The Crushing Cancer Kitchen: Interview with Dana

Hi Everybody!

A little while back, I was perusing Instagram, trying to turn off my brain, and came across a really wonderful account- The Crushing Cancer Kitchen. Dana, the mastermind behind the account, had liked on a few of the Zimt related photos I posted. Upon exploring her account and later, her website, I was so incredibly impressed! So much so, in fact, that I had to learn more of her story and the reason behind her beautiful work. And then I found out that she is a local, once I discovered this beautiful post on her take of a popular noodle dish at a nearby market, Harvest:  the Thai Hazelnut Noodle Bowl creation.
Dana has developed an incredible website, service, and community through creating thecancercrushinkitchen.com– she details beautiful recipes that have so many healing and healthy properties. As a chef trained in traditional French cuisine, Dana chose to make a major switch, to changing her focus and embracing truly energizing, vibrant plant foods when her family needed it most. Read on for more insight into this inspirational person’s life and genius.

Are people usually receptive to a healthier, plant-based diet?

Most people are very receptive to my ideas and I work with them to incorporate theirs too. I will always cook the healthiest version of whatever we agree upon (organic/non-gmo, lots of fresh veggies, free of dairy/gluten/sugar/ and most refined fats and oils). I think it’s really important that they are listening to their bodies too, and feel that what they are eating is what their body needs at that point in time. Cancer treatment can make eating in general pretty awful no matter what the food is, and often it is just about eating something. I see a big part of my job as making sure that that something isn’t just crackers and noodles.

Do you think that emotional well-being and one’s relationship with food also has a strong impact on how our body processes our food?

Yes, I really believe it does! Being relaxed and at peace while your eating is far better for our digestion. Have you ever felt anxious or stressed and not felt like eating? It’s because the blood is focusing on our extremities in case we need to run for it, (not in our intestinal system to make sure our lentils digest properly). No arguments at the dinner table!

If someone is really, really tight on time and money, what would you suggest as being something they can do to still be able to eat healthfully, and still enjoy their food?

vegan, split pea soup, organic, cancer
For starters, eating an unprocessed plant-based diet is a great way to save money. Shopping at Farmers markets and buying produce that is in season helps in that department too. Smoothies are a speedy way to pack in lots of nutrients. A slow cooker is a great appliance for people on the run and on a budget, the food does all of its cooking (on a low, friendly heat) while you’re at work or while you sleep. You can make big batches of soups or stews, portion them out and freeze them in (glass) containers. It makes you feel like a bit of a superhero. Having homemade salad dressings in your fridge is also a good idea, then all you have to do is cut up some radishes/cabbage/carrots, toss with dressing and defrost a portion of soup and you have a clean, homemade meal in just a few minutes. The more you cook, the faster you get, it just takes practice.

 

raw truffles, raw, vegan, chocolate, coconut sugar

Yes- we are pretty lovable.

 

Why do you like Zimt so much?!

Because I’m human! …Also, pure cacao is full of antioxidants, and Zimt chocolate is raw which means those antioxidants haven’t been cooked away. You also use coconut sugar as the sweetener, which is lower glycemic than most sugars as well as being rich in minerals. No dairy, no weird ingredients, it’s just pure, guilt-free, really delicious chocolate. It’s the perfect treat. And I love that you are local (to me).

I love that, too. Dana! Where do you want your business to take you, and others?

vegan, hazelnut, organic, zucchini, zoodles, fresh

Thai Hazelnut Noodle Bowl – incredible!

I hope to keep on learning as research reveals more about the power of food and the effect it has on our bodies. I would like to continue to use this information to empower others during a seemingly powerless time. I would also like to help people start thinking about it now instead of waiting for a diagnosis, to make changes. Cancer can be scary, but there is all of this information at our fingertips about prevention, we just need to apply some of it.

There have been quite a few good documentaries out on healthful eating. Have you seen any and which are your favourites? Why?

When my Mom was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, there wasn’t a lot of information out there about the power of food and battling cancer. Crazy Sexy Cancer was one of the first documentaries that I saw around that time that really inspired me to make some big changes. It’s still a good one. We are so lucky now, there are so many documentaries that talk about the importance of diet and our health –Food MattersForks Over Knives & Hungry for Change are all worth seeing. Dirt! The Movie was really interesting; it’s about soil, why it is so important and what is happening to it in our modern world.

vegan, broccoli, organic, cancer

Broccoli Caesar Salad!

I’m going to make a note of watching some Dirt! Soil depletion is a rather terrifying reality- gotta get informed… Indirectly related, what piece of advice do you have for those of us living in such a fast paced, high stress, grab-and-go environment?

Find a roommate or partner who really likes to cook healthy food! Seriously though, we live in a world with so many chemicals and so much pollution that we really can’t control day-to day. Putting good food into our body is something that we do have power over and is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Take the time to set new routines that allow for some home-cooked/prepared meals. It gets easier as it becomes a habit and is so worth it!

Any stories you’d like to share about your particular line of work? It is a rather fascinating one!

No specific story but it has been really inspiring to see how friends and families come together when someone has cancer. A diagnosis can be scary and everyone tends to respond differently, but on a whole, I have been really lucky to witness so much love expressed during some of the hardest times. Cancer sucks, but it brings people together and forces you to think about what matters.

 

Yes it sure does, Dana.

Many thanks to Dana for her insight into healthy eating, and her wisdom and dedication to making it work for those struggling with a very, very hard aspect of many lives.

I encourage you to keep checking The Crushing Cancer Kitchen – for delicious healthy recipes, and if need be, much more.

 

xo

Emma