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Norfolk’s Big C serves up top cancer fighting foods

Later this month Big C Cancer charity teams up with nutritional therapist Catherine Jeans and herbalist Alex Hobbs to hold special healthy treats cookery workshops, designed especially for cancer patients and those caring for them.


Here Catherinerecommends some of her favourite warming foods for winter days and post treatment comfort and suggests her top five cancer fighting superfoods patients should be incorporating into everyday meals.

In the run up to Christmas, delicious looking seasonal dishes seem to leap out from every magazine cover and be paraded on every television screen. The colours and decoration are sumptuous and you can almost smell how good they taste! For some people this may be their first Christmas coping with diagnosis of cancer or recovering from treatment, so many of their festive favourite foods may be off the menu. Nutrition and what you eat as a cancer patient can be key both to resistance and revention of the disease, as well as how well you recover post-treatment. Certain foods can support relief of symptoms and provide vital nutritional elements that help recovery. Traditional herbalists are great believers in warmth coming from within, which is important for post-treatment patients who often feel the cold. These are some of my seasonal picks.

Fresh ginger is soothing and an anti-inflammatory, but go easy as it can also be a little too astringent for those suffering with sore throats - often a post –treatment symptom. Instead of making a cup of tea, infuse an unpeeled small chuck of ginger root with some lemon or a little honey in hot water. Peel and grate to use in stir fries and soups.

Chestnuts are wonderful freshly roasted over the fire. But they also are available freeze packed so chop them into stews or vegetable dishes, or sweeten desserts and cakes without adding sugar using the puree available in tins.

Stewed apples are good for the digestive system and served hot with ground cinnamon and nutmeg will give a real warming dessert. If you’re avoiding dairy, creamy coconut milk is a good substitute for a dollop of cream. 

At this time of year, game meat of all types is plentiful and because they tend to be roaming creatures the meat is relatively low in fat. Venison, pheasant, rabbit make great casseroles that contain plenty of Omega 3 and other good fats. Chestnuts also work well with game and can transform an ordinary family meal into something a little more special.

A massive pot of soup made from seasonal vegetables with added protein – bits of cooked chicken or lentils and pulses or try a tablespoon of humous - will keep the cold away. Try adding a few tablespoons of uncooked Quinoa, and let it bubble in the soup for about 14 minutes.

Miso turkey broth is a great way to use up any leftovers, and is warming and nutritious.

Christmas is a difficult time but our advice is that everything is good in moderation. If you are a bit of a chocoholic, you don’t have to skip on the chocolate, but try to choose dark chocolate which has less sugar, is a great source of iron and magnesium.

Or for extra calcium, opt for some chocolate coated nuts. Have a little bit of what you fancy, its all about also maintaining a healthier lifestyle. 

Finally don’t forget to include my five favourite cancer fighting superfoods - broccoli, oily fish, turmeric, pulses and pumpkin seeds. Fish, beans and pulses are packed with protein, broccoli contains glucoraphanin an anti-cancer compound as well as fibre, calcium, magnesium and vitamin C. Turmeric is a fantastic light yellow colour and may lower risk of many cancers, and is being studied for its ability to kill cancer cells. Add it to scrambled eggs, soups, rice, curries leafy greens and roast vegetable – with a little black pepper which helps your body to use the turmeric more effectively. Pumpkins seeds are full of zinc, magnesium and important for immunity, gut health and hormone balance.

Introduce them into the family’s meals, lightly toasted in a pan with some turmeric or other spices as a healthy nibble or as a savoury topping or garnish. 

As co-director of The Orange Grove Clinic, Norwich, Catherine aims to provide her clients with long-term relief of their symptoms using diet and nutrition and many have reported immediate, yet long-lasting, benefits.

Big C has funded Catherine and Alex to run nutrition and herb workshops teaching different ways of creating Healthy Treats and feeling Nourished. There will be different herbs and food to try and practical hands-on cookery lessons and tips, including making a cake for the Christmas party.

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