Social innovation research leads to new cookbook and cancer nutrition guide

After years of research, recipe development and testing, George Brown College Culinary Arts Professor Amy Symington launched a cookbook showcasing healthy and delicious plant-based recipes aimed at chronic disease prevention and management. All proceeds of the book will go to cancer charity Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto

Chef Symington, her students and colleagues will celebrate the launch of The Long Table Cookbook: Plant-based Recipes for Optimal Health on October 3, 2019 at The Chef’s House, George Brown’s student-focused restaurant. The cookbook was developed through research and testing Symington did in cooperation with Gilda’s Club to create a nutrition guide for cancer patients

“I couldn’t be happier with the results in terms of the cookbook and the guide. I’m so happy that there’s a resource we can give to people," she said. “Over the course of this entire project there have been people who’ve needed this and I’m beyond happy because people need the information.”

Filling a need for an evidence-based and practical anti-cancer cooking guide

The idea for this project and book started with the vegan supper club Symington started at Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto (GCGT) in 2012. After her mother’s diagnosis and death from breast cancer years earlier, Symington realized there wasn't a "good concise evidence-based tool” to provide diet and nutrition advice to people impacted by cancer. She wanted to create delicious health promoting, anti-cancer recipes that people could easily make and enjoy, and present them in one handy package—a cookbook. So, Symington applied for Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council social innovation funding and brought her George Brown students into the project.

Recipe testing at Gilda’s supper club

Symington’s effort to create the cancer nutrition guide, and a cookbook aimed at the general public, officially launched in 2016. She and her students from the Culinary Management—Nutrition program got to work developing and testing recipes made with nutrient-dense foods for Gilda’s supper club.

The social innovation research led to incredible results: 75 recipes, including 15 developed by students.

“Students had to do their due diligence in terms of research," she said, "but then they also had to make sure that all the recipes were easy to make with minimal ingredients and that the ingredients were accessible—nothing that you couldn’t find in your average grocery store.”

Symington provided advice for people who want to make healthier eating choices.

“If you really go home with one point today, you should be focusing on consuming one orange vegetable, one cruciferous vegetable and one leafy green every single day.”