If you have been diagnosed with cancer, or if you’re caring for a loved one facing a diagnosis, you know that cooking healthful, delicious food is not always easy. You may be experiencing fatigue as a result of your treatments, you may be challenged by the prospect of cooking for a loved one who has a diminished appetite, or you may be facing side effects that limit the types of foods that are appealing or easy to eat. All of these factors can get in the way of your ability to eat nutritious, tasty foods.
But now more than ever is the time to remember that eating well and enjoying good food are critical to your overall wellness. Nutrition is important in prevention and sustaining a healthy lifestyle. But eating healthfully does not mean you need to give up great taste. Nobody should have to eat food that does not taste good. This applies to busy families looking for healthy and convenient recipes, to individuals managing diabetes and other health issues, and, specifically, to those diagnosed with cancer.
Learning which foods can yield real benefits by providing needed nutrients and helping combat side effects at this challenging time can be especially helpful. Did you know that there are “super foods” that have actually been shown to be effective in fighting cancer? The humble bean is inexpensive and vastly versatile while also a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Baked beans, black beans, lima beans, kidney beans, and lentils – all loaded with soluble fiber, helping fill you up to control weight, while eating them often can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and, some types of cancer. Berries are little jewels packed with fiber and antioxidants that help slow the aging process from the inside out. Whether you choose strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, or blackberries; berries make an excellent choice for memory protection, decreased infection, and reduced risk of cancers.
Choose cruciferous vegetables regularly as they are loaded with fiber, which is important for reducing the risk for certain cancers, as well helping the body maintain a healthy weight. Members of the cruciferous vegetable family include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy and, collard greens. Did you know broccoli has as much calcium as a glass of milk and more vitamin C than an orange and is a powerful brain protector?
A surprising health food you may not realize is in your spice cabinet! Garlic has so many healthy benefits due to its high antioxidant content, such as boosting your immune system, helping to reduce blood pressure as well as reducing the risk for certain cancers. Ginger has been used for centuries because of its medicinal properties. Protecting against cancer, and boosting your immune system, ginger has long been a remedy for nausea especially during chemotherapy.
Learning to incorporate these foods into the recipes that you know and love is one way to ensure that you are being proactive when it comes to your recovery. And it’s easier than you might think. By making subtle changes to your favorite dishes, you can add nutritional value while still enjoying the comfort of foods you love.
Quick Black Bean Soup from Eating Well Through Cancer
Cans of black beans and broth turn a black bean soup into a snappy simple soup. Serve with a dollop of fat free sour cream, chopped green onions, and a sprinkle of Cheddar cheese, if desired.
Makes 8 (1-cup) servings
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, cored and chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can chopped tomatoes with juice
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups fat-free vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In large pot coated with nonstick cooking spray, sauté onion, green pepper, and garlic until tender, 7 minutes.
2. Add tomatoes with juice, green chilies, cumin, and chili powder. Gradually add black beans and broth.
3. Remove 2 cups of black bean mixture, puree in processor or blender until smooth.
4. Return pureed mixture to pot of soup, bring to a boil. Lower heat, simmer 10–15 minutes. Season to taste.
Nutritional information per serving: Calories 212, Calories from fat (%) 8, Fat (g) 2, Saturated Fat (g) 0, Cholesterol (mg) 0, Sodium (mg) 970, Carbohydrate (g) 34, Dietary Fiber (g) 14, Sugars (g) 3, Protein (g) 13, Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 very lean meat
Beans sneak in protein and fiber when you are looking for a meatless choice. Use reduced sodium chicken broth and always rinse canned beans to reduce sodium in recipe.
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