Ruchi G. Kalra: Healing Through Nutrition

Ruchi G. Kalra: Healing through nutrition

Ruchi G. Kalra: Healing Through Nutrition

Contributed by Ruchi G. Kalra

When my husband Vivek was first diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in December 2020, my first thoughts were surgery, treatment, and healing. It was only after he came home from the hospital that I realized that there were a lot more changes in store for us, from chemo symptoms to scares and from scans to nutrition. I am sure we will keep adding to the list until all of this is behind us.

We as a family have a mostly vegetarian diet and a very active, healthy lifestyle. So you can imagine our surprise when Dr. Kalmadi, our oncologist at Ironwood Cancer & Research, mentioned that we need a lifestyle change and need to choose healthier eating options. We were not sure what more we could change, as we already don’t eat red meats, frozen foods, or processed foods. We do salads every day for lunch and cook a lot of fresh vegetables.

Our lifestyle and cuisine are a blend of multiple cultures as my husband and I were born in India, raised in Zambia, Africa, and moved to the U.S. for college. As a caregiver and the main chef in the house (hasn’t COVID made a chef out of all of us?) I quickly had to do a lot of research into even healthier options than I could implement in our lifestyle.

With the start of chemo, we quickly realized that his body was going through drastic changes and needed a lot more nutrients to continue on this path of healing as he navigated chemo. He also needed snacks every few hours to keep down nausea.

These are a couple of recipes that I have been making as snacks. I hope you guys get a chance to try them out and love them as much as he did.

Protein Bites: 

These simple protein bites are healthy and loaded with plant-based proteins with low sugar content. This recipe is a blend of Ladoo (Indian dessert) and protein bites. I used chickpea flour, coconut flakes, nuts, flax meal almond meal, ghee (clarified butter), and jaggery ( unrefined cane sugar). Jaggery is prepared without the use of any chemicals, preservatives, or synthetic additives and contains a number of proteins, minerals, and vitamins. If you do not have jaggery powder, adding brown sugar is certainly better than adding white sugar. It’s been a great way to pack in some protein and also satisfy those middle-of-the-day sweet cravings for him. 

Simple Protein Bites


  • 4 tbsp Ghee (Clarified Butter)
  • 1 cup Peanuts
  • ½ cup Cashews
  • ¼ cup Sesame Seeds
  • ½ cup Gluten-Free Oats
  • 1 tbsp Chia Seeds
  • ½ cup Sweetened Coconut Flakes
  • 2 tbsp Gram flour/Chickpea flour
  • ½ cup Almond Meal
  • ¼ cup Flax Meal
  • ¼ cup Jaggery Powder per taste or can use 


  1. In a flat large pan, add 1 tbsp ghee on low to medium heat
  2. After the ghee is hot, add cashews and peanuts and roast for a few mins on low-medium and set aside
  3. In the same pan, roast sesame seeds lightly (make sure not to burn) and set them aside
  4. Coarsely blend the peanuts, cashews, sesame seeds, oats, chia seeds, and coconut flakes
  5. Add 3 tbsp ghee and add Chickpea flour and roast until golden brown(keep the flame on low to medium)
  6. Keep stirring for at least 10 mins. Make sure it does not stick or burn. If you burn it, you will have a slightly bitter taste.
  7. Add the blended mix, the almond meal, flax meal to the pan.
  8. Mix and stir again for a few mins till you have a nice aroma
  9. Turn the heat off and remove it from the stovetop
  10. Add the jaggery powder, and mix well
  11. Let it sit at room temperature for at least 5 minutes (make sure the mix does not get too cold or it will be hard to roll)
  12. Take small amounts and roll them in your hands, the ghee in the ladoos/bites will help bind them

Roasted Makhana Nuts:

Makhana is known as lotus seeds or fox nuts and looks a little like popcorn. They are healthier than popcorn and are loaded with nutrients and are a good source of protein, calcium, magnesium, and iron. Makhana is gluten-free and has anti-inflammatory properties. 

Lotus plants are found globally, from Iran to Japan, India, Australia, and Russia. Various parts of the plant have medicinal properties. The Lotus is called the Flower Of Life and has spiritual symbolism in Buddhism, Christianity to Hinduism, and are associated with the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Here is a simple easy recipe for a roasted makhana anytime guilt-free snack and believe me they will disappear fast. You can find these nuts on Amazon or even at your local Indian store.


Roasted Makhana Nuts 


  • 1 Packet Makhana (approximately 7 to 8 cups) 
  • 2 tsp Ghee or Olive oil 
  • 1 tsp Cumin powder
  • 1 tsp Dry Mango powder (Amchoor powder)
  • ½ tsp Corriander powder
  • ½ tsp Black pepper powder
  • ¼ tsp red chili powder per taste
  • ½ tsp Salt or per taste
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric (optional)


  1. Heat 1tsp ghee/oil on low to medium heat
  2. Roast the Makhana for 8 minutes stirring often so they do not burn (will be crunchy)
  3. Take out of the pan and set aside
  4. Heat 1tsp ghee/oil on low heat and add the spices, stir for 10 seconds. (make sure the spices do not burn)
  5. If you like a little color to them, then add the turmeric. I like them more white so do not add turmeric.
  6. Add the Makhana back to the pan
  7. Toss and roast for another 2 mins making sure they are coated well with the spices. 
  8. Cool and enjoy

As we continue to take this journey one day at a time, we plan to ride the high waves and swim through the lows and get this done and behind us.



Top resources