Attention Jonra:

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The nice people at CarePages have given me (Rebecca Katz) a unique forum, one I’m hoping you’ll be take advantage of during what I know is a most difficult time. I’m a chef who specializes in helping people with cancer eat well before, during, and after treatment. I’m also the daughter of a cancer survivor, so my thoughts on the matter aren’t just academic, but come from years of personal experience with family, friends and clients.

In a phrase, I’m here for you. To answer any questions you have about eating well during cancer: Everything from meals you’d like to cook for a loved one battling the disease to replacing much-loved foods suddenly ‘banned’ by a physician. My approach is both as a nutritionist (I’m completing a masters in nutrition) and a chef. The two disciplines complement each other: Great nutrition must taste great to bring cancer patients back to the kitchen table again and again. That’s where being a chef comes in. I don’t put people on diets. In fact, I hate that word. What I do is give people healthier alternatives that mimic the tastes and textures they love. All this while delivering a nutritional wallop in each bite that keeps the immune system strong during treatment, calms treatment side effects (nausea, fatigue, diarrhea, etc.), and provides the essentials that may keep cancer from reoccurring during recovery. Whether a tea or a full meal, I want people with cancer to feel nourished whether they’re up to just one sip (as is often the case just after treatments) or a hearty sit-down dinner.

I’m also sensitive to psychological and physiological changes in cancer patients that affect their relationship to food. Damaged taste buds—a common side effect of chemotherapy—that dull the palette may seem unconquerable. Believe me, they’re not…and I can show you how food can be gently ‘tweaked’ in a way that makes patients utter a word they (and you) probably haven’t heard in a while: “YUM!!!!”

Reconnecting people to food during illness is an honor and a pleasure. At the very least (and this is no small thing), eating well allows patients a psychological respite from their illness, a moment where they feel well nourished, cared for, and, yes, healthy. I’ve seen this joy occur regardless of where clients are along the cancer continuum. It’s a priceless feeling for both caregivers and their loved ones. So don’t be shy. No question is silly (believe me, I know…I’ve asked them all). Use me as your personal chef, someone who wants you to know that in every morsel of yum there can be health, vitality, and, most importantly, a place for compassion, caring and nourishment for you and your loved ones.

Rebecca Katz is a San Francisco Bay-Area Chef who receives regular referrals from oncologists, clinicians, and wellness professionals in the cancer community. Her best-selling book is entitled One Bite at Time: Nourishing Recipes for People with Cancer, Their Caregivers, and Their Friends (Ten Speed Press, available on

The Magic Mineral Broth™

From our Featured Expert: Rebecca Katz

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: Refrigerator 4 days Freezer 3 months

This is my Rosetta stone of soups; a broth that alchemizes itself to meet any patients nutritional needs. Yes, it really is that versatile, serving as everything from a delicious sipping tea to the powerful base for more hearty soups and stews (see variations below). Chemotherapy saps your strength through dehydration, pulling vital nutrients out of your system. This rejuvenating broth, chock full of magnesium, potassium, and sodium, refreshes and restores the body, getting you back in shape for the days to come. A caregiver I know cooked this recipe in his mother’s home, as she was fighting colon cancer at the time. ‘After I put all the vegetables in the pot and started them simmering, I had to go out for a half hour. When I got home and opened the door, I couldn’t believe how amazing her house smelled. What was even more amazing was that I had created these smells. Before I left to go home, wrote me a small check to cover the cost. I couldn’t understand why she thought she had to pay me for this. Then I looked at the ‘memo’ part of the check, where you write what the check was for. She had written the following words: “Love Soup.”

Cut the following four ingredients into large chunks:
6 unpeeled carrots
2 unpeeled medium yellow onions
1 leek, both white and green parts
1 bunch celery including the heart
4 unpeeled cloves garlic, halved
1/2 bunch flat leaf Italian parsley
4 medium red potatoes, quartered with skins on
2 Japanese yam or Hannah’s or 2 sweet potatoes, quartered with skins on
1 Garnet yam, quartered with skin on
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 (six inch by one inch) strip of Kombu
2 bay leaves
12 peppercorns
4 whole allspice or juniper berries

In a 12-quart stockpot, combine all ingredients. Fill the pot to two inches below the rim with water, cover and bring to a boil.
Remove lid, decrease heat to low, and simmer a minimum of two hours. As the stock simmers some water will evaporate; add more if vegetables begin to peek out. Simmer until the full richness of the vegetables can be tasted.
Strain stock using a large-mesh strainer (remember a heat resistant container underneath)
Bring to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing.
Makes 6 to 7 quarts.

Variations: Chicken Magic Mineral Broth
The chicken bones infuse the Magic Mineral Broth stock with a richer flavor while adding mineral rich calcium and phosphorus, along with bone marrow, collagen and gelatin for a more nutrient-packed brew.
Carcass from chicken (or 2 pounds of bones)
1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice

Add the carcass from the chicken, and vinegar or lemon to the stock pot with all of the above ingredients for the magic mineral broth. Fill the pot with water to three inches below the rim.

The acidity of vinegar gently extracts greater amounts of minerals from the bones, increasing the body and flavor of the stock.

Variation 1
For those seeking additional calories:
Boost calories to basic broth by adding 2, 14.5 ounce cans of coconut milk to stock.
Variation: For those preferring an Asian style broth:
Add three one-inch pieces of ginger, three kaffir lime leaves, and one stalk of lemon
grass cut into chunks.

Variation 2
For those with nausea:
Add three one-inch pieces of ginger to stock.

Nutritional Sidebar: What’s Kombu?
Kombu is a seaweed super food, full of trace minerals that are wonderful for people with compromised immune systems. It’s often found in Asian markets, or in the Asian specialty section of supermarkets and health food stores. Kombu is a long, dark brown seaweed that comes in dried sheets and will store indefinitely in a cool, dry place. Japanese and European studies are looking at the ability of U-Fucoidan, a polysaccharide found in high levels in Kombu, to fight cancer tum
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Thanks. I'll definitely check this out. I'm a big believer in nutrition. Especially in a case involving the digestive tract. The saying, 'You are what you eat' is right on. I also believe that healthy food can taste good. It's just a matter of the right recipes.
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