Pros: Incredibly delicious & healthy recipes; wonderful tips regarding flavor; fantastic empathy for cancer patients
Rating: 5 out of 5
One Bite at a Time is a cookbook by Rebecca Katz designed for cancer survivors and cancer patients. Its goal is simple yet all too difficult: to create food that fits within the dietary constraints of cancer survivors, nourishes them, and yet tastes so delicious to their altered taste buds and rebellious systems that they’ll want to eat it. This food is also designed to be easy for them and their caregivers to make at home.
Ms. Katz set out on this course because she had family and friends who were diagnosed with cancer, and whom she wanted to help care for. She noted that many patients didn’t know how to convert the limited lists of foods they were given into something they’d like, so she put her knowledge as a chef to work creating food they would actually enjoy.
She does more than that, however. She includes simple instructions for using a few basic ingredients to help you balance the flavors of any dish to your liking, so that however your taste buds have been affected, you’ll be able to (with a little practice) make food that tastes good to you. She has incredible understanding of and empathy for the particular food and taste problems cancer survivors suffer, and that shines through in this book. For example, she describes the problems that arise regarding cancer survivors and sweets:
A lot of people with cancer have heard that they should forgo sweets because refined sugar is bad, bad, bad for them. Yet cancer treatments can often increase the craving for sweets, especially for people who find they have a bitter or metallic taste in their mouth. I’ve seen some of these folks swear off sugar as long as they can, then go off on a Ding Dong binge.
Not a good thing. I’ve tried to come up with a better approach. The sweet bites you’ll find in this chapter all have one thing in common: they contain no refined sugar. There are so many better, healthier ways to get a sweet taste.
Here’s the rub: the recipes in this book are so delicious and flavorful, and so healthy, that I’d recommend EVERYONE go out and buy a copy. That way, not only can you enjoy the benefits of these recipes and the information on flavors, but the next time you find out that a relative, friend, or neighbor has cancer (sadly, an all-too-common occurrence these days), instead of feeling helpless, you’ll know exactly what you can do to help a little.
We made a fruit tart from this cookbook that was absolutely awesome. It focused on the fruit, and the crust incorporated ground cashews to give it a rich, satisfying taste that required absolutely no butter! (And if you don’t have a tart pan on hand, a pie plate will work just fine.) There are recipes in here that make use of grains such as quinoa to beautiful effect—one of my favorite dishes incorporated both quinoa and couscous with vegetables, herbs, and seasonings. I could have eaten it for days without growing tired of it!
“Nourishment in a Bowl” provides plenty of broths, soups, and stews, while there’s an entire chapter on vegetables and another on proteins. “Comforting sides” will give you a boost when you need a feel-good bite, while “Anytime Foods” and “Sweet Bites” provide snacks and desserts to get you through your non-meal munchies. A lemony lentil soup with pistachio mint pesto is sure to wake up the most deadened taste buds, while tortilla stack with salsa cruda will appeal to someone who’s sick of the mainstream notion of healthy food. A cornmeal pizza will give you the chance to have the kind of comfort food you probably thought you’d never get to have again, while a gingerbread recipe will help those sweet cravings! Finally there’s a chapter called “dollops of yum” that includes plenty of recipes for sauces, dressings, dips, and more to help make other foods taste better.
Perhaps best of all, an entire section gives caregivers and friends tips for helping out: reaching out to your friend or family member with cancer; understanding the cancer patient’s difficulties with taste, digestion, and energy; building up a “culinary support team”. This information is utterly invaluable and vastly insightful.
One Bite at a Time is one of those rare books I wish I could push into the hands of everyone I know and meet. It’s the kind of book that’s useful to everyone and that you’ll want to already have on hand should the need ever arise. Buy it now if you want to:
- Eat healthier
- Enjoy delicious food and learn how to season things perfectly
- Help a cancer survivor’s caregiver learn to support them better (or better support a patient yourself)
- Help a cancer survivor to better support their own nutritional needs (or better support your own if you’ve had cancer)
Yep, I think that covers almost everyone. So grab a copy—you won’t be sorry you did.