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Using The Cook For Your LIFE recipe search

By Chelsea Fisher on July 6, 2017

One of the best and most useful aspects of our website is our unique search engine. We now have over 1,900 recipes in both English and Spanish specifically created for those touched by cancer, along with blog posts and video cooking tutorials, and we’re adding more everyday. Deciding what to cook for dinner can be a little overwhelming, but thanks to our recipe search you can pare down the amazing recipes we have to offer based on your specific health considerations and food preferences.

During and after cancer treatment many things can change regarding what types of food you can and cannot eat, and what food tastes good. For instance,  a jaded chemo palate might need a blast of spice, while a person dealing with head and neck cancer, or who has mouth sores from chemo, will need foods that are gentle and easy to swallow. If a patient has lost interest in food due to treatment, they may need nutritious high calorie snacks around the house for whenever they are hungry, but a breast cancer survivor who continues to take steroids or hormone blockers will need satisfying low-calorie options instead. Whatever situation you’re in, we’re trying to make finding an easy-to-make nutritious recipe that fits your needs easy to find.

To use our advanced search, simply click on the magnifying glass icon in the top left corner of every page. When you do this, the page will expand as shown above. There you will see all the options you have to choose from.  Here’s how it works:

If you are simply searching for recipes by ingredient, just type your choice into the ‘search for recipes’ bar at the very top of the page, say ‘quinoa’ and hit the  ‘search’ button. Pages of recipes using quinoa will come up, plus tags for other places where it may be featured such as in cooking videos, articles etc. If your doctor has put you on a special diet, or you are vegan and you want to refine further, before hitting ‘search’, hover the mouse over each of the 3 sections of categories underneath the search bar, and scroll down our full range to click on the ones you want as follows:

We really hope you can use this as a resource for years to come. Our mission it to improve the health of people touched by cancer by giving them the practical knowledge, tools, and inspiration to cook their way through treatment and into a healthy survivorship. This recipe search is one of our most valuable tools!

See the list below for definitions of health consideration options within our search:

Bland Diet: A bland diet can be used to ease ulcers, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and gas. A bland diet may also be necessary after stomach or intestinal surgery. It is made up of foods that are soft, not very spicy, and low in fat and fiber.

Gluten-Free: A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). Our recipes which are labelled gluten-free do not contain usual sources of gluten, however please make sure the ingredients you choose are certified gluten-free, manufacturers often add additives which contain gluten.

Low-Fiber: Similar to the bland diet, low-fiber diets may be necessary after stomach, gynecologic, or intestinal surgery. Unlike the bland diet, those on a low-fiber diet can have oils and fats, but need to drastically reduce fiber intake in order to rest bowels or intestines.

Easy to Swallow: A side effect of some chemo drugs is painful mouth sores and cankers, and people undergoing radiation on the head or neck have to deal with severe mouth or throat soreness. Foods in this category will be ingestible even with these complications. Please note these recipes are not suitable for someone on a texture modified diet. Please speak with your speech language pathologist for advice regarding safe textures to have.

Healthy Survivorship: Thankfully, more people than ever are moving into survivorship. This can be a time where many people take stock of their lifestyle, and make changes to reduce their risk of recurrence. While studies have not yet shown that dietary changes can reduce recurrence, the AICR recommend that a healthy diet which reduces the risk of developing cancer may also reduce the risk of recurrence. Recipes in this tab follow the AICRs rules for eating for prevention.

Nausea:  Easy on the stomach, bland-tasting, inoffensive foods and beverages.

Fatigue: Fatigue is sadly a necessary evil of many treatment protocols.  While there is no “magic food” to combat these feelings of exhaustion, our recipes offer easy, comforting options when you may be too tired to prepare a complex meal.  In addition one of the proven aids for fatigue is actually exercise!  It seems counterintuitive but moving actually helps you to feel less tired.  Getting off the couch and into the kitchen to prepare a simple meal will not only nourish you but could lift your spirits as well!

High Calorie:  These are foods that are high in calories per serving. Our main dishes will provide over 500 calories per serving. Our high calorie soups, snacks and drinks will provide you with 350 calories per serving  Although this category covers many of our desserts, it also covers nutritious foods that are high in calories, as in recipes that are high in carbs and healthy fats.  It is a very useful tool both if you need to keep your weight up during treatment, or if you need to watch your weight afterwards.

Low Calorie: These are recipes that are low in calories per serving, usually on or under 350 calories. They tend to be vegetable based and are ideal if you need to keep an eye on your weight, especially if on steroids, or if hormone blockers are part of your breast cancer protocol.  When weight is an issue, whether high or low calories are desired- the portion size is always something to keep in mind always pay attention to the recommended portion size.

Neutropenic Diet: This diet is also known as ‘Anti-microbial’If you have lower-than-normal levels of neutrophils (a type of white cell), you may need to go on a neutropenic diet. A neutropenic diet means no undercooked meat or fish, no food from hot buffets, or salad bars, and no deli foods such as egg or chicken salads.  While it used to mean that patients could not have fresh fruit and vegetables, the lack of evidence for this has meant that the American Cancer Society now say that patients can have well-washed fruits and vegetables, with the exception of patients who have had stem cell transplants.Neutropenic diet recommendations can vary according to treatment protocol, so make sure to talk to your RD or doctor for specifics of what you can and can’t eat.

High Protein: Having an adequate protein intake is important to help retain muscle mass. People going through cancer treatment have higher protein needs, and this can be difficult to achieve. Our high protein recipes feature high protein foods such as poultry, fish, pulses and meat alternatives (for example, tofu). A serving of any of the high protein main dishes will give you at least 15g of protein, while our high protein soups and drinks will give you at least 3g of protein per serving. Thee cut off’s were guided by other recipe publications for cancer patients.  Speak to your dietitian if you are concerned about your protein intake.

Note: Many people suffer from taste changes during chemo aka Chemo palate. We didn’t include a button for this because it affects people so differently. Solutions that work well for one person don’t for another, so it’s a moment of experimentation and trial and error to find out what flavors counteract the metallic taste and make food not just edible but enjoyable. As noted above, we suggest checking out recipes under the preference ‘Spicy’ to find the strong flavors that will blast away chemo palate, and ‘Beverage’ for drink ideas. Staying hydrated is important but water can taste really unpleasant during chemo so it’s important to make it taste more palatable and easy to drink. Here’s a menu of spiced foods and cooling drinks that helped me and many of our chemo pals. It may help you.

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