Giving people a hand with beautiful food

A new cookbook that overcomes some of the major challenges in providing beautiful food for people with eating disabilities was launched by Maggie Beer in Sydney in June.

It’s all about the food not the fork: 107 easy to eat meals in a mouthful is the sequel to the best-selling Don’t give me eggs that bounce and is published by HammondCare Media.

Lead author Peter Morgan-Jones, a well-known chef and aged care food ambassador, said the strongest interest in the previous book had been its recipes and ideas for age-appropriate meals to be eaten by hands.

“This didn’t surprise me as in my career as a chef around the globe, I’d enjoyed cooking and serving canapés and know how popular food by hand and on the move can be,” Peter said. “But there was still a stigma in other settings and often families would be dismayed when their much loved older relative lost the use of cutlery and was needing to be fed or would begin eating with their hands.

“So we are working to breakdown this stigma and offer recipes and ideas for smaller meals that are designed to be eaten by hand across the day which not only provide dignity but increase nutrition and enjoyment.

“Time and again the result is that people who were shunning mealtimes, losing weight and missing out on the joy of food, are eating again, enjoying independent meals again and gaining weight!”

Inspiring change in aged care

In launching the book, Maggie Beer told the audience that it had partly been the inspiration of Peter, along with his fellow authors and the work of HammondCare that had propelled her into her own campaign nationally to improved aged care food.

The Maggie Beer Foundation has searched for the best examples of aged care food across the nation, shared these ideas and stories and developed the Creating an Appetite for life aged care cooks and chefs training schools, which Peter Morgan-Jones teaches in.

'It was amazing to see!'

Speaking at the launch, author and dietitian Lisa Greedy told how, just the day before, she had been working in a dementia cottage for younger people with dementia, seeking to support a resident who was not eating and was facing concerning weight-loss. The person was no longer using cutlery, had swallowing difficulties and was on the move regularly.

“We were able to use a recipe from the book to make an appetising pureed food that could be eaten by hand and we were delighted when the resident happily began eating. It was amazing to see!”

Alongside the two cookbooks, HammondCare also shares its approach to food culture through the Dementia Centre’s Dining by Design schools that are held all over the world and internally, by focusing on fresh cook kitchens in its hospitals and domestic kitchens at the heart of each dementia cottage. HammondCare recently developed a training kitchen so its staff can have access to the latest training in food preparation including recipes and ideas from Don’t give me eggs that bounce and It’s all about the food not the fork.