Comfort food for the worst of times from the re-released 'Living with Cancer Cookbook'

Detroit Free PressOctober 13, 2011 

Many of us know someone who has faced breast cancer. For me, it was my mother, Mary Selasky, who died in 1984 at the age of 47. It began as breast cancer and spread in its nasty way.

So I can relate to Nancy G. Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Brinker's sister, Susan G. Komen, was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was in her early 30s. She was 36 when she died in 1980, three years after being diagnosed.

A message from Brinker is included in the recently re-released Betty Crocker Living With Cancer Cookbook (Wiley, $19.99). It is called the Pink Together edition, part of a campaign started by General Mills.

When her sister was diagnosed, Brinker says, there was limited information about the disease. Brinker promised her sister that she would try to bring change as well as hope for a cure.

Today, one in eight American women will develop breast cancer. But now there are several foundations like the one Brinker established, support groups, choices in treatments, Web sites and even cookbooks dedicated to the cause.

The first 32 pages of the Cancer Cookbook, originally published in 2002, are dedicated to breast cancer awareness.

The cookbook has 150 recipes geared toward those undergoing cancer treatments, their caregivers and families. The first chapter, "Bring Back the Joy of Eating," offers advice for eating a balanced diet, foods for special diets, nutritional advice, and cooking and shopping tips. Recipes are labeled according to how they might help with the four common side effects of cancer treatment: nausea, mouth sores, diarrhea and constipation.

Recipe chapters include coping with side effects, energy-boosting breakfasts, fatigue-fighting snacks, 20-minute main dishes and make-ahead meals.

This recipe from the book is easy and tasty comfort food. It is a great source of essential minerals, including magnesium, a deficiency of which can lead to weakness, lethargy and nausea.

This is a great comfort food recipe that is easily put together. The original recipe calls for curry powder, which adds a really distinct flavor.

The ultimate chicken casserole

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 pounds chicken breast tenders (not breaded)

2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen broccoli spears, thawed and drained

1 can (8 ounces) sliced water chestnuts, drained

1 can (10¾ ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup

½ cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

1 teaspoon lemon juice

½ cup milk

½ teaspoon curry powder, if desired

½ cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese (2 ounces)

1⁄3 to ½ cup dry bread crumbs

1 can (2.8 ounces) french-fried onions

¼ cup slivered or sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken tenders, working in batches if necessary, and cook chicken 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is lightly browned and no longer pink in center.

In an ungreased 13-by-9-inch baking dish, layer broccoli, water chestnuts and browned chicken.

In a mixing bowl, combine soup, mayonnaise, lemon juice, milk and curry powder. Pour mixture over chicken and broccoli. Sprinkle with cheese, bread crumbs, onions and almonds. Cover and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake about 15 minutes longer, or until broccoli is tender.

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