Although I’m not a professional chef, I was a food writer for the original Rochester Magazine, (when it started years ago in my hometown of Rochester, Minnesota), learned basic and advanced cooking techniques, and created many original recipes. I’ve made airy soufflés, gallons of soup, tossed a dizzying array of salads, baked French baguettes, turned our kitchen into a biscotti factory, produced thousands of cookies, made egg roll wrappers, flipped countless burgers, prepared a wedding dinner for seventy, roasted a Christmas prime rib as long as a log, entertained my physician husband’s patients, and made cookbooks for family members.
These experiences have been a culinary journey, and I have enjoyed every moment of it—even the recipe failures.
I’m a “made-from-scratch” cook, an approach that halted abruptly in 2013 when my husband’s aorta dissected. After three emergency operations, two months in the hospital, and six months in a nursing home for therapy, my husband John was released to my care. His dismissal was a nutrition wake-up call. For eight months I had been eating on the run. Instead of eating complete meals, I snacked and made poor food choices. Much as I hate to admit it, I often ate standing up due to time constraints. I visited my husband three times a day, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and there was little time for anything else.
Your caregiving experiences may be similar to mine. After rushing to prepare food, using too many high-salt mixes, and eating too many frozen meals, many of them high in salt, you may yearn for something homemade…After months of poor nutrition, I knew it was time to return to eating healthy, balanced meals…I learned that the approach to cooking by a caregiver requires taking a lot of things into consideration that we didn’t have to think about before, including:
- physicians’ recommendations and prescriptions
- foods that inhibit or cancel effects of medication
- medication management (including dosage times)
- loved one’s daily routine
- loved one’s appetite
- food likes and dislikes
- amount of daily physical activity
- caregiving budget (including food)
- food intolerances and allergies
Challenging as my scenario was, these changes were possible, and I was willing to make them for my husband and me. I deserved balanced, nutritious meals as much as John, and getting back to normal would be comforting…This caregiver’s cookbook is the result of my experience in providing nutritious meals for John and myself…
When I was writing these recipes I tried to imagine your caregiving day, the schedule you keep, and your time-management strategies. I tried to imagine the care receiver too—a child with chronic disease, an ill husband or wife, or a grandparent in failing health. Every meal you prepare can exemplify the love you feel. Fixing meals for a loved one is more than providing fuel for the body; it’s a demonstration of love. You can reduce salt and fat, monitor sugar, and avoid food additives, food coloring, and preservatives with unpronounceable names. Best of all, you can tailor the recipes to your loved one’s needs.
This is an excerpt from the Preface of The Family Caregiver’s Cookbook: Easy-Fix Recipes for Busy Caregivers, slated for October release. The 300-page book is already on Amazon and available for pre-order.