Stay Strong During Cancer Treatment With a Rainbow of Foods

Chef Rachel Albert shares a favorite recipe that helps keep her energy high during breast cancer treatment.

Health Monitor Staff
More Sharing +

For more than 25 years, Chef Rachel has eaten a diet featuring a rainbow of vegetables—“greens” like kale and broccoli, “reds” like beets and “oranges” like sweet potatoes. A natural foods chef, she’s written cookbooks (the award-winning The Garden of Eating), and taught cooking classes.

And food, she says, still helps her now, as she makes her way through treatment, including chemo, to battle breast cancer. “My diet didn’t change much with my diagnosis in October 2011,” says the Phoenix chef, whose books and DVDs are available at “My oncologist says the results of my treatment have exceeded his expectations. My tumors have shrunk tremendously.”

Of course, there have been taste changes and a few other minor complaints along the way. Usually a fan of goat cheese, Rachel says, “For at least a month, it’s tasted too…goaty.” Spicy foods and leftovers both have lost their appeal. But a daily swish or two with aloe vera juice has helped soothe an irritated mouth so she’s been able to eat. And some extra nuts or nut butters helped her regain the few pounds she’d lost when she began chemotherapy. “The first month of chemo, I did have mild nausea, but I didn’t need meds for that every day. And
my appetite picked up over time.”

In treatment or not, Rachel thrives on dishes like this fruity dessert, sure to become one of your favorites.

Apple Apricot Compote
Serves 8


⅓ to ½ cup unsulphured, unsweetened dried (preferably Turkish) apricots
⅓ to ½ cup raisins
3 to 3½ lbs tart-sweet apples (6 large or 8 medium, use 1 to 3 varieties, such as: Gala, Fuji, Pink Lady, Cameo, Ginger Gold, Melrose or Cortland)
1 tsp ground cinnamon or apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice
½ cup filtered water
1 Tbsp arrowroot starch dissolved in 3 Tbsp cold water, optional
⅛ to ¼ tsp pure stevia extract powder, optional
Chopped nuts, optional

Chop or cut dried apricots into ¼- to ½-inch pieces with kitchen shears or a knife. Add them to a 3- to 4-quart pot with the raisins. Wash and core the apples. Peel if waxed. Halve, quarter, then cut each apple into ¼-inch to ½-inch-thick slices. Layer over dried fruit and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Add the water. Cover, and bring to boil without stirring. Reduce heat. Simmer until tender and saucy, 20 to 25 minutes. Uncover and stir gently. If much liquid remains, remove lid and cook away the juices or add dissolved arrowroot; simmer and stir until thick. For a sweeter taste, add honey 1 Tbsp at a time. Repeat as needed.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Top with chopped, toasted nuts, if desired.

Nutrition facts (per serving): calories 139, carbohydrates 32 g (5 g fiber), fat 1 g, calcium 20 mg, sodium 1 mg

Reprinted with permission from The Garden of Eating: A Produce-Dominated Diet & Cookbook by Rachel Albert. Copyright © 2004, Planetary Press, Phoenix, AZ. Available at Rachel’s site,

May 2013