Ron’s mom Mollie was the queen of cooking. Up until age 90, she’d stir up a batch of rice pilaf, use her special grinder to make pink applesauce, or bake her formidable brownies. When she could no longer remember her favorite dishes, we invited her into the kitchen and used her well-worn recipe cards. We chose a time of day when Mollie felt alert and we created a quiet atmosphere, free from extraneous noise and distractions. Since Mollie had trouble standing, we laid our cooking equipment and ingredients on a table, so she could comfortably participate. Then we shared the tasks of measuring, pouring, adding ingredients, stirring, and tasting. We loved this gentle and conversational time in the kitchen. Now Jacqueline Hatch, from Seniorly.com, offers some brain boosting desserts and easy ideas for connecting through the culinary arts.
Brain Healthy Recipes for the Creative Care Partner
By Jacqueline Hatch
Cooking is a wonderful way to engage the senses and enjoy a meaningful activity with a loved one or client who is living with dementia. According to experts at Alzheimers.net, “Sensory stimulation uses everyday objects to arouse one or more of the five senses (sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch), with the goal of evoking positive feelings.” Below are some recipes that are simple and fun to make together. These healthy eats provide stimulation for all five senses and are packed with nutrients the brain craves as we age.
Researchers at Scripps Memorial Hospital in California say, “Blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.” Studies also show that regular consumption of these powerful berries can improve learning skills in aging minds.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
- Have your loved one help you wash and de-stem 2 pints of blueberries. Together, you can arrange them evenly at the bottom of a 9×9 baking dish. Have her squeeze juice from half a lemon over the top of the berries.
- Together, take a large mixing bowl and combine 1 cup of flour, ¼ cup walnuts, ¼ cup coconut oil, 2 tbsp maple syrup, ¼ tsp cinnamon, and 2 pinches of salt. Invite your loved one to squeeze the other half of the lemon into this mixture and stir until well combined.
- Working as a team, spread this topping mixture over the blueberries, and bake about 30-40 minutes or until the topping is golden.
- Let cool a bit and then enjoy your treat!
Raw Walnut Fudge
The ingredients in this mouth-watering recipe contain tons of nutrients that your brain will love. The coconut oil is rich in antioxidants, the cacao powder contains 4 different neurotransmitters that act as natural anti-depressants, the maple syrup contains manganese and zinc, and the walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E.
- Together, combine 1 cup coconut oil (melted), ¼ cup raw cacao powder, ¼ cup maple syrup, ¼ cup almond butter, ¼ cup organic walnuts (chopped), and 1 tsp vanilla bean powder. Ask your loved one to mix all of these ingredients together with a large spoon.
- Help your loved one spread the mixture evenly in a 5×9 glass pan.
- Put it in the freezer for 30 minutes or until fully hardened.
- Cut and serve!
With these easy, healthy recipes on hand, you can get a head start on taking care of your aging brain. Chances are, with the right nutrients in your body, you will even feel happier and more active than ever.
Jacqueline Hatch is a writer, editor, and publisher at Seniorly.com, a company that provides support for caregivers and their families during a difficult transition period in their lives. The website provides comprehensive information on aging options, resource articles for healthy living, and a Senior Living Blog.
Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey. Coming soon: Connecting in the Land of Dementia: Creative Activities to Explore Together