SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

October 16, 2012

Better healing through food

By Bev Bennett / CTW Features
CTW Features

— Being a health nut is a lifestyle people will want to embrace — literally.

If you’re recovering from breast cancer and getting your appetite back, you may wonder what you should be eating now.

Perhaps you’re experiencing fatigue; you’d like a diet that gives you some energy. If your taste buds were affected during treatment, you’d like to once again eat foods that taste good.

Most of all, you’d like a diet plan that reduces your risk of a cancer recurrence.

Your food choices can help you improve your health and stamina, as well as your mealtime enjoyment.

However, don’t search for “magic bullet” foods such as broccoli or a super-berry. Instead, look at your entire dietary pattern.

Design it so you’re emphasizing plant foods, including produce, whole grains and beans, while limiting meat, says Alice Bender, registered dietitian. At the same time, control your caloric intake. If you’re overweight or obese, getting to a normal weight is important once you’re finished with treatment.

“Being overweight can put women at risk for a recurrence,” says Bender, nutrition communications manager, American Institute for Cancer Research, Washington, D.C.

Gain weight after recovery and you could increase your risk by as much as 50 percent, depending on how much you gain, according to data from breast cancer survivors within the Nurses’ Health Study (an ongoing study of women’s health, with more than 200,000 nurse participants).

The same foods — produce, whole grains and lean protein — that benefit your health can help you lose weight without feeling deprived, says Cheryl Rock, Ph.D., registered dietitian, professor, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

Maybe you’ll still crave the occasional piece of chocolate, but if you “fill up on vegetables before you reach for chocolate, you’ll eat a smaller portion,” Rock says.

Salsa and chips are such a decadent treat you might not consider the zesty duo in your post-treatment diet. But this tasty version is chock-full of nutritious vegetables and low in fat. The chips are baked, not fried.

The recipe is from “The Back in the Swing Cookbook” by Barbara C. Unell and Judith Fertig (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2012).

Black Bean, Tomato and Corn Salsa with Baked Tortilla Chips

Baked tortilla chips:

1. For the salsa, combine the black beans, corn, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, cilantro, garlic, cumin, salt, oil, chile and lime juice in a large bowl. Toss to blend. Cover and refrigerate several hours to let the flavors blend.

2. For the chips, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With a sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut each tortilla into eight wedges. Arrange the wedges on two large baking sheets. Brush the tops with oil and sprinkle with salt.

3. Bake for 6 to 7 minutes, then rotate the trays in the oven. Continue baking for 6 to 7 minutes longer, until the chips are lightly browned. Serve right away or let cool, then store in an airtight container. Makes 12 servings.

Each serving has 207 calories, 3.5 grams total fat, 38 grams carbohydrates, 8.5 grams protein, 400 milligrams sodium and 10 grams dietary fiber.