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May 24, 2011 02:02 PM

Reheatable recipes for person with spinal cord injury, please help!

I'll be preparing meals for a client who uses a wheelchair and has limited use of his hands. He can (carefully) take things in and out of a microwave and toaster oven. He can feed himself but not cut things into small bites. He would like more fresh items in his diet and to keep things relatively nutritious.

I have some experience as a personal chef but more from dinner parties than make-ahead meals. I'll be cooking for him once a week and will be making a variety of meals for frig and freezer. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated!!!

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  1. soup? no cutting required... prepeeled hard boiled eggs as a snack

    1. Stewy dishes both freeze and reheat well, and you could tip the emphasis toward vegetable content, instead of making the more meat-heavy.

      Another possibility might be to prepare vegetables by cutting them in appropriate ways and packing them in microwaveable dishes or containers, with a dressing or sauce stored separately, and storing in fridge; he can cover, adding a bit of water if needed, and microwave to steam, then add sauce or vinaigrette, as the microwave does a good job steaming. Similarly, if he'd be cooking and eating it the same or next day, you could assemble a dish of seasoned/dressed (w/non-acidic things) raw fish or shrimp that he could either pop in the microwave to steam or bake or broil in the toaster oven.

      1. How about thinking components? Making then freezing individualized items that can be combined well. (think muffin cups sized and a good way to bake multiples) i.e. a rice pilaf, a bean chili, pastas like mini shells or elbow macaroni (Mac and cheeses!), portions of blanched or lightly streamed veggies (finish cooking while being reheated), same with stir fried main bits. a pasta sauce with cubed or sliced sausage, mini pot or cottage pies, even mini meatballs (or super mini meatloaf) using a melon baller to size. Would things like pizza pitas be easy for him to handle?

        1. Bean dishes freeze well... BBQ beans, Greek lima beans, sweet and sour lentils, etc.

          1. for fresh items, you might want to think about lightly pickled vegetables--you can make pickled vegetables once a week and they'll keep. and they have a bright, fresh quality.

            giardinera could be good--here's a recipe i've been meaning to try, rave reviews:


            i love mark bittman's sesame sauce, with cabbage for an asian slaw, and/or with edamame, cucumbers--whatever you like. it's great as a dressing for pasta salad. your client can stir it into pasta and eat it cold, with carrots, red peppers, or anything that appeals. the great thing about it is, it keeps for at least five days--it's really a light pickle, so it will preserve what you put it's always a hit when i make it for people--just has that salty-sweet thing people love. maybe try making a cabbage-edamame slaw in individual portions.

            for every pound (or less, depending on how much dressing you like) of vegetables, combine: 2 tblsp dark sesame oil, 1 tblsp peanut oil, 1 tblsp soy sauce, 1 tbslp sugar, 2 tsp rice vinegar, 1 minced clove garlic, and chile paste, sriracha, or other heat source to taste (try 1.5 tsp chile paste).

            something else i really like--a relish or pickle that's very loosely inspired by the topping on a banh mi.
            about three cups veg (carrot, cucumber, daikon, cabbage, etc.); juice of half lime or more, 4 tbsp rice vinegar; 2 tblsp sugar; ginger; lots of cilantro; lots of mint; good pinch salt, plenty of sriracha.

            mix it all together and adjust seasoning--you want it assertive, lots of acid and heat. best after at least half hour--and if there's lots of excess liquid, you may want to drain it. this is yummy but you need some fat with it to balance it. oil can make it a vinaigrette; some mayo and chicken breast will make it a salad; etc.