Thanks a Million for an Amazing 2018

Food is the universal language that brings on conversation and bonding in addition to nourishment. As Nutrition Program Director for Mondays at Racine Cancer Care Foundation, I was blown away by the generosity and outpouring of donations this year. Each and everyone helped bring our nutrition program to new heights. Good nutrition makes a marked difference when battling cancer. Not only do cancer patients benefit from food, but they also benefit from how food is presented to them and by products that enhance their lives and make things just a little less daunting. 

This year Mondays at Racine teamed up with many like-minded companies and groups to work together to enhance the community. The result has been nothing short of a win-win. There is always a spot at the Mondays at Racine table. Here is a recap of our 2018 favorite things and how they made a difference in the lives of those afflicted with cancer.

“We are so thrilled to have Pizza Parm Islip consistently donate healthy and delicious food to our program at our flagship salon each month. Having a local eatery from the Bohlsen Group supporting our clients is amazing for our community. Thank you, thank you, thank you” Rachel DeMolfetto, Co-Founder of Mondays at Racine Cancer Care Foundation.

Carrabbas of Smithtown has been a very generous supporter of our Tuesdays at Maia Program. Every other month, they generously donate a tray of salad and a fresh delicious pasta dish. Clients always look forward to the wonderful spread we provide as well as the opportunity to relax and chat with other clients. Adding a warm delicious meal to the program always enhances the already comforting environment. Thank you Carrabba’s” Christine Carlton, Tuesdays at Maia.

February was “American Heart Month” and we focused on sodium in our diets. Making and tastingFrontier Soups was an extra special treat for everyone. “I was lucky enough to sample several varieties of soup at our charter salons throughout the month. Each one was more delicious than the next! Our clients were thrilled when they got a soup to take home. It’s perfect because is so easy and effortless to make, which is exactly what someone going through cancer treatment needs,” Rosemary Berger, Vice President, Mondays at Racine Cancer Care Foundation.

Our National Garden Month program and donation of organic herb seeds from Zziggysgal and flower pots from The HC Companies tied in perfectly to our Monday’s mission. The “whole person” is nurtured in the Mondays environment and our clients got to take home seeds to plant and nurture. “I loved the seeds with the flower pot. I made it into a project with my granddaughter. It was exciting as we watched it grow,” Liz D, Client.

It makes me so happy to introduce new foods (especially healthy ones) to clients and friends. This yearLifeway Foodsdonated samples of Kefir, Farmer Cheese and Skyr. We made smoothies, added Farmer Cheese to waffles and made Skyr parfaits! For the majority of clients and volunteers, it was their first time trying these foods and here’s what one client,  Melissa K. had to say, “Kefir was a great discovery! I loved trying all the different flavors and learning about the high probiotic content. I bought some and my kids drink it all the time now”. 

“I sampled a variety of olive oils and vinegars from The Crushed Olive and am totally sold! In fact, these will be my go to holiday gifts! More importantly, many clients found that adding small amounts helped make foods more enjoyable and palatable. This is so important since cancer treatment wreaks havoc on their tastebuds”. Cynthia Sansone, President and Co-Founder of Mondays at Racine Cancer Care Foundation.

Our clients are always looking for new recipes and inspiration and that’s exactly what they found as we went through the recipes in the Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Dummies by Meri Raffetto, RDN and Wendy Jo Peterson, MS, RDN, co-authors. Thank you so much for donating two signed copies of your book for our Social Media Giveaway contest during Mediterranean Foods Month. Our winners were so psyched!

The Girl Scouts of Nassau County have outdone themselves with their contributions to the Nutrition Program. Here’s what one client, Joyce C. had to say, “Seeing what the girls continue to do for others is heartwarming. The goody bags, cards, inspirational bookmarks, and homemade goods are all examples of compassion they have for others. Thank you, Girl Scouts.”

Mad Hectic Oats  “I really enjoyed tasting the different varieties of oatmeal and when Wendy demoed it, I could not believe how quick and easy it was to make. My appetite has decreased so much since starting treatment, so to get 12-14 grams of protein plus other nutrients per serving is fantastic,”Avigail D., Client.

Our “Breakfast at Mondays” Nutrition Program was a huge hit, Dash donated mini waffles makers to all of our clients. It is a perfect portion size when appetite is much less than normal. Here’s what Client Carmine B. had to say, “The donation of the waffle makers from Dash was such a surprise. I walked away with something tangible that made my life easier and this was in addition to the services I received that day. Thinking about how delicious those waffles would taste helped take the focus off of my diagnosis. I had fun adding my own creative spin on waffles (made my own egg protein powder waffles) and I have to say, clean up was a cinch! Mission accomplished, spirits and appetite satisfied, thank you Dash.”

Crispy Green Snacksour clients could not get enough of your freeze dried fruit! Every flavor was loved, so I’m sorry, we cannot choose a favorite amongst the pear, banana, apple, pineapple, and tangerine! One creative thing we did was add it salads instead of croutons! Client, Rosemary M. said “The Crispy Green Snacks dried fruit were very tasty. I liked how there was no added sugar, it was low carb and 0 sodium. I have many diet restrictions and this snack is a healthier alternative when fresh fruit is not available,”,Rosemary M., Client.

Who doesn’t love coffee? I felt compelled to an entire program on coffee to dispel any myths that coffee may not be healthy. With help from Counterculture Coffee

and Melitta Coffee, we had an amazing month in October. We tasted several roast varieties from Counterculture Coffee and soon became experts at deciphering nuance flavors. We also sampled Melittathat we made via their pour-over system. And as if that was not enough, everyone loved going home with the Melitta Coffee gifts! The coffee, filters and pour over system makes lives easier, especially when you are going through cancer treatment. In seconds, a delicious hot cup of coffee is at your disposal saving time, money and energy. 

RX Nut Butters are simply delicious. Clients and volunteers loved sampling the peanut and almond butters. Besides being delicious, they are satisfying, loaded with protein and have minimal, if any, added sugars. “It’s so easy to throw in my bag when I have doctors appointments and will be out for long periods of time. I also carry them around for my boys. The individual pouches minimize my prep work and I can rest assure that I am feeding them something nutritious” Sara G., Client.

XOXO – OXO! Your products have been a lifesaver for many of our clients. The nuances of the design make it easier for those who suffer from neuropathy and other cancer treatment-related physical difficulties to get by. The see-through storage and meal prep containers are the best way for everyone to remember what they have in their refrigerator, and the perfect portion sizes make it easy to grab-and-go! “Thank you for the trifecta donation of travel mugs for our clients, the Smart Seal Plastic Container Sets for our social media giveaway contest and the Good Grips Everyday Kitchen Tool Set raffle donation for our fundraiser, the Long Island Beauty Ball,” Barbara Claudio, Director of Operations, Mondays at Racine. 

No matter what the month, I always stress hydration. It’s key for all of us, but when you’re going through cancer treatment, it’s that much more important to be mindful since many cancer patients are prone to dehydration. With samples of Tickle Water sparkling water, we enjoyed some festive holiday mocktails and are well on track for Dry January!

Thank you to Orgain for providing samples of your product for some of our clients who need some satisfying extra nutrition. Many found the shakes to be quite tasty and loved how there were plant-based and grass-fed protein options!

Battling cancer throws a curve ball in all well-intended plans. When you’re a mom and it’s “Back-To School” time, how do you make it through? Mondays at Racine held a foundation-wide campaign to help. An extra special thank you to those who contributed to our Back-To-School Campaign and Giveaway Contest (Toby Amidor, MS, RDN, CDN, Crispy Green Snacks, Counterculture Coffee, OXO and Mad Hectic Oats). Check out my e-book, “Strategies To Tackle Back-To-School When You’re battling Cancer” for practical tips during this time. I also highly recommend checking out Smart Meal Prep for Beginners by Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN. This easy-to-follow book contains recipes and weekly plans for healthy, ready-to-go meals for everyone.

Elegant Eating proves time and time again that good things come in small packages! Last May, they delivered a parade of beautiful, tasty treats for our clients at Maia in Smithtown. “When it’s pleasing to the eye, it just may appeal to the rest of the senses too, sometimes a difficult feat when battling cancer,” Eileen S., Client.

2018 has been quite a challenging year for our clients, yet one filled with gratitude, love and hope. We are eternally grateful for the generous donations from companies, groups and individuals that share our mission. The food for our clients to savor, the products to enhance their lives and all the tokens of love that bring smiles to their faces is priceless.

From our community to yours, a hearty thank you and Happy New Year!


Wendy Kaplan, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist