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The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen

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Written by foodie pam   
Monday, 05 April 2010

The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery by Rebecca Katz and Mat Edelson (Celestial Arts, an imprint of Ten Speed Press, 2009) is a 2010 IACP Cookbook awards finalist in the Health and Special Diet category. For a list of all the finalists check out the Project Foodie IACP Finalists' Guide.

Photo by Leo Gong.
As the title says, today's IACP nominated cookbook not only takes on a healthy lifestyle, but cancer itself.  Written by Rebecca Katz, a chef and nutritional educator, the Cancer Fighting Kitchen starts with a 'cancer-fighting toolkit' that includes a culinary pharmacy, tips on menu planning and details on the power of herbs and spices.  Following the toolkit she provides recipes for cancer patients to fight their disease.

Yum is a theme in this book - Katz has even coined the phrase "the power of yum" as a motivator.  Many of the recipes indeed are worthy of a yum such as the Rice Paper Moo-Shu Rolls which use the Edamame Avocado Dip with Wasabi (a true yum). The recipes are also fairly quick to prepare and packed not only with nutrition but flavor.  The Middle Eastern Chickpea Burgers (recipe below), a falafel variant that mixes in rice and spices such as cumin and coriander, are a great example of the nutritional power packed into these recipes while also staying true to the 'power of yum'.

Middle Eastern Chickpea Burger

Reprinted with permission from The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery. Copyright © 2009 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, Celestial Arts, an imprint of Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.

These chickpea burgers are similar to a Middle Eastern falafel. But the Americanized version of falafel usually resembles carnival food: they're often deep-fried in some unhealthy oil. It makes me want to cry, because falafel done right is so delicious and nutritious. It's all in the blend. Here the secret ingredient is basmati rice, which holds the chickpea mixture together and creates a complete protein. I love the mini-burger concept; the whole wheat bun is like putting falafel in a top hat and tails, and it's perfect for folks who like the taste of beans when they're broken down and combined with heady herbs and spices. Gently pan-seared or baked, these burgers are bountiful bites of health, especially topped with a dollop of Tomato Mint Chutney.

Makes 17 patties

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 15-ounce can, drained, rinsed, and mixed with a spritz of fresh lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked brown basmati rice
  • 3 tablespoons finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the chickpeas, salt, turmeric, paprika, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, olive oil, and lemon juice in a food processor and process until smooth and well combined, scraping the sides occasionally. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and fold in the rice, bell pepper, and parsley.

Moisten your hands to keep the mixture from sticking, then shape the mixture into 1/4-inch-thick patties about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Place them on the prepared pan and bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until the patties start to get dry and crisp on the outside. They will firm up as they cool.

Variations: For a crispy burger, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the patties for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown.

Want a delicious dip for fresh, raw veggies? The chickpea and spice puree from the food processor makes a delicious hummus.

Prep Time: 15 minutes o Cook Time: 25 minutes

Storage: Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Burgers can also be frozen in cooked or uncooked form for 2 months (see Rebecca's Notes).

Per Serving: Calories: 100; Total Fat: 3.5 g (0.5 g saturated, 2 g monounsaturated); Carbohydrates: 15 g; Protein: 3 g; Fiber: 3 g; Sodium: 223 mg

Rebecca's Notes: If you want to cook just a few patties, pop them in your toaster oven. To freeze these burgers, either cooked or uncooked, stack them up with parchment paper between the burgers, then wrap first in plastic wrap, then in foil. The parchment paper makes it easy to remove the desired number of burgers from the bundle. Once thawed, cooked burgers can be reheated at 350ºF for 15 minutes, and uncooked burgers can be baked as above, at 375ºF for 22 to 25 minutes.

Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.


Last Updated ( Thursday, 08 April 2010 )
Debs (Unregistered) 2010-04-06 02:56:37

These sound delicious. I was diagnosed with colon cancer just this new year and certainly need to eat more cancer fighting foods. Thanks for sharing.
Amanda Davis (Unregistered) 2010-04-08 11:21:03

Oh my! I have to tell you these chickpea burgers are awesome. I just made them for my lunch and wow. I found out in December of 2009 that I had breast stage 4 breast cancer and I am currently going through chemotherapy. I have already had both of my breast removed due to the cancer. I have to tell you after doing massive research on what type of foods cancer patients should be eating and how to prevent cancer, the information can be overwhelming. For me it is crucial to find good recipes that I can make that will help me fight and prevent cancer. I would love to find out if all the recipes in this book are as great as these chickpea burgers are. Specially now that I have to change my eating habits where I can live a healthy long life.
pam (Publisher) 2010-04-08 19:30:09

Deb/Amanda - My thoughts are with you in your fight with cancer.

Amanda - I haven't tried all the recipes so I can't say but the author is both a chef and nutritional educate who has clearly put a lot of effort into assembling what appears to be a great collection of recipes. The info at the beginning of the book also has suggestions on foods to help combat various aspects of the treatments you may be going through... Let us know if you try more recipes and what you think!
Yummy Recipes
Rebecca (Unregistered) 2010-04-09 00:18:34

Deb and Amanda -- All of the recipes in this book were developed with an eye towards maximizing flavor with cancer fighting foods, herbs and spices. The recipes are nutrient dense and packed with YUM. So I encourage you to cook, or, if you're not feeling up to it, choose a recipe and have a friend make it for you.
I am sending you both all my nourishing and healing thoughts!
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