Eating well can help children with cancer feel better and cope with the side effects of cancer or its treatments. To keep up their strength and deal with side effects, children should stay hydrated, take only doctor-recommended supplements, and eat as well as possible, even though that sometimes can be hard. For some children undergoing treatment, that might mean getting enough to eat; for others, it could mean making sure not to eat too much.

Every child with cancer has specific nutritional needs, so it’s important to talk to a nutritionist about what would be best for your child. In general, kids with cancer have an increased need for protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

  • Protein helps the body grow, repair tissues, build blood cells, and replenish the immune system. Foods like cheese, eggs, milk, yoghurt, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, peanut butter, nuts, lentils, and soy are all good sources of protein.
  • Carbohydrates are the body’s fuel, providing energy for cells and helping to maintain organ function. Good sources of carbs include breads, pasta, potatoes, rice, cereals, fruits, corn, and beans. Whole-grain breads and pastas are usually best because they add fibre.
  • Fats help the body store energy, insulate body tissues, and carry certain vitamins throughout the bloodstream. Unsaturated fats that are found in fish, nuts, olive oil, and vegetables like avocados are much healthier than saturated fats and trans fats that are found in red meats and greasy, fried foods.

Below are some easy recipes that you can make for your child with cancer – they may even enjoy helping you make some of these great recipes:

Confetti Soup for Children

bowl and spoon with diced carrots, peas, star-shaped pasta and small franks

Duration: 20 min

Cooking skill: Medium

250 Calories

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 200 g carrots, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 leek, diced
  • 100 g small pasta (eg stellini)
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 100 g frozen peas
  • 380g mini frankfurters/viennas
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1 pinch white pepper

Method:

  • Cook the pasta in boiling salted water for 5-7 mins then drain.
  • Meanwhile, bring the stock to a boil.
  • Add the carrots and leek and cook for about 6 mins then add the peas and cook for another 2 mins.
  • Add the sausages and cook for another 4 mins then add the pasta and parsley and season with pepper.

Incredible Edible Veggie Bowls

colourful chopped veggies

Prep time: about 10 minutes

93 calories

Serving size: 1 veggie bowl

Ingredients:

  • 1 green, yellow, or red pepper, washed
  • 1 bunch of celery, washed
  • 1 carrot, washed and peeled
  • Your favourite salad dressing

Method:

  • Cut the pepper in half (from side to side). Clean out the seeds and gunk from the inside.
  • Now you have two pieces. One will be your pepper-shaped bowl.
  • Cut the other half of the pepper into skinny slices.
  • Cut the carrot into skinny sticks about 4″ long.
  • Cut celery into skinny sticks so each one is about 4″ long.
  • Put a little salad dressing in the bottom of your pepper bowl.
  • Put celery sticks, carrot sticks, and pepper slices into the pepper bowl.
  • Now you’ve got a portable veggie treat! You can pull out the veggies and eat them with a little dressing.
  • Then when you’re finished with the veggies, it’s time to eat the bowl!

Spaghetti with Salmon & Spinach

turquoise bowl with salmon and spaghetti

Prep time: 30 minutes

561 calories

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 fillets of salmon, fresh or frozen (about 110g per fillet)
  • 150g dried wholemeal spaghetti
  • 100g fat-free Greek yoghurt
  • 3 sprigs fresh dill, chopped, or 1–2 teaspoons dried dill
  • ½ lemon, juice and zest
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 160g spinach, fresh or thawed from frozen

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C.
  • Place the salmon on a large piece of tin foil, add a tablespoon of water and wrap in a loose parcel. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes (this may take longer if you are using frozen fillets).
  • While the salmon is in the oven, cook the spaghetti in a pan of boiling water according to the packet instructions. Once cooked, remove from the heat, drain the water and set aside in the covered pan.
  • Spoon the Greek yoghurt into a mixing bowl, then stir in the dill, lemon juice and zest and black pepper.
  • When the salmon is cooked, place the fillets onto a plate and shred using a fork. Be sure to discard any bones or skin.
  • Add the shredded salmon to the yoghurt mixture and combine.
  • Stir the salmon and yoghurt mixture and the spinach through the spaghetti. Then return to the hob, on a low heat for 2–3 minutes, until warmed through.
  • Remove from the heat and serve.

Top Tip

Serve on its own or with steamed vegetables or salad. Instead of salmon, trout also works well in this recipe.


Cheesecake

Prep time: About 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 115mg low-fat cream cheese
  • ¼ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Nonfat cooking spray

Chocolate Cheesecake

For Chocolate Cheesecake, replace the vanilla extract in the plain cheesecake recipe above with the ingredients listed below:

  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon coffee liqueur or brewed coffee

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Coat an 8 x 8-inch pan with nonfat cooking spray.
  • Puree in blender the yogurt, cream cheese, ricotta cheese, maple syrup, cocoa, egg whites, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Pour in pan.
  • Bake cake for 50 minutes or until set and cooked.
  • Let cool, then decorate with slices of strawberries if desired.

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