Overconsuming added sugars, salt and unhealthy fats can raise the occurrence of associated diseases. These culprits are also the ingredients that add flavor to our foods, and a lot of us are accustomed to having them in abundance. Our taste for too much of these ingredients drives up our risk of disease and the risk of a recurrence of cancer.

So, what can we do to enhance flavor without compromising our better health? We can use natural sugars, for example, from fruits or roasted vegetables, and we can play with herbs and spices that add a burst of great flavor and beneficial antioxidants as well!

Cancer survivors are motivated to change their eating style because they are aware that it has an impact on their survivorship. Some benefits to healthy eating for survivors include:

  • Reducing the impact of many side effects of chemotherapy and radiation such as fatigue, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, muscle wasting and dehydration.
  • Supporting your immune system so that you heal and recover stronger and quicker after every treatment
  • Minimizing the loss of appetite and taste alterations

When the side effects of treatment alter your taste, you can suffer from a diminished appetite, which may lead to malnutrition. You cannot let this happen as this compromises your immune system, increases muscle wasting and raises fatigue.

Good health starts with a visit to your primary care physician.

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The FASS (fat, acid, salt and sweet) technique coined by Rebecca Katz, author of “The Cancer Fighting Kitchen,” is well known for countering altered taste buds from treatment-related side effects. Using these flavors from healthy ingredients like olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and honey or maple syrup can be game changing. If food tastes too sweet, adding a squeeze of lemon juice can make the dish more palatable. If a food tastes too bitter, a drizzle of honey can make all the difference!

If a food you used to love now tastes like cardboard, add a bit of sea salt to enhance the flavor. When foods have a metallic taste, experiment with adding either an acid (lemon juice) or a sweet (honey/maple syrup) to make the dish easy to eat. Also, play around with herbs and spices – such as cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, garlic and ginger – to add extra flavor and anti-inflammatory benefits to your dishes!

When you prepare food, taste it as you cook to see what flavors to add to achieve good balance. Just adding a few drops of lemon juice or a drizzle of honey can make all the difference. Whole foods, herbs and spices are full of flavor and immune-boosting nutrition that will make eating through treatment and beyond a delicious experience!

Wild salmon kebabs with Asian pesto

Reprinted with permission from The Healthy Mind Cookbook Copyright © 2015 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.

Makes 4 servings • Prep time: 10 minutes plus 30 minutes to marinate • Cook time: less than 10 minutes.

Omega-3 rich wild salmon is great for heart and brain health. The author suggests serving this dish with watercress, purple cabbage and edamame salad with toasted sesame seeds for a blast of color.


1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 clove garlic, minced

1 scallion, chopped

1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded jalapeño

3/4 cup tightly packed cilantro leaves

1/4 cup tightly packed fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup tightly packed flat leaf parsley

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 teaspoon Grade B maple syrup

1-pound wild salmon fillet, skin and pinbones removed

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Place bamboo skewers in a bowl of water for a few minutes, until soaked through.
  2. To make the Asian pesto, put the ginger, garlic, scallion, jalapeño, cilantro, mint, parsley, oil, salt, lime juice and maple syrup into a small food processor. Blend until smooth, about a minute.
  3. Place the salmon on a cutting board and cut it lengthwise, then crosswise into 8 equal pieces. Put the fish on the prepared baking sheet. Insert a 6-inch bamboo skewer into each block of salmon so it looks like a rectangular lollipop. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper over each piece. Using half the pesto, spread it on all sides of each piece of salmon. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  5. Remove the salmon from the refrigerator, uncover and slide the baking sheet into the oven. Bake just until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the salmon registers 120°F, 7 to 9 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets. The flesh should be just opaque and beginning to flake.
  6. Transfer the kebabs, skewers, and all, to a serving plate. Add a dollop of the remaining pesto to each piece of salmon and serve immediately.

Cook’s notes: To get pieces of even thickness, purchase the center cut of the salmon rather than the tail.

Option: Cut the baked salmon up into smaller pieces and stick in toothpicks. Serve with the additional pesto on the side for great little appetizers.

Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.