Recipes for cancer caregivers | News, Sports, Jobs

Recipes for cancer caregivers |  News, Sports, Jobs



The idea for “Cooking for a Cure” – really more of a guide than a cookbook – came after Maranda Cress’ husband was diagnosed with brain cancer.

She wanted to collect all the information she would have liked in one book.

“Nobody sat down and explained it all,” Cress said. “They gave me test results, but not the explanation. We had 12 doctors on our oncology team. I think they all assumed someone else told me about it.

“As a caregiver, you would see someone you love through it. You would be completely confused and bewildered. Not all of this information is in one place.”

The Coshocton woman compares “Cooking for a Cure: A Nutritional Guide for Cancer Patients and Their Caregivers” with Heidi Murkoff’s famous textbook, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” which doctors often give to first-time parents. She hopes her book will be a resource that oncologists provide to cancer patients.

In addition to recipes, the pages include survivors’ personal stories, stories told by health care providers, cancer facts and figures, terminology and interpretations, tips on coping with grief, and ways to explain to children and family members what is happening. The Resources and Contacts sections even include where to go if you have terminal cancer and want to get married, along with which groups will pay for the wedding.

There is even a section with games, activities and playlists to keep the patient entertained during chemotherapy and radiation. “My late husband was always bored during chemotherapy and started listening to music,” Cress said.

“Originally the book was supposed to have 150 pages. It ended up being 400 pages,” says Cress. “It’s not the kind of information you get at the doctor’s office.”

Many hospitals, including those in the Mahoning Valley, offer nurse navigators who are always available to talk to patients and caregivers. But Cress said as she went through her journey ten years ago, “No one told me there was a nurse line I could call.”

Moreover, the demands of life did not cease.

“I didn’t just take care of Joe, I took care of a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old. I was the only one who worked. I worked on the third shift. Fast food was convenient, but not nutritious,” she said.

One of Cress’ goals was to find nutritious meals that were easy to prepare for her husband and children and that used common ingredients. Her husband, Joe, died on January 2, 2012. Since she remarried, the now-Maranda Milligan has continued to work as a mother or stepmother to seven children, six of whom are still at home. She is still looking for easy, healthy meals with nutritional value.

Some foods can help repair damaged cells and give the body a boost in building new cells.

“The recipes are all vitamin-rich,” she said. But each has an emphasis, from carbohydrates for energy to flavoring and visually appealing to dishes that are easy to swallow for patients with throat cancer or blisters on the throat caused by radiation treatments.

While she sticks to the recipes, Cress also notes that she’s not a doctor or dietitian. She is not licensed to provide medical advice. Cress said she only writes from the perspective of what she has learned through experience.

“Always listen to what your doctor says,” she said.

Cress said she originally wrote the book as a fundraiser for American Cancer Society Relay For Life events. Now that the personal relays are up and running again – including the Mahoning-Columbiana counties Relay June 18 in Boardman – she hopes to have “Cooking for a Cure” available.

“Cooking for a Cure” can be found through Amazon and other online bookstores or at the Cooking for a Cure-By. Maranda Cress page on Facebook.

Following are some of the recipes found in “Cooking for a Cure: A Nutrition Guide for Cancer Patients and Their Caregivers,” by Maranda Cress.


summer salad

This light summer salad is a nice quick meal all year round. Being a “serious cold”, this dish is good for stomach upset and sore throat/mouth that often occur after radiation.

Paired with grilled salmon or eaten alone, this is an excellent addition to any diet. The onions in this dish add a new level of flavor and much-needed antioxidants; remember to let them rest for at least 10 minutes before tossing them into the mixture to ensure you get the full vitamins available.

This salad is easy to make a few hours ahead of time, and the longer you let it sit before serving, the more the flavors blend. Make sure to wash the kale thoroughly and let it air dry to prevent bacteria.

This dish goes best with a vinaigrette, although any dressing your patient tolerates will work well too.

High vitamin.

Serves four.

8 ounces feta cheese diced

6 Roma tomatoes

1 large cucumber

2 large bell peppers, 1 green, 1 yellow

1 medium red onion chopped

1 bag fresh kale

Wash all fresh ingredients thoroughly before slicing. Set kale aside to air dry on a clean towel.

Cut vegetables into 1-inch pieces.

Place the prepared ingredients in a large serving bowl. Toss together.

Sprinkle with feta cheese and olives. Add freshly ground pepper and sea salt to taste.

Severely cold with your choice of dressing

Country style ham

and potato salad

Ham potato salad is a great dish for lunch or dinner. This low-calorie, low-carb, high-protein, easy-to-make recipe can be served at room temperature or cold and can be made a day or so in advance if you know your afternoon will be full.

I always leave the skin on my potato because the skin contains the most vitamins and uses a mixture of red, white, and yellow for color; however, if your patient has mouth sores, it will be much easier to swallow if you peel them first. Either way, this dish is very filling, savory and satisfying.

I use leftover honey baked ham which gives this dish a sweet touch, although I’ve heard of using deli sliced ​​ham in a pinch. The longer this dish sits together, the more the flavors mingle, and the dill helps calm the stomach and gives it an extra, unexpected flavor.

Serves eight.

3 pounds diced mixed potatoes

1 cup celery, chopped

4 ounces smoked ham, cubed

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill

1 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons canola oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, freshly ground pepper to taste

4 large hard-boiled chopped eggs

1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

In a large saucepan, cook diced potatoes until soft. Set aside to cool.

Add celery, ham, parsley, chives, dill and corn to the potatoes. Shake lightly to combine.

In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, lemon juice, oil, salt, paprika, and pepper. Stir to combine before sprinkling over potato mixture. Top with egg.

The World’s Largest

Fruit Salad

Make this fun, simple fruit salad all year round as a vitamin-rich meal, snack or dessert. It’s a great recipe to make the night before and let it stiffen or whip up at the last minute when you’re out and about all day. I’ve always added whipped cream for my kids, but this sweet and healthy meal can stand on its own.

The mint helps soothe an upset stomach, while the honey coats the throat. It works great after a day of mouth sores or a sore throat, and we often made it as a mid-morning snack before starting chemotherapy. You can use frozen fruit in the winter when fresh fruit is harder and more expensive to find, or alternatively use fresh fruit to blend the flavor and texture.

If we needed a quick protein boost, try adding nuts. My Joe’s favorite was cashews, but I preferred pecans because they are softer and less salty.

High in vitamins.

Easy to swallow.

Serves eight.

1/2 liter frozen or fresh strawberries

1 cup fresh blueberries

3 fresh peeled kiwis

2 sprigs fresh mint, finely chopped

1 can of mandarins

1 can of pineapple chunks

4 tablespoons of honey

1 cup orange juice

Start by peeling and dicing all your fruits and wash them thoroughly. (Do not cut blueberries.) Place in a large bowl and toss gently.

In a separate container, combine chopped mint leaves, orange juice and honey, stirring until well blended.

Spoon mixture over tossed fruit; you can add flaked almonds or chopped walnuts to add flavor, texture, and a boost of protein.

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