Discovering my 'new normal' after breast cancer diagnosis at 34.

19 April 2011

Resources: Food & Recipes during Chemo

When the burnt feeling in my mouth, the odd metallic tastes, the inability to taste certain things (sugar) and the ulcers got bad, they prevented me from eating many food items. I could really only eat ‘soft diet’ food. Even tomato-based sauces stung because of the acidity, fruit was the same, definitely no spices and I couldn’t taste sugar. Dairy (e.g. yoghurt, custard) was uncomfortable as it coated the inside of my mouth and I couldn’t clean/rinse naturally as my mouth was dry. At one stage, even water was painful to drink! Anything that was somewhat solid but didn’t require chewing was the best for me.

Here are some recipe ideas to help get you through the rough bits. Rest assured it IS temporary and (eventually) your taste bud DO return to normal.

NB: Although mashing by hand yields a nicer texture, pureeing with a food processer or wand will mean a better, smoother consistency with fewer lumps. You may even need to use a sieve.

Mashed potato
In stock: Boil peeled potatoes in liquid stock until soft. I prefer the pre-made stocks. These can be diluted with water if necessary. Drain but keep stock. Add drained stock slowly and mash well.

Traditional: Boil peeled potatoes in water until soft. Drain. Slowly add milk, butter, and salt until soft consistency. A cooked egg can also be added while mashing.

The same steps can be followed using sweet potato or pumpkin/butternut/squash. This freezes well and can be reheated in the microwave.

Mushy peas or corn
Cook the peas or corn in water or stock until soft. Puree and then sieve to remove any extra bits of skin. This freezes well and can be reheated in the microwave.

Scrambled eggs
Melt a knob of butter in a non-stick pan or pot. Keep at low heat. Break in 2 eggs and a splash of milk. Cook and continue stirring until thick and eggs are cooked. Make sure there aren’t any eggshells in the mix.  Ensure eggs are well cooked if neutrapenic. This cannot be frozen.

Plain omelette
Melt a knob of butter in a non-stick frying pan. Beat 2 eggs in a bowl and pour into pan. Allow to settle and to cook on the base. Flip or fold in half to cook through. This cannot be frozen.

Overcook chunky pasta, such as macaroni or shells until super soft. When it was comfortable to, I liked to add a little plain white sauce (without the cheese because I couldn’t taste it).

White sauce: melt knob of butter on low heat. Add flour until thick consistency then slowly add milk, whisking the milk in as it gets thicker. Don’t let it get too thick. You could also make a thin sauce with stock instead of milk.

Rice pudding
I cheated and bought store-made rice pudding but to make it, I overcooked short-grain or risotto rice in milk and sugar.

Bread & butter pudding
Remove crusts from soft white bread. Butter one side and place face down in an oven dish. Whisk milk, eggs, and sugar and pour over bread. Bake in oven until egg mixture is cooked through. Normally I love the crispy bits but make sure there are none of these. I haven’t tried to make this in the microwave but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work.

Mashed weetbix
Made with warm milk / warm water and mashed to a very soft consistency.

Meat Stew
Braise meat chunks and onions in a pan. Sprinkle with flour. Add liquid stock, chopped carrots and chopped potato. Cook slowly until meat is falling-apart soft. Everything will be super soft and overcooked but that’s the point!

A note on food temperature: make sure you check how hot the food is before you eat it. Check with your finger or ask someone else to check it before you put it near your mouth. Although my mouth was really sensitive, I still found it hard to sense the temperature with my lips before eating it. The last thing I wanted was a burnt mouth!

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