Here I’ll list my favorite shortcuts and cooking utensils that make cooking as a quad possible. Below I give a sample recipe as an example on how to use the shortcuts. I try to cook meals that use one – or at most two – pans to limit the clean-up time.
- Diced frozen onions. If your tummy can’t do onions, use dried scallions/green onions. I bought the green onions at Penzey’s Spices and keep them in a sealable, easy-open plastic jar.
- Carrots: I buy shredded carrots. Canned sliced carrots work great in soups.
- Canned tomatoes are inexpensive and easy.
- Frozen chopped spinach can be easily added to almost any dish if you need some extra greens. Great nutrition that’s doesn’t change the flavor of the dish (add to soups, spaghetti, rice dishes).
- Cilantro and ginger: Minced cilantro and ginger can be found in the vegetable section at the supermarket. It comes in plastic tubes, stays fresh for a long time and is easy to squeeze out.
- Green and red peppers: Frozen diced or sliced peppers are hard to find, so I buy them fresh and have someone dice them for me. Then I put them in a plastic bag and freeze them.
- Garlic: Buy minced garlic in the glass jars. I don’t screw the lid on too tight so I can always get it open. If your stomach can’t handle garlic, use asafoetida powder. It can be found in an Indian
market and gives a similar flavor as garlic.
- Knives with a handle: I have one smaller knife that is serrated and another larger (and sharper) knife for veggies. (Sammons Preston Homecraft knives are available on Amazon).
- A rocker knife is great for cutting cooked meat or breaking up ground beef or turkey in the pan.
- Automatic can opener. This is a lifesaver! No grip required.
- Wooden clothespins make a great way to close packages. They don’t slip out between your teeth like plastic ones.
- Sliding lock plastic bags. I should own stock in these. I use them for everything. They’re great for anything in the freezer or fridge, but keep chips fresh, too.
- I have an 11.5-inch T-Fal pan that is really easy to clean; it holds enough to make soup, stir fry, etc. – and you can see into it. With deep pots typically used for soup, I can’t see into the pan. It was a bit pricey, but I use it almost every time I cook.
- Toaster oven. I don’t feel comfortable using the oven, but I can easily cook fish, potatoes, small desserts, and a number of other things in the toaster oven.
- Rice cooker. This is my most recent find. It’s inexpensive and cooks more than just rice.
Chicken and Eggs
- Buy rotisserie chicken and have someone take it off the bone and put it into separate freezer bags. Thaw it and throw the chicken into a dish when cooking. This saves a lot of time and effort.
- Ask the deli to cut raw chicken into small pieces for you to save time and energy.
- Eggs. Cracking eggs open can be messy. I’ve found that liquid eggs in the carton are easier to open and don’t create a mess. And it makes French toast super easy!
SAMPLE RECIPE: Stir Fried Rice
This recipe takes a bit of effort for me since it requires a good amount of stirring. But it uses many of the short cuts above, so I thought it could be a good example of what you can do.
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 ½ tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (I use balsamic since I have that on hand)
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or paprika for a milder flavor)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (or ½ teaspoon asafoetida)
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 cup shredded carrots ½ cup bell peppers
1 to 1 ½ cups cooked chicken
1 to 2 cups frozen broccoli
1 cup pineapple chunks (drained)
½ cup cashews
½ cup (or more) chopped onions or ½ cup dried thinly sliced scallions/green onions
Approximately 4 cups cooked rice
For each step of the recipe I’ll show you my short cut.
1. Scramble eggs. Set aside. I use liquid eggs. The lid twists off (it’s plastic and doesn’t hurt your teeth). If the lid doesn’t puncture the seal, just push a knife through it.
2. Add 2 tablespoons oil to pan. Cook diced chicken meat. If I am cooking raw chicken, I’ll use the chicken that the deli has cubed for me. It cooks more quickly and cutting meat is time consuming, difficult and messy when raw. My preferred method is grabbing the thawed rotisserie chicken (that my mom graciously takes off the bone and separates into bags for me). If the chicken is thawed and already cooked, this can wait until Step 6.
3. Combine soy sauce, peanut butter, brown sugar, vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, black pepper and cayenne pepper/paprika.
For measuring the liquid ingredients, I love this miniature ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) measuring cup. I “eyeball” the peanut butter since it’s hard to get unstuck when measuring it. I use natural peanut butter since it’s much creamier and can be spooned out of the jar easily.
4. Add ginger, carrots, onions, garlic, and bell peppers to pan (I added broccoli, too). Sauté until tender. Frozen vegetables and pre-cut vegetables are my best friend.
5. Add about 4 cups chilled rice and cook 10-15 minutes. (I cook the rice the night before.) Use instant rice, like Uncle Ben’s, for a quick turnaround, or use a rice cooker for perfect rice every time. When stirring the rice into the other ingredients, the pan slides around since I can’t hold the pan and the spatula and keep my balance. So, I bought a pretty copper tea kettle ($2.50 at an antique store) that I prevents the pan from sliding off the burner.
6. Add pineapple and cashews and sauce. If using pre-cooked, thawed chick, throw that in now, too. Cook until heated through.
7. Enjoy the work of your own hands!
Why make so much for just me? I put the leftovers in plastic containers so I only have to cook a big meal like this once or twice a week. I’ll usually freeze one, too, to have a few options on hand when the fridge is empty and I’m low on time and energy.
The fun thing about cooking is experimenting. In the above recipe, you can leave out several ingredients if you don’t have it on hand or don’t like it and still have a great tasting meal.
I find recipes online and recreate it so that it is doable with my abilities. If you’re unsure of what you’re doing, watch friends and family to get the basics down, and then give it a shot. The more you cook the more adventurous and confident you’ll become in what you are able to prepare for yourself and others.
Tips on cleaning up: Be cleaning things up as you go so you don’t have a complete disaster when you finish (and you are tired). I try to have everything in the dishwasher (except the large pan) by the time the meal is completed.
Spice rack. Getting into upper cabinets is almost impossible (unless you have the money and function to get the super-cool pull-down upper cabinets). I found this inexpensive spice rack that I love. It keeps everything hidden and organized, but pulls out easily.
Sammons Preston Homecraft Knives.
Automatic can opener.
Cans are coming with a pull tab on top now. These are still difficult/dangerous for me to open. Just flip the can upside down if it has a pull-tab on the top and use the can opener on the bottom of the can.
Dried scallions/green onions in a sealable plastic jar.
These jars are great for sugar, flour, cocoa… anything that needs a good seal and doesn’t need to be refrigerated.And just in case, I keep this on my counter.
I hope this video has given you some tips. You can cook healthier home-made meals even with limited hand function.
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The opinions and experiences presented herein are for informational use only. Individual results may vary depending on your condition. Always consult with your health care professional. This individual has been compensated by Bard Medical for the time and effort in preparing this article for BARD’s further use and distribution. BMD/BMDA/0817/0528