Nourishing Vegetarian Delights for Cancer Patients

Contributed by: Gerard Wong

Discover plant-based recipes that are both nourishing and tasty for cancer patients.

Cannellini Mushroom Potage, Chickpea Pulao and Barley Bean Parfait may not be staples in every Asian home kitchen. Yet, these vegetarian dishes are not only easy to prepare and tasty, but also offer flexibility in ingredient choice.

“Their nutritional value makes them particularly suitable for cancer patients,” says Mr Gerard Wong, Principal Dietitian, Parkway Cancer Centre (PCC). He notes the increasing adoption of vegetarian diets among cancer patients for enhancing general well-being and health. Additional motivations for embracing plan-based meals include growing concerns about animal welfare and environmental impacts.

NUTRITIONALLY COMPLETE PLANT-BASED EATING

Transitioning to a plant-centric diet introduces a variety of health benefits. However, most plant proteins are 'incomplete,' lacking the full spectrum of essential amino acids present in 'complete' animal proteins, which are crucial for muscle repair and building.

PCC and Temasek Polytechnic's School of Food, Nutrition and Culinary Science teamed up to address this unique challenge of creating protein-complete vegetarian recipes. A key stipulation for the project was the exclusion of plant-based meat substitutes and soy products, which compelled the use of high-protein grains and legumes to achieve a richer protein profile.

After extensive research and rigorous experimentation, the students formulated 15 unique plant-protein recipes, including Cannellini Mushroom Potage, Chickpea Pulao and Barley Bean Parfait.

CULINARY INNOVATIONS FOR HEALTH

The smooth, creamy Cannellini Mushroom Potage is a perfect blend of cannellini beans — commonly known as kidney beans — mushrooms and cauliflower, creating a rich and comforting soup. This recipe's versatility shines through its adaptability: it can incorporate a variety of vegetables to suit different tastes and dietary needs; the texture can be adjusted from hearty and thick to light and delicate; and the flavour can be easily enhanced with various herbs. Whether using canned or dried beans — the latter should be soaked overnight to ensure softness and ease of digestion — the potage demonstrates its flexibility, making it an exemplary showcase of how simple adjustments can cater to a wide range of preferences.

The Chickpea Pulao is an aromatic, Indian-inspired dish combining chickpeas, carrots, French beans and basmati rice, all infused with the warmth of spices like cumin, cloves and cardamom. This one-dish wonder tantalises the palate with its robust flavours as well as inspires culinary creativity, encouraging home cooks to experiment with a variety of spices and vegetables to tailor the dish to their personal tastes.

The Barley Bean Parfait is a chilled dessert that showcases the unique thickening properties of chia seeds, which enhance the texture of the red bean topping while significantly boosting the dish's protein content.

These culinary creations go beyond mere recipes; they represent a leap towards embracing a healthful lifestyle that is as delicious as it is nutritious. “By incorporating plant-based dishes into your diet, you not only cater to the dietary needs of cancer patients but also contribute to overall family health and environmental sustainability,” says Mr Wong.

POSTED IN Nutrition
PUBLISHED 01 JULY 2024