Have you seen our free Merry Christmas Cooking recipe book? On the blog this week we take a look behind the scenes to find out more about the book, the people and the recipes shared from the Livability community.
Making and eating delicious Christmas food, including special family favourites, fills us with joy and can be a memory we treasure. Following an acquired brain injury, Sue relearned how to cook, with therapy at Livability Icanho. Her contribution to Merry Christmas Cooking was a reworked classic – a festive pizza, with special seasonal additions to a simple recipe. ‘When someone has had a brain injury, cooking is useful for functional activity,’ says Icanho occupational therapist Barbara Langridge. ‘People are very rarely not interested in cooking, whether that’s making a snack or a cuppa, or rediscovering something which was a real passion. I try to create the perfect challenge, which pushes skills a little but also raises aspirations and hope. And that’s the same for the person’s family – it’s a sense of normality returning.’
A traditional Polish pastry features on one of our recipe cards, new for this year, and contributed by mum Magda, whose daughter Ella attends Livability Victoria School. Four-year-old Ella has Rett Syndrome, a rare condition that affects her brain development, speech and mobility.
Rett Syndrome means Ella has very little control over her muscles, including her hands, but she loves playing with toys and being around other children. Cooking with her mum is something Ella relishes: ‘Ella and I enjoy cooking and baking, especially at Christmas time – it’s a fun moment together in the kitchen, and a time to make memories together.’
Jaimee, who volunteered as an intern with Livability last year, shared her delicious Christmas pecans recipe. She finds cooking to be invaluable for children with disabilities: ‘Cooking always puts a smile on a child’s face and unknowingly improves fine motor skills and cooperation. It also gives the children a sense of accomplishment, and nothing beats their excitement when the food they make comes out of the oven. It’s an incredible way to watch them learn and grow.’
That’s the case for older students too, like Richard at Livability Millie College, who loves cookery lessons and now ‘cooks at home’. Adam feels a sense of pride when he cooks, saying ‘it is a bit of an achievement, following a recipe’.
As well as achievement, many students report feeling good about themselves when they cook. Adam again: ‘It gives me a nice warm feeling inside’ and Torin adds that cooking ‘makes him relaxed’ and he knows it’s good for his mental health.