Encouraging children to eat healthy foods can be a challenge at the best of times – when your child has been diagnosed with or is undergoing treatment for cancer, this becomes even more difficult and the pressure is even greater.

Good nutrition is especially important for children who have cancer, as it can help these children keep up their strength while their bodies fight the disease. It can boost their physical endurance as they go through treatment. It also helps keep their immune system pumped up to fight off infections. Plus, it just makes them feel better all around.

Children with Cancer may have symptoms that make food less appealing, or various side effects from cancer treatment can also make it harder for them to eat, even when they want to.

Simple Meal Recipes

The following meal suggestions are simple to prepare, should appeal to your Child with Cancer, and some can be frozen to eat later.

Stewed Fruit with Custard or Cream

Stewed fruits are very healthy due to the soluble gel like fibre component (the mushy bits) for gut and bowel health. This dish can be given as a snack, breakfast or dessert and can be served hot or cold.

Ingredients

  • 3–4 pieces seasonal fruit (e.g. pear, apple, plum), peeled, cored, chopped
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup full-cream custard or ice-cream (or 2 tbsp cream)

Method

  • Place fruit and orange juice in a medium saucepan over low heat.
  • Cook for about 20–30 minutes, stirring occasionally until fruit softens

Tip: Serve with full-cream custard, ice-cream or cream.


Meatballs

What child does not enjoy meatballs with spaghetti, rice or even mash, and this can make a quick, nutritious meal for either lunch or dinner.

Ingredients

  • 500 g beef, lamb, pork or chicken mince
  • ½ cup plain breadcrumbs herbs and spices (optional) 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, margarine or butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1½ cups water or stock

Method

  • Combine mince, breadcrumbs, herbs and spices (if using) and egg in a bowl.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Mix well with a fork and form into golf-sized balls.
  • Heat the butter, margarine or oil in a frying pan and cook meatballs until brown.
  • Remove meatballs from pan.
  • Combine the pan juices, flour and water or stock and cook on a low heat until a thick gravy forms.
  • Add the meatballs to the gravy and simmer for 1–1½ hours.

Tip: Serve with mashed potato, rice or pasta.


Cheesy Vegetable Bake

This cheesy vegetable bake is yummy and really easy to make, and can be made for lunch on its own or dinner, served with yummy green veggies on the side.

Ingredients

  • oil, for greasing dish
  • 400 g sweet potato or pumpkin, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 parsnip and 1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup thickened cream
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese, grated

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180°C.
  • Brush a medium ovenproof dish with oil.
  • Layer the vegetables in the prepared dish.
  • Drizzle each layer with a small amount of cream.
  • Top with the remaining cream and sprinkle with cheese.
  • Bake for 1 hour or until vegetables are tender and top is golden brown.

Tip: Use whatever vegetables you have.


Mango Lassi

A mango lassi is basically a yoghurt based mango milkshake or smoothie. You can use either canned mango pulp or cubed fresh or frozen mango. … If your mango isn’t ripe enough it will be too tart and you’ll have to add more sugar or honey than you would like. A little ground cardamom sprinkled on top gives the lassi a hint of spice while lemon zest brightens up the drink.

  • 1 cup canned mango slices in natural juice, with juice
  • 1 heaped tbsp milk powder*
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ½ cup full-cream natural or vanilla yoghurt
  • 3 ice cubes

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Use 1 cup canned apricot halves instead of mango.

* Instead of milk powder, you can use a powdered nutritional supplement such as Ensure Powder or Pediasure – for the amount per serve, refer to the packaging.


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