UCSF sponsored the video recording of Plant Based Proteins lesson during the fall series.

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Our HKI Micro Grant funded the Eat to Nourish program in partnership with the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. A four-session curriculum developed and taught by Carly Wertheim (www.carlyswellnesskitchen.com), Eat to Nourish provides a foundation for cooking balanced, nutrient-rich, plant-centric meals to supplement treatment and optimize healing. Through interactive nutrition education and demonstration based training, participant learn how to transform fresh, whole foods into delicious meals. HKI’s generous grant funded the program twice in 2019, providing over 45 UCSF patients and caregivers exposure to this innovative curriculum. 

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The four lesson topics were Eat the Rainbow, Plant-Based Proteins, Pantry Makeover, and Batch Cooking. In Eat the Rainbow, we talked about how eating a variety of colors provides the body with a diverse spectrum of phytonutrients that support the body and prevent disease. Plant-Based Proteins focused on a variety of cooking techniques to prepare beans, lentils, and soy, highlighting the affordability, ecological sustainability, and nutrition in these foods. In Pantry Makeover, participants learned how to read ingredient labels, stock a pantry with whole, minimally processed foods, and create nourishing, inexpensive meals based around these pantry staples. Finally, Batch Cooking covered the art of meal prep and menu planning, focusing on the many ways to prepare vegetables, whole grains, plant-proteins, and dressings and sauces for quick and easy meals throughout the week. Each class began with a short talk on the class topic and was followed by demonstration-based teaching, in which Carly cooked a variety of recipes. The 90-minute long class always ended in a delicious tasting of the day’s recipes and a reflection by participants on their key takeaways. Recipe demos included root vegetable hash with rosemary and thyme, Tuscan white bean and kale soup, berry green smoothie, tofu ricotta, chickpea vegetable coconut curry, puttanesca sauce, sauerkraut, and fried brown rice with mixed vegetables. 

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Each week, people reported on dishes they had cooked, books they were reading, new insights from the grocery store, and changes they were making at home. Ken, one of the participants, gave this fantastic summary after the last class: “I’ve been reluctant to invite vegetarian friends over for dinner because I was a little bit afraid that I was going to offend them in some way…But now I’m a lot more confident after this course that I can cook satisfying meals, vegetarian meals, that not only nourish, but taste good.” Another participant Joan remarked “I appreciated learning the skill to tweak a dish and improve the taste. It really makes a difference in the enjoyment of a meal.” 91% of surveyed participants (n=23) in the fall program strongly agreed with the statement, “My understanding of the health benefits of eating colorful plant foods increased,” and 87% strongly agreed with the statement “My excitement to eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, plant proteins, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices has increased.” 65% reported increased confidence and greater knowledge and skills to make better food choices.

Hear from a few of the participants:

One of the most successful components of the program was the group camaraderie that formed over the month. Having the same group of people return week after week not only allowed the content to build upon itself, but participants to develop relationships, which created a fabulous dynamic. The class felt festive, bubbling with positive energy and excitement around the food we created. 

After an incredibly successful first year, the nutrition oncology team at UCSF hopes to make Eat to Nourish a regular part of the Cancer Center’s programming.