Recipes for people affected by cancer
In this section you'll find a selection of recipes designed for people with cancer. If you’re affected by cancer, you may not feel like eating, but it’s important that you do. Many of these recipes have been chosen because they’re simple and quick to prepare.
Each recipe has a list of benefits, such as if it's suitable for people with a sore mouth, or if it's quick and simple to make. We’ve added these and other benefits so you can quickly spot the recipes that suit you. We’ve also included nutritional information for each dish, so you know all about your nutritional intake. This information is for one portion.
Quick and simple meals
We’ve created this collection of recipes because we believe that, even if you feel sick, tired, or generally unwell, it should be possible to make good meals with the minimum of fuss and effort. That’s why a number of recipes in this section have been included because they’re quick and simple to prepare. Just look for 'Quick and simple' listed under the benefits of each recipe.
Worries about money are very common for people affected by cancer. If you’re trying to save money, you may want to choose recipes with lower-priced ingredients. Meat and fish dishes in particular will probably cost you more to make. You can always substitute ingredients that seem too expensive for ones that cost less (see below).
Some people with cancer develop problems that affect their ability to eat. These effects may be a result of the cancer or its treatment. They can include:
Recipes that are particularly suitable for one or more of these conditions will have this listed under 'Benefits'.
Celebrity chef recipes
We’re very excited that Brian Turner has specially created some of the recipes in this section. Keep an eye out for pages that state 'Brian Turner recipe'.
Foods to avoid if your immunity is low
If your immunity is very low, you should ask your doctor about whether there are any foods you need to avoid. They may recommend that you avoid:
cheeses made from unpasteurised milk (and other foods or drinks made from unpasteurised milk)
raw or undercooked eggs.
It’s also especially important to be careful about food hygiene if your immunity is very low (see below).
We want these recipes to be as helpful to you as possible. That means they're easy to follow and flexible. We’re all different and we all have different requirements, whether that’s changing ingredients or quantities.
If you’d like to follow a recipe but want to make fewer or more portions than are listed, just adjust the quantities accordingly. You may also like to cook extra and freeze some portions for later, saving you time.
We have a handy oven conversion chart [PDF, 627 Kb], which you can use if your oven measures heat in Fahrenheit (°F) and you need to convert the temperatures used on our recipes.
None of the recipes need to be followed exactly, so feel free to use different ingredients from the ones listed. Just remember that this will change the nutritional values from those given.
Some of the recipes include spices. These can help if you’ve lost some sense of taste and smell and want to eat something exciting. However, if highly flavoured foods don’t appeal, you can make these dishes milder by swapping ingredients or adding natural yoghurt.
Adding supplements to the recipes
If you’re losing weight or have a poor appetite, your doctor, nurse or cancer specialist may suggest you take supplements to increase the protein or energy content of your diet. These supplements, which are usually available on prescription, can also be used as drinks or snacks between meals.
If your appetite is poor or you feel sick, a small glass of wine or sherry before a meal may stimulate your appetite and help you digest your food better. So if you drink alcohol and fancy a glass of something with your meal, then go ahead and enjoy it. If you’re taking any medicines, you should check with your doctor or pharmacist that it’s okay for you to drink alcohol.
But please remember to moderate your alcohol intake and include one or two alcohol free days each week.
Remember to be particularly careful about food hygiene. If your immune system is weak, you may be more at risk of getting food poisoning. You may also be less able to cope with the symptoms of food poisoning.
To minimise this risk you should:
wash your hands before you touch food
keep pets out of the kitchen
clean cooking utensils and chopping boards thoroughly
wipe worktops with hot, soapy water or an antibacterial spray, particularly after you’ve used them to prepare raw meat or eggs
wash or replace dishcloths and tea towels regularly.
If you decide to store food to eat later, let it cool down completely then store it in the fridge or freezer. Only reheat food once and make sure it’s piping hot right through before you eat it. Finally, take care not to burn your mouth or tongue if you’re reheating food in the microwave.