Cooking with Cancer

July 16, 2013

Medicine has given me a lot. This is my way of giving something back that we can feel good about.”

 Luis F Pineda, M.D., M.S.H.A

Each year Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce puts together our Annual Vestavia Hills Living Magazine. People are thrilled to see their children, friends and coworkers throughout the pages for the whole community to see. The Chamber will select a few events or people who have truly made an impact on Vestavia Hills. This year, we had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Luis Pineda, a Vestavia Hills Oncologist. Over the years Dr. Pineda continued to watch his patients with cancer grow to have a disinterest in food and an inability to taste or smell due to chemotherapy and radiation treatment. It was his goal to do something about it, so he enrolled in culinary school.

Pineda’s culinary instructor would often ask why he came up with such “odd combinations” for his recipes, such as: pineapple and cheese honey cake (recipe below). Although the recipes may sound a bit odd, Dr. Pineda medical knowledge and now culinary expertise go hand-in-hand with his recipes, “I started to study slides in pathology to understand the breakdown of taste and smell as patients entered chemo and radiation,” said Pineda.

His efforts have not turned up empty handed. After Pineda finished his research he put together a variety of different recipes in the form of a cook book for people undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. He also started a non-profit charitable organization, Cooking with Cancer, Inc., that dedicates its time and resources to provide both recipes and education for those struggling with cancer as well as their families. “Our goal is to create awareness of patients’ poor quality-of-life due to neglected nutrition from lack of enjoyment in eating,” (Prescription to Taste, Pineda) Prescription to Taste is Pineda’s free cookbook with over 47 recipes, testimonies, and explanations of his findings.

The cook book contains the four essential E’s:

  1. Economical cost
  2. Easy to find ingredients
  3. Effortless preparation time
  4. Efficient portions to store

You can see why Cooking with Cancer has become such a hit. Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce sent out the magazine less than a month ago, and we’ve already given out over 25 copies! With wide smiles and thankful hearts, these people are overjoyed to receive a piece of hope for themselves or their loved ones.


Pineapple and Cheese Honeycake

Pineapple is a refreshing fruit which for centuries has aided the digestive systems. It has tenderizing effect on food and a helpful effect on excessive gas and abdominal distention.


Queson Fresco (crumbling cheese) 4 ounces, ½ inch slices

Fresh pineapple                                 4 ounces, 2/3 inch slices

Honey                                                 2 tablespoons

Tien tsin pepper                                a pinch

Mint leaves                                        2-3


-In a small sauce pan, place the honey and pepper

-Cook on medium heat until caramelized (watch for bubbles)

Note: Handle with care as will be hot.

-Stack the cheese and pineapple one on top of the other three to four layers at a time

-Cover top with peppered honey. Allow to cool.

-Garnish with fresh mint leaves

Prescription to Taste: A Cooking Guide For Cancer Patients can be picked up free of cost at Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce, located at Vestavia Hills Civic Center.

*Disclaimer: Cooking with Cancer, INC has not been tested by the traditional standards of medical research. All the recipes are based on common knowledge, knowledge of cooking, and researched literature available from culinary and medical topics.