With the support of a Wellness Grant from the Government of Prince Edward Island, a partnership that includes the P.E.I. Association for Community Living (ACL), Tremploy Inc., the Department of Applied Research at Holland College and Canada’s Smartest Kitchen at the Culinary Institute of Canada, has created a video cookbook series. This project was designed for people with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. These six videos were created to encourage greater independent living and healthy eating by offering an easy to follow and comprehensive guide to preparing healthy, inexpensive meals that use simple ingredients and common kitchen utensils.
Dr. Greg McKenna, Research Consultant with Holland College, said the project aims to increase skills for individuals with intellectual disabilities, It also challenges the creative and teaching skills of the college’s food experts. “The foods had to be accessible and inexpensive, there had to be a limited number of ingredients and preparation time had to be fairly short,” he says. “We wanted people to be able to afford them, have easy access to what they need and be able to make them in a simple kitchen. And the foods had to be healthy.”
McKenna said college staff worked closely with clients and staff of Tremploy and ACL to make sure their cookbook is both accessible and relevant. “There was a good opportunity where we went to Tremploy and did a demo panel with the people there. It was helpful to meet with the intended users of our cookbook and hear from them whether this was something they could and would use,” he said.
Joel Dennis, Executive Director of Tremploy noted, “In order to ensure this was going to be a useful tool, these participants were involved in every step of the project, participating in focus groups, taste panels, even in the production of the instructional videos”.
Julie Smith, Executive Director of the PEI Association for Community Living, said the process has been an interesting one. She said decisions about food and meal preparation can be important points of self-expression and autonomy for people with intellectual challenges.“When we were doing the focus groups there was some great discussions around meal prep and what involvement they had currently in the cooking process. Most wanted to be able to be a larger part of the decision making and meal preparation,” she said.
“This will, I believe create opportunities for individuals to build a real sense of pride and life skills, in creating meals for themselves that they may not have tried before, as well as those they may live with.” She said the end product is something that can be accessible for anyone who is trying to get the hang of planning and preparing a good, nutritious meal. A visual recipes card, as well as a breakdown of each recipe, with ingredients and costs to prepare each meal, will accompany each video in the series.
The Chef has taken considerable thought and time into choosing top favourite recipes that individuals will be able to create in their home kitchens with supplies they may have on hand,” Smith said.