This summer, I am completing 12 weeks of Level II fieldwork as part of the requirement for my master’s degree in occupational therapy. I am actually completing my fieldwork at two different sites, where I follow an OT who works part-time at both of them. One of the sites is an adult day health center for older adults, most of whom have some form of dementia or who have suffered from a stroke in the recent past. The other site is a day program for adults with developmental disabilities such as Down Syndrome, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, seizure disorder, etc.
At the former site, I have become responsible for planning and leading a cooking therapy group. I love it. After having learned about task analysis, motor learning, geriatrics, and the use of adaptive kitchen equipment in some of my first year OT classes, it’s fun to finally be able to put those skills to use!
Throughout the summer, I will try to post the recipes that I use for my cooking groups as well as any helpful comments or insights gained. I hope that it can serve as both a storage space for my experience, as well as a source of ideas and information for others.
The first recipe that I used was for
Ingredients (Serves 12-15):
1 roll or package sugar cookie dough
8oz. whipped cream cheese
8oz. Cool Whip
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 can crushed pineapple in its own juice, well drained (save juice for bananas)
1 basket strawberries
1. Press cookie dough evenly on a pizza pan to form pizza crust.
2. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 15 minutes (or until golden brown). Cool completely.
3. Slice strawberries, bananas, and kiwis.
4. Dip sliced bananas in pineapple juice (this will prevent bananas from turning brown).
5. Mix together cream cheese, Cool Whip, and vanilla until well blended.
6. Spread the mixture evenly on the cooled cookie crust.
7. Spread pineapple evenly over cream cheese mixture.
8. Finally, top with sliced strawberries, bananas, and kiwi.
The clients LOVED this recipe! They were even talking about it the following week (and remember, most of them have dementia…that’s saying something!).
Here are some comments:
-This recipe encouraged teamwork and group participation. Each client broke off a piece of cookie dough and helped smash their piece onto the large pizza pan, combining it with everyone else’s pieces until it became one giant cookie. Although they were a little confused at first about why they would put cookie dough onto a pizza pan, they eventually came to understand what we were doing and gladly joined in. There were also plenty of toppings to slice and sprinkle onto the fruit pizza, which again encouraged group participation and teamwork for getting the toppings on the pizza and making sure that they were evenly distributed.
-This recipe engaged the clients in a fantastic sensory experience. The smell of the baking cookie dough wafted through the halls while they chopped fresh fruits and it was absolutely delectable. Additionally, the textures, temperatures, smells, and tastes of all the ingredients varied so much that it provided the clients with a very fresh and diverse experience.
-This recipe took just the right amount of time. The clients have about 90 minutes for cooking group, and although my second group of the week completed their fruit pizza more quickly than the first, both groups were sufficiently able to engage in this occupation for the majority of that alloted time frame. I was also able to add in some trivia about fruit (particularly bananas) during the time where we needed to wait for the cookie dough to cool off in the refrigerator for just a bit longer. My clinical instructor (CI) is always encouraging me to talk about the origins of food – where it comes from, where it’s grown, why it’s good for you – so that the clients can become more informed about their own nutritional choices, which becomes exceptionally important as they age.
-Lastly, this recipe allowed for modifications. If I wanted it to have less sugar, then we could have made sugarless cookie dough from scratch. If I wanted the clients to engage with an actual pineapple rather than crushed pineapple in a can, then I could have brought in a whole pineapple for them to cut. And whether clients were sitting in a wheelchair, using only one hand, or speaking only Spanish, they were able to engage fully with all of the ingredients included in the recipe.
All in all, this fruit pizza recipe was a great one to start with, and I only regret that it was so successful because it will be a hard recipe to follow in the coming week!