Mesothelioma Diet:
Main Dish & Side Dish Recipes


Quesadilla with Tuna

Many patients find that their tastes for certain foods change during mesothelioma treatment. Others experience symptoms that make strong flavors repulsive. This recipe is good for both patients, as the tuna has a much milder flavor than many other fishes yet still packs a powerful punch of protein.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small can of tuna, drained
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • ½ tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp (or more) finely chopped red onion
  • 1 tbsp pickle relish
  • 3 tortillas
  • ¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese or the cheese of your choice

Once the tuna is drained, put it into a bowl and use a fork to break it up until it is “flaked”. Add the next four ingredients and mix well.

Place a tortilla on a microwave-safe plate, and spread half of the tortilla with about 1/3 of the tuna mixture. Sprinkle about ¼ cup of cheese on the other half of the tortilla. Fold the tuna half over the cheese half and microwave for about 40 seconds (until cheese is melted).

Repeat the steps above with the other two tortillas and enjoy.


Delicious Macaroni and Cheese

Chemotherapy and radiation can often leave a cancer patient with a sore mouth and nausea that make it difficult to eat and get the proper nutrition. This is the ultimate comfort food—a nearly foolproof way to pique the appetite. Plus, the softness of this dish makes it easy for patients with mouth sores to eat. This dish cooks very quickly because the pasta actually cooks in the sauce, so cooks can dedicate more time to caring for their loved one and less time in the kitchen.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup regular cottage cheese (not low-fat)
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (we also like cracker crumbs)
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ pound uncooked macaroni

Heat the oven to 375 degrees and coat an 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray. Combine milk, cottage cheese, dry mustard, and salt and pepper in a blender. Blend until smooth. In a bowl, combine 1 cup cheddar cheese, bread crumbs, and Parmesan cheese. In another bowl, combine remaining cheddar, milk mixture, and pasta. Pour into pan and cover with foil.

Bake 30 minutes. Stir gently and top with cheese and breadcrumb mixture.

Uncover and bake for 20 more minutes, or until just set. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

*This recipe has been adapted from the American Cancer Society.


Grilled Cheese with Apple and Brie

Comfort foods are always a good bet when a patient in mesothelioma treatment has trouble eating or is losing too much weight. This new twist on an old favorite may be appealing to patients whose tastes have changed or who need a little something special to help spark their appetites. If a doctor or nutritionist has advised that the patient avoid soft cheese, cheddar makes a tasty substitution.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ ounces of Brie cheese at room temperature
  • 2 slices raisin bread (may substitute cinnamon bread or any other soft bread)
  • 2 or 3 thin slices peeled apple (we like the tartness of Granny Smith)
  • 1 tsp softened butter

Spread one side of each piece of bread with the softened Brie. Top one slice with apple, then complete the sandwich by adding the other piece of bread, cheese side down. Spread the outsides of the sandwich with butter. Cook over medium heat until cheese begins to melt and the bottom is golden brown. Flip and cook until cheese is completely melted and the other side is golden brown.

*This recipe has been adapted from the American Cancer Society.


Single-Serving Shepherd's Pie

These delicious little pies address a number of symptoms patients in mesothelioma treatment experience, including sore mouth, diarrhea, and weight loss (there are roughly 380 calories in each pie). In many cases, a smaller dish seems less daunting to cancer patients who may have trouble eating larger meals. While these pies are small, they are little meals unto themselves, with meat, vegetables, and potatoes all in one dish. You can make a batch of these pies and keep some in the fridge for later use, or even freeze individual pies for a quick meal in the future. To save time, try using leftover mashed potatoes or instant mashed potatoes. The recipe calls for ramekins, but really any small, oven-safe dish (even teacups) will work well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of peeled potatoes, cut into 2-inch pieces (the skin of potatoes can cause diarrhea)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2-4 tbsp milk
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots (while peas can aggravate diarrhea, this small amount should be fine)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring the potatoes to boil in a large saucepan. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer until tender, then drain and return to pan. Mash potatoes with butter, 2 tablespoons milk, and salt to taste until creamy. Add more milk if needed.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and then add the oil. Cook the ground beef and onion until meat is cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain meat. Add ketchup, Worchestershire, and vegetables to meat mixture.

Divide the meat mixture between 4 small ramekins. Spread about ½ cup of potatoes over meat mixture. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, or until the tops are golden.

*This recipe has been adapted from the American Cancer Society.


Healthy and Delicious Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti sauce is rich in lycopene, a nutrient that is believed to help fight cancer like mesothelioma. This is a new twist on a classic favorite, with the addition of your favorite vegetables to add a healthy punch. Use as traditional spaghetti sauce or work into your favorite lasagna recipe for a hearty meal that anybody is sure to enjoy. Serve with whole wheat pasta for an even healthier meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • ¾ lb ground beef
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 – 16 oz. can of tomatoes
  • 1 – 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano leaf
  • 1 cup vegetables. We like broccoli, any color of bell pepper, zucchini, and carrots.

Heat oil and sauté the onions and garlic 3-5 minutes. Add vegetables and sauté a few more minutes. Add the meat, cook until no longer pink. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 1 hour.


Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

For a delicious and healthy meal for your mesothelioma patient, combine this chili with some cornbread and a salad. The beans add lots of protein and the spices may help tempt the appetite of a patient who is having difficulty maintaining a healthy weight.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dry black beans
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions

Wash beans and soak in 4-6 cups water overnight. Pour off water and fill pot with 6 cups fresh water. Add cilantro and simmer about 2 hours or until beans are tender.

Toast cumin, oregano, paprika, and cayenne in a dry skillet.

In a large skillet, cook onion in ½ cup water for 2 minutes. Add bell pepper, garlic, and toasted spices and cook until onion is soft. Add to cooked beans with tomatoes. Simmer 30 minutes.

To serve, garnish with chopped green onions.


Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken

Who doesn’t love chicken nuggets? This is a healthier twist on an American favorite because these nuggets are “fried” in the oven, not in oil. When a person is in cancer treatment and finds it difficult to eat, sometimes smaller portions are less intimidating. These nuggets are little bites packed with protein—sure to spark the appetite of anybody in the house.

Ingredients:

  • 10 Melba toasts
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into “nuggets”

Heat oven to 400 degrees and place a cooling rack on a rimmed baking sheet. In a food processor, pulse the toast until the pieces are roughly 1/8 in. in size—don’t over process. Add oil and pulse briefly until crumbs are just moistened. Transfer crumbs to a plate. Beat egg, then add mustard, oregano, salt, and garlic powder, beating till combined. Dip chicken in egg mixture, then in crumbs. Place on rack. Bake 15 minutes or until cooked through.


Green Beans with Onion and Bacon

When a person is undergoing mesothelioma treatment, it is very important that he or she gets enough calories and nutrients to stay strong for the fight. Sometimes it is difficult to eat, though, as cancer treatments often affect a person’s appetite. This is a little twist on green beans that may entice—because who doesn’t love a little bacon?

Ingredients:

  • 1 large red onion, cut into ½ inch strips
  • ½ tsp olive oil
  • 2 pounds fresh, trimmed green beans
  • ½ tsp garlic salt
  • 4 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp bacon bits

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil. Add onion and cook until caramelized—about 25 minutes. Set aside.

Steam green beans roughly 10 minutes, until crisp-tender. Mix green beans and garlic salt in pan with onions. Drizzle with vinegar and garnish with bacon bits. Serve warm or cold.


Protein-Rich Potato Salad

This old favorite can be eaten as a compliment to a meal, and it’s also good just by itself. The eggs add a nice dose of protein. If this dish is for a patient on a soft diet, leave out the onion, celery, and green pepper. To change it up a bit, try adding your favorite spices to this salad.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c. plain yogurt
  • 1/3 c. mayonnaise
  • ¼ tsp. onion, finely minced
  • Parsley to taste, finely chopped
  • ¼ c/ chopped celery, green pepper, or both
  • 2 potatoes, cooked and diced
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, diced
  • Salt to taste

Blend yogurt, mayo, and chopped vegetables, then stir in potatoes and remaining ingredients. For the best flavor, cover this dish and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the ingredients to work together.


Sweet Potato Oven Fries

When a patient is in treatment for mesothelioma, such as chemotherapy or radiation, it can be difficult for them to find any food appetizing. These delicious sweet potato wedges are sure to please, and they are full of Vitamin A to add a nutritional bonus.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut lengthwise into ¾ inch wedges
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Dash cayenne pepper (optional)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray nonstick baking dish with cooking spray. Put potato wedges in a bowl. Lightly spray with cooking spray and coat with spices. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on the baking dish. Bake 20 minutes. Turn and bake 20 more minutes.


Pizza with Eggplant

Sometimes, a light meal appeals more to a patient in mesothelioma treatment than a feast. This dish is a delicious light supper, or it can be cut into smaller pieces to serve as an appetizer. Loaded with cancer fighting-vegetables, this pizza is a real crowd-pleaser.

Ingredients:

  • ½ package frozen bread dough, thawed
  • ¼ tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium eggplant. Slice crosswise, cut into ½ inch slices, and grill till brown.
  • 8 Roma tomatoes sliced crosswise into ½ inch slices
  • ½ cup artichoke hearts
  • 1 tbsp chopped black olives
  • ¼ tsp garlic salt
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Press bread dough to form pizza crust on pizza pan or cookie sheet. Rub lightly with olive oil, top with eggplant, tomatoes, artichokes, and olives. Sprinkle pizza with garlic salt, basil, and cheeses. Bake 15-20 minutes, till crust is lightly browned.


Chicken Salad with Curry

This is an interesting twist on an old favorite, and the novelty of the curry may help to pique the appetite of a patient who is having trouble becoming interested in food due to mesothelioma treatment. The coconut and mandarin oranges also add an exotic flair.

Ingredients:

  • 1 thinly sliced onion
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tsp curry powder, divided
  • ¼ tsp garlic salt
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 (15 oz.) can of mandarin oranges, drained
  • 4 finely chopped scallions
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 2 tbsp sweetened, flaked coconut, divided
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 24 whole-wheat crackers

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. At the bottom of a medium baking dish, scatter onion slices. Place chicken over onions and sprinkle with curry and garlic salt. Pour juice over the chicken and spices. Bake 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Cool, then cut into bite-sized pieces. Mix chicken, oranges, scallions, raisins, and half of coconut. Stir in mayo. Transfer to serving bowl and garnish with the rest of the coconut. Serve with crackers.


Penne with Garlic Lemon and Broccoli

If a patient is having trouble eating during cancer treatment, it’s a good idea to try a new twist on an old favorite. Most everybody loves pasta, and this recipe is chock full of healthy broccoli and garlic, proven cancer-fighters.

Ingredients:

  • ½ pound penne pasta
  • 5 cups broccoli florets (about 1 bag frozen)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper to taste

Prepare penne according to package directions, adding broccoli two to three minutes before pasta is finished. Drain pasta and broccoli. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add oil and sauté garlic until beginning to color, just 1 or 2 minutes. Add broth to garlic, boiling for 3-5 minutes or until reduced by half. Add pasta, broccoli, and lemon zest, coating with sauce. Season as desired and top with cheese for serving.

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with
Mesothelioma?

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