If you are looking to make a positive change to the current meals in your aged care home, our advice is to consider purchasing a slow cooker. That way, you can have food prepared in the fridge ready to be cooked by members of your staff. For example, make slow cooked beef shin, baked beans from scratch, or the sauce for spaghetti bolognese, in advance.
Introducing not only slow cookers, but also bread makers allows the wonderful smells of cooking to pervade the dining room for residents, helping to entice hunger and engage in conversations.
Fresh vegetables not only offer better flavour but are also most economic when purchased in their natural growing season.
Now that Spring is among us, why not try incorporating asparagus, beetroot or delicious strawberries into your menu?
Making food from scratch is always the best option; especially when it comes to stocks. A good stock is the basis for full flavoured meals and when made fresh need never contain harmful flavour enhancers or fillers.
Using butter over margarine is always Maggie’s recommendation because of potentially harmful trans-fats. If you find that butter is too difficult to spread, try blending it with a little extra virgin olive oil to keep it softer straight from the fridge.
Extra virgin olive oil is a great choice for everyday cooking, salad dressings and roasted vegetables or meats, not only for its full flavour, but also for its well documented health benefits.
Using all full fat milk and yoghurts adds to everyday protein intake but also has the added benefit of leaving a feeling of being fuller for longer.
Coconut in all its guises offers wonderful health benefits; adding coconut water or extra virgin coconut oil on a daily basis helps boost the immune system enormously.
Alternatively, for those wanting to reduce sugar intake, fresh coconut water is a wonderful option, adding vital electrolytes and also offering flavour beyond plain water. To increase further hydration, try adding a slice of lemon to plain or sparkling water.
"There are so many choices for how to spend Christmas Day, but for me the best option is one based on simplicity and style with the people I care about. The sleep after the long late lunch where everyone has helped to clean up is always special!
The festive season also brings with it a wonderful array of seasonal foods – the perfect time to work on improving your food variety. Increasing food variety works to improve chances of including health beneficial nutrients and minimise your chances of overdoing those extra indulgent foods that we see all to often at Christmas!
Another hint is to prepare as much as you can in advance; don’t think you always have to be looking for something new; just make sure you have beautiful produce to work with and you cook with love… Oh, and you have helpers to clean up too!
That's besides my other best tip - be sure to have music! In my case it’s usually opera - at volume!
I’ll finish by saying I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, that you have loved ones to share it with and that your food will be delicious!"
Anyone who loves food knows that a big part of the enjoyment in eating comes from the environment. Creating talking points, or perhaps a theme in the dining room, adds so much to mealtimes for residents of aged care homes. Abbeyfield in South Australia have a wall of photos of residents in their younger days, which not only provides identity, but also a wonderful trigger to conversation and memories to be shared.
To help create a relaxed and enjoyable mealtime for residents, it’s important that meals come out together as much as possible. This ensures that everyone feels a part of the experience of sharing food, rather than anyone feeling isolated or left out. It may not sound like a huge factor in someone’s mealtime, but it directly affects appetite if the stress of time pressure or isolation is associated with eating.