Scientific research suggests that some components of food may play a role in decreasing the risk of developing cancer. These include phytochemicals, found in fruits, vegetables and grains; antioxidants, such as vitamins C, E, and beta carotene; and omega-3 fatty acids, found in seafood and beans. Here are a few delicious recipes full of these nutritious foods.
Crab Salad with Grapefruit, Avocado, and Baby Greens
Prep time: 30 minutes or less
Total time: 30 minutes or less
1 pink or ruby red grapefruit
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
225g fresh crabmeat, picked over for cartilage
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives plus additional for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ avocado, sliced
4 cups lettuce of your choice
- Peel and segment grapefruit over a bowl to catch juice. To easily section the grapefruit, use a paring knife to cut the top and bottom so it can sit upright. Cut off the rind and pith in long downward slices. Carefully cut the sections free, following the natural guide of the fruit. Reserve 1 tablespoon juice and grapefruit pieces separately.
- In a bowl, combine oil, lemon juice, sugar, and reserved grapefruit juice.
- In a bowl, combine crabmeat, parsley, and chives. Add 1½ tablespoons dressing and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
- Combine lettuce with the remaining dressing. Divide on individual plates. Add a scoop of crabmeat salad and surround with grapefruit segments and avocado slices.
FACT: Grapefruit is not only loaded with vitamin C, but red varieties also contain the antioxidant lycopene. Note: Grapefruit can interact badly with some chemo treatments and prescribed medications so check with your doctor that it is okay for you to eat.
Sticky Black Pepper Tofu
400g firm tofu, cut into 2 x 2cm cubes, water removed by lightly pressing between towels
2 tbsp coarsely ground black peppercorns
4 tbsp cornflour
1 eggplant, cut into 2 x 2cm cubes
3 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, peeled, halved, sliced
2 red chillies (mild-medium)
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tbsp fresh ginger root, finely chopped
60g shiitake mushrooms, sliced (optional)
2 tbsp sweet soy sauce / tamari
2 tbsp dry sherry (or Chinese rice wine)
1 tbsp brown sugar
8 spring onions, trimmed, cut into 3cm pieces
Big handful of green vegies : beans, snow peas, sugar snaps, broccoli and/or bok choi – lightly steamed
- Grease baking tray with ½ tbsp oil. Place in 200°C oven while preparing tofu.
- Spoon cornflour into plastic bag with half the pepper. Add half the tofu, close bag tightly, gently shake to coat; remove, tap off excess powder, put on plate while coating the rest. Spread on heated tray, bake 15 mins, turning after 10.
- After coating tofu, brush eggplant with one tbsp oil, spread on another baking tray, bake 15 mins until softened, starting to brown.
- In large pan, heat remaining oil. Add chillies, garlic, ginger, onion; sauté low-medium 10-15 mins, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms (opt.), sherry, soy sauce/tamari, sugar, remaining pepper. Stir well.
- When heated through, add spring onions, tofu, eggplant. Fry 2-3 more mins until gutsy sauce coats all. If too dry, add a little water – but don’t lose the stickiness. Serve with fragrant rice (saffron/turmeric) and lightly steamed greens.
Source: Ottolenghi, adapted by integrativeoncology-essentials.com
FACT: Protein is important to keep your body functioning and is needed for growth and repair. During cancer treatment, your protein requirements may increase and tofu is a good source of protein, iron and calcium. It also contains all eight essential amino acids and is a good source of magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamin B1.
White Bean and Spinach Soup
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 small leek bulbs, outer layers removed, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 can low-sodium diced tomatoes (certified gluten-free if necessary)
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (certified gluten-free if necessary)
1 1/4 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth (certified gluten-free if necessary)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a Dutch oven or large oven-safe pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the leek, onion, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and the red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft – about 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes (plus juices), beans, spinach and broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and transfer to the oven. Cook until the vegetables are tender and the spinach has wilted, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Take out of the oven after 25 minutes and give it a good stir, and then place it back in the oven for 5 more minutes.
- Stir in the other 1/2 teaspoon of salt and enjoy!
FACT: Beans contain inositol hexaphosphate, or IP6 for short, is efficiently absorbed and has shown in preliminary studies to enhance the effects of conventional chemotherapy.
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Preparation and cooking time: 25 minutes
425g can pineapple chunks in juice
2 tsp. cornflower
1 tbsp. reduced-salt soy sauce
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp. tomato purée
1 tsp. five spice
1/2 tsp. dried chilli flakes
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1 red pepper, cut into strips
4-6 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2.5 cm root ginger, peeled and finely sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
- Drain the juice from the pineapple into a bowl. Into a separate bowl, add the cornflower and 1 tbsp. of pineapple juice, and mix to form a paste. Add a further 5 tbsp. of the juice and stir until the paste has dissolved. Then add the soy sauce, vinegar, tomato purée, five spice and chilli flakes, and mix thoroughly.
- Warm the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Cook the onion and the peppers for 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken and cook until browned on all sides.
Add the pineapple chunks, garlic, ginger, and black pepper to the frying pan, and stir for 1 minute.
- Mix the sauce and pour into frying pan. Stir thoroughly, coating all ingredients in the sauce. Bring to boil and reduce temperature. Allow to simmer – stirring occasionally – for about 5 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
Source: World Cancer Research Fund UK
FACT: Garlic is protective against most gastro-intestinal cancers. Also, a study at the Georgia State University shows that ginger has the ability to shrink tumor size by up to 56%!
Turkey Stir-fry with Broccoli and Pak Choi
Preparation and cooking time: 15 minutes
1 tbsp. hoisin sauce
1 tbsp. reduced-salt tomato sauce
1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cm root ginger, peeled and grated
1 tbsp vegetable oil
160g diced turkey breast
160g broccoli, cut into small florets
120g mushrooms, sliced
100g pak choi, leaves seperated and cut into quarters, lengthways
300g packet fresh or quick cook wheat noodles
1 spring onion, trimmed and finely sliced (to garnish, optional)
- To make the sauce, combine the hoisin sauce, tomato sauce, vinegar, garlic and ginger in a small bowl. Set aside for later use.
- Warm the oil in a wok or a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the turkey and stir until browned on all sides. Then add the broccoli and mushrooms and stir for 2 minutes. Add the pak choi and noodles, and stir for a further 1 minute.
- Pour the sauce into the pan and mix thoroughly, coating all the ingredients. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 3-4 minutes until piping hot or the turkey is cooked through.
Scatter the spring onions on top (optional) and serve.
Source: World Cancer Research Fund UK
FACT: The isothiocyanate in broccoli activates genes that fight cancer and can prevent other genes from forming cancerous tumors.
Chicken salad with peas in celery ribs
8 wide celery ribs, trimmed
1/3 cup cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. spoon finely chopped basil
2 tsp. finely chopped tarragon
2 tsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
250g cooked chicken breast, finely chopped or shredded
1/2 cup baby peas
3 tbsp. finely chopped red onion
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the celery and cut it on the diagonal into 2-3cm lengths.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the softened cream cheese with the mayonnaise, lemon juice, basil, tarragon, parsley and lemon zest.
3. Add the chicken, peas and onion and stir gently until combined. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Spoon 1 tsp. of the chicken salad onto each piece of celery, then refrigerate or serve.
FACT: Celery is full of flavonoids which can cause pancreatic cancer cells to self-destruct. People with pancreatic cancer would probably not be able to eat enough foods rich in flavonoids to raise their blood plasma levels high enough to act on cancer cells, but people who eat a lot of flavonoid-rich foods such as celery, artichokes and herbs like oregano could have a reduced risk of contracting pancreatic cancer.
Orange and date salad with honey yoghurt
2 oranges, sliced
5 dried dates, pitted
1 tablespoon flaked almonds
1 tablespoon fresh mint, roughly torn
50g low fat natural yoghurt
1 teaspoon honey
- Arrange half the orange slices, dates and mint on a plate then repeat with a second layer.
- Sprinkle the fruit with flaked almonds.
- In a small bowl, combine yoghurt and honey. Mix well and serve on the side of the salad or drizzled on top if desired.
FACT: The Vitamin C which is abundantly available in oranges protects against nitrosamines, cancer-causing agents which are thought to be responsible for the development of many stomach and colon cancers.
Serves: 8 – 10
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2.5 cups chicken broth
1.5 cups couscous
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
300g snow peas
5 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup peanuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons olive oil
Dash of hot pepper sauce
1. Sauté 1/2 teaspoon garlic, add 1 tablespoon each of lemon juice and chicken broth.
2. Bring to boil and add couscous. Cover pot, remove from heat. Let sit 5 minutes, fluff with fork and add parsley. Set aside to cool.
3. When cool, add snow peas, green onions, peanuts, and cranberries.
4. For dressing, mix together remaining 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic and 3 tablespoons lemon juice, oil, and hot sauce. Toss the dressing with the couscous mixture.
FACT: It’s not uncommon to experience side effects such as nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite after some treatments. This delicious couscous salad recipe can help you keep up your strength.
Apple and oat muffins
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
¾ cup tightly packed brown sugar
½ cup rolled oats, plus 1 tbsp extra
1½ cups vanilla yoghurt, at room temperature
2 eggs, lightly beaten
100mL light olive oil
1 red or green skinned apple, thinly sliced
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease 2 x 6 large muffin pans with cooking spray or line with muffin cases.
- Sift flours and baking powder together. Stir in sugar and oats. Whisk yoghurt, eggs and oil together and add to flour. Mix until just combined.
- Divide mixture evenly into muffin pans until three-quarters full. Gently push slices of apple into mixture until covered and sprinkle with extra rolled oats.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until golden in colour and cooked when tested. Cool for 5 minutes in pan before transferring to a wire cake rack. Serve warm.
FACT: An apple a day may actually keep the doctor away! Apples are full of phytochemicals, which reduce cancer. Pectin, the fibre in apple skin, prevents the growth of harmful bacteria, and nourishes the intestinal lining making it more resistant to becoming cancerous.
FACT: Oats also contain hundreds of phytochemicals, and are rich in antioxidants. They are also full of dietary fibre, and the insoluble fibres in oats are thought to reduce carcinogens in the gastrointestinal tract.
Creamy salmon gnocchi
1 tbsp olive oil
2 skinless salmon fillets (about 400g)
500g potato gnocchi
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cup frozen broad beans, thawed and peeled
¾ cup light sour cream
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
- Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Rub oil over the salmon. Cook for 4 minutes each side or until cooked to your liking. Transfer to a plate.
- Cook the gnocchi in a saucepan of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain.
- Flake the salmon into large pieces. Heat the frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and broad beans. Cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the gnocchi, salmon and sour cream and toss to combine. Cook, tossing, for 2 minutes or until the mixture is heated through. Top with dill and serve.
FACT: Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which appear to play a role in warding off cancer. Also, a diet too high in red meat can increase your chance of bowel cancer, so sometimes it’s good to substitute red meat with fish.
FACT: Broad beans contain a high amount of antioxidants. They also contain lignins, which research suggests can help to prevent pancreatic and bowel cancer.
Sweet potato soup
1 tbsp olive oil
2 leeks, halved, washed and sliced
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 long red chilli, deseeded and chopped
800g sweet potato, peeled and cubed
600g carrots, chopped
5 cups salt-reduced vegetable stock
1/3 cup coriander leaves, chopped
1/3 cup light thickened cream
Crusty bread, to serve
- Heat oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leek and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes or until soft.
Add cumin, cinnamon and chilli. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
- Add potato and carrot. Stir to coat in leek mixture.
- Add stock, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove pan from heat.
- Blend or process soup, in batches, until smooth. Return to pan over low heat until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in coriander.
- Spoon into bowls and drizzle with cream. Serve with crusty bread.
FACT: Sweet potatoes and carrots contain extremely high levels of beta carotene, which can block the growth of cancerous cells by boosting the immune system and releasing a chemical called tumor necrosis factor.
Apple Chocolate Mud Cake
185g reduced fat butter
1¼ cups sugar
2 cups of self-raising flour
¼ tsp bicarb soda
1/3 cup water
300g grated apple (equivalent to 3 apples). The variety doesn’t matter. I have used 2 apples and 1 nashi pear and it still tasted great.
- Beat together butter and sugar.
- Beat in the eggs.
- Add flour, bicarb and water.
- Mix well. Add grated apple at the end.
- Bake for 1¼ hours at 180 C. A square or round tin gives a denser cake where as a ring or baba tin gives a lighter cake that can be filled with strawberries or fruit.
Source: Submitted by Jan, pancreatic cancer survivor, as a healthier alternative to traditional mud cake.
FACT: Apples are a good source of fibre and vitamin C. In laboratory studies, flavonoids, such as quercetin and the triterpenoids found in apples, have slowed the development of cancers of the colon, lung and breast in several stages of cancer development.