Let’s Get Cooking!

Posted on June 21st, 2013 by Denise | No Comments

Let’s Get Cooking!


Denise Koonce OTR

Now that school is out and summer is here, our older pediatric population is home and summer is a great opportunity to change-up your therapeutic activities with a twist.  Why not do some activities in the kitchen?  There are numerous fun activities that can happen in the kitchen like making pizzas, sandwiches, ice cream and smoothies or decorating cupcakes, just to name a few.  Therapeutic benefits of activities in the kitchen spans the disciplines and provides a functional outcome.  The activities in the kitchen can incorporate many areas of focus, including but not limited to, fine and gross motor movements, bi-manual coordination, strengthening, activity tolerance, sequencing, following directions, weight shifting and cognition.  Work in the kitchen requires movement in all three planes supplying that much desired movement, trunk rotation.  There are also the sensory aspects of cooking including touch, smell, proprioception and taste.  Recipes can be simple with only a few steps or more complex with several steps and ingredients.  They can require the use of heat or not.  Great kitchen activities include recipes that require measuring, pouring, stirring, and maybe kneading.

Cookies are always a great activity because the end product is so yummy and therefore motivating.   There are numerous cookie recipes and what you do with the dough can vary depending on the type of recipe.  Cookie dough can be rolled out with a rolling-pin, pinched off in small balls and rolled between your palms, scooped out with a spoon, or rolled into a log, placed in the fridge and then cut into slices later.  Instead of placing chocolate chips or MM’s in the dough mixture you can have the child use fine tip pinch to make designs on top of the cookies once they have been flattened into cookies.  You can also use cookie cutters in shapes and be creative in how you use the shapes.    Depending on what your focus is for the treatment session will determine what kind of recipe you might use.  If you want to work on bimanual coordination with bilateral elbow flexion/extension, scapular pro/retraction, hip flexion with eyes on activity, ears over shoulders and shoulders returning over hips then choose a cookie recipe that requires a rolling-pin.  If you are working on sequencing, receptive language, or direction following then choose a recipe with multiple ingredients and steps.

No bake cookies are an option if you are in the clinic, without an oven, and want a final product by the end of a treatment session.  There are a few recipes available for no bake but many of them require peanut butter.   Here is a recipe that does not have peanuts or a peanut product:

No Bake Mint Cookies

2 cups semi –sweet chocolate chips

2 cups milk chocolate chips

20 unwrapped Chocolate Andes mints

1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract

1 -9 oz. package plain chocolate wafer cookies

Combine in a microwave bowl both chocolate chips and microwave for one minute, stir and repeat process in 30 second to 1 minute intervals until chips are melted. Remove from microwave stir in chocolate candies until smooth, add peppermint extract and stir, dip cookie wafers one at a time into the chocolate mixture, shake off excess mixture and place on wax paper until cool.

A basic cookie dough recipe that requires baking is the traditional Chocolate chip cookie recipe.  If you have the benefit of treating a child in their home then this is a great activity.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

½ cup shortening

¼ cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar (packed)

½ teaspoon vanilla

Cream the above ingredients together in a bowl.  Then fold in one well beaten egg, beat entire mixture and set aside.

1 cup and 2 level Tablespoons flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

Sift all dry ingredients and then add to creamed mixture and stir.  Add chocolate, butterscotch, mint or various flavored chips, MMs, or nuts either to the mixture as a whole or place on top of the individual spooned out dollops of cookies dough.  Bake about 10 minutes at 375 degrees.  Makes 50 cookies.

Food or the act of cooking insights many special memories in individuals over the age span and those memories are very powerful.  The end product is a way of showing your efforts and hard work.  The act of sharing your final product with family, friends or clinic staff is guaranteed to produce smiles, thank yous, and compliments of a job well done.  What a great reinforcement!    So let’s get cooking!  If you have a special recipe that you use with your family or patients please share it with us as well as the fun memories that go with it.

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