Switching from cans of soup or casseroles to fresh, real ingredients can be a fun challenge, and right now is the perfect time to swop processed crackers and snacks for fruit, homemade smoothies and yoghurts.
Not only will you ALL all feel better; your blood sugar will stop plummeting daily, you will all be more regular, and you may even lose a few pounds – your children will also learn to be adventurous eaters, and be SO MUCH HEALTHIER for it!
When your Little Fighter craves comfort-food, have childhood favourites “real-foodified” at the ready and in your freezer. When they have no appetite, make sure you have nutrient-dense soups and smoothies for them to sip all day. Even a Peanut Butter Sandwich with jam or honey is very beneficial.
Make overnight slow-cooker broth, muffins and quick breads, smoothies, and homemade coffee creamer to treat yourself as tired parents/caregivers….
While they may have cupcakes and sweets from friends as well as other “fun food” at numerous parties when they can go back to school – it is what is fed at home that makes the biggest difference in your child’s attitude toward nutrition and that way they won’t be robbed of the learning experiences that come with eating “sometimes foods.”

When one has a child in hospital with cancer, the hospital becomes your home and your home becomes just somewhere to unload, reload, sleep, repeat.
With this in mind, a mother from Alaska who was struggling with a young son with cancer, came up with the following real-food recipes.
These recipes are designed to take up a half-hour before bed and then 10-20 minutes in the morning. Each of these is designed to make “too much” so that you have a well-rounded stash as the week progresses.
The idea is not perfection, but grace. You will not make all of the food your family eats for entire hospital stays. You will get tired. It will pass. Do your best and let go of the rest.
Here’s roughly what a hospital week looked like, cooking-wise:

  • Monday night – Make granola (Muesli). While it bakes, make a smoothie and freeze into smoothie pop moulds or plastic cups with lids. Thaw a whole chicken (just leave it in the sink overnight).
  • Tuesday morning – Start chicken to roast in a crock-pot (slow-cooker) while you are gone. Start cold brew coffee.
  • Tuesday night – Mix bread dough. Pull chicken meat from bones and save in a Ziploc bag. Start chicken broth from carcass left in crock-pot
  • Wednesday morning – Press cold brew coffee and store in jars. Bake bread. Jar broth, or just stick the whole thing in the fridge to jar tonight.
  • Wednesday night– Make and freeze more smoothies. Make soups

Repeat as necessary.
Now you can grab and go: bread, butter, cheese, chicken, smoothie pops, and soups. For the parent staying overnight, bring granola and jars of coffee (because…. coffee….)…. Just add some fruit and vegetables and you have well-rounded options for your hospital family meals!

Recipes

 

Granola (Muesli)

Mix in a large bowl:

  • 1/2 C almond butter
  • 1/2 C maple syrup
  • 4 Tablespoons butter or coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla

Add in:

  • 3 C old fashioned oats
  • 1 C sunflower seeds

Mix to coat. Spread the mixture out onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Bake at 180 C, stirring every 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on it or it will go from toasted to burned pretty quickly. Bake 10-15 minutes.
Once cooled, store in a jar or Ziploc bag. This travels well to the hospital. Put berries right into the jar with it the day you are bringing it along.
Grab some milk in the hospital cafeteria – you can also skip the berries and take a banana to slice into the cereal.
 

Cold Brew Coffee

If you have a plunger, use it here!

  • 1 part ground coffee
  • 3 parts water

Stir and let sit in the refrigerator 12-24 hours. Press or strain and store in jars – drink it black or with a splash of honey and cream/milk!
This is SO much tastier after a long night on a hospital couch than the lame-o drip coffee in the cafeteria.
 

Roast Chicken in a Slow-Cooker

  • 1 whole chicken (organic if you can)
  • Seasoning of choice

Place the chicken breast side up in your slow-cooker. Sprinkle with whatever seasoning you like, such as paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Cook on low for 7 hours. Pull the meat from the bones and store in a covered bowl or Ziploc bag. Remember to save the carcass for broth!
 

Milk Kefir

Kefir is a cultured, enzyme-rich food filled with friendly micro-organisms that help balance your inner ecosystem. It is a creamy, drinkable yoghurt style fermented milk that tastes something like buttermilk. It is believed that kefir was first developed in the Caucasus Mountains of western Russia. The shepherds there used to carry milk in leather pouches. Sometimes the milk would sit for several days and ferment. The fermentation gave it an effervescent taste that was cool and refreshing. They later found that kefir made a great natural medicine that was used to help digestive disorders, low energy and compromised immune function. The Caucasus peoples enjoyed longevity of over 100 years.
You can get starter cultures from various Health Shops in South Africa or:
Nationally:

  • Ronalda from Gauteng/ National – Kefir sent nationally by mail from. Water and milk kefir grains and kombucha. Contact Ronalda on 072 606 1091 or email rscleanest@gmail.com
  • Natural Green – Water kefir, milk kefir and kombucha supplier. Contact Nadia Swart on 084 489 0233 or email nbswart@gmail.com

Western Cape:

  • Sonja du Plessis – Supplies milk kefir and kombucha scobi’s. Melkbosstrand area Cape Town by Sonja du Plessis. Contact Sonja on 083 445 4690 or sonja@eject.co.za
  • Natural Nutrition in Hout Bay. We do not courier, collection from Hout Bay only. Email only: info@naturalnutrition.co.za

Once you have started your first batch, you use it to make all the rest of the jars for a long time.
Recipe

  • 8 C pasteurised whole milk
  • 1 packet milk kefir starter culture

Fill two 900 g jars with the milk and pour your starter culture (or 1/4 of old kefir) in, splitting evenly between the two.
Put the jars in a hot water bath in you sink and stir. Let the milk warm to 30 C, or until noticeably warmer than room temp.
Remove the jars from the water, wrap in a dish towel and set on your counter for anywhere from 4-12 hours.
The culture time will depend on your kitchen temp. Peek in on it around four hours. If it’s like a thick milk or runny yogurt, great. Stick it in the fridge, you’re done!
If you forgot it’s there and it looks like a chunk of cheese floating in whey…. Don’t sweat it. Stir it with a whisk, use it (it will be fizzy like soda, which is actually pretty fun) and culture for less time next time!
 

Chicken Stock

  • 1 chicken carcass
  • carrots, onions, celery
  • water

This is a recipe of victory, because you are using things you would normally throw away to make liquid gold.
After you’ve roasted a whole chicken in the crock-pot and devoured or stored away the meat, leave the bones and skin in the pot.
Add some carrot chunks, half an onion, some celery, or NOTHING if you are out of further ingredients.
Fill the crock-pot to the top with water, place the lid on, and cook on low overnight.
In the morning, strain out the chunks and pour your broth into jars.
You can always freeze a carcass until you have a convenient time.
 

Smoothies

These smoothies are nicely loaded with good stuff: Kefir for calcium, protein, and probiotics; Spinach for iron, calcium, and amazing vitamins; dates for fiber; pumpkin for vitamin A and fiber; Almond butter for vitamin E, calcium, and protein; Cherries for vitamins and antioxidants; Honey for energy.

Chocolate Almond Smoothie

  • 1 1/2 C kefir
  • 10 frozen banana chunks
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 T almond butter (or peanut butter)
  • 1 T honey (or 3 pitted dates)
  • 1/2 C spinach (or swiss chard) **Omit if ANC (measure of the number of neutrophils in the blood) is below 500

Blend until smooth. This can be used right away or frozen in jars or smoothie pop moulds.
 

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

  • 1 1/2 C kefir
  • 1/4 C organic canned pumpkin
  • 5-10 frozen banana chunks
  • A small squirt of honey (or 2 pitted dates)
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 C spinach (or swiss chard) **Omit if ANC (measure of the number of neutrophils in the blood) is below 500

Blend until smooth. This can be used right away or frozen in jars or smoothie pop moulds.
 

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

**Between the cherries and greens, don’t bother with this one at all if ANC (measure of the number of neutrophils in the blood) is below 500.

  • 1 1/2 C kefir
  • 1 C frozen organic cherries
  • 5 frozen banana chunks
  • A small squirt of honey (or 2 pitted dates)
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (or, skip the cocoa, add vanilla for cherry vanilla smoothie)
  • 1/2 C spinach (or swiss chard)

Blend until smooth. This can be used right away or frozen in jars or smoothie pop moulds.
 

Soups

 

Tomato Soup

  • 2 C chicken stock
  • 1 424 g can of organic tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 C heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat to just under a boil. Serve, refrigerate, or freeze.
 

Butternut Squash Soup

  • 2 C chicken stock
  • 1 425 g can organic butternut squash or 2 C roasted butternut squash (this is by far the better tasting option, but there’s not always time!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • salt to taste
  • 1/3 C whole milk

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat to a low boil. Cook for 5-10 minutes. If using roasted squash, blend until smooth. Serve, refrigerate, or freeze.
 

Any Vegetables Soup

The other two soups are fast for sure, but this one does it’s work while you sleep. Just pop everything into the slow cooker before bed and blend until smooth in the morning. What is great is that you can just toss in all the vegetable “remnants” that you don’t want wasted at the end of the grocery week!

  • 6 C chicken stock
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2-3 C vegetables, cut into 1-2″ chunks (potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, squash, carrots, celery, whatever!)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in your slow cooker and cook on low overnight (6-8 hours). In the morning, blend until smooth.
Add:

  • 1/3 C whole milk
  • 1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Stir in the milk and cheese (if added) until well combined. Serve or refrigerate (does not freeze very well).
This soup is whatever you make it… Whether you use all potatoes or a little of everything, it’s a warm and nutritious meal for someone who has no appetite or is too sore to chew. Also feeds the tired care-givers pretty fantastically.
 

Bread

Honey Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

(Makes 2 loaves or shape half the dough into 6 hamburger buns and STILL have a loaf of bread beside.)
Add to bowl in the following order:

  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (or one packet)
  • 2 C warm water (100-110 degrees)
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1/4 C honey
  • 3 C whole wheat flour
  • 2- 2 1/2 C white flour (start with 2 C, add in 1/4 C portions if dough is ridiculously sticky)

Knead like you’ve never kneaded before – you really want it kneaded well.
Oil a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough grow to twice it’s size, an hour at the very least… The longer it rests, the better it will be. If you want to let it sit overnight, pop it in the fridge.
Divide the dough in half for your two loaves. (At this point, shape your buns if that’s what you’re choosing to do, but do it BEFORE you squash all of the air bubbles out. Nobody likes flat buns).
If you are making sandwich bread, you want no bubbles.
Knead each half of dough and then use a rolling pin to get out any remaining air. Tightly roll the dough into a loaf and place it in your greased loaf pans. Oil the top of the loaves or buns and set them aside to grow to not quite double their size, about 45 minutes, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

  • Preheat your oven to 190 C
  • Bake sandwich bread for 30 minutes, buns for 17 minutes.
  • Let rest in the pans for 10-15 minutes before you pop the bread out on to a cooling rack.

Once the bread is completely cooled, you can freeze one loaf to have later in the week. Wrap it in plastic wrap first , then place in a Ziploc freezer bag. Get ALL of the air out before sealing. Air is the enemy when you are freezing homemade food!

Easy, No-Knead Bread

  • 1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 C white bread or all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 C warm water

Mix all of these in a glass bowl. Cover and let sit overnight.
The next morning, while your eyes are still adjusting to lights and your coffee is still brewing, scrape that dough into a buttered and floured deep cereal bowl (or something of close size).
Let it sit for 30 minutes, while you get out the dutch oven (or other covered baker) and heat it up in the oven at 240 C.
Carefully plop your dough into the dutch oven and replace the lid. Bake for 30 min.
Remove the bread and cool!
 
 

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