Science & Medicine

Recipes from the MPN Kitchen

What’s to Eat?

Finding a good, healthy snack when you just have to get a quick bite or figuring out a nutritious, meal to satisfy that lust for flavor is never easy.  Add a dash of MPN  and it becomes more than an elusive option.  It’s a necessity!

Loss of appetite and early satiety are common enough for many of us but the need to maintain our strength, weight and spirit is true for us all. It all makes for a good excuse to eat well.

And for that some joy in eating has to be a key ingredient.

At least that’s the idea behind publishing favorite recipes of MPN patients and caregivers who meet the challenge…one bite at a time.

For our first offering we’ve got three international appetizers — each of which can serve as between-meal or high tea snacks…two main seafood courses…and, happily, a choice of three deserts … to go with our after dinner coffee, or tea or wheat grass effusion.

First course
           Frijoles con queso
            Fromage torte

Main course
           Grilled Salmon filet and quinoa
           Shrimp fra diavolo

            Carrot, walnut & pineapple cake
            Banana muffins
            Apple berry crumble

Hummus  (Karen, via Harvey Gould)

4 cups (about 2-3 cans) garbanzos (chick peas), drained
1/2 cup tahini  (sesame paste)
1/3 cup warm water
1/3 cup olive oil
juice of 2 – 3 lemons
4 or more garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cuminseed
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1.  Combine chick-peas, tahini, warm water, olive oil and juice of 1 lemon in bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Process until smooth and creamy.
2.  Add garlic, salt, cumin seed and pepper to taste and process to blend.  Taste and correct seasoning if necessary.  Add more lemon juice to taste.  Scrape into a storage container, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

To serve:  place mound of Hummus in center of large platter, surround mound with basil pesto. On same platter, or separately, place torn pieces of hot pita bread.

Tostados… frijoles con queso

 Tostado con frijoles y queso  (Zhenya)

I get my tostados from a Mexican bakery in town which I’m sure produces them in deep boiling oil. If you have the time you can bake tortillas or just pick up packaged tostados in any grocery store.

The trick with this dish is the frijoles.   Refried beans have never turned me on, not the color, consistency or taste. But home-made it’s a totally different story. You can use overnight soaked and simmered pinto beans, but I generally use the canned variety.

1/2 medium or whole small onion diced
1 or 2 or more cloves, garlic
1  14 oz. can pinto beans with liquid
1 pickled or fresh jalapeno, chopped fine.

Saute onion in olive oil in a deep iron skillet for a few minutes, then add garlic and stir for a minute or two. Add jalapeno at end.

Dump the whole can of beans with liquid into the skillet and turn the heat up high. Keep stirring and mashing beans with a wooden spoon. Or anything else. Stir and mash. It takes about five minutes until you have a thick paste.

Turn heat down, add salt, pepper, lots of cumin, a little oregano, chili powder and stir.  That’s it.


Diced organic canned  tomatoes work but fresh tomatoes are better, three or four, quartered, tossed in the blender and pulsed a few times then emptied into a large bowl.

Half an onion, a couple of garlic cloves, a whole jalapeno (you can remove seeds and scrape the inner flesh if you want it less hot). In the blender, pulse, And add that to the tomato mix.
Finally, cilantro. Take a good handful of leaves, cut off the bottom stems, and coarsely chop before adding to the blender.

Mix all ingredients in your bowl, add a good squeeze of lemon, season to taste with salt, pepper, cumin and put in a clean glass jar. It lasts a week in the refrigerator.

Tostado con frijoles y queso

 Putting together this dish is a lot like making a pizza without the hassle.Heat up your homemade frijoles. Spread on your tostado. Cover with salsa. Top with your favorite grated or chopped cheeses. Cover with chopped lettuce and sometimes a dollop of sour cream  (Obviously there are lots of variations)

Buen provecho.  Espero que te guste

Fromage Forte (Karen, via Harvey Gould)

This cheese spread is made from the bits and pieces of left over cheese you have in the fridge. The more variety of cheeses the better.  Remove the rind and any bad/moldy parts, cut into cubes about 1/2″ in size.  Put cubes into food processor.  Add a chopped up garlic clove or two (depending on taste) plush a splash of white wine.  Process until smooth.  Add more wine if you want a creamier spread.  Scrape spread into a bowl.  Serve with crackers or sliced baguette.  Keeps for several days in fridge.

Grilled Salmon Fillets with Quinoa Salad  (Nathalie Cook)

This is a tasty, colourful summer meal which is high in protein, fibre, antioxidants and healthy omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Quinoa is a very nutritious grain-like seed which originates from South America. It is known as a psuedocereal rather than a true cereal or grain because it is not a member of the grass family. It is high in protein and is considered a complete protein, because it contains all the essential amino acids. Quinoa is high in fibre, has a great nutty taste and is also gluten free.

1 cup of white quinoa (or 1/3 cup of each of red, white and black quinoa)
1 red capsicum, finely diced
250g cherry tomatoes, halved
400g tin of four bean mix or black beans, drained
400g tin corn kernels, drained,
zest and juice of 1 lemon or lime
3 spring onions chopped
2 tbsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
2 tbsps of whatever fresh herbs are available in the garden-parsley, thyme, mint etc chopped.
4 150g fesh salmon fillets, grilled


1. Bring 3 cups of water to the boil, add quinoa. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until fully absorbed. Set aside to cool then drain excess water.
2. Put drained quinoa in a salad bowl and mixed with all other ingredients except salmon.
3. Grill salmon until golden.
4. Serve quinoa salad topped with grilled salmon fillets and freshly cracker pepper.

Serves 4

Shrimp Fra Diavolo  (Leeya James)

If  you’re not afraid to experiment and like spicy and/or Italian recipes, here’s another I tried just recently.  I’ve made it for my sister and her husband and last night made it again for just our family.  There’s an Italian restaurant near Nashville we ate at this summer and I ordered this from the menu.  I knew it would be a long time before we went back there so I searched for a recipe online and I think this one hit the nail on the head!

My tips for the recipe are to pre-measure the spices into little pinch bowls because the recipe moves quickly in the middle when you’re stirring in the tomato paste and lemon juice.  I had to keep moving the pan off the flame while I measured out the spices.   Also, have the water for your pasta nearly boiling on the back of the stove while you’re cooking the sauce.  When you drop the shrimp back into the sauce, you can drop the pasta into the water then and you’ll have hot pasta.  My pasta has gotten sort of stuck together while waiting for the sauce to come together.

Carrot Walnut and Pineapple Cake  (Lesley via Chris Harper)

225g (8oz) Carrots
1 x 432g tin unsweetened crushed pineapple
75g (3oz) chopped walnuts
225ml (8fl oz) vegetable oil
275g (10oz) soft brown sugar
4 eggs
150 g (5oz) plain flour
150g (5oz) Wholemeal flour
2 level teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
2 level teaspoons ground cinnamon

For the lemon glaze:
175g (6oz) icing sugar
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

Heat the oven to 180 C (350 F or gas no 4). Grease one 23cm x 32.5cm (9 in x 13 in – as in original recipe or can also use 14 in by 11 in) shallow baking pan.  Pare and coarsely grate the carrots.  Drain the juice from the pineapple.  Set carrot, pineapple and walnuts aside.
Put oil, brown sugar and eggs into a large mixing bowl and stir to blend..  Set a sieve over the bowl and into it sift both flours, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon.  Add any bran still left in the sieve.  Using a wooden spoon stir to blend, then beat to a smooth batter.  Add the carrot, pineapple and walnuts and blend. Pour mixture into the pan and spread level.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Cool in the pan.

Combine the sifted icing sugar with sufficient lemon juice to make a smooth icing. Spoon over the surface of the carrot and pineapple cake in streaky patches rather than a uniform coating.  When set, cut the cake and lift from the tin.

Banana Muffins     (Elizabeth Goldstein)
My husband and I love these banana muffins and they are  healthy, too.  Not hard to make
once you have all the ingredients assembled:

Preheat oven to 375

1 1/4 c. flour (I use white pastry flour from Whole Foods because it’s whole grain)
1/4 c. ground flax seeds
1/2  c. oats (reg., not quick cooking)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
Whisk above together in large bowl and stir in 2/3 c. coarsely chopped walnuts

In a smaller bowl, whisk together:
2 large eggs
3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1 1/3 c. mashed bananas (2-3, whatever you have that is too ripe)
6 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla

Stir eggs, etc. into large bowl of dry ingredients, stirring until just blended – do not
overmix, but batter should be smooth.  Pour into a muffin pan (line with paper cups or
grease with butter)and bake until toothpick comes out clean, about 16-18 min.  Ovens
vary, test at 15 min.  Recipe can be doubled – use three eggs but double everything else.
Good for breakfast.

Wholegrain Apple and Berry Crumble  (Nathalie Cook)

4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced.
zest and juice of 1 orange
2 cups or fresh or frozen mixed berries
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup whole meal self-raising flour
1/2 cup ground almond meal
1/2 cup raw sugar
2 tbsps desiccated coconut
25g butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp cinnamon

Heat oven to 180 C

1. Stew apple slices and berries in 2-3 tbsp water over medium heat until soft. Add juice and zest of orange.
2. Spread stewed apples and berries in a shallow baking dish, greased with cooking spray.
3. Mix all other ingredients together and sprinkle over apple mixture.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.
5. Serve warm with ice cream, cream or natural yoghurt.

Serves 6-8

This is a warming, nutritious winter dessert which includes whole grains, antioxidants and is high in fibre.

Bon appetit!

Find something you’d like to try?   If you’d like to see Recipes from the MPN Kitchen as a regular feature, leave a comment, below…or, better yet, share one of your own favorite receipes. Send it to:

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© and noted authors, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided full and clear credit is given to and noted authors with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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