My dad kicked chemo’s butt.
There’s no denying it, the man weathered chemotherapy (for bladder cancer) with fewer side effects and more energy than anyone I’ve ever heard of.
He had eight sessions of chemo, a six-hour infusion, then a two-hour infusion a week later, then a week off, repeating four times over twelve weeks.
On his last six-hour infusion, when he should have been down and out because chemo builds up in your system and can be worse and worse each time you go, he and my mom visited our family immediately after the appointment and stayed the weekend.
Rather than taking naps, sitting around watching TV and struggling to work up an appetite for meals, he sanded and put two coats of lacquer on our kids’ wooden picnic table, took our 35-pound 2-year-old for at least three walks in the wagon, and ate every meal with us.
It’s honestly more energy than he used to have during a visit to our house!
I wanted to make sure I served really clean, wholesome meals for them during that time to keep up with the great things my mom had been doing at home: reducing grains, including greens and probiotics in smoothies, keeping the fluid intake wayyyyyy up to protect his kidneys, and generally avoiding as many synthetic chemicals as possible in foods and personal products.
What to Feed Someone After Chemo?
I had promised I’d have a soup available the night they arrived in case Dad was hungry for a late-night snack (they’d need to eat dinner on the road on the way over).
I had leftover venison from a roast earlier in the week, plenty of broth, and this list of cancer-fighting foods that I wanted to use as much as possible during the visit. My mom had admitted that although I had recommended including artichokes in their meals a few times a week, she had tried a few new recipes and Dad didn’t like them.
After I found out my dad had cancer, I did a lot of research to help him fight cancer with food. I collated all the information I found, the research-based and the slightly off-the-wall, into a few lists of foods to eat often, sometimes, hardly ever and hopefully never.
I printed out a list for my parents, and I’ve created a PDF for you to print, too.
I was determined to show her that finely chopped artichokes could disappear into all sorts of meals and served them three or four times during the weekend, knocking out an entire Costco-sized jar! This soup was only the beginning…
I literally ticked through the cancer-fighting foods list and the contents of my fridge and freezer, trying to stick with an Asian-inspired theme but including as many high-nutrient veggies as I could. I used 50 percent of the list, and the soup turned out to be surprisingly tasty considering there aren’t a ton of seasonings involved, just a few simple but powerful foundations: onion, garlic, ginger and soy sauce.
Wondering if cancer could affect you or your family? I was pleasantly surprised with my results to this super quick quiz after my dad’s successful battle with bladder cancer!
Served with this cancer-fighting cabbage slaw, a roasted beet salad (or hot roasted beets with butter, salt and pepper), and perhaps some grain-free biscuits, it made an excellent and powerfully nourishing meal. I include a few beet salad options in this post, and in The Healthy Lunch Box eBook.Print
- 2–4 Tbs. fat
- 2 medium onions, diced or sliced
- 1 medium to large head of bok choy, separated
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 large head cabbage (about 2–3 cups shredded)
- 2 large carrots, sliced or diced
- fresh ginger root, grated, to taste (1/2 inch or up to 3 inches)
- 4 c. spinach or any other leafy green, finely chopped if you prefer
- 5–6 c. beef broth, preferably homemade
- 1 1/2 tsp. Real Salt
- 1/4–1/2 tsp. pepper
- artichoke hearts, chopped (use ~9 hearts, which is about 1 15-oz. can, drained)
- 2 c. cooked and cubed beef or venison
- 1/3 lb. fresh or frozen broccoli (2 c.), chopped
- 1 c. cauliflower, chopped
- 1 5-oz. can water chestnuts, drained and diced or sliced
- soy sauce and grated Parmesan or Romano to serve
- In your favorite fat (tallow, refined coconut oil (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!) or extra virgin olive oil are good choices) over medium heat, saute onions for at least 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Press the garlic and set aside.
- Wash the bok choy well and dice the woody white parts of the stems. Reserve the leaves. Add to the saute for a few minutes while you slice the cabbage and carrots.
- When the onions and bok choy are translucent, add the cabbage, carrots, garlic and fresh ginger to taste. Stir around for a minute or two while chopping up the bok choy greens, then add the bok choy greens and any other greens you are using. Stir and cover for about a minute to wilt. (If you have green-o-phobes in the family, chop up the greens. Otherwise baby spinach leaves can just go in whole.)
- Pour in the beef broth and increase the heat to high.
- Add the salt, pepper, artichokes and meat. Cover the pot.
- Chop the broccoli and cauliflower (fresh or frozen for each works fine) and add to the pot along with the water chestnuts, cut to whatever size you prefer. (They will add a crunch, so if whole slices seem a bit large, cut into fourths or so.)
- When the broth comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5-15 minutes until all the vegetables are tender.
- Serve hot with soy sauce at the table. (You could add 2-4 Tbs. soy sauce into the soup right away instead, but I preferred to allow people to adjust that flavor to their own tastes.
- Add additional salt or put fresh grated Parmesan or Romano on top if it “needs a little something.”
* A can of diced tomatoes adds a lot of flavor, color, and one more superfood for cancer.
*If you really feel that you need a starch in the soup, add one diced potato with the broth or some cooked whole grains like rice or barley, but for an anti-cancer diet, fewer starchy carbs are best.
* Note: If you have folks in your family who would say, “Boy, this sure is a vegetable soup,” because they prefer meaty meals, feel free to increase the meat. Nothing wrong with well-sourced, grassfed or wild meat on a cancer-fighting diet.
2 Tools for Real Food Success:
It’s never easy to keep up with real food goals! If my meal isn’t planned ahead and/or I don’t have the right food on hand, it’s SO tempting to give up and grab convenience food!
I have to almost trick myself into getting it right sometimes…like this:
I love my raw milk farm, and they usually have beef for me too – but not all the cuts. And chicken is hard to come by. And pork is hit or miss.
I’m sure you’ve experienced the same sourcing frustrations!
That’s why I’m always grateful that there’s an online source of incredibly high quality meat that I can always count on. A box from Butcher Box is guaranteed to be grassfed/organic/pastured/free range = all the labels important to your family’s health!
If you live in an area (like my mom) where organic local farms are nowhere to be found or have trouble sourcing certain meats or cuts, Butcher Box has you covered.
(free shipping too!)
But if I forget to plan ahead, all that amazing meat just sits in the freezer! Enter Real Plans, an online meal planning software that is probably smarter than I am.
I can enter that cut of meat along with my food restrictions and find the perfect meal, then generate a shopping list, multiply it by 4 if we have company, and enter my own fav recipes too.
Real Plans takes the stress out of meal planning and puts the nourishing food BACK on your table. There’s a plan for every diet type:
Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post to Amazon and Tropical Traditions from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase, and the probiotics are from my own Miessence store. See my full disclosure statement here.