Nutritional Recipes for Cancer Patients and Survivors

Oncology dietitians Amanda Bryant and Katherine Bagwell prepare seasoned crispy tofu tacos during a recent cooking class.

The OHSU Knight Cancer Institute's free online cooking classes provide tasty recipes and expert nutrition information chosen with cancer patients and survivors in mind.

Check out our featured dish

Whole Grain Protein Bowl with Vegetables

Whole Grain Protein Bowl with Vegetables

Serves: 4


  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
  • ½ medium red onion, cut into thick wedges (about ½ inch)
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup dry quinoa, follow package directions (I use chicken or vegetable stock as liquid to cook in)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Juice of half fresh lemon
  • Bundle of lacinato kale, stems removed, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 avocados
  • Parsley, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup pepitas or sunflower seeds as desired
  • 4 soft boiled eggs (hard-boiled for those actively in chemotherapy)


  • 2 tbsp. tahini
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp. water, plus more to thin if needed


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F, line a large baking sheet with foil, parchment paper or a rubber mat.
  2. Fill a medium saucepan with water, high enough for 4 eggs to be covered by water. Bring to a low boil. Once ready this will be for boiling your eggs. See step 7.
  3. Dice sweet potatoes, onion, and bell pepper as noted above. Add to sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt &pepper, smoked paprika, turmeric and ½ tsp of curry powder. Toss to coat. Add to oven, bake for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
  4. Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to package directions. Once cooked and drained, add juice of half a lemon and the remaining ½ tsp of curry powder. Season with salt and pepper to taste if desired.
  5. Make the tahini dressing. Set aside.
  6. Add chopped kale to a bowl, add small amount of the tahini dressing to kale. Massaging into the leaves to coat. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add eggs using a large spoon to the pot of boiling water. For soft boiled eggs, cook for about 5-6 minutes, for more firm texture or hard boiled, cook for 7-8 minutes. Once timer goes off, use a slotted spoon to remove eggs and run under cold water or put in bowl of ice water for 30 seconds to 1 minutes to stop the cooking process. Then peel.
  8. Chop up the parsley and slice the avocado. Set aside
  9. Once vegetables are done. Plate your food in a bowl by layering quinoa, roasted vegetables, kale, avocado slices, pepitas or other seeds, and then drizzle some of the tahini dressing on top. Finish by garnishing with parsley and serve.

Adapted from: My Fresh Perspective by Angela Simpson

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Moroccan Chickpea Sorghum Bowl

Moroccan Chickpea Sorghum Bowl

Moroccan Chickpea Sorghum Bowl

Liven up your palate with this flavorful whole grain bowl. Sorghum is an ancient whole grain, cultivated over 8,000 years ago in Africa. Today Sorghum is a staple in many African and Indian dishes. It packs 8 grams of total fiber per ½ cup cooked portion. Roast up any vegetables you desire and enjoy. If you want to add more protein, try a soft boiled egg, tofu, fish, or chicken (season the tofu, fish or chicken with the ras el hanout and a small amount of salt &pepper, either bake or pan sauté over low-medium heat).

Servings: 4 servings


  • 2 cups cooked whole grain Sorghum (see tips below)
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced into thick wedges, about ½" 
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced into ½" strips
  • 3 medium carrots (red, purple, orange, yellow, or white), sliced on an angle
  • 8 ounces brussels sprouts, remove outer 1-2 layers, then slice in half vertically
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed, drained
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ras el hanout (Moroccan spice blend, see tips below)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 cups chopped greens (i.e., kale, spinach, arugula leaves)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cook sorghum according to package directions. Be mindful that sorghum will take 50-60 minutes to cook.
  3. Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the olive oil, lemon juice, ras el hanout, garlic, salt &pepper. May also use a jar with a lid as then no need to whisk, just shake. (See tips below)
  4. Add the vegetables and chickpeas to a bowl, drizzle about ¾ of the vinaigrette in the bowl and toss to evenly coat. Add the vegetables and chickpeas to a lined (I use a silpat mat) baking sheet and toast for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
  5. Toss the rest of the vinaigrette with the greens, use tongs or your hands to incorporate evenly.
  6. Remove the vegetables from oven when finished cooking.
  7. Prepare each individual bowl: ½ cup sorghum on one side, ½ cup greens on other side. Arrange an even amount of cooked vegetables and chickpeas on top. Serve immediately.


  1. When making the sorghum, you can make with water or stock. I used half water, half stock. After cooking for 60 minutes, I added juice of ½ lemon and some freshly cracked pepper. You may choose to make the sorghum the night before, just reserve the liquid to reheat the next day.
  2. I also added a dash (about 1 tsp) of real maple syrup to the vinaigrette to help bring out the flavors.
  3. Ras el hanout is a Moroccan spice blend available in specialty spice and gourmet stores and online shops. You can make it yourself by mixing: 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, 1 teaspoon paprika, 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves. Store in an airtight container.

Adapted from Sharon Palmer, R.D.N., the Plant-Powered Dietitian

Kale Pesto Veggie Sandwich

Kale Pesto Veggie Sandwich


Kale Pesto Spread:
Serving size: makes about 2 cups

  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup kale
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp. walnuts
  • 1 lemon, divided
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, divided
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 15 ounce can cannellini or white beans
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon agave syrup

Red Wine Vinaigrette:
Servings: ½ cup dressing

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon, juiced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Optional: ½ teaspoon fresh or dried oregano, finely chopped if fresh
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dash of agave syrup as needed
  • Add all ingredients to a jar with a lid, shake until mixed.


Kale Pesto Spread:

  1. Wash the kale, remove the stems, and tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Peel the garlic cloves
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the cloves, kale leaves, and walnuts. Pulse 5 to 6 times until the ingredients are chopped finely but are not mushy.
  4. Add the grated parmesan cheese, 2 pinches of salt and pepper, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar to the food processer. With the food processer turned on, add the olive oil in a steady stream.
  5. Drain and rinse the cannellini beans. Place them in the food processor with the pesto. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, cayenne pepper, agave, and several pinches of salt to taste. Blend again. Add more lemon or spices to taste.

Veggie Sandwich:
Servings: The kale pesto spread will yield about 6-8 sandwiches. The recipe below makes one sandwich.

  • ¼ cup kale pesto white bean spread per sandwich (recipe above)
  • ¼ of a small red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ carrot, shredded (depending on size)
  • 4-5 thinly sliced cucumber rounds
  • ½ cup arugula
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinaigrette (recipe above)
  • 2 pieces whole grain bread
  • 2 tablespoons feta cheese crumbles


  1. Thinly slice the red onion.
  2. Peel and shred the carrot (use a box grater if available)
  3. Thinly slice the cucumber
  4. Dress the arugula with the red wine vinaigrette, just enough to coat the leaves (there will be extra dressing from recipe above).
  5. Spread one or both sides of a slice of whole grain bread with the white bean spread. Top with a few slices of red onion, carrot, cucumber, feta cheese crumbles, and then arugula. Then top with the second slice of bread. Enjoy!
  6. Pair with some fruit and Greek yogurt or cottage cheese if desired to round out your meal.

It is recommended for cancer survivors to follow cancer prevention nutrition guidelines as feasible. We realize certain therapies for cancer can alter your long term diet. So do your best to follow a plant based diet but follow your diet restrictions as applicable.

Quinoa, Farro, and Black Bean Sliders

Quinoa, Farro, and Black Bean sliders

Quinoa, Farro, and Black Bean Sliders

Quinoa is technically not a grain, but a seed of a broad leaf plant. True grains (such as rice, corn, wheat, and barley) are the seeds of cereal grasses. Quinoa was cultivated many millennia ago in the Andes Mountains in South America. It has gained widespread popularity thanks to its nutritional value an ease of cooking. Quinoa can be added to salads, soups, stir fries and breads.

Nutritional value of quinoa: ¼ dry or ½ cup cooked provides: 170 Calories, 6 grams protein, 32 grams total carbohydrates, and 5 grams fiber. Net 27 grams carbohydrates.

Farro is an ancient relative of wheat and often thought of as the original wheat species in Rome. Farro is hearty and chewy with a robust nutty flavor. Because farro is so hearty, it takes a while to cook. Can take 30-40 minutes to cook just ¼ cup dry Farro. BUT, you could also soak the farro overnight in water, which would reduce the cooking time by half.

Nutritional value of farro: ¼ cup dry makes about 1/2 cup cooked. 1 serving or ½ cup cooked would provide 200 calories, 7 grams protein, 37 gm total carbohydrates, and 7 grams fiber. Net carbohydrates is 30 grams.

Servings: Makes 8 grain burgers


  • ¼ cup dry quinoa
  • ¼ cup dry farro
  • 1 ¼ cup black beans (1 15 oz. can)
  • ¼ to ½ cup lentil flour (start with ¼ cup, add more as needed)
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup chopped red onions
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Chili lime sauce:

  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp chili garlic sauce
  • Juice of ¼ of a lime


  • ¼ head of cabbage
  • 1-2 carrots, thinly sliced (may use box grater or mandolin)
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Jalapeno
  • 2 tsp agave syrup


  1. Cook the quinoa and farro according to package directions. Once cooked, add the quinoa to a bowl. Before you add the farro to the same bowl, put the farro in a food processor and pulse for 20-30 seconds. Then add to the bowl of quinoa. 
  2. Meanwhile, peel and roughly chop the garlic, drain and rinse the canned black beans, peel and chop the red onion.
  3. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Place your mini burger buns on a sheet and warm in the oven.
  4. Heat up a nonstick pan, pour 1 tsp olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Add chopped onions and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add black beans. Continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes. Lightly mash with a fork or masher. Wipe out the pan.
  5. Transfer the black bean mixture to the bowl of cooked grains and add the spices and salt &pepper. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile thinly slice the cabbage, add the rice vinegar, salt &pepper, and set aside.
  7. Slice the jalapeno and add to a small bowl, add the agave nectar and set aside to soak for at least 10 minutes. Immediately wash your hands after cutting the jalapeno.
  8. Make the chili lime sauce, add all ingredients to a small bowl and set aside.
  9. Once the grain mixture is cool enough to handle, form into 8 small 2-3" wide and ½" thick patties.
  10. Heat up olive oil on nonstick pan to medium high heat. Once hot enough, add your patties and cook for about 3-5 minutes per side.
  11. Prepare your grain burgers: Add the chili lime sauce to a bun, add grain patty, top with the slaw and a couple jalapeno slices and enjoy!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Sweet Potatoes, and Persimmons with a Balsamic Glaze

Serves 4

Watch our dieticians prepare the dish on Facebook


  • 1 pound brussels sprouts
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2 persimmons
  • ½ large red onion, sliced
  • 1 ½ ounces red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts (or any nuts you have on hand)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic glaze (I use the store bought but you can also make your own)
  • Spice mix: 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash fresh produce under water and pat dry.
  2. Use a baking sheet, line with foil or use a silpat mat for easy clean up.
  3. Cut the stump end off of the brussels sprouts, then pull away the first one to two layers of leaves and then cut brussels sprouts in thin slices or half depending on size.  
  4. Halve the sweet potato lengthwise, then cut crosswise into ¼ inch pieces or similar in size to your brussels sprouts.
  5. Thinly slice the onion. Add the onions, sweet potatoes, and brussels sprouts to a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper and the spice mixture.
  6. Add contents to the baking sheet and bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, turning about halfway through until fork tender.
  7. Meanwhile, core and medium dice the persimmons. Add to a small bowl and pour in the red wine vinegar and let marinate for at least 10 minutes.
  8. Add the chopped walnuts to small pan and roast in oven for about 5 minutes, until a nice nutty aroma.
  9. Once the roasted vegetables are done, take out of the oven and sprinkle roasted walnuts on top, and drizzle with balsamic glaze (may add more balsamic glaze to taste).

Adapted from:

Seasoned Crispy Tofu Tacos

Seasoned Crispy Tofu Tacos


  • 15 oz. extra firm tofu (typically one package)
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
  • ½ cup fine cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup Canola oil
  • ¼ cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 small Avocado
  • 1 small onion, chopped (red or yellow as preferred)
  • 1 lime
  • 8 x 4" to 6" sized tortillas
  • Yogurt sauce:

  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • 2 scallions (separate the white and green part of scallions)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper if desired
  • ½ of a lime, freshly squeezed
  • 1-2 tablespoons water, if needed for desired consistency
  • Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place your tortillas on a sheet pan to warm and slightly crisp in the oven, don't put in the oven until you reach step 9.
  • Cut the tofu into ½ inch cubes and add to a medium bowl. Add in the Sriracha and honey and gently toss to coat.
  • In a separate small bowl, combine the dry ingredients: cornmeal, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Add to the bowl of tofu and toss to coat until well combined.
  • Thinly slice the scallions, separating the white bottoms from the green tops.
  • Roughly chop the garlic.
  • In a cast iron or non-stick skillet, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chopped garlic and white bottoms of the scallions. Stir constantly for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  • Add in the tofu mixture and spread evenly in the skillet. Allow the tofu to crisp on all sides, only stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, add the green parts of the scallions, cilantro, and yogurt to a food processor or blender. Add in the salt &pepper, cayenne, and lime to taste. If your sauce is too thick, add 1 tbsp. of water at a time to desired consistency.
  • Then prepare the remaining ingredients: (put your tortillas in the oven, watch closely as they should only take a few minutes to warm and get slightly crispy).
  • Thinly slice the cabbage.
  • Cut off and discard the ends of the radishes;halve lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise. 
  • Finely chop the onion. 
  • Cut the avocado in half, separate the pith, and then thinly slice with a butter knife (a dull knife is sufficient to reduce risk of cutting your hand). Then use a spoon to scoop out the sliced pieces.
  • Build your tacos: add the tofu, toppings, and sauce. Spritz with some fresh lime juice as desired and enjoy!   

    Vegetable Khao Soi

    Vegetable Khao Soi

    Serves: 4-6 people


    Khao Paste:

  • 4 red chilies (dried such as New Mexico or Guajillo chilies) stemmed, halved, and seeded
  • 1-2 green chilies (may omit or use chili powder to better control spice desired)
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1" piece of ginger
  • 1 lemongrass stalk (white inner part only, roughly chopped)
  • 1-2 small shallots, halved
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro stems
  • Vegetables:

  • 3-4 carrots, cut on angle, ¼ inch thick
  • Broccoli, 2-3 florets, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup (1/2 lb) green beans, cut into 1" on an angle
  • Cilantro for topping, roughly chopped
  • Lime, quartered
  • Soup:

  • Vegetable stock, 1 cup
  • 1 - 14 oz. can coconut milk, unsweetened*
  • ½ can water (may add more as needed)
  • 1 tsp fish sauce (as desired)
  • 1-2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • Noodles:

  • Egg noodles or wonton noodles, 3.5 oz. dry
  • Directions

    For Khao Soi Paste:

    1. Place red chilies in a small heatproof bowl, add boiling water and cover. Let soak for about 20-25 minutes until softened.
    2. While chilies are soaking, wash fresh ingredients and prepare other paste ingredients:
    3. Peel and thinly slice ginger root
    4. Peel and halve the shallot
    5. Peel the first 1-2 layers of lemongrass, then roughly slice white part only
    6. Cut off cilantro stems, ¼ cup
    7. Once red chilies are softened, drain, reserving 1 cup soaking liquid. Puree the drained chilies, green chilies, shallot, garlic, lemongrass, cilantro stems, coriander, turmeric, curry, and cardamom in a food processor. Add soaking liquid 2 tbsp. at a time until smooth.

    For Vegetables:

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place vegetables on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and salt and pepper. Bake in an oven for about 10 minutes.

    For Soup:

    1. Fill a medium pot with water and bring a boil. Add noodles when ready and cook according to package directions.
    2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tsp olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add Khao soi paste;cook, stirring constantly, until slightly darkened, about 4-6 minutes. Add coconut milk, broth, and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer. You may add in extra water as desired. You may add in sliced chicken, tofu, or other meat as desired at this point. If add meat or tofu, once cooked, add in 1 tsp fish sauce and brown sugar to soup.
    3. To serve, place noodles in a bowl, top with vegetables, and then soup. Top with cilantro and slice of lime to serve.
    *may add an extra ½ can coconut milk for desired taste to help with spice if needed. If you have high blood lipid levels, suggest using light coconut milk.

    Adapted from:\