The Royal Marsden Cancer Cookbook

I’m very honoured to have been a part of this book, along with many friends and other cooks, chefs, dieticians, and nutritionists. I have lost two good and important men in my life to Cancer recently, and know that if this book had been around before now I would have given it to them, their families, and many other friends besides who have bravely battled through this ravaging and indiscriminate horror.

This is a book of meals to share with friends and family, for during treatment, and after treatment. It was compiled by Catherine Phipps, and introduced and edited by Dr Clare Shaw PhD RD, the consultant dietitian at The Royal Marsden. The beautiful photography was by Georgia Glynn Smith.

Dr Clare Shaw introduces the book: ‘Your diet has a strong bearing on your overall health and your ability to withstand Cancer treatment: there is much truth in the saying ‘You are what you eat.’ The food you consume affects whether you lose or gain weight and can influence your muscle strength and how you feel. The overall balance of your nutrient intake can also affect how well your body responds. People who lose a lot of weight before or during cancer treatment may find it more difficult to cope with the treatment, and side effects may be more common or harder to withstand.’

‘The first part of this book will help you decide which balance of foods suits you. What you need may change over time according to how you feel, changes in your weight and your taste or other factors that influence your food choices.’

‘The second part, the recipe section…begins with recipes for the period when eating is more difficult. The dishes here are designed to be high in protein and energy and provide plenty of vitamins and minerals. They may be built around particular flavours to tempt your palate or give ideas for times when cooking is a chore. The recipes are designed for all the family so there is no need to cook separate meals.’

‘For times when you need more energy or protein, if you are struggling to eat or recovering from treatment, there are hints and tips on how to fortify your foods as necessary or choose high energy foods. These recipes are not just for those who have cancer: good, healthy eating a applies to everyone.’

I wrote a simple pearl barley risotto recipe with beetroot and peas, and a lemon-chilli oil (below). Liz Earle (pictured below) donated a juice recipe. Mary Berry gave a cake recipe, and other contributors include Allegra, Gwyneth Paltrow and Nigella Lawson.

The Royal Marsden Cancer Cookbook is available to order from various online book shops, my favourite is Hive Stores, supporting independent book shops – and they deliver, too:

Apologies if this post has seemed a little weary and stilted – I am aware as I write that I do not sound like myself and aware that readers who have been given 850+ blog posts over 3 years may pick up on a change of tone… Today is a difficult day. Please buy this book, it is so beautiful, but so important. I wish it had been around sooner.

Jack Monroe. Twitter/Instagram @MsJackMonroe

For the Grandads. x


  1. Talking about cancer is always emotive. Having lost both parents to cancer and now having a sister battling cancer it’s effects are profound. I’ve just ordered 3 copies of the book.
    Stay strong. X

  2. Thank you for publicising this wonderful book, even if you do not feel your usual upbeat self. We all have days when Blogging is the last thing on our minds, you have taken the time to overcome this for a very good cause. Thank you.

    I hope you are soon feeling more at one with the world. xx

  3. You mentioned it on Twitter (I think) last week so I ordered a copy through Hive. I love cookbooks and supporting a good cause is always a bonus.
    My best friend’s dad died two years ago of cancer and I lost my grandma ten years ago to the same monstrous disease. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Have a lovely day in the Spring sunshine. Xx

  4. Cancer is a horror and seems to pervade ever more of our lives, the longer we live – even if we never suffer its ravages ourselves.

    We should all be using this admirable book, if only to minimise the risk of illness from all sorts of causes, not just cancer. I shall search it out immediately.

    Be kind to yourself and try not to let inevitable grief for your grandfathers get you down for too long. They would be immensely proud of your involvement in this and your other good causes.

  5. Grief will out, convenient or not.

    Poignant and concise isn’t always the Jack style, but I’ll take knowing lots of your facets!

  6. My husband was just diagnosed with liver cancer and the more good nutrition recipes that I can get the better. Husband is a meat and potatoes eater, absolutely willing to change now that his life is on the line. Thank G-d! Your recipe looks great!

  7. Thank you for this Jack. Will send to those I love who are fighting Cancer atm. We are all touched by this particular story. I lost my beloved grandfather to Cancer too young. Condolences for your losses.

  8. Great book, horrid disease. Thank you for contributing to it and letting us know. Hugs x

  9. I think this book will be good for anyone to read. I strongly believe in, ‘you are what you eat’. Thanks for this.

  10. Thank you for posting this. I’ve just ordered a copy as my Mum is currently having chemo. Sorry for your losses. I lost one of my Grandads to cancer too. It’s not easy to deal with. Sending you love 🙂 x

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