Winter Squash

All about Winter Squash

Nutritious winter squashes come into season in the early fall and last in storage through the spring. They are rich in antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin C, which we need in the winter months to keep us healthy, plus they are versatile in the kitchen, but despite all that’s going for them, their awkward shapes and sizes make them seem difficult to handle in the kitchen. In the following videos Ann will show you the basics of how to make the best of this bounty. Look and learn!

How to handle Winter Squash

Come into Ann’s kitchen and check out the delicious types of winter squashes that come into season in the fall. Starchy winter squashes are versatile in the kitchen, and Ann has picked up some of her favorites to talk about and cook: butternut, acorn, Delicata, spaghetti and calabasa, aka kabocha. Look and learn!

How to Cut Acorn Squash

Watch as Ann shows you the easiest ways to get into these delicious little squashes, and a couple of basic ways to cook them, as a side or even a main. Look and learn!

Basic Spaghetti Squash

This wonderful veggie can double for pasta in low-carb diets. Ann will show you the basic way to bake them for use in any number of tasty dishes. Look and learn!

How to Cut Butternut Squash

This versatile squash can be used for all manner of dishes from soups to stews to roasts, but cutting into one can be daunting. Don’t worry! Ann will show you the easy way to do it. Look and learn!

Check out all of our helpful cooking lessons!


At the Market with Ann: All about Tomatoes


Making the Best of Canned Tomatoes

Making the Best of Canned Tomatoes

At Cook for Your Life we’re all about stocking up on pantry basics to make cooking easy no matter what you’re going through, whether cancer treatment has left you wiped out, or you simply don’t feel like going out to the store. September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and the perfect time to talk about the benefits of plain canned tomatoes. Canned tomatoes are the basis of so many quick meals that they are one of our favorite pantry staples. We like them not only because they are versatile, but also because they are rich in the antioxidant lycopene, an important nutrient for reducing cancer risk, especially prostate cancer. Although fresh summer tomatoes are delicious, the lycopene in tomatoes actually becomes more bio-available to us when they are cooked, as they are in the canning process. In the following videos, Ann will showcase these canned cancer fighters from her pantry to make quick, delicious meals for the whole family. Look and learn!

Black Bean Chilli

This is one of the best reasons to keep canned tomatoes and canned beans in your pantry. It makes a fast, delicious meal packed with nutrients that you can put together in about ½ an hour. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and antioxidant lycopene, a nutrient known to combat cancer, particularly prostate cancer, while black beans are rich in protein, minerals and B complex vitamins. Eaten with a grain like Brown Rice, or Cornbread, this easy chili makes a healthy dinner with complete protein that will please the whole family. Healthy never tasted so good! Look and Learn!

Tomato & Sweet Potato Soup

This is one of the best reasons to keep canned tomatoes and canned beans in your pantry. It makes a fast, delicious meal packed with nutrients that you can put together in about ½ an hour. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and antioxidant lycopene, a nutrient known to combat cancer, particularly prostate cancer, while black beans are rich in protein, minerals and B complex vitamins. Eaten with a grain like Brown Rice, or Cornbread, this easy chili makes a healthy dinner with complete protein that will please the whole family. Healthy never tasted so good! Look and Learn!

Spiced Beet & Tomato Soup

Canned tomatoes and fresh beets are a marriage made in heaven. I came to love beets late in life. As a child, no amount of threats could make me eat the vinegary slices that we were served in the UK. Then a vegetarian friend of mine served me roasted beets. It was love at first bite and I started to experiment with cooking them. This soup is super simple. It is mainly lycopene rich canned tomatoes and beets, and started out as a curry, until one day I blended some leftovers and ended up with this gorgeous-looking, delicious soup. The color was unbelievable as was the flavor. Try it with a swirl of sour cream or Greek yogurt and garnish with a pinch of cilantro and you’ll love beets like I do. Try it!

Quick and Easy Tuna Pasta

When tomatoes are out of season, canned are often a better buy than fresh for cooking. This recipe is a case in point. This is a dish that turns two familiar pantry items, lycopene packed canned tomatoes and water packed tuna into something really delicious. When I first worked in fashion, I used to spend a lot of time in Italy. Some Italian friends in the Marche taught me this quick, tasty pasta dish. Who knew canned tuna could taste so good? Not me! It’ll amaze you too! Try it with fresh tomatoes when they are in season. Look and learn!

Check out all of our helpful cooking lessons!


Cooking for a Bland Diet

Cooking for a Bland Diet

In September our focus is on all the women and all the families who have to cope with gynecological cancers like ovarian, uterine, cervical and endometrial. Treatment for these cancers can involve serious abdominal surgeries which make digestion and therefore eating difficult, and together with chemo regimens that can cause nausea, bring even more GI discomfort. In these circumstances, doctors will often recommend a bland diet to ease the side effects. A bland diet is a list of foods that are nourishing and easy to digest. This diet is recommended for a variety of digestive disorders, including bowel surgery, digestive upset, nausea, diarrhea, etc. Although at a first glance these food lists look like culinary purgatory, bland doesn’t have to mean lacking in variety or flavor, as Ann will show you with these easy tasty recipes.

Basic Poached Salmon

This basic poached salmon is one of the simplest odor-free ways to cook an oily fish like salmon. It is delicious whether you are on a bland diet, fancy something cold during the heat of summer or simply want to eat something light during the holidays. As it cooks sealed in its own steam, it doesn’t smell, a boon during chemo. The basic ‘white’ stock I give you here to poach the salmon can also be used to poach or steam chicken breasts too. Any stock you don’t use can be frozen for a later date. The recipe online calls for a whole salmon fillet, but you can poach smaller pieces using the same method. Allow 3 to 4-ounces of fish per person. Look and learn!

Sweet Potato Fries

The bland diet doesn’t forbid baked foods as long as they’re not too oily. This healthy easy way of roasting vegetables like these sweet potato fries, uses virtually no oil. Ann uses a technique that lightly coats them with just enough to crisp and brown for a healthy and comforting side that’s perfect to brighten any meal. Look and learn.

Strawberry Compote

Raw fruits are much harder to digest that when they are cooked, so on a bland diet all fruits are peeled and cooked, or in the case of berries, simply and quickly cooked into compote in the microwave. Compote is a great way to add fruit to your diet while going through chemo or on a bland diet. It’s also great any time you want to add flavor to breakfasts or sweet treats. It’s also a great way to give softer fruits like stone fruits and berries a longer life. Look and learn!

Potato Rosemary Risotto

In this video Ann shows you an easy risotto that is perfect for anyone on a bland diet. It is her mother’s recipe, and was what she used to cook for Ann and her brothers when they were home sick. It’s comforting Italian soul Food! Easy to make, it is soothing and utterly delicious. Better yet, it’s made with inexpensive ingredients that you’ll find in your kitchen. Look and learn!

Zucchini Ricotta Pizza

Nobody going through cancer treatment should have to give up pizza. This Zucchini Ricotta Pizza is delicious and perfect for a vegetarian weeknight meal. With this recipe we make sure everyone gets to eat some, even those on a bland diet. All you have to do is change up the whole wheat naan bread for the version that’s made with white flour. Turn the oven on, tuck in and enjoy!

Check out all of our helpful cooking lessons!


Artichoke, Arugula & Olive Pizza


Easy Healthy Pizzas

Easy Healthy Pizzas

With ‘back to school’ coming up, this fun class is good timing. Ann turns pizza into a quick, easy even healthy family meal that’s great for kids and patients alike. Her method takes away all the kneading and twirling that goes into making great pizza dough by using flatbreads like pita bread and naan for the pizza base and adding an assortment of easy delicious toppings from artichokes to figs, and, of course, cheese. Look and learn!

Artichoke, Arugula & Olive Pizza

There’s really nothing better than fresh mozzarella on pizza. It compliments just about any ingredient, but it works especially well with artichokes and salty black olives. The canned artichokes we use here are an easy, juicy addition to make this Artichoke, Arugula & Olive Pizza extra delicious. We suggest topping the pizza with arugula after baking, to give it a refreshing raw crunch, but if you are on an anti microbial diet, it tastes just as good without. Look and learn!

Fig and Goat Cheese Pizza

As you all know, we teach healthy cooking to people touched by cancer. The mix of figs and goat cheese in this simple, quick Fig & Goat Cheese Pizza makes it the epitome of sweet and salty. It’s the perfect wake up call to a palate that’s been jaded by chemo. It is truly delicious. Since it uses pre-made naan, the Indian flat bread, it’s a snap to make too, a real gourmet dinner in a hurry. Give it a whirl.

Zucchini Ricotta Pizza

Nobody going through cancer treatment should have to give up pizza. This Zucchini Ricotta Pizza is delicious and perfect for a vegetarian weeknight meal. With this recipe we make sure everyone gets to eat some, even those on a bland diet. Turn the oven on, tuck in and enjoy! Look and learn

Vegan Eggplant Pita Pizza

We teach healthy cooking to people touched by cancer. Pita pizzas rule! This eggplant pita pizza is a comfort food that we can honestly say is good for you and it’s totally vegan. With roasted eggplant layered over white bean hummus, this delicious, easy to make recipe contains a slew of phytonutrients, many which are active antioxidants, along with a variety of vitamins and minerals — and that’s before we talk fiber! Go for it.

Healthy Flat Breads for Quick Pizzas

Ann runs you through the different types of flatbreads that are so good to use to create all types of delicious, quick pizzas. Flatbreads freeze well, so along with a few toppings from your pantry. You’ll have your own home pizzeria ready on hand, on demand!

Check out all of our helpful cooking lessons!


Healthy Flat Breads for Quick Pizzas


Vegan Eggplant Pita Pizza


Fig and Goat Cheese Pizza


BBQ Sides: Labor Day

Labor Day

Summer is here and the BBQs in our back yard are calling us. Rather than fall back on mayonnaise-laden salads, take the healthier, cancer-fighting route and let Ann show you how to make some deliciously easy, healthy sides for your cookout. They’re unbelievably good and good for us, with great options for vegetarians too. The avocado lentil salad is a wonder, and the potato salad light and delicious – you certainly won’t miss the mayo. Look and learn!

Lemon Potato Salad

This Lemon Potato Salad is super easy to make. We love potato salads made with vinaigrette instead of mayonnaise. For this, We’re using a yummy lemon and cumin scented vinaigrette. It’s best to toss the salad together while the potatoes are still warm. This will encourage them to absorb the dressing which will make your salad extra delicious, so Ann’s tip is to make the dressing as soon as you put the potatoes on to cook. Look and learn!

Chef Mark’s Cabbage Salad

Cruciferous vegetables are so protective for breast cancer survivors that we wanted to make a delicious dish that used them in a familiar way. Chef Mark Delassandro created this Cabbage Salad recipe for a series of healthy cooking classes funded by Aetna for Latina breast cancer survivors. His excellent solution was to ditch lettuce for nutritious Napa cabbage to make a super crunchy, nutrient-packed salad. It’s been a favorite ours ever since. Look and learn!

Fresh Cranberry Bean and Tuna Salad

This Fresh Cranberry Bean & Tuna Salad is a classic salad for the late summer when the first cranberry beans start to show up at Farmers’ Markets. It’s easy to make, and if you have canned or cooked beans on hand, you can put this together in minutes. Raw cranberry beans fresh out of the pod are gorgeous, marbled with white and dark pink. Like all beans, they can’t be eaten raw and must be cooked. Although cooking takes away their pretty markings, it doesn’t take away their creamy, nutty taste. Other times of the year you can soak and cook dried cranberry or pinto beans, or for simplicity use canned pink beans instead, just rinse them well before using. Look and learn.

Amazing Lentil and Avocado Salad

Lentils aren’t just for wintry soups they are a great addition to salads too. They are absolutely delicious in this wonderful Lentil & Avocado Salad. It is a subtle mix of flavors and textures and super good for you. Lentils and creamy avocado are tossed together with a crunchy, peppery bed of super-green watercress to make a salad that’s full of protein thanks to the lentils, phytonutrients from the watercress, and rich in healthy fats courtesy the sesame and avocado. Totally yum – look and learn!

Check out all of our helpful cooking lessons!