Hi, everyone! Today’s post is something a little different from my friend Maggie at Cancerv.me. When she reached out with a post idea to share her inspiring and motivating story (as well as a super tasty raw vegan keto broccoli salad recipe), I was honored and thrilled. Maggie definitely needs her own TED talk. Her story is so inspiring and provides insights into the therapeutic side of vegan ketogenic diets. So, without further ado…
Note: Neither Maggie nor I are doctors, and this post is in no way to be construed as medical advice! If you are concerned about any health issues, be sure to talk to a healthcare professional!
Hi! I’m Maggie. I’ve been a fan of Liz and her recipes for ages and am thrilled for the opportunity to share my story on this site. I often used recipes from Meat Free Keto as inspiration back when I had my own “healthy eating” blog. I had no idea then how the conventional “healthy” diet of whole grains, factory lean meats and non-fat diary was contributing to my borderline-obesity and inflammation. I had to learn the hard way.
The month after I turned 40 I was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. As a relatively young nonsmoker with no family history, this was a bit of a surprise. In retrospect, it shouldn’t have been. I was plagued by stress from a high pressure job and home life, my only stress management technique was a bottle of white wine each night supplemented with occasional weekend margaritas, any calories remaining in my budget post-wine went to carbs, and my primary exercise was walking to my car. All of these things contributed to turning my body into a place where cancer could thrive.
I recognize now that the symptoms had started at least a year before my diagnosis, but by the time I caught it the cancer had spread to my brain, eye and multiple lymph nodes in the chest, quickly followed by liver and abdomen.
To save you the googling, the median survival for someone with lung cancer spread to the brain is 6-8 months with standard treatment and even that may have been optimistic. I was dying: unable to lie down due to violent coughing, body constantly in pain, exhausted beyond measure.
I’ll never forget that first night in the hospital. My husband, Brad, rushed over when the eye doctor I’d come to see about blurred vision ordered an emergency MRI and admitted me to the hospital. Brad brought me two gorgeous little cakes from a local fancy bakery that we ate while waiting for the results. Those were the last cakes I ever ate.
After intense research, I started a vegan keto way of eating a week later.
Over the past 5 years, the cancer paradigm has been shifting as it’s increasingly evident that cancer is a metabolic disease. Countless studies have been pouring forth showing the benefits of a ketogenic diet for cancer patients including prolonged survival and reduced side effects from chemo and radiation.
At the same time, a plant-based diet has long been a common factor in cases of radical remission or survival against the odds. Cancer loves inflammation and meat and dairy are known inflammatory agents. Not only does a plant-based way of eating make my body a less welcoming environment for cancer cells, it allows my immune system to stay laser focused on fighting the cancer and processing the toxins of my chemo.
It’s been a year since I ate that cake and I feel healthier than I ever have. By finally listening to my body and feeding it plant-based fats instead of processed food, grains, legumes, sugary fruit and alcohol, I’ve lost 50 pounds without effort. After a lifetime of closely managing my calories and being unable to lose weight, it was suspiciously easy. I actually went to a specialist to verify that I was benefiting from therapeutic fat loss and not the muscle-wasting associated with cancer.
I still have tumors in my lungs, brain, liver and lymph nodes but even my oncologists agree that I have years ahead of me rather than the months we expected before.
Not only do I believe that my vegan keto way of eating is prolonging my life, it has unquestionably improved my quality of life. I never feel deprived – Liz has such a huge variety of recipes in her cookbook – and even Brad is a convert. He started following a more relaxed, lazy version of vegan keto and lost 30 pounds. He, like me, is it for the larger rewards: improved mental clarity and feedback from our bodies that this is how they want to be nourished.
I’m now working to spread the word of the benefits of plant-based keto and share more of my story and how I’ve found healing on cancerv.me.
Much of my diet revolves around raw cruciferous vegetables like broccoli which are known cancer-fighters. I developed this creamy broccoli salad in an effort to incorporate grapes into our diet. Grapes are a rich sources of resveratrol which has well-studied cancer-fighting and cancer-preventing properties]. While the grapes are a higher carb fruit than I normally eat, the small amounts used here let me enjoy their health benefits and yumminess without impacting my blood glucose and ketone levels.
While I originally made this salad using cashews, I generally try to avoid legumes and have been enjoying it lately with macadamia nuts. In addition to being substantially lower carb, macadamia nuts have a more desirable polyunsaturated fatty acid profile. They can also be pricey so the recipe below uses a combination of both. Adjust proportions as needed for your macros and budget. As always, this recipe is just a guideline. Make it yours by adding what you love. Just be sure to weigh and measure your ingredients if you follow strict, therapeutic keto like me.
Easy to make, super satisfying, and overflowing with healing nutrition, I hope this broccoli salad becomes one of your favorites, too.
- 6 cups (500g) broccoli (two small to medium sized crowns), chopped into bite-size pieces
- 1/4 cup (30g) walnuts, crushed
- 2 tbs (14g) red onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup (75g) red grapes, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup (65g) raw cashews, soaked at least 1- 2 hours
- 1/2 cup (65g) raw macadamia nuts, soaked at least 1-2 hours
- 1/3 cup distilled water
- 1 1/2 tbs apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbs lemon juice
- 1 tbs shallot, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tbs erythritol or sweetener of your choice, to taste
- 1-2 tbs filtered water, as needed
- Combine dressing ingredients in a small food processor or high-powered blender.
- Process until creamy adding a small amount of filtered water if the dressing is too thick. It should be the consistency of tahini - thinner than peanut butter and thicker than syrup.
- Taste the dressing. Depending on what your tastebuds are used to, you may want more sweetener or salt. Keep in mind that the flavor will be diluted in the salad but the grapes will add lots of additional sweetness.
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and add half the dressing. Using your clean hands or large spoons, toss until all the broccoli is coated with dressing. Add additional dressing if more (I usually end up using the full amount). Store any leftovers in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Eat and enjoy!