Monday, September 12, 2011

Family and Friends

Family and friends make every single thing better when you are dealing with cancer. They are a life-force, a bright light, hope, joy, support.

Friends and family can provide so much, and this is a topic I will touch on many times in this blog. They are like the ingredients in a soup. Each is completely different, but each contributes something fully unique.

There are a few obvious things family and friends can do to help when your loved one is dealing with cancer. Meals are a top priority.  It is especially great to have someone organizing the meals (this will likely fall you to, Caretaker.) Scheduling people for every-other night after surgery, for example, is better than every night--leftovers can get overwhelming.

Giving people suggestions as to what to make is also key.  Important things to note are:

-Your patient's current likes and dislikes. Sometimes chemo turns you off from certain foods.
-Is their mouth sensitive? Should the cook hold off on spices or even pepper?
-What does your patient already have in the freezer? If there are already 3 soups in there, ask people to do something else.
-What are you working on in terms of diet? If you are restricting meat and dairy, let them know.
-Remind them that small portions can sometimes be best.

There is a great website now that helps organize meals for those going through a difficult period. It is called Meal Train and it sends out a message to those on your list with date options, food suggestions, and more.

Driving to appointments or accompanying them to chemo is also critical, but this can be a personal experience, and your patient may want to reserve this one for family only.

My dear friends Rebecca and Liza once came to town for the weekend for what they called "The Sally Cook-a-thon," and they spent the weekend making about 5-6 meals for my mom that could be frozen for future enjoyment. My mom's sister comes to do Biography sessions, where the two of them read their childhood journals and work on personal biographies, bringing heaps of joy.  My friend Devon has mailed fresh coffee cake, when my mom was having coffee cake cravings, from Zingerman's, a great resource to know about when you just can't be close-by and deliver homemade food.  My friend Monisha has mailed teas galore, green teas, ginger teas, white teas.  Cousins and friends drop of delicious soups, again and again. People have been so wonderful. Their love and efforts not only make us feel rooted and loved, but their actions are so helpful during a difficult time, too.

I earlier compared the people in our lives to ingredients in a delicious soup, so I will include a recipe today for Green Soup with Sweet Potato and Sage, from a lovely cookbook which will inspire you, "Love Soup" (which also has dozens of non-soup recipes), by Anna Thomas. This is a nourishing, delicious, but gentle recipe that I really think almost any cancer patient would love. And, like almost all of the recipes I will post here, it is organic, vegan, and sugar-free. As one of our IIN teachers, raw-foodist David Wolfe says, "the highest quality, best ingredients, in your body, ALL the time!"

Green Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Sage

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
2-3 TBSP fresh sage, chopped
1 bunch kale
1 bunch swiss chard
8 cloves garlic
3 cups vegetable broth
2 onions
2 TBSP olive oil, plus more for serving

-Combine diced sweet potatoes with 3 1/2 cups water in a large stock pot. Add salt and sage, and bring to a boil. Cover, and simmer 10 minutes.
-Wash kale & chard, trim away tough stems, and chop coarsely. Add to soup, along with chopped garlic and vegetable broth. Simmer for 10 minutes.
-Meanwhile, chop onions and sauté with olive oil until soft & golden brown (about 20 min.) When they are ready, add them to soup. Let the soup cool slightly.
-Puree soup in blender in batches and return to a clean pot.
-To serve, drizzle a thread of fruity green olive oil on top of each steaming bowl. It wakes up the flavors of the soup and makes them sing!

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