Posts Tagged cooking with dementia

Make No-Bake Cookies

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No-bakes can be whipped up in less time and with fewer ingredients than most traditional cookies. In fact, you probably have everything you need right in your pantry. Low maintenance recipes (like this one) are ideal, as this may prevent confusion and frustration from occurring. Simple AND scrumptious? How deliciously perfect! :)

As the person’s dementia progresses, certain abilities will fade. Therefore, it is important to provide the right amount of supervision and hands on assistance in order for the person to be successful. For instance, someone who is in the early stages of dementia may be able to manage several steps of the recipe without a lot of help. However, someone else that has progressed to the middle stages of the disease, may do better with a 1-2 or single step task, such as dropping spoonfuls of the cookie mixture onto a prepared baking sheet.

Each person is different. Be observant to how YOUR person is reacting to what he/she is bring asked to do. If we notice confusion or anxiety, that may be our cue to simplify instructions and/or slow down the pace of the activity.

The recipe below was taken from a foodnetwork.com entry. I’ve seen other recipes that include shredded coconut, candy pieces, or other little surprises mixed in. You could also try ‘lightening up’ the recipe will fat free peanut butter or sugar alternatives. Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 stick (8 tbs) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tbs pure vanilla extract
  • Large pinch of kosher salt

Directions

Line a baking sheet with wax paper or parchment.

Bring the sugar, milk, butter and cocoa to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, then let boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Add the oats, peanut butter, vanilla, and salt, and stir to combine.

Drop teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, and let sit at room temperature until cooled and hardened, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/peanut-butter-chocolate-no-bake-cookies-recipe.html?vty=recipes/chocolate-peanut-butter-no-bake-cookies-recipe.html&oc=linkback

 

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Make Trail Mix

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I love trail mix. And one reason I love it as much as I do… it is so easy to make! I mean literally, just throw different ingredients together into a bowl and ta-da! It doesn’t need to get any fancier than that. Another amazing thing about this treat? You can totally make it your own and add whatever you think will go great together. Many trail mixes contain a combination of dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and (most importantly) chocolate. If you or your person has a nut allergy or an aversion to chocolate (weird), again, totally customizable.

Depending on how progressed your person’s dementia is, you can choose to involve him/her in different ways. For instance, someone in the earlier stages may be able to create a shopping or ingredient list with you and measure out individual components. Someone who is further progressed may have a difficult time thinking of ingredients that are not visible to them (too abstract). For those folks, it might help to set out a bowl of nuts, dried fruits, etc., and then ask the person to chose from what’s right in front of them. So basically, it’s nice to provide choice where we can, but we want to be careful not to overwhelm the person with too many options or abstractions. Someone in the later stages of the disease might enjoy taste testing or feeling the different textures by using their hands to mix everything together.

Ready to get started? Try out this recipe below or change it up however you like! My recipe is actually a variation of this one that I found.

  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup Candy Corn
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup of your favorite mini pretzels
  • 1 cup Honey Nut Chex cereal

Mix ingredients together in a bowl. Eat and enjoy!

 

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Pretend that You are the Host of Your Own Cooking Show

pretend you are the host of a cooking show

I was inspired by this idea when a friend of mine actually demoed a simple guacamole recipe for her mom. She thought it would be fun to pretend to be cooking show host while her mom was the ‘audience’. My friend went through the recipe step-by-step, provided tips on how to prepare the world’s best guac, and gave her mom a taste of the finished product at the end. It reminded me of Mario Batali’s cooking show (featured above) where he describes the ingredients, the process of putting it all together, and (best of all) gives the audience members sitting at the bar a taste of what he’s prepared.

I think this activity can be readily adapted for someone with dementia with a little bit of creativity. For example, you could hand the person the garlic or cilantro to smell the aroma. Have them taste just the plain mashed avocado before other ingredients are added. Ask the person to help stir the ingredients together in the bowl. Or ask them to lay out tortilla chips on a plate for dipping. Say you are trying our a new recipe and it would really help if they could be your taste-tester. Be flexible and find what works for you and your person!

I like that it gives the ‘audience member’ the option to interject comments or otherwise add to the interaction, but they are not pressured to do so. Depending on the person, they might be involved more passively, however, they are still being engaged throughout the entire process. But be ready in case your person would like to jump in and have a suitable activity in mind (such as the suggestions above). Do most of the prep work in advance before getting the person involved, so it is mostly a matter of assembling things together (e.g. chop garlic beforehand, open and scoop out avocado) — make sure your mise en place up to par! It is also best if you can use a clean and clutter-free counter space for this activity. Set out only the items that you will be using, and remove anything that will just get in the way or create clutter. Simplify, simplify!

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Wash Dirty (or clean) Dishes

dirty dish

I am the type of person that does not like other people cleaning my dishes. When I do receive help, I am often thinking about how wrong the placement of the dishes in the dishwasher is, or how the helper is certainly not scrubbing quite as thoroughly as I would be. OK, so maybe I’m a little bit of a dirty dish control freak! The point being, when someone does everything for the person with memory loss, it does not necessarily make the person feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It might cause them some anxiety or agitation because they’d rather be the person scrubbing away. Likewise, the caregiver may have a difficult time receiving help from the person with dementia because perhaps they believe the person will not clean the dishes as immaculately as they could. The solution? Relinquish some control and solicit the person’s help to wash those dishes (jeez!). Even if the dishes are not washed exactly as you would have done them or in the same amount of time, it is good for the person with dementia to feel purposeful and engaged in daily activities. Still concerned that the person may miss some stuck on grime? Offer the person a batch of already cleaned dishes that they can wash and dry. Be sure to remove hazardous items, such as knives and heavy skillets. Plastic cups and plates are a good choice because there is virtually no risk of dropping and breaking them. Monitor the person to ensure they are deriving enjoyment throughout the process. This activity can be very open-ended, and he/she can be involved for as long as they desire. Also, be sure to praise the person’s efforts!

 

 

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Make Baked Apples

Fall is in the air! Temperatures are dropping and days are becoming shorter. What better way to welcome in the season than with a delicious Fall cooking staple? The wonderful, nutrient packed apple! Baked apple desserts are undeniably yummy, and they require relatively little prep work. This is a great choice of activity for individuals who have cooking experience, as it may conjure up fond memories of being in the kitchen. Make an effort to reminisce with the person throughout the task. Even individuals without a cooking background will surely enjoy the enticing smells of apples baking alongside aromatic cinnamon and vanilla (these recipes will make your whole house smell amazing).

Try this recipe or make modifications to suit your tastes.

baked-apple-slices

  • Choose a variety of apple that is ideal for baking, such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp or Fuji. Any firm, non-mealy apple will do.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Peel, core, and slice 6 apples. This process can be simplified and expedited with an inexpensive apple peeler.
  • Grease a baking dish with butter.
  • Mix 2 tbs brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1tsp nutmeg, and 3 tsp ground cinnamon in a bowl.
  • Layer 1/3 apple slices in greased baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the sugar mixture. Repeat twice.
  • Bake apples uncovered for 30 minutes, then add 3 1/2 tbs water to the dish. Bake 15 minutes more or until tender.

Or, try the less prep intensive microwaved version

  • Peel (or don’t), core, and slice 1 apple.
  • Place apple slices in a freezer bag with 1 tsb sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cornstarch, and 1tbs water. Shake the freezer bag to coat apple slices with mixture.
  • Open the freezer bag just slightly to vent. Microwave for 2 minutes or until apple is tender.
  • CAREFULLY remove apple slices from microwaved bag. Enjoy plain or over vanilla ice cream.

Want to mix it up? Opt for baked apple chips. These could not be simpler to make.

baked apple chips

 

  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
  • Remove apple core from 2 apples.
  • Thinly slice apples (Be mindful of safety and consider who is best to do this).
  • Place apple slices on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  • Sprinkle apples with cinnamon and bake for 2 hours. Flip slices over after 1 hour of baking.

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Play Chinese Checkers

chinee checkers

Chinese Checkers is another one of those games that is great for people with memory loss because it’s likely to be familiar and the rules preserved in long term memory. If, however, you need a refresher, there is a great tutorial (with pictures!) here.

It may be easier for someone with memory loss to use a simplified board such as the one below
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This two man board can be purchased online here.

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Make “Puppy Chow”

puppy chow

Puppy Chow, also known as “Muddy Mix” or “Monkey Munch”, is a super easy, super delicious treat. But be warned: This recipe is NOT for the diabetics among us! I like this recipe as an activity for people with memory loss because it’s pretty simple, can be done without the stove, and it’s not a big deal if the ingredients aren’t measured exactly. The recipe, courtesy of Food.com, is as follows:

Ingredients:
9 cups Chex cereal (any kind)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, melted
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 -2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Directions:
1. Measure cereal in large bowl and set aside.
2. Microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter for 1 minute on high.
3. Stir and cook for 30 seconds longer or until smooth.
4. Add vanilla.
5. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until coated.
6. Pour mixture into large Ziploc bag and add powdered sugar.
7. Shake until well coated.
8. Spread on waxed paper to cool.
9. Eat. Store in Ziploc bags or large sealed bowl (as if it will last that long!).

Of course, this activity can be modified for someone in almost any stage of dementia. Someone with only mild memory loss may be able to do all the steps independently. Someone the moderate stages may be able to measure all the ingredients and stir/shake as needed, but may need help remembering the order of the steps or need help operating the microwave. Someone in the late stages of the disease may be able to stir or shake after seeing a short demonstration or some hand-over-hand assistance.

Be sure to reminisce as you cook. You could ask about favorite sweet treats, what they liked to cook (or what they hated to cook!). Their children’s favorite snacks, how they learned to cook, etc.

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