30/01/2017 12:29 GMT | Updated 31/01/2018 05:12 GMT

Chemo Cookery Club - January 2017 - It's Fitness Month

Chemo Cookery Club - January 2017 - it's fitness month

By Penny Ericson

I've just read a letter by fellow Huffington Post blogger, Kimberley Burbidge entitled, A letter to my body on the eve of chemotherapy. Kimberley's narrative brought back so many memories, (most of them all to close to the surface) of when my husband Simon's first Hickman line was installed into his chest and the trials and tribulations of peripheral neuropathy, loss of feeling in extremities, as a result of extended treatment. I loved Kimberley's positive outlook and the simple way she made a contract with her body that if it tried its best she would as well. I encourage anyone to read her letter and take a big dose of inspiration from her - how can I put it - life force.

In her letter, Kimberley promised her body that throughout treatment and the unknown consequences she would take heed of 'chemo warriors' experiences' (my words) and do everything she could to nourish her body to give it every chance of coping with what was to come. What a great attitude!

January is the month of retribution for our holiday indulgence. We make promises about living better, treating our bodies better - you name it we promise it. We're determined to do everything better! Every magazine rack and newspaper is filled with 'special diet this and special diet that'. I say bollocks.

If you need to turn the page on a past lifestyle there's no time like the present but statistics show that trends are all too often unsustainable so make sure you're reading the right book before you turn the page.

What on earth does all this have to do with wellness and cancer treatment? EVERYTHING.

Chemo Cookery Club is about everyday food and its nutritional value - not in special diets. The World Cancer Research Fund and The American Institute for Cancer Research are the references we use for evidence-based information. These two worthy organisations scientifically gather and disseminate research advances from around the world.

The evidence is clear. A healthy diet and exercise are paramount to increasing your chances of maintaining strength and energy during treatment and ultimately to survival - not a fad diet in sight! AND - the evidence suggests that radically changing your diet when going into treatment is not likely to be the best strategy unless your medical team has advised you otherwise.

So, in this meandering blog I need to return to Kimberley and Simon. Simon's Hickman line was a blessing. The chemo drugs could be administered quickly. He had 3 of them in all. We learned to trust the technology. After 3 tours of being blasted with heavy duty chemo his peripheral neuropathy is permanent. We've learned to watch things and compensate - it's a small price to pay for having my darling husband still in the here and now.

Kimberley's promise to her body to nourish it under any circumstance is SO, SO, SO right!

Nourishment doesn't mean 'special diet'. This isn't tabloid health - its survival. Eat what you will and as often as you can. Seek out the guidance of 'Registered Cancer Dieticans' - (these are cancer specific medical professionals not simply nutritionists or general dietitians. Find ways to bring little bits of nutrition into your day and if you fancy, embrace another message from Kimberley's letter - 'Bring on the Champagne'.

Live life to the full. Here are a few recipes from Chemo Cookery Club that can help start the day off right.

Tomato & orange refresher

Serves 4 (very easy to prepare)

Does this sound a bit odd? It might but it's a delicious and nutritional winner.



4 tomatoes beefsteak

3 oranges

a few ice cubes

a sprig of mint for garnish

Slice the tomatoes and oranges then squeeze using a regular citrus press (juicer). Pass through a sieve. That's it. Serve on ice.

If you have an ice crusher this makes a great granita that's wonderfully soothing for a dry mouth or throat. Crushed ice by the bag is available from most supermarkets.

Each portion provides 3g protein and 85kcals.

Zippy mint cooler

Serves 4 (very easy to prepare)

I don't usually add the honey but for those with a sweeter palate it's just the ticket.



1 small bunch of fresh mint 300 ml water

1 slice of pineapple, skin & eyes removed

100 ml pineapple juice 6-8 ice cubes

Pour boiling water over the mint leaves and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes then stir in honey if using. Strain the mint infusion into a blender and add the fresh pineapple and juice. Blend until smooth. At this point either add the ice cubes to make a smoothie or pour over crushed ice.

Each portion provides 1g protein and 30kcals.

Fruit cubes & yoghurt

Serves 4 (very easy to prepare)

This is simply a delicious cooler and a great source of vitamin C.



500 ml fruit juice or fruit purée

a pinch of sugar (if preparing purée)

125 g yoghurt

125 ml water

sprigs of fresh mint for garnish

Pour the juices into ice cube trays and freeze. For the purées, place various fruits into a blender with a pinch of sugar and mix until smooth. Pass through a sieve, pour into ice cube trays and freeze.

When ready to serve fill a glass with fruit cubes. Mix the yoghurt and water in a blender until frothy and pour over the cubes.

Each portion provides 8g protein and 210kcals.

100 g yoghurt

225 g mixed apple & cranberry juice

1 slice pineapple, skin & eyes removed

225 g frozen mixed berries 100g strawberries

Put everything into a blender and mix until smooth. If you want a creamier smoothie use more yoghurt and if you want to adjust the thickness use ice.

This recipe provides 9g protein and 320kcals.

Berry breakfast

Serves 2 full 250 ml portions or 4 light 12 0ml portions (very easy to prepare)

This is a great way to start the day. Pre-mixed frozen fruit is readily available.



100 g yoghurt

225 g mixed apple & cranberry juice

1 slice pineapple, skin & eyes removed

225 g frozen mixed berries

100 g strawberries

Put everything into a blender and mix until smooth. If you want a creamier smoothie use more yoghurt and if you want to adjust the thickness use ice.

This recipe provides 9g protein and 320kcals.

Penny, Barbara and the rest of the team will be publishing their new breast cancer edition Cups & Sauces in February 2017 and his will feature exercise and hair & skincare for the first time.