Sitting down at the dinner table—even if we only do so rarely—gives us a chance to pause, unplug, and enjoy food with family. Even if a family meal means sitting down together in front of the TV with a tray of freshly microwaved mini-pizzas, food brings us closer together. The smell of a home-cooked meal (or that of the aforementioned pizzas) pulls people together, and our best memories are often created around food.
Cancer treatment, thief that it is, steals these moments from us. Just when a favorite meal with dear friends would mean the world, a cancer patient finds that they’re too sick to eat, too exhausted, or that they’ve been forbidden from eating their favorite foods. About half of chemotherapy patients experience taste changes that make it difficult to enjoy eating. Food may taste bland, metallic, have a chemical taste, or it may start to all taste the same.
A new cookbook, recently fully funded on Kickstarter, promises to bring chemo patients back to the table with recipes designed just for them and their changing tastes. The Chemo Kitchen Cookbook project was co-founded by Cal McAlister, who watched his mom go through chemotherapy and find that her favorite foods suddenly “tasted like dirt.” Cal wanted to find a way to bring the joy back to eating during chemotherapy, when patients need all the joy they can get.
The Chemo Kitchen cookbook focuses on strong flavors like lemon and ginger, simple recipes (most have just 8 ingredients) and reasonable preparation time (45 minutes or less). Tastes are stronger and designed for the sensitive chemo-palate. The cookbook features 52 recipes created by award-winning chefs that offer a little something for everyone since chemo patients will have different needs in terms of diet restrictions, tolerances, and calorie intake.
The idea is to give chemo patients back something small while they deal with the larger issues of cancer. The Chemo Kitchen Kickstarter page shares: “Let’s help steal back some joy in food, and win little battles with taste while doctors fight the war.”
The idea is currently the most-funded chemo project that has been on Kickstarter. Co-founders Cal McAllister and Michelle Abbess have tested out their recipes with patients going through chemo therapy and received rave reviews. Their list of top-notch contributing chefs includes Mary Ann Esposito (host of Ciao Italia), Eric Tanaka (James Bear award winner and executive chef at Tom Douglas Restaurants), Thierry Rautureau “The Chef in the Hat” (James Beard award winner and owner of Loulay & Luc restaurant in Seattle), Tom Douglas (owner of Tom Douglas Restaurants and radio and talk show host), and several others who were excited to make this project a reality.
So what does the cookbook promise? “We aren’t offering a cure, or a quick fix—just some yummy recipes that we hope will taste good and bring a smile during this tough time. And if they don’t, some tips from experts to help make all your favorite recipes taste better.”
For those going through chemotherapy, a meal that they can truly sit down and enjoy with friends and family can be a much-needed bright spot when other areas of life are, to say the least, rather bland.
To find out more about the cookbook and to sign up to receive updates about the December 2018 release date, visit Chemo Kitchen’s website. To order a cookbook, you can reach out on Chemo Kitchen’s Facebook page. Happy cooking, friends!
Katie Taylor started writing in 5th grade and hasn't stopped since. Her favorite place to pen a phrase is in front of her fireplace with a cup of tea, but she's been known to write in parking lots on the backs of old receipts if necessary. She and her husband live cozily in the Pacific Northwest enjoying rainy days and Netflix.