Trying to cook when you’re in a chair and have limited strength and energy is difficult, really difficult. But, if you don’t try you either live on a diet of ready meals, which doesn’t help your recovery or to sustain a healthier life, or the alternative (as social services have tried to persuade me on more than once), is Meals on Wheels 😕 I did look into it once, and I can categorically say I will do everything I can to avoid that, not only is it expensive, but at my age I do not want to eat my dinner at lunchtime or eat a diet that resembles Marguerite Patten’s recommendations for making your rations go further. As you see will further down, I have a much more varied palate than the majority of my neighbours!
When I first came out of hospital, I was being left sandwiches and pots of leftovers by my family. They generously sprung into action and bought me a toaster, microwave and kettle because I had nothing here, and I was lent I fridge by a friend’s Mum. I started off eating toast and the odd ready meal, because my appetite was still only just coming back, and I was still getting ill fairly regularly. I was limited to heating up soup and making beans on toast, but as improved the doctor advised I eat plenty of fish and fresh fruit and veg, so I had to get inventive with my limited resources.
I began eating lots of hummous as my go to “healthy” dinner, as it’s always been a favourite, and I still consume vast quantities of the stuff, so much that I wonder if I was single-handedly responsible for the latest shortages.
Then I invested in my microwave pasta and rice cooker. This was brilliant as it meant I could keep dry ingredients and not worry about them going off when I was ill, and make my own meals at much lower cost.
I also added a few more little microwave gadgets such as a bacon crisper, egg cooker and porridge bowl to make breakfast a bit more hearty than the cereal I had been eating day in day out (I’m not the sort of person who can eat a boring bowl of cornflakes every day and be happy with it!)
After a while, I began to get bored of pasta & rice, and knew I needed to be eating more fresh food when I could, so I bought a microwave steamer, which really revolutionised what I could make. I started to google steamer recipes and came up with quite a repertoire.
I still struggled to chop fresh vegetables though, and often my carer didn’t have time to do it in the morning when they came in just to fill up my drinks for me on the way to work, so a friend suggested I get a mandolin. I headed to my trusty Amazon app and sought out the best one recommended. I was spending the Daily Living element of my PIP exactly as it was intended – on items to aid my daily living. I also have a few other kitchen aids such as an electric tin opener, a jar opener, a mini whisk to make gravy etc – it might sound silly, but I simply don’t have the strength to vigorously stir things some days.
The first obstacle I came across was a recipe calling for the ingredients to be wrapped in foil before steaming, now foil + microwaves don’t mix, so I tried using grease proof paper instead. This works for some recipes, where the ingredients are mostly dry, such as bacon and onion suet roll, but not for anything with liquid as it just soaks through the paper. I found some steamer bags that work well instead.
Now I’d got all of this sussed, the culinary world was my oyster! There are very few things I can’t make in the microwave, steak & chips being an obvious one, pizza, pies, a Sunday roast!, but I have enough to keep me going for the time being. I get my food deliveries from Tesco, and my meat delivered from my lovely local butcher.
Here’s a list of some of the things I have made, you can see pics on my Instagram feed.
Moroccan Pork with Chickpeas & Couscous
Chicken with Avocado, Lime & Sweet Potato
Harissa, Ginger & Lime Salmon with New Potatoes & Courgettes
Pasta with Ratatouille
Chilli Tuna with Peppers, Tomatoes & Baby Potatoes
Sausage & Mash
Bacon, Onion & Suet Pudding
Chinese Chicken with Mushrooms & Rice
Rhubarb Suet Pudding
Sea Bass with Pak Choi, Ginger & Lemon
Steak & Kidney Pudding & Mash
Lamb & Olive Ragu with Polenta
Hunters Chicken with Green Beans & Potatoes
Vegetable Balti with Rice
Peri Peri Chicken
If you have any other recipe ideas, or you have any questions about cooking whilst disabled yourself, please do get in touch!