Pecayennes Can Help with Chemo Recovery

To read this article on the Goshen News website,

If someone you know or love is currently going through cancer treatments, it can be sad and frustrating to know that there’s not a lot you can do for them besides help with chores, run errands or just be there for support. All those are wonderful things to do for someone who is undergoing treatment for cancer.

Today, I’d like to offer an additional, practical idea to help those who may be experiencing some unpleasant side effects from chemotherapy.

The point of chemotherapy is to destroy fast-growing cancer cells, but it also destroys helpful, healthy cells that also divide and grow quickly, such as those in your mouth and throat. It’s a necessary evil that can cause patients to suffer painful sores and infections in their mouths and throat. A popular home treatment for painful sores like this are recipes that include both cayenne pepper (capsaicin) to anesthetize the nerve endings and sugar to keep the pepper from setting your mouth on fire. A genius idea that really works!

Unfortunately, these recipes typically call for white processed sugar and corn syrup — and both of those items are unhealthy. My friend Sarah Bender took the recipe and made it better. Now, not only does it have the all-important numbing qualities for those who are suffering, but it’s better for you too. It also is insanely delicious and addictive. When she brings in the pecan candy or taffy, I have to force myself to stop eating them. She’ll be teaching a Make it Better class about these and a few other healthier candies, including a cayenne taffy that can serve the same purpose, at Maple City Market in Goshen the evening of Jan. 24, but if you’d like to try it out yourself at home, try the recipe below.


2 cups raw pecans

3 T. maple syrup

1 T. coconut oil or butter

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (or up to 3/4 tsp. if you’re adventurous)

1/2 tsp. Himalayan pink salt

A dash each of ground cumin and chili powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

While oven is preheating, melt coconut oil or butter in small saucepan; then whisk in syrup, spices and salt.

Place pecans in medium bowl and pour oil/syrup mixture over them; toss to coat.

Arrange pecans in single layer on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool at least 30 minutes before serving.

Miranda Beverly is the front-end manager and marketing coordinator at Maple City Market in downtown Goshen.

Pecayennes Can Help with Chemo Recovery
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