Eating a neutropenic diet can be a challenge for cancer patients, as it limits the foods that they can and cannot eat. In the third episode of Epicure with Chef MDs, hosted by Marc Silverstein, Co-Proprietor and Executive Chef at Fuego Cocina y Tequileria, Jeff Tunks, demonstrates with his pan seared salmon that this special diet does not have to take a toll on eating delicious meals.
But what does a neutropenic diet really mean for your health? Dr. Lisa McGrail, medical oncologist at the GW Medical Faculty Associates, specializing in breast cancer, gives us a closer look. Dr. McGrail explains how a low white blood cell count (weakened immune system) is a common complication for cancer patients, and eating a neutropenic diet helps to protect the body from bacteria found in food and drinks.
In the episode, Chef Jeff Tunks makes easy substitutions, like using pasteurized orange juice instead of freshly squeezed to make sure the dish is free of bacteria. In addition, Tunks adds ginger to his carrot puree, which not only gives the salmon flavor, but is also great for digestion. Ginger helps the muscles in the stomach relax and is used in anti-nausea medication.
However, the real star of the show is salmon. Dr. Lisa McGrail says salmon is the perfect healthy protein because it is rich in essential omega 3 fatty acids that provide superior anti-inflammatory protection and enormous health benefits. In fact, the oils in salmon are so heart healthy that the USDA recommends eating 8-12 oz. of fish each week.
Chef Jeff Tunks preserves the texture, color and flavor in this dish by serving the tender salmon with the creamy carrot puree and blanched vegetables to garnish. This pan seared salmon is a remarkable dish by any standard, not just the neutropenic one.
Watch Dr. Lisa McGrail and Chef Jeff Tunks in the latest episode of Epicure with the Chef MDs.
Download the free Epicure season 2 cookbook here.