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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Recipes For Kids With Cancer

Author Danielle Cook Navidi is pictured with her now-adult son Fabien. (happilyhungry.com)

Author Danielle Cook Navidi is pictured with her now-adult son Fabien. (happilyhungry.com)

As a mother struggling with her young son’s cancer treatments, Danielle Cook Navidi quickly realized that the side effects caused by chemotherapy included a host of problems that diminished – or outright obliterated – his appetite.

Smart Recipes For Kids With Cancer

When her physicians couldn’t provide any answers, she took it upon herself to learn about cooking nutrient-dense foods that he could not only tolerate, but that would ease his symptoms and boost his energy.

As his cancer went into remission, Navidi began teaching cooking classes to families of cancer patients at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. (For more information about that program, call 202-342-2400.)

She’s now published a cookbook, “Happily Hungry: Smart Recipes for Kids with Cancer.”

The book includes an index of which symptoms can be treated by specific foods and recipes.

Navidi shared with us the four recipes below (printer-friendly/PDF version here), including:

Do you know someone who lost his/her appetite due to chemo? What helped? Let us know on Facebook or in the comments.

Fluffy Mashed Potatoes with Perfect Poached Eggs

Danielle Cook Navidi's "Fluffy Mashed Potatoes with Perfect Poached Eggs." (Rachel Rohr/Here & Now)

Danielle Cook Navidi’s “Fluffy Mashed Potatoes with Perfect Poached Eggs.” (Rachel Rohr/Here & Now)

2 Idaho russet potatoes (can substitute one sweet potato and one russet), peeled and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sour cream
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs, poached in simmering water with 1 tablespoon white vinegar (directions below)

Put the potato chunks in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook until very tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes. Drain well, transfer back to the pot and with an electric beater, whip the potatoes until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the butter, sour cream and salt; whip another minute. Adjust for taste. Keep warm while you poach the eggs.

To poach eggs, bring a saucepan filled about 2/3 full of water – enough to cover the eggs – to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add the vinegar to the simmering water (this will help the egg coagulate). Crack one egg into a ramekin or small bowl and carefully slide the egg into the water. Do the same for the second egg. Cook for 3-4 minutes, making sure the water does not return to a boil. Remove with a slotted spoon, letting excess water drip into the pan. Serve on top of mashed potatoes. Serves 2.

Nutritional info: Calories: 331; Total Fat: 18; Protein: 9.5g; Carbohydrates: 34g.; Sugars: 1.6g.

Warm Roasted Potato Salad with Black Olive & Mint Pesto

2 lbs. Yukon gold, red bliss or new “baby” potatoes, or a combination, unpeeled
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup (2 ounces) feta cheese, crumbled
3-4 scallions, trimmed and sliced, for garnish
Chopped mint, for garnish

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Toss the potatoes with olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Toss and roast another 15 minutes, or until nicely browned and tender when pierced with a fork.

While the potatoes are still hot, toss with pesto (recipe below). Garnish with scallions and chopped mint. Serve warm or room temperature. Serves 6-8.

Mint Pesto

¾ cup pitted black olives (Kalamata or oil-cured Moroccan)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lightly packed chopped fresh mint
1 small shallot, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, more to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a food processor. Process, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed, until mixture is smooth. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper and lemon, as needed.

Oven-Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

Danielle Cook Navidi's "Oven-Roasted Sweet Potato Fries." (Rachel Rohr/Here & Now)

Danielle Cook Navidi’s “Oven-Roasted Sweet Potato Fries.” (Rachel Rohr/Here & Now)

1 ½ lbs. organic sweet potatoes (garnet or jewel)
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into ½ inch strips. Transfer potatoes to a resealable plastic bag or a low glass dish, add the oil, sea salt, paprika and cinnamon. Close the bag and toss well to coat the fries. Spread the potatoes out on the baking sheet, making sure they don’t crowd each other.

Cook for 30 minutes, without turning them, then give the sheet pan a good shake so the potatoes turn on their own. If they don’t, let them cook another 5-10 minutes and try again. Continue to cook for a total for about 45 minutes, until they are slightly browned. Let cool slightly before serving. Serves 4.

Nutritional info: Calories: 182; Total Fat: 9g; Protein: 2.3g; Carbohydrates: 23.7g.; Sugars: 7.3g.

Purple Power Smoothie

½ banana
½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
½ cup blueberry juice
¼ cup soft silken tofu
¼ cup plain or vanilla soy milk
Squeeze of lemon juice, to taste
Agave nectar, to taste

Process all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Makes 1 (17-ounce) smoothie.

Nutritional info: Calories: 311; Total Fat: 5.4g; Protein: 10g; Carbohydrates: 46g.


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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1656895145 Amanda Coulter

     The last thing I have time for with my child who has cancer is cooking three times a day. When her doctor said we should feed her high calorie easy foods that is what I do. She likes ice cream and cheese cake. And she takes a multi vitamin. I congratulate you for your ability to do this, but I feel that it is difficult for your everyday housewife taking care of a child with cancer to follow in your footsteps.

    • Danielle

      I too was completely unable to cook three times a day, and didn’t cook many days at all. But when I could do something– anything– I did. Most of the cooking came after the treatment was over and the challenge was rebuilding my son. This book can be used by a caregiver or family member who can find time to cook for you while you are dealing with this crisis. 
      Danielle (author of the cookbook)

      • Robin Y

        And I would just add…. THEN MORE ICE CREAM AND CHEESCAKE!!!!
        all the  best to you and her….


        • Dawn

          My 14 year old sister’s cancer spread and chemo didn’t stop it. Our last resort was to give her a steamed veggie diet. Sometimes ice cream and cheesecake is not the solution to cancer. If we are weighing the pain that cancer causes, ice cream and cheescake will not stand a chance on the other side of the scale whether or not chemo works. 

    • http://www.cancervictory.com/ Karen

       Amanda- As a cancer survivor- all I can say is hang in there and just get her through this period of time in her life. BUT nutrition is key to helping your child beat this- so if you can make her some beef broth ahead of time and have her eat a small serving everyday -that can help her bounce back faster from the chemo. Or make her a quick smoothie packed with veg, fruit and some almond milk. Just doing 1 super nutrition packed thing a day- can really make a difference. I know you are already doing everything for her and it’s killing you to see her go through this- but you can do it. Another great cookbook- is the Cancer Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz.

      • Danielle

        I did consult with Rebecca about my book and she was great. I love her work, she was even kind enough to write an endorsement of Happily Hungry. I’m with you on all of this. Eat well and be well.

  • L5000

    Glad to hear so many nutrient dense foods, but you need to lose the animal products in these recipes. Animal products increase cancer risk for anyone. More specifically, research shows they promote the release of IGF-1 factor, which promotes tumor growth. A whole foods plant-based diet is ideal, in health and sickness. 

    • Argentus

       And soy has shown to cause aggression in males and may be bad for any male or pre-menopausal female.  We evolved to eat meat.  It is our primary source of iron (partially because of enzymes that plants don’t have, no matter how much iron they contain) and b-vitamins.  You can’t take one tiny factor and assume it’s the root of all evil.  Pay attention to nature (which never made humans vegetarian), and you’ll be the most healthy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1289733047 Debbie McDonald

    I wish I had this book on my shelf when my dad was so sick.  Cooking was the one thing I felt like I could do as he lay sleeping for so many weeks and he said nothing tasted good to him.  I know it’s aimed at kids with cancer but I can see the possibilities.  In our family, food is love and cooking is what I do in times of crisis. A loving friend or family member might be the one to take up the cause when mom and dad are dealing with other things.

  • http://cancervictory.com/ Karen

    Awesome Book! Way to go Danielle- we need more books like this out there for cancer patients. I am a cancer survivor and I will freely admit that I ate crap while undergoing chemo. And I only recently in the last year found the error of my ways. Food IS MEDICINE!!! Just recently a friend of mine was terminally ill and had a low white blood cell count. She was exhausted but giving it everything to go through chemo to see if it would help her. She ate my bone marrow broth I made for her and within 4 days her white blood cell count went up. This is just 1 example of how I have seen Nutrition help cancer patients. More power to you Danielle! Keep it up! Karen @ cancervictory.com

  • Argentus

    Kudos for a timely and useful book.  I will keep it in mind for the inevitable sadness of friends and relatives that find themselves being treated for cancer.  

    It is unfortunate to see tofu and soy milk in any recipe, as they have no place in our diets, evolutionarily speaking.  They are neither natural nor wholesome.  I’m sure real milk and other sources of protein will do fine, though, in replacement for the fakes.

  • Xtoastx

    Amazon does not ship this book to Canada.

    Please advise how I can get a copy.

    • Danielle

      I’m working on it– did you want just one copy? It’s easy for us to ship 5+ directly from the print house. 

      • Xtoastx

        I only require 1 copy.

      • Karynmiller

        Hi Danielle, I was just going online now to write to you to find out how to help this individual get the book in Canada. I guess you got there first! Hope all’s well,

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