Recipes for Managing Side Effects Series: Chewing and Swallowing Difficulty
Individuals receiving treatment for cancer often experience chewing and swallowing difficulties (also known as dysphagia) as a side effect of radiation therapy or surgery [i, ii]. This can include choking or coughing and mouth dryness, making it difficult and uncomfortable to eat. Choosing liquid or soft foods such as smoothies, mashed vegetables and fruits, cereal or bread soaked in milk, soft-cooked beans and moist braised or ground meats may ease the symptoms. Foods that are cold or room temperature are soothing and often easier to eat than hot foods.
This refreshing “nice” cream is dairy free, and made with frozen bananas, spinach and silken tofu which provides a protein punch. This dish does triple duty as a soft-serve “nice cream,” a frozen treat or a blended smoothie. Try it any way you like!
Nutritional Content and Health Benefits
- One medium ripe banana provides about 110 calories, 1 gram protein, 28 grams carbohydrate, 15 grams sugar (naturally occurring) and 3 grams fiber. Bananas also contain micronutrients such as potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C. These micronutrients act as powerful antioxidants and help fight infections that may occur in the mouth due to dryness and inflammation [iii].
- Spinach is a great source of powerful antioxidants, vitamins, and phytonutrients. These components of spinach have been shown to scavenge reactive oxygen species and prevent macromolecular oxidative damage [iv].
- A half cup of silken tofu provides 60 calories and 5 grams of protein. It also contains soy isoflavones which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and may be useful in relieving the side effects of cancer treatment [v].
Spinach Tofu Banana Nice Cream
Serving Size: 2, 2 oz scoops
- 2 frozen ripe bananas
- 1 cup packed, washed fresh baby spinach, tough stalks removed
- ½ cup silken tofu
- 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- 2-4 tbsp unsweetened soy milk (or other plant-based milk of choice)
- Place frozen bananas, spinach, and tofu in a high-speed blender.
- Add maple syrup and vanilla extract if using.
- Top with 1 tbsp of soy milk, close lid and pulse until combined.
- Scrape down the sides of the blender, adding more soy milk 1 tbsp at a time until fully blended.
- Enjoy right away as soft serve “nice cream” or empty into container and freeze 2-4 hours for firmer consistency.
- Add more soy milk to blend into a smoothie.
- Add in a scoop of protein powder to increase protein content.
- Substitute other plant-based or dairy milks per your preference.
- Add toppings such as seasonal fruit, nut butter, whipped cream or chocolate sauce.
- Please wash all produce thoroughly before use to ensure food safety and reduce risk of infections.
For more tips on managing dysphagia, check out this post.
[i] Swallowing Problems. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/eating-problems/swallowing-problems.html
[ii] Borean M, Shani K, Brown MC, et al. Development and evaluation of screening dysphagia tools for observational studies and routine care in cancer patients. Health Sci Rep. 2018;1(7):e48. doi:10.1002/hsr2.48
[iii] Aune D. Plant Foods, Antioxidant Biomarkers, and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, and Mortality: A Review of the Evidence. Adv Nutr. 2019;10(Suppl_4):S404-S421. doi:10.1093/advances/nmz042
[iv] Roberts JL, Moreau R. Functional properties of spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) phytochemicals and bioactives. Food Funct. 2016;7(8):3337-3353. doi:10.1039/c6fo00051g
[v] Sahin I, Bilir B, Ali S, Sahin K, Kucuk O. Soy Isoflavones in Integrative Oncology: Increased Efficacy and Decreased Toxicity of Cancer Therapy. Integr Cancer Ther. 2019;18. doi:10.1177/1534735419835310