Cooking Green in the Kitchen for Patients With Cancer


An expert offers two delicious and nutritious recipes that may improve side effects for patients who are undergoing treatment for multiple myeloma.

Francesca Castro, M.S., R.D., clinical research dietitian in myeloma service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center offers two delicious, veggie-friendly recipes that are nutritious for patients with cancer, and particularly for patients undergoing treatment for multiple myeloma.

Zuccini Rollatini | Image credit: © - Fomaa © - 

This zucchini rollatini provides a great source of protein from the silken tofu.

Zucchini Rollatini

(Serves 4 to 6)


  • 6 zucchinis
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pack cremini mushrooms, diced (8 ounces)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bags of spinach, chopped (or any of your favorite greens — frozen works, too!)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 package silken tofu (12- to 14-ounce standard block)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 jar marinara sauce (24 ounces)
  • Few sprigs of basil (or parsley)
  • Nutritional yeast


1. Thinly slice the zucchinis lengthwise with a knife or mandoline. Then place them flat on paper towels and sprinkle each slice with salt to get the water out while prepping the other ingredients.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

3. In a large pan over medium heat, add olive oil and sauté onions, mushrooms and garlic; add red pepper flakes and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Once the onions are translucent, add the spinach and cook down.

4. Once everything is cooked, add the mixture to a fine mesh sieve and drain the excess water — this is important if you don’t want it watery. If you don’t have a sieve, a clean kitchen towel will do the trick.

5. In a large mixing bowl, break up the tofu, then add the vegetable mixture and mix. Feel free to give it a taste and add more seasoning to your liking, such as Calabrian chiles or Italian dried herbs.

6. Pour about half of a jar of marinara sauce into a baking dish.

7. Take each slice of zucchini, add a spoonful of the mixture (2 tablespoons), roll and then place in the dish.

8. Once all the zucchini slices are rolled in place in the dish, top with more marinara sauce and bake until warmed through (about 25 minutes). Add fresh herbs and nutritional yeast before serving.

9. Serve with a side salad or your favorite legume pasta for extra fiber and protein!

For many of my patients who are transitioning to a plant-based diet, one of their first concerns is how they will be able to meet their protein needs. One of the highest-quality plant-based proteins is tofu! Tofu not only contains all nine essential amino acids but it can also be adapted to many different cuisines and flavors.

Stuffed sweet potato with spiced chickpea, dressing and herbs. | Image Credit: bit24 © - 

To maintain a healthy gut microbiome, try out this sweet potato stuffed with buffalo chickpeas!

Stuffed Sweet Potato With Buffalo Chickpeas

(Serves 1)


  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1⁄4 cup onion, diced
  • 1⁄4 cup carrots, diced
  • 1⁄4 cup celery, diced
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1⁄2 cup chickpeas (if using dried, make sure to soak the night before)


  • Preheat the oven to 425 F. Using a fork, poke hole into the sweet potato and set on a lined baking sheet.
  • Once the oven is heated, bake the sweet potato for 45 minutes. Alternatively, air-fry the sweet potato on high for 15 minutes.
  • As the sweet potato is baking, chop all the vegetables.
  • On medium heat in a skillet, add onions, carrots, celery and olive oil. Cook until soft.
  • Add chickpeas, paprika and garlic to skillet. Cook until the chickpeas start to brown.
  • Add Buffalo sauce and greens. Cook until the greens wilt.
  • Slice baked sweet potato lengthwise and top with chickpea mixture.
  • Optional toppings: chopped green onions, avocado, hummus or tahini.

Beans are one of the most nutritious foods, offering high protein, fiber and many essential vitamins and minerals. The fiber in beans helps improve digestion, support regular bowel movements and maintain healthy cholesterol levels and a healthy gut microbiome.

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