Tuesday, 23 May 2017

When Old Dogs Learn New Cooking Tricks


What the Bloody Hell is a Pomegranate?

I've been having some interesting discussions with my elderly clients lately - and it's all about FOOD.

In particular, are the seniors who've realised it's getting harder and harder to ignore the presence of all the bizzare, ugly-shaped fruit & veg on display at the supermarkets at the moment.  

With elbow-controlled shopping trolleys, they drift furtively by... but with no idea what these new species are, what they 'do' or how to even peel one, there's little chance they'll be cooking with them any time soon.  If I had to do the stats... I'd say it would be kale, pomegranates, avocados (the smashing of) and the phenomena known as "keen-wah" which appear to be causing the most angst among my Over 70's mob. 

Advised by their GPs or concerned family members (and splashed all over the lifestyle mags)... that these weird but wonderful so-called 'Superfoods' are *blueberry jam-packed full of disease-fighting nutrients. And that by consuming these natural beauties, elders decrease their chances of developing a chronic illness, rehabilitate faster if they do, and subsequently, increase their chances of living forever:  WIN-WIN-WIN!

*Blueberries = a big Superfood player (but at least we already know 'em)

Elderly learning how to cook mod food
Hope you Avo nice day!

Which got me thinking that it's not just Technology that an older adult is pressured to come to grips with in today's frantically progressive world.

It's also what we EAT.

Having grown up in a time where food wasn't the obsession that it is now, it's understandable why the mature-ager might find some of the latest meal trends confusing and intimidating. People are living for longer that's true, but it's a scientific fact that age-related health issues such as Diabetes, stroke or heart disease (that would have once killed you in your 60's) are now being managed more efficiently, purely by what we stick in our mouths.

Unfortunately along the way, food over-sensitivity, allergies and intolerances have become almost commonplace and it's been a huge learning curve for many 'old-school' folk to not only embrace the modern ideals toward the food they eat, but to accept that their own health may be in jeopardy if they don't.

Noticeable too, are the peculiar codes added to the menus of our favourite restaurants which offer the diner-outer all sorts of solutions to their dietary dilemmas.   Shown as GF, LF or V for example, they tend to baffle those who may be too afraid to ask and so it's easier just to ignore them.  

No such thing as a Nut Allergy when we were kids. Oh, except when I first met my Douggie at the school dance – he was nutty alright!”

How can being a Vegetarian be good for you? Eating too many greens... GIVES ME THE SQUIRTS!”

Special Dietary Requirement? That's me making sure I have a wine with dinner!”

Not sure about this 'organic food' thing...in my day, it was just called FOOD”

Gluten-free, you say. So, I have to eat less glutes?!?!”

Not to mention all the latest cookbooks. encouraging us to replace the tried-and-true ingredients of our classic recipes - with slinkier, healthier alternatives. Gone are the days where a chook is bunged into the oven in a layer of lard or has a wheelbarrow load of salt tipped over it to enhance flavour! 

Instead, poor old mum, has had to climb out of her lifelong culinary comfort zone to produce broccoli from a steamer (rather than boiling the be-jeezus out of it like she's always done). 

No longer can she fry meat in a pan as she did in ye days of olde either. Ah no!  It must be grilled delicately on both sides and then dabbed at repeatedly with a roll of triple-ply paper towels to ensure every last dot of oil has been safely extracted.

She then has to learn to shop and chop, great sprigfuls of fresh herbs, fancy-schmancy spices and hearty wholesome marinades (please, no additives!), in the quest to present modern adaptations of traditional feasts to her fussy grown up family.  

Which can be blimmen hard work when Grannie has a dicky knee, arthritic hands and poor eyesight!

But I do find it hugely inspiring when my brave clients at least give it a go! Embracing their new 'foodie' adventure and taking an active interest in maintaining their own health with the exotic, albeit freaky-looking food choices they can now make.  And even more impressively - is the trendy cooking techniques they've learnt to cook the stuff!

One of my clients, for example, 89 year old Bert is a lovely chap who nearly fell to bits after his wife died recently. However, he pulled himself up by his apron strings and found new vigour in teaching himself how to bake bread in a breadmaker he found at the back of 'the wife's' pantry. 

Whenever I visit Herb now, I always make time for a compulsory munch on a slice of his latest creation (which he's as proud as punch to share over a cuppa and a yak). None of your boring bready rubbish either - last week it was pumpkin seed & honey oat with cranberry chunks. Delish!

Elderly learning to cook modern ingredients

Love ya work, Bert!

It's funny though, I find the biggest motivator for the my elderly clients to climb aboard the Superfood bandwagon and include more fresh raw ingredients in their diet, is the theory that it lessens the chances of them developing Alzheimer's disease.  Whether that's true or only slightly true-ish... it seems my Beloveds are more willing to fight for the health of their brains over maintaing the physical strength of their battered bods!

Indeed, it turns out that you can teach a dog of more advanced years new tricks... it merely depends on whether the dog in question is willing (and open-minded enough), to give the tricks a crack.

We all feel nervous when it comes to trying new things – there's that fear of failure, feeling unsafe and exposed. Or the big one... looking silly to others. And with older generation, it's understandable to have the mindset that they've made it through all the obstacles of life; they've come through the war living on sausage meat and sawdust.  They've already done all the learning required for survival so "there's nothing more I need to know, thank you very much!"  

A perspective that sadly means their ability to grow by learning new tricks, gets lost in the despair and gloominess of 'being old'.  Sitting in a chair with a rug over their knees is now all they can cope with.

Which, thankfully, is NOT the case for Bert and his Breadmaster 2000.  He informs me his latest project is a Wholemeal Caramel, Apple & Quinoa Pecan loaf.  And just for fun, it's also going to involve (winkity, wink)...A RUM SWIRL.

What's a girl to do?  

Roll on next Tuesday!

Cheers (and crazy happy healthy eating to you!)

old people new food

Arrrrgh me hearties, it's a fact

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