Becoming a chemo caring kitchen

It was about a week ago today that my wife Zoë received her first chemotherapy treatment.  While she has been amazingly blessed with the minimal side effects she has experienced, the most significant has been a decrease in appetite.  What she once enjoyed with reckless abandon, she does not desire. Things she once would not consider, she is now requesting.  A few months ago, I was learning to adjust our meals to be low carb, low fat, diabetic, and vegetarian friendly meals.  Now I am learning what ingredients are best at preventing the spread of cancer in one’s body and identifying what foods can be most helpful in treating what side effects.  It is a completely new way of cooking.

The biggest symptom she has had is loss of appetite.  While she and I both could stand to lose weight, her nurse and nutritionist say this is not the time to do it.  So I am focusing on foods that stimulate appetite and will keep her eating lots of protein, fruits, fiber, and vegetables.  One of the most amazing books I found to assist me in my journey is by Rebecca Katz and is called The Cancer Fighting Kitchen. 

One of the things I really like about this cookbook is that she lays out all the side effects of chemotherapy and suggests recipes that will help nutritionally counter those side effects.  One of the recipes she presented was ginger green tea lemonade.  When I told Zoë about it, she got excited.  So this is what I made.  It was quite simple, but amazingly helpful in that it helps with the nausea (thanks to the ginger), helps keep her hydrated (very important during chemotherapy, and is supposed to stimulate appetite.  Green tea when mixed with a little bit of lemon helps with the absorption of the cancer fighting nutrients in green tea.  This might become our new fluid trinity.  Not only is it healthy for her, but tasty.  I am already thinking of how I can use these three flavors in other things – perhaps a green tea, ginger, lemon sorbet.

Green Tea Ginger Lemonade

4 cups water

4 ½ inch pieces peeled fresh ginger

2 green tea bags

1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 teaspoons agave nectar or honey

Bring the water and ginger to a boil in a saucepan, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat, add the tea bags, and steep for 10 minutes.

Remove the tea bags and ginger, stir in the lemon juice and honey, and chill for at least 1 hour before serving over ice.

While there is no protein in this drink, it is low in carbs, high in antioxidants, and a great appetitive stimulant.

What is amazing for me is what I am learning about the healing powers of plants. I have always known that oils, spices, and scents can be used therapeutically to help in one’s healing.  However, the more I read about how to cook for people who are fighting cancer, the more I come to realize that when the Infinite created squash (the name of a great children’s book), the Infinite also created lemons, green tea, ginger, cinnamon, apples, oranges, and a whole host of fruits and vegetables who provide healing qualities for us.  While I am grateful for modern medicine and technology that is helping to counter the effects of that in our world, which is contributing to the rise in cancer, I am also grateful for the naturally provided fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices, which are a pharmacy of their own given to us by the Infinite.