When Cooking is Difficult

Some readers of this website may be recovering from surgery, undergoing chemotherapy or suffering from incapacitating illness. In spite of their misery, they have read about ways to improve their health. Some ways, such as meditative breathing, require little energy. However, even thinking about making cultured vegetables or bone broth may be exhausting. Here are some ideas for what to do when cooking is difficult that I hope will be helpful.

One suggestion is to let major food preparation tasks be done by companies which make and sell bone broth, cultured vegetables or dairy products, or bread, English muffins and cereal made with sprouted grains. See the "Sources" section of Healing Basics for a list of companies that make health promoting-foods and search their websites to find where their products are sold nearby or how to order them online. Although pricey, if you are searching for bone broth, cultured vegetables, sprouted grain bread, and nut butters made from soaked nuts, Wise Choice Market carries all of these for one-website shopping.

My hope is that you have family members or friends who will help you with meals, laundry, and shopping. The "Easy Dinners" chapter in Healing Basics will provide ideas for oven or crockpot meals that can cook while the helper is away.

Another option is to hire help. In the Denver, Colorado area, there is a caregiver agency called ElderlinkTM that is considerably less expensive than other agencies because the caregivers are self-employed. ElderlinkTM screens caregivers, has them bonded and insured, connects them with clients, and helps with schedules. The caregivers will help with anything from an occasional four-hour shift to 24-7 care. If there is a moderately priced agency such as ElderlinkTM nearby, and especially if you will need help for a short time only, hiring a caregiver may be something to consider.

Cooking, even when done by a family member, friend, or paid caregiver, can be kept simple. See the recipes on pages 95 to 98 of Healing Basics for whole meals that can be cooked in the crockpot, or try an easy crockpot bean soup for dinner (pages 178 to 180). One-dish meals baked in the oven are found on pages 98 to 100. Another option is to plan an oven meal, which is an oven entrée (pages 101 to 102), oven vegetable (pages 103 to 105) and oven grain (pages 146 to 149) baked in the oven at the same time. Perhaps you or the cook will even make an easy and comforting warm oven fruit dessert (pages 105 to 107).

Use frozen vegetables and pre-washed salad greens to save on washing and chopping. Frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh and may even contain more nutrients if the fresh vegetables have been stored for some time or shipped long distances.

Here is an example of how hired help at home can work especially for those on special diets. In her older years, Marjorie Hurt Jones, author of The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook, had a stroke that left her with mobility problems. Her husband, Stan, was legally blind. She told me they had "assisted living at home." They had a caregiver come most mornings to cook, do laundry and take them to appointments. Marge taught her helper about allergy cooking. Her helper was then able to prepare a wide variety of wheat-free baked goods, dinners that could be put in the oven in the afternoon, and other easily warmed or ready-to-eat foods. The Joneses did quite well, ate healthily, enjoyed being in their own home, and escaped problems of institutional living such as over-medication and infections.

There is quite a contrast between what Marge and Stan ate and what my 93-year old aunt is served in the assisted living center where she ended up after a fall. I listen to her and her diabetic friend complain about the biscuits and gravy for breakfast, white flour and sugar laden baked goods at every meal, sloppy Joe sandwiches on Wonder BreadTM-style buns, and especially the Tex-Mex food served several times a week, which is too spicy for both of these ladies in their 90s. This illustration makes it obvious that I would prefer to age at home, but as with medical decisions, you must make the decision that is best for you.

What I am about to write is my opinion biased by living with inhalant allergies from early childhood and food allergies from my mid-20s to the present in my mid-60s. A second disclaimer is that I am assuming the audience for this discussion is people of adequate mental condition to read this website. In my opinion, each person should be allowed to make his or her own decision about relinquishing control of aspects of life such as what to eat and where to live. All of us should be allowed to control our diet and the quality of the air we breathe because these can have a tremendous impact on health. We should have the right to breathe and eat in a way that improves our health rather than to have medical professionals apply unwanted "bandaids" to health problems that can be treated by diet.

Current law gives us the right to refuse any medical treatment. However, when my aunt had a routine eye treatment for macular disease that she had taken many times while living at home, the assisted living facility nurse brought Oxycodone and insisted that my aunt take it. Each of us must realize that we are not helpless and be assertive about our rights if necessary. Knowing that we have rights and fleeing from helplessness is good for both mental and physical health. Click here for the benefits of dispelling helplessness.