Fierce Foods Academy
MaxLove Project's pioneering culinary
cooking classes | personalized family dietitian support | online social support | recipes | educational materials
Culinary medicine is the practice of using real food to restore health, reduce side effects of conventional treatments, and improve quality of life. But it can only be effective through culinary education, positive social support, and rigorous nutrition research.
MaxLove Project’s Fierce Foods Philosophy
The Fierce Foods Academy (FFA) is a collection of programs that center on risk-reducing and quality-of-life-improving whole foods. The programs range from direct education and professional counseling to social support and therapeutic arts.
Our mission at MaxLove Project is to empower children, families, and communities fighting childhood cancers with whole-body nutrition and wellness in treatment, prevention, and survivorship. All FFA programs are guided by three primary nutritional goals:
1) Lower inflammation through responsibly raised whole foods.
2) Support a healthy metabolism by stabilizing blood sugar and metabolism; we do this by eliminating added sugars and refined carbohydrates.
3) Maximize nutrient intake by focusing on nutrient-dense foods.
To these ends, FFA programs advocate broad dietary patterns that emphasize:
a) Non-starchy vegetables and fruit
b) Healthy fats like nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, and full-fat dairy from grass-fed cows
c) Responsibly raised animal protein from eggs, meat, fish, poultry and dairy
d) Culinary “helpers” like erythritol, stevia, and psyllium husk that allow us to make low-glycemic, nutrient-dense versions of popular kid foods
All of our FFA programs are guided by broader health promoting principles:
1) Anticancer nutrition is a journey, not a destination.
2) Family matters. In child nutrition, the whole family must be united in their nutrition goals and in implementing nutritional changes.
3) Families should only make changes they can stick with and build on in the future. Big changes are often counter-productive.
4) We respect “bio-individuality.” Human bodies are complex. What works in one body may not work in another.
5) Kids who handle, prepare, and help cook whole foods are more likely to eat whole foods.
Ongoing Fierce Foods Academy Programs
Fierce Foods Academy Cooking Class: Our Fierce Foods Academy Cooking Class is a family-focused culinary medicine program designed to empower families to incorporate healing, nutrient-dense foods into their family's wellness plan. Through arts, crafts, play, and cooking, kids learn about fighting bad guys (colds, germs, and even cancer), super-boosting their good guys, and having fun, all with delicious “fierce foods.” In every class, parents are also educated on the reasons and skills needed for buying, preparing, and serving “fierce foods.”
Each class has a theme. Past themes have included “Fierce Lunches,” “Sugar-free Sweets,” “Pizza Party,” “Broth Bar” and “Fierce Snacks.” For every theme, we design two or three recipes, at least one of which can be fully completed by children under 10 years old. Another goal of every recipe is that they require no more than average home culinary skills.
By the end of every class, we hope parents come away with 1) a better understanding of what a truly healthy dietary pattern looks like; 2) new meal-planning strategies for family meals; 3) at least one new culinary skill; and 4) a greater sense of social support for making dietary changes.
Online Support Group: Over 850 families are actively engaged in our professional-dietitian-monitored private online group we call the MaxLove Project Super Families Support Network. Everyday, parents of childhood cancer patients and survivors ask questions, share successes and failures, post recipes, and offer and receive vital emotional and informational support. The group is monitored by professional dietitians who specialize in anticancer nutrition. In the future, with your help, we want to break the group out into small groups of 3 to 4 families who share similar diagnoses and are at similar stages in treatment. Each group will have its own dietitian and family counselor available for questions and encouragement. Research suggests that these small groups will be even more effective at producing positive, healthy lifestyle changes.
Individualized Nutrition Support Initiative (dietitian consultation scholarships): Every family who signs up for MLP’s Fierce Foods Academy is eligible for fully funded professional dietitian counseling focused on quality of life care for the whole family. Counseling sessions are tailored to each family’s unique situation: child’s age, diagnosis, stage in treatment, and food tastes. MLP has sponsored professional counseling and continued follow-up for over 100 childhood cancer families.
Fierce Foods Guide
Fierce Foods Recipes
Fierce Foods Challenge with Orange County, California Schools: We discovered that kids in cancer treatment eat healthier if their friends eat healthy. So, in the Spring of 2015, we collaborated with two Orange County elementary schools to teach kids about super powers of fresh, whole food. We then brought in executive chefs from the Irvine restaurant True Food, Tustin Whole Foods, and Santa Ana restaurant Boldo Bol to team up with each classroom to design their own unique “fierce foods” recipe. On April 28th, each class presented their recipe, fully prepared to a panel of distinguished judges and a full-house audience at Costa Mesa’s Surfas Kitchen studios. Each principal can’t wait to expand the curriculum and chef-engagement activities to their entire school.