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Favorite Kitchen Tools From Julie Lanford

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Published on March 10, 2020

Key Takeaways

  • Find a cookbook that works with your treatments and taste changes. Julie recommends Eating Well Through Cancer, The Cancer Fighting Kitchen and Betty Crocker Living With Cancer Cookbook.
  • If cookbooks aren’t for you, apply healthy eating tips to your diet.
  • Use kitchen tools like an ice cube tray, Crock-Pot, Instant Pot and NutriBullet to help with making healthy snacks and meals.

Do you or a loved one need help knowing what to eat after a cancer diagnosis?  Cancer dietitian Julie Lanford, from, shares some of her favorite cookbooks, recipes and tools that can help you in the kitchen. Tune in to learn more about her recommendations for eating well with cancer.


Transcript | Favorite Kitchen Tools From Julie Lanford

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Julie Lanford:

Hey, everyone.  This is Julie, the cancer dietitian over here on Patient Power's Facebook page.  And today I'm going to be talking about my favorite resources and cooking tools and some tips. 

So if you're not familiar with me, I am a registered dietician and a board‑certified specialist in oncology nutrition, and I write  And I come over here to Patient Power's page about once a month to talk about a variety of different things, which is always fun.  And we love to get your feedback and your questions, so go ahead and put those in the comments so that we can respond to those and get ideas on what other topics you might want. 

So today we're going to cover some of my favorite cookbooks for people during and after treatments and also cooking tools.  So these are things that are useful for patients during treatment or caregivers who are trying to figure out what to feed their loved ones during treatment.  But also a lot of my focus is around living healthy after a diagnosis and after active treatments, so we'll be talking about healthy eating in general as well. 

So here is one of my very favorite cookbooks especially for those during treatments.  It's called Eating Well Through Cancer by Holly Clegg, and she put together some really amazing recipes, and the cookbook is separated by side effect section.  So they have a section for day of chemo, and then you can look at the recipes based on any side effects that you might be having like taste changes, GI side effects or things like that.  And then at the back they also have sections that are just good for healthy in general and cancer survivorship.  So I really love this.  I use this a lot with my cooking workshops.  We'll go through them, I give this to some of my clients, and then use some of the recipes as well. 

So we go through a lot of these cookbooks.  I work for a nonprofit in North Carolina so I do real‑life programs as well as those online.  So we're going to come back to this in a minute to talk about some of my favorite cooking tools. 

Another cookbook that people really love during treatment is called The Cancer Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz.  It's very beautiful.  It has amazing—well, I picked the wrong page to show amazing pictures, but really great photographs of the recipes, lots of great ideas.  She also has a strategy and some information in here about how to manage taste changes.  So she is a chef and has done a lot with studying how taste changes affect people during cancer treatment and what you can do with food to counteract those taste changes.  So she has a really great strategy for that that I know a lot of dietitians use.  

And then the other thing about this cookbook, I think it's very useful for people who like to be in the kitchen, caregivers who really enjoy making great food or cancer patients who like to be in the kitchen.  The downside to that is that they—I find them a little bit more complicated, the recipes are.  And some of the ingredient lists can be a little bit long and also require you to get ingredients that maybe you don't already have in your kitchen, versus Holly Clegg's cookbook which is very practical.  And so if you're somebody who is kind of a foodie, likes to be in the kitchen and make amazing food this will be the cookbook for you.  If you're somebody who is practical and wants to minimize the time in the kitchen, just get some healthy eating tips that don't take forever then this will be your cookbook.  Or some people kind of fuse between them both. 

So then another one that I've had clients really like is the Betty Crocker Living With Cancer Cookbook, also has sections based on side effects with recipes tips.  People really love this.  This is the pink version for October of course but, FYI, I found out Betty Crocker was not a real person, so that was news to me after I don't know how many years I thought she was a real person. 

Then this one came out recently, maybe a year or so ago.  The American Cancer Society put it together with Barbara Grant and Jeanne Besser.  Barbara Grant is actually an oncology certified physician, so of course I like that.  Sections based on side effects.  Again, lots of healthy, nourishing and nutritious recipes in there, and it looks beautiful as well. 

And then the other book that I brought today is not necessarily a cookbook, but for people who have gone through treatment or are maybe looking at eating healthy, trying to maintain a healthy weight, this is a book that I recommend.  And the reason that I recommend this one is that it is very much about mindful eating, paying attention to your body's hunger and fullness cues, which is really what we want to do it if we're talking about maintaining a healthy weight. 

I'm not somebody who weighs my clients in terms of managing weight after a diagnosis, and I bring in a dietitian to do a mindful eating program for cancer survivors, and this is the book that we always recommend.  So for anybody who maybe spent some time over their lifetime going on and off of diets and feeling like that's probably not the right answer, I think this book gives a great guide to how you can start listening more to your body's cues for hunger and figure out what is a good balance for you.  So that's a book that I would recommend.  

Maybe the population of people that it wouldn't be appropriate for is somebody during treatment who—you don't have much of an appetite, you're going to need to eat anyway.  So this is really more for people who aren't having side effects from treatment and are looking to eat healthy after treatment is over.  All right. 

So now I'm going to move into my favorite cooking tool section.  So I mentioned that one of the recipes that I really like to use out of the Betty Crocker Eating Well With Cancer Cookbook is called energy bites.  So it's on page 120, I have that memorized.  But you can also look up no‑bake energy bites on the Internet and find a recipe for that.  There are different versions, and I would generally say that they're all pretty much equally nutritious.  

And so what you do with no‑bakes, so it has oats and honey and peanut butter and flaxseed and things like that.  You put them all together in a bowl, you stir them up and then you put them into little balls.  And when I would make them I hated getting them out of the bowl, forming the ball, getting sticky all over my fingers, having to wash am my fingers, so I can make the next one.  It was just a process that made me frustrated, and I didn't want to have anything to do with it.  So I figured out a way to do it where I don't have to get my fingers dirty, and it's actually really quick and easy. 

And the first thing is to use a scoop, so it's also fun to use.  You scoop out your little energy bites.  And then I also bought these ice cube trays, because you can scoop them, they're just the perfect size for the energy bites.  You scoop them right into the ice cube tray, put the lid on.  I think it comes in a pack of three or four, and then you stick them in the freezer.  You can leave them in the ice cube tray, or after 30 minutes you take them out of the freezer and pop them into a ziplock bag or some kind of freezer‑safe container.  And they're great things to have around when you just need a snack, something to kind of give you a little bit of energy. 

They're also great—energy bites are good things to ask caregivers to make for you.  So when you have some of your friends who are saying, oh, how can I help, you give them the recipe, you tell them, hey, here's something that I want to have in my freezer at all times, never let it get low.  It gives them something to do.  So I've done this in cooking classes more than once at this point. 

Another one of my favorite cooking tools, this is a salad dressing maker.  The thing that I like the best is that it has dressing recipes on the outside of it.  So you never have to pull a recipe out of the box.  You have it right here on the container, and then have a little plunger to help stir it up.  I got this one from the PaperChef.  I think you can find some online, but I do know that the dressing recipes are delicious.  So that's something that I always keep around.  You can serve it out of here, put it in your fridge.  It's really handy. 

A Crock-Pot over here is always my favorite as well.  You can get loved ones, if they want to help, they can prepack Crock-Pot meals where you can keep them in the freezer and then just put them in the Crock-Pot one day.  So if they want to help you eat healthy, you can get some Crock-Pot recipes that would work.  But I love this because you throw it in there, and then you come back later and it's done.  So that is something that I recommend.  And I have a Crock-Pot black bean chill I recipe on my website that I always use.  

The other thing that I have here is a smoothie maker, a blender.  So this one I use for work all the time.  It's the NutriBullet.  And one of my favorite smoothies, I did—actually the Patient Power video I did last month we did my very favorite smoothie recipe, and I used this exact blender.  So this is one, I like it because it's a good size for one or two people.  If you have a larger family at home I have a Vitamix at home which is, you know, the top end, and I to use it, but you don't have to have one as fancy as that.  I think this one is very practical, and you can drink it right out of here and then not have to clean a dish. 

And then over here I have an Instant Pot, which does look very scary.  And I will say that when I bought it I was thinking, am I really going to use this?  But I do use it frequently.  And it comes in multiple sizes.  So this is really the largest size, so if you're looking at it, you're thinking no way do I need that, you can get a smaller size.  It's a pressure cooker, but it has all these preset times on it so that you don't have to worry about it exploding, which is—the old‑school pressure cookers, you had to really maintain the right temperature.  They pretty much take care of themselves.  They also double as a Crock-Pot, so you don't have to keep a Crock-Pot and an Instant Pot.  You can just have the Instant Pot. 

Things that I have done in the Instant Pot that I don't always do in a Crock-Pot, you can cook—like we had a group the other week and I made sweet potato bars.  I cooked the sweet potatoes in like 30 minutes in the Instant Pot.  I can do boiled eggs in the Instant Pot.  You can do a whole chicken in an Instant Pot really quickly, whereas with a Crock-Pot it's going to take all day.  So it takes planning ahead.  The Instant Pot is also really great for making soups.  I use it as a rice cooker.  So it is an appliance that I use regularly.  

And some people are crazy about their Instant Pots.  I think it depends on what type of cook or lifestyle that you have.  If you're somebody who plans ahead the Crock-Pot is going to be fine.  If you're somebody who wants to pull chicken out of the freezer and be able to eat it an hour later then the Instant Pot is really going to be what helps you. 

So the other tips that I have around foods, kind of quick.  Energy snacks is—first of all I always recommend that you keep things like trail mix, nuts around that you can snack on easily.  I mentioned the energy bites.  I have a few of my favorite recipes.  I mentioned the chili.  And when you cook things in a Crock-Pot you can make a lot at once and then freeze some of it into individual portions.  That can be really beneficial to just pull out and microwave when you don't feel like cooking.  

I have a kale salad recipe that's one of my very, very favorites to do recipe demonstrations for.  So that is—and there's a salad dressing that goes with it.  I have made chocolate pudding with a blender and make it with tofu, which gives you a higher protein kind of dessert or snack.  So if you're somebody that maybe does like to snack on pudding during the day, if you can make it with tofu, it will give you more protein, and it's actually pretty easy to make.  And there's no cooking involved, whereas regular pudding you have to heat it up and do the whole process. 

So those are things that I usually recommend.  Other quick snacks, things like whole grain crackers, cheese.  You can have tuna, cans of tuna or other types of meat around that are just really easy that you don't have to actually cook that you can just put together for a snack. 

So that's all the time that I have for today.  I've got lots of tips and things on my website, which is, and I also have several recipes over on Patient Power's site.  I have a recipe—it's coming into summer here in North Carolina, and in my area our people get crazy about tomatoes because tomatoes are coming into season.  So I have a recipe on Patient Power's website for the easiest tomato salad ever, so you'll have to check that out. 

And if you've got questions or suggestions on other nutrition topics that we should cover over here, put that in the comments or send an email and let us know.  Thanks so much for joining us today, and we'll see you next time. 

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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