This is the first of many reviews of cooking blogs and websites that one might want to keep in their arsenal for cooking when going through cancer. It's called 'Cook for Your Life' www.cookforyourlife.org. I stumbled on this website in the first weeks of my diagnosis. It is produced by Ann Ogden Gaffney, a former fashion editor and design consultant and cancer survivor.
What love about it: Every single recipe is tagged by treatment, preference and ingredients. For instance, let's say you are feeling fatigue, you want something quick and easy, and you want a main dish. You put those into the search engine and you will get a sizable list of recipes that fit what you're looking for. You can search by vegan, healthy comfort food, sides, beverages, constipation, in treatment, low or high calorie. Every recipe has nutritional information. It might not go into specific nutrients like potassium, magnesium, vitamins, etc. but it does list sodium, carbohydrates, protein, fat and calories. The website includes cooking videos, "touch by cancer' blog, and resources. I know they do workshops in New York with Glida's club (If you don't know about Gilda's Club, it's an awesome organization for anyone who is touched by cancer either as a patient, family member, friend or care-giver. I will write an entire blog post about this organization. I'm quite the fan!). The recipes are very varied. I am pretty sure that you will find something that will suit your culinary tastes and cooking level. Especially when you are first going through chemotherapy and other treatments, this website is super helpful.
What I'm not the biggest fan of or could cause an issue: I just have to come out and say this. I've made quite a few of these recipes. They are ok, but they always feel like they're missing something, usually salt. Now I will be the first to admit: I probably put more salt on my food than most health experts suggest, but not that much more. I just feel the recipes always need a little something.
Now this is part of cooking. If you feel the recipe needs something, ADD IT. It's that simple. Just add it. You need to cook to your tastes. The writer of the recipe is not there, and you will not hurt their feelings. If, for instance, you think a dish would be awesome with a touch of fresh basil and the recipe doesn't call for it, for heaven's sake add the basil. My family is Cajun. I rarely make a dish that doesn't wind up having 'Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning' or 'Slap ya mama' in it (another Cajun season that has more spice and less salt in it). I kept these seasonings in my hospital room in my futile attempt to make the hospital food more palatable. I look at recipes that do not involve baking as suggestions. I know when I make such-and-such of a recipe that I like to add. for instance, a touch of cinnamon because it brings out the flavor of the peppers. I often write it in the recipe book or find a way to make a note of it. My mother likes to say "Cooking is art; baking is science". I agree with that to a point. There is science in all of cooking. But when you are making something like a pasta sauce or a stir fry, play with what's in your spice cabinet. Ask your neighbor with the sumptuous herb garden if you could have a few basil leaves to play with (Speaking as someone with a sizable herb garden in the summer, I usually welcome people snipping off a little of my herbs here and there. It keeps them growing). If salt is an issue for you health-wise, see if fresh lemon could work in the dish. Cook to your tastes, especially if your tastes are all sorts of goofy. The recipe is a place to start, not the endgame.
So that all being said, Cook for Your Life is an absolute "Must Bookmark" website for people going through cancer. I have saved a bunch of these recipes. I've read a ton of their blogs. It's a great website, especially if this all is new to you. Check it out!
Filed under: Resources