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Cooking to Beat Cancer - Delicious in the Diaspora

Living with and trying to beat back cancer, any type of cancer, can be an exhausting and life altering event. It is not only taxing on the body but also on the mind. So many of us eat when we are stressed, afraid, anxious, etc. - and this is precisely what a cancer diagnosis/treatment brings to our door step. But, we also eat when we are happy, celebrating and joyous - which is where we are trying to get to. Food is our home activity of choice in so many ways, healthy or not. So when trying to beat back cancer, having a doctor or nutritionist say, "can't have that" or "you really should be eating this" is a potential blow when you're already stressed. I puts up a barrier to what usually helps us cope with stress.

"Food is medicine" as many people say - and we agree with this. However, one of the annoying and often saddening effects of treatment can be the loss of smell and taste. For the foodie, this is not only annoying, it's devastating. Food is everything. Food can heal or hurt and therefore, when we get sick, the first thing we should do is manage what we consume, when we consume and how we consume. But please God - don't take the flavors away. The nutty beauty of my pecorino parmesan, the heartiness of banku and kenkey, the crisp bite of chilled fresh basil in a salad, the warmth of red palm oil, the spice of peanut soup, the smooth feel of the fufu, the broth-like buttery goodness of toasted garlic as it melts on the back of the tongue, that crispy edge of the fried plantains and the crunch of a perfectly seasoned fried fish - this brings so much comfort. So good flavorful food is important, but when facing potential malnutrition due to cancer or cancer treatments, eating properly and with targeted nutrition in mind is paramount.

Leafy greens are a favorite for fighting the malnourishing effects of immunosuppressive therapies. The darker the leaf the greater the levels of vitamins such as biotin, which need to be absorbed through the digestive process. Spinach, kale, mesculun and broccoli. There are also other super food that are highly recommended food such as pomegranate seeds, soursop, mango, pineapple, ginger, black sapote, bread fruit, dragon fruit, etc.

We also need high protein beans such as chickpeas, black eyes peas, red beans, black beans, navy beans, etc? Protein is such an important part of any treatment and post treatment diet and beans offer pretty much the cleanest way to consume large amounts of protein without the potential messiness of meat protein preparation or the more complex to prepare plant protein. Still other foods such as almonds, cashews, pine nuts, peanuts, lentils offer protection and fortification. Grains and seeds may also round out a comprehensive diet. Still, the menu can get a bit mundane, even with all of the options.

What delicious in the Diaspora is here to do is bring some more flavors and different options to your diet by introducing some new ingredients and food philosophies from around the diaspora. I found the inspiration for the recipe below while in Ghana. When talking to some from friends of mine from the region, I realized just how much spinach is consumed by our brothers and sisters on the east coast of Africa. The tradition traveled to the Americas and spinach became a vital green for we Americans of African decent. However, spinach has been somewhat locked in as a salad green or perhaps a sandwich topper. I want to use spinach in a different way.

Here is a great recipe for creating your own Spinach and Almond spread. Great for breakfast toast and on sandwiches, this recipe is designed to give you a protein and biotin rich boost!! The star of the show is the nutritional yeast which is a complete protein which also brings a powerful punch of essential amino acids, thiamine, niacin and riboflavin. When fortified, nutritional yeast comes with B12 which is an essential part of any plant based diet. Please leave your comments below and feel free to post some recipes of your own!


1/2 cup almond flour

1 pound fresh spinach

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

2oz minced garlic

2oz minced red onion

2 tablespoons truffle oil

Salt to taste


1. In a blender, puree the spinach. You could also dehydrate the spinach leaves for less water in the puree! This would be good if you wanted to use less almond flour and would perhaps improve the texture and consistency, however, it is not required here. Empty the pureed spinach into a large mixing bowl.

2. Slowly fold in the almond flour until a paste like consistency is achieved. You may need a bit more or less flour and that is just fine.

3. Fold in your nutritional yeast, minced garlic and red onion. Some people may like this not only for the bright flavor but also as a texturing agent for the spread.

4. Salt the spread to taste and add the two table spoons of truffle oil.

Blend all together for a great spread that goes well on veggie pasta, breakfast toast, sandwiches and sauces! Don't afraid to step out of the box here and add in your own flare.

Please comment below with your special additions to the discussion! Stay Delicious in the Diaspora!


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