thick slices
  • Fresh pasteurized mozzarella (8 oz); diced
  • EVOO for the pan
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh basil leaves; shredded
  • Sea salt
  • Crushed black pepper

METHODOLOGY:

  1. Prior to the recipe preparation ingredients were well washed thoroughly with warm water.
  2. Under medium heat add EVOO to a frying pan and sear each tomato slice then cook each side for about 1-minute.
  3. Layer the tomatoes in a serving dish.
  4. Add the shredded basil to the frying pan and turn off the heat. Gently cook the leaves until slightly browned/shrunken in size.
  5. Evenly toss the mozzarella and basil atop the tomato.
  6. Drizzle balsamic vinegar atop the tomatoes and season with sea salt and black pepper.
  7. Pair with your favorite protein and some other fun sides.
  8. Time to eat the rainbow!

xxx – Sarah

Power Strawberry Pumpkin Pudding – Serves 2+

I seriously love all things pumpkin.  You can tell the moment you step into my home – pumpkin scents everywhere.  Now that it is almost fall there are some gourmands here and there…  Imagine, it’s only September which means there is still time for me to up my game even more.  Look out friends.

Pumpkin.  What do you know?  Well for starters: 1) High in fiber which helps with satiety and blood glucose control, 2) High in antioxidants as well as vitamin-A and vitamin-C which supports retinal function, hair, skin, and nail growth/support, and 3) High in water content thus if you’re slacking with fluids this will help.  This awesome beta carotene/orange goodness is full of flavor which can be enhanced by spices such as cinnamon, cumin, and of course, pumpkin pie spice.  This recipe is a wholesome way to get all your nutrients in while on the run and has been a breakfast lifesaver!

Ingredients:fullsizerender

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin; canned
  • 2 frozen bananas; softened
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tbsp almond butter; smooth (unsalted)
  • 2 tbsp dry oats
  • 1 1/2 scoops vanilla protein powder of choice
  • 4 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2-1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 6 medium-large strawberries; fresh and chopped

Methodology:

  1. Combine all ingredients sans strawberries and mix/mash well until a homogenous mixture is formed.  Divide pumpkin mixture among two mason jars or similar containers.
  2. Top with chopped strawberries and seal with a cover.
  3. Refrigerate overnight or 2-3 hours prior to consumption.
  4. Grab a spoon and get moving!

 

xxx – Sarah

Italian Herb Pizza Frittata – Serves 10+

Italian?  Yes.  Herbs?  Yes.  Pizza?  Kinda of…  Minus the bread and cheese.  Frittata?  Yes.  Should you make this?  Absolutely.

Are you looking to change up your breakfast routine?  Well, this is a hearty change that will leave your mouth watering for more.  This is also good for those of you like myself who love the ‘Reverse Diet’ aka breakfast for dinner which is what I do at least 150 days a year.  This recipe is loaded with antioxidants, protein, and slow digesting carbohydrates that will fuel your goals.

I previously mentioned utilizing the bulk section at local grocery spots can help you to select, try, and obtain fresh spices at a lower cost and control your portion to ensure freshness.  I recently loaded up on fennel seeds hence its addition to this recipe and it is fabulous.  Fennel is sweet due to its composition of anise which has a similar taste to licorice.  If you are trying to boost your fiber intake – try fennel.  In addition to its fiber content fennel also has antioxidant, mineral, and vitamin properties.

Ingredients:

  • 10 whole eggs
  • 1/4 cup fresh or canned/drained yellow corn
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 8-10 cherry tomatoes; quartered/slivered
  • 1 cup raw kale; chopped
  • 2 ounces prosciutto; chopped/ripped into various sizes
  • 2 tbsp fresh sage; minced
  • 1 sprig rosemary; minced
  • 1 tbsp parsley; chopped
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • OPTIONAL: 1/2 tsp sea salt

Methodology:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. On a stovetop heat up a frying pan over medium-high heat to toast the corn, fennel seeds, and black pepper.  Toast for 5-8 minutes until fragrant and/or slightly browned then remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients and the corn from step one.
  4. Oil a circular pan and pour in the egg mixture from step two.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a knife can be inserted in the center and removed without residue.
  6. Set the pan aside, inhale, allow to cool, slice, and serve.

 

xxx – Sarah

Easy Sweettarts Apple Crisp – Serves 2

Oh hey… It’s almost fall which means my favorite time of the year is coming up aka apple and pumpkin galore.  Yes, I already got my PSL fix with my obvious modifications (almond milk for regular milk and no whip).

This dish literally came to me as I was craving for something sweet yet slightly tart with a crunch.  I wanted to use the ingredients I had at home without having to run out to grab something processed, sugary, and high calorie.  Are you looking to impress someone with your cooking skills but without breaking the bank, filling up on calories, and killing your schedule?  This recipe is totally for you.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large Granny Smith apple; thin slices
  • 1/2 cup dry oats
  • 2-3 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil; melted
  • 1 handful walnuts; chopped

Methodology:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Coat a small circular cooking dish/pan with coconut oil.
  3. Cover the bottom of the dish/pan with half of the apple slices then sprinkle oats, coconut flakes, and cinnamon on top – this is layer one.
  4. Cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove pan from heat and prepare layer two.  Cover the first layer with the remainder of the apple slices allowing for the center to be without any apple slices.
  6. Sprinkle walnuts in a circular motion outside the center that is void of apples then add a few in the center.
  7. Combine the melted coconut oil and coconut sugar then drizzle over the apple slices.  Add the remainder of the sugar/oil mixture to the center that is void of apple slices.
  8. Cook for 10-15 minutes depending on the level of crispiness desired.
  9. Serve plain, with cider, or ala mode!
  10. Happy almost fall!

 

xxx – Sarah

Berry Walnut Bowl – Serves 1

Smoothies are out this year.  Didn’t you know?  Bowls are in.  The crunch, the chew, and the swirl of a spoon is the latest craze.  I am a major fan because I find that eating with a spoon rather than drinking my food allows for me to digest slowly, calm myself before the day begins, and appreciate each ingredient.

If you do not do this already, you should – check out the bulk section at your grocery store!  The bulk section allows you to try ingredients that you may or may not have heard of.  Best of all you can select the amount of each ingredient which allows freshness and helps with portion control.

The ingredients in this ‘Berry Walnut Bowl’ are super refreshing, energizing, filling, and nutritious.  Best of all this bowl is sans gluten and dairy.  Start your day with the right fuel!

Ingredients:

  • Layer One:
    • 1/4 cup chia seeds
    • 1/4 cup dry oats
    • 3 tbsp unsweetened almond or cashew milk
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
    • 2-3 tbsp water (depending on thickness desired)
  • Layer Two:
    • 1/2 banana; sliced
    • handful of frozen raspberries
    • 1 scoop of protein powder (unsweetened or flavored)
    • handful of chopped walnuts

Methodology:

  1. In a bowl mix all the ingredients listed for layer one.
  2. Allow to set in the refrigerator uncovered for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from the refrigerator.  Distribute each ingredient from layer two in horizontal fashion in the bowl.
  4. Return to the refrigerator to set further…
  5. Or if you’re impatient like I am, grab a spoon, dig in and mix up the ingredients!

 

xxx – Sarah

No Bake Cashew Raspberry Energy Bites – Serves 6+

Summer may be winding down, but the temperatures are still rising, especially in Texas.  Bikini season is still going and that means healthy eats!  However, if you’re like me, bikini season is all day, every day.  These flavor rich bites are a fantastic addition to your morning routine if you’re looking for a workout boost, post-workout snack, or mid-day snack for extra energy.  Not only are the bites easy to make but they are packed with ‘good for you’ nutrients and mouthgasmic worthy.  If you like berries and nuts – this creation is definitely for you.

Now let’s talk shop.  These bites contain: chia seeds, coconut flakes, cashews, raspberries, dates, protein powder, a banana, and some water.  Basically these bites are a mouthful of antioxidants and protein with natural sweet flavorings.  Next time you’re opting for store bought energy balls, snacks, or protein bars with ingredients that are unpronounceable or contain numbers, try these, you’ll know exactly what you are eating.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups raw cashews (soaked/drained)
  • 1 cup raspberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 medium banana (fresh)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 5 large medjool dates (pits removed)
  • 1 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 3 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 scoop Vanilla Vega Protein Powder (this protein powder can be found just about anywhere – Target, Amazon, Whole Foods, Vitamin Shoppe, Costco, and GNC)

Methodology:

  1. Toss cashews and water into a blender and pulse/blend until soft.
  2. Add coconut flakes, banana, and dates to the nut mixture then pulse/blend until the mixture is homogeneous.
  3. Remove cashew mixture from the blender.  Fold in the raspberries and chia seeds utilizing a fork.  Use the fork to mash up some of the berries so that they are not whole.
  4. Line a cooking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Use a tablespoon to create scoops to drop on the parchment paper.  Aim to make each portion half the size of the tablespoon utilized.
  6. Freeze for 4-5 hours then remove from the freezer and store in a parchment paper lined airtight tupperware container.
  7. Now you’ve got energy bites whenever you want!
  8. Time to get energized.

xxx – Sarah

Loaded Chicken Curry – Serves 5+

Recently a friend asked about cooking curry at home rather than going out…  She wanted a good ‘date night’ type recipe, and frankly, she asked the right person.  This dish is quick and easy so that while the chicken (or other protein is cooking) is tenderizing you can clean and/or get all glammed up.  The quick run-down on this recipe is that it is gluten-free, dairy-free, a great source of protein, antioxidant rich, and loaded with flavor.  The leftovers from this dish taste amazing (ahhhh-mazzzzzing) reheated.  On a final note this dish does not have to be made with chicken rather other proteins such as shrimp, turkey, or beef can be utilized.

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Ingredients

  • 1.5# chicken tenders; chopped into chunks
  • 1 can (8 ounces) light coconut milk
  • 1 medium size zucchini; sliced/halved
  • 1 cup red and orange bell peppers; strips
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2-3 ounces water
  • 1 medium size yellow onion; minced
  • 4 bay leaves; whole
  • 3 springs rosemary; minced (fresh)
  • Coconut oil to heat up the frying pan
  • 2 (or 3 if you want a bold taste) tablespoons of each spice: tumeric, garlic powder, and ginger, and paprika
  • 3 tablespoons of curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and black pepper
  • If you want an extra kick: 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (probably my favorite ingredient)
  • To taste: garlic salt or sea salt

Methodology

  1. Under medium heat add coconut oil to heat up a large stir-fry pan then add the yellow onions.  Cook until carmelized.
  2. Add the water and coconut milk – stir well.  Allow the mixture to heat up well for about 5 minutes then add the chicken, coconut flakes, vegetables, and spices (including the bay leaves and rosemary).
  3. Stir the mixture well until homogeneous for 5 minutes then reduce to low heat and allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes either covered or uncovered.
  4. Serve atop your favorite rice.  (I used basamati rice with some spicy southwest seasoning for an extra kick.)
  5. Happy date night y’all!

 

xxx – Sarah

Salted Coco(a) Banana Bites – Serves 2+

Basically Summer screams frozen everything.  I love salt and I love sugar aka I go nuts for combinations with hints of both – why not mix them together and get crazy?!  However, since I’m ‘adulting’ that means make some swaps for healthier ingredients…  Rather than adding traditional chocolate in the recipe I swapped for chocolate protein powder which allows for a bit more protein compared to a regular dessert.

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Methodology

  1. Line a cooking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Add the sliced bananas to the parchment paper and freeze for 10-20 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, mix protein powder with very little water, stir and/or add water until a pudding consistency is reached.  Set aside the chocolate protein pudding mixture.
  4. Heat up coconut oil under medium-high heat in a frying pan then add the oatmeal, coconut flakes, and sea salt.  Toss the coconut/oatmeal mixture until golden then remove from heat and set aside.
    1. SIDEBAR – the toasted mixture almost tastes like popcorn and it’s heavenly.  
  5. Remove the cooking sheet from the freezer.  Add a dollop of the protein pudding to each banana slice then top with a sprinkling of the coconut/oatmeal mix.
  6. Put the banana slices back into the freezer for minimum 20 minutes.
  7. Sandwich two banana slices together with a toothpick so that the chocolate pudding mixture is in the middle.  Return the cooking sheet to the freezer for 20 minutes or longer.
  8. Remove banana sandwiches from parchment paper and serve as a the perfect guilt-free dessert.
  9. Absolute H-E-A-V-E-N!!!

 

 

xxx – Sarah

Very Crabby Salad – Serves 1

I am a firm believer in the power of eating various foods whether cooked or raw.  By eating raw you are acknowledging the importance of eating wholesome and nutrient dense items.  The benefits associated with eating raw foods include increasing your intake of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, and much more.  When vegetables are cooked their nutrient content seeps into the cooking liquid and/or is broken down.  I’m not saying to eliminate cooked vegetables and/or fruits, I am saying to incorporate more raw vegetables and/or fruits into your diet, its benefits are endless.

Challenge yourself today, aim for 4-5+ different colors on your plate and try to embrace the raw as well as the varied way of eating.  It’s so easy that you’ll be surprised.  

In the evenings, I have little to no time to prepare dinner, therefore having containers of chopped/sliced/diced vegetables ready for action makes life easy.  I tend to prepare salad ingredients on Sundays or Mondays therefore I can simply ‘grab and go.’  The key is preparation therefore if trying to lose weight or improve your wellbeing, have healthy options on hand to grab rather than to seek high sugar/processed/calorie-laden options.

Ingredients

  •  1 cup raw kale as a base
  • 1/4 cup yellow/red/orange peppers; chopped)
  • 1/4 cup pickles; chopped/sliced (dill pickles)
  • 1/4 cup black beans (no added sodium version – canned)
  • 1/4 cup pico de gallo (fresh)
  • 1/4 cup tomatoes; slivered
  • 6 ounces lump crabmeat
  • As desired: drizzle of balsamic vinegar
  • As desired: juice of 1/2 lemon

Methodology

  1. In a large bowl, create a base with the kale, then create sections around the bowl edges with the peppers, tomatoes, pico de gallo, pickles, and beans.
  2. In the center place the lump crabmeat.
  3. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the outside sections (vegetables and beans).
  4. Squeeze lemon or pour lemon juice over the crab.
  5. Time for some eats!

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Oh hi Teddy!

Primary salad staples in my refrigerator (or on my counter in mason jars) include:  peppers (all colors), tomatoes, pico de gallo, raw onions, kale, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, raw nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pistachios), pickles (my absolute guilty pleasure), balsamic vinegar, and lemons or limes to derive juices.

Primary protein staples in my refrigerator that are quick to grab include:  cooked cold shrimp, cooked salmon, cooked chicken, beans (kidney, black, pinto, and chickpea), lump crabmeat, tuna (on occasion), and hard boiled eggs.

xxx – Sarah

 

Curried Sweet Potatoes – Serves 6

Everyone needs a sidekick.  Batman has Robin and every meal needs sweet potatoes.  This is one of my favorite quick sides that you can serve with just about any meal whether hot or cold (or just set aside a scoop for a small snack).  I made this for dinner the other night alongside scallops and garlicky Brussels sprouts.  However, I’ve been pairing the leftovers with my ‘Grab and Go Egg Scramble,’ and it has been absolutely mouthwatering!  Best of all it is nut, dairy, and gluten-free.

Pretty sure you know the hype surrounding sweet potatoes but just in case you don’t, here goes – great source of vitamins A and C, micronutrients (potassium, phosphorus, and copper are a few to name), contains fiber, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and assists with blood sugar regulation.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes; minced/diced
  • 3 scallion stalks and most of the root; minced
  • 1/2 tsp of curry powder and paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper and cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (to heat the frying pan)

Methodology:

  1. Place a frying pan over medium-high heat and add olive oil.  Allow the pan to heat for 1-2 minutes and circulate the oil throughout the surface of the pan.
  2. Cook the scallions well until the white pieces aka the root is slightly tinged yellow.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes and stir/toss well for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the spices and stir/toss for an additional 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and pair with your desired meal!
  6. Get your antioxidant action going!

xxx – Sarah