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For many people with disabilities, cooking can be a daunting task. Limited hand function, inaccessible spaces, and budgetary constraints tend to leave home cooking on the back burner. We asked a group of kitchen-savvy Peers to share their top tips and tricks for frustration-free cooking.

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On March 27, 2017, SCI BC held an adaptive tools cooking class at ICORD’s state-of-the-art accessible kitchen in the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre. Peers heard a short presentation from Nigel Kam, an occupational therapist at G.F Strong, and had the opportunity to receive tailored advice on how to make cooking easier for them.

Then, the cooking began! As Peers cooked up both spicy cauliflower and delicious beef tacos, pico de gallo and taco salad, they swapped tricks and tips, tested out adaptive tools and spoke with Nigel one-on-one.

They also took some time out to share what works for them with SCI BC. Read our accessible cooking tips below and you’ll be cooking like a pro in no time!

1. Do your research.

A meal isn’t just about the ingredients; it’s also about the preparation. Planning ahead = eating healthy + spending less money + saving time. So what exactly is planning ahead? Planning ahead might include picking a recipe that can be modified and used a few times a week. Maybe on Monday you’ll have tacos, Wednesday you’ll have a taco salad and if you’re feeling really adventurous you might take a stab at making stuffed peppers on Saturday!

2. Think big.

Why not think ahead? Double or triple a recipe and make enough to throw in the freezer for later. Maybe one day you’ll come home late from work or just be too tired to cook—you’ll be happy to have something healthy in the freezer waiting to be quickly heated up. And you know what they say—leftovers are always better than the first meal!

Did you know?!

Even if you’re not an inpatient, you can still visit the office at GF Strong to see an occupational therapist and work towards accomplishing your goals in the kitchen. An example of a goal may be to hold a knife and be able to cut ingredients more easily.

All you have to do is have your GP fill out this form. Rumour has it that now is a good time to get into the OT office at G.F Strong as the wait list isn’t very long!

3. It’s okay to ask for help.

Make it a team effort. If you know that chopping potatoes, cleaning vegetables or lifting heavy pots and pans is difficult but a crucial component of your recipe, why not put your visitors to work! Ask friends, family or staff to lend you a hand. You can store cut or washed vegetables in the fridge so you can quickly and easily access them when it comes time to cook.

4. Make things easy.

Lifting against gravity can be challenging, so try to take gravity out of the equation. Don’t make things harder than they need to be. If you can find an easier way of getting things from point a to point b, like sliding a heavy pot instead of lifting it—do it!

A meal isn’t just about the ingredients; it’s also about the preparation.

5. Find the right tools.

Adaptive tools are available through various vendors such as Macdonald’s Home Health Care. These include but aren’t limited to: electronic can openers, ulu knives, and stabilizing cutting boards with a pivot knife and suction cups on the bottom of the board to keep the board in place. Stability can create more function for a person with an SCI. An easy, cost-free trick to keeping a chopping board secure is to place a wet dishtowel underneath the board. This will keep it from sliding and moving out of place!

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Adapted cutting boards can help hold food items in place while you chop
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An ulu knife can be easier to hold and manoeuvre for someone with limited hand function

6. Supersize.

The bigger something is, the easier it is to hold, grip and use. You can make things bigger by adding layers of tape or a piece of foam to the handle of a utensil.

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Adding a piece of foam to an eating utensil will help you hold it more easily

 7. Practice makes perfect!

While cooking can often seem daunting or onerous, it’s important to practice—this will make you more confident in using tools and in cooking. Before you know it, you’ll be zipping around the kitchen like you own it!

Interested in learning to cook? Check out our monthly classes for in-person demos, adaptive cooking, and a dinner with fellow SCI BC Peers.

If you’re looking for dinner inspiration, check out our recipes & nutrition resource page for tons of healthy, easy recipes!

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