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Let's get cookin': Back in the swing

For breast cancer survivors, a recipe for joy and good health

Created date

December 25th, 2012
he Back in the Swing Cookbook: Recipes for Eating and Living Well Every Day After Breast Cancer

In August of 1998, publisher and business owner Barbra C. Unell completed her final radiation treatment for breast cancer. After months of personal care, Unell assumed that support would continue though recovery and, later, survivorship. She was shocked to learn that once treatment ended, so too did the care.

Unell felt abandoned at a time when she most needed help getting “back in the swing” of life. Eventually, Unell did find her way back to a healthy and fulfilling life, and she was determined to make that journey easier for other breast cancer survivors. In 2000, she started Back in the Swing USA, a national nonprofit dedicated to supporting breast cancer survivors emotionally, physically, and spiritually for the rest of their lives.

As part of that mission, Unell recently teamed up with food writer Judith Fertig to write The Back in the Swing Cookbook: Recipes for Eating and Living Well Every Day After Breast Cancer (Andrews McMeel Publishing). Packed with recipes that are both tasty and nutritious, and loaded with advice for leading a healthy and joyful life, The Back in the Swing Cookbook is the perfect recipe to get yourself or someone you love back in the swing.

Tuscan Ribollita


Serves 8


8 small slices whole wheat and flaxseed boule Italian bread

½ cup grated parmesan or asiago cheese

2 tblsp olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 carrots, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cubed butternut squash

1 cup canned diced tomatoes

5 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth

3 cups chopped kale leaves, stems cut out

1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. For the toasted bread, preheat the oven to 350°F. Arrange the bread slices on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle the top of each slice with 1 tblsp of the cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges of the bread have browned and the cheese is browned and bubbling. Remove from the oven and let cool.

2. Meanwhile, for the soup, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery for 8 to 10 minutes, until softened. Stir in the rosemary, squash, tomatoes, broth, and kale, and bring to a boil. Cook, covered, for 30 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Add the beans and simmer for 10 minutes, until the flavors have blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. To serve, place 1 toast in the bottom of each bowl and ladle with soup. Serve hot.