Haute cuisine to overcome barriers


A pioneering haute cuisine solution for the diet of people with disabilities. This is what the textured recipes just created by an entity from La Coruña have achieved. Dishes that make traditional ingredients of the same flavor accessible to people with swallowing problems.

Aspace, the Confederation of Associations for the care of people with cerebral palsy, works throughout Spain with users who need an adapted daily life, for whom such common problems as food pose a challenge.

For this reason, its center in La Coruña has been working on a personalized solution and has just published a book of textured food recipes so that anyone, at home or in a center, can improve the quality of life of young people or young people who have swallowing problems, called dysphagia.

Haute cuisine to overcome barriers – Photo: CabalarIt is a book that brings together traditional dishes and explains how to adapt them to the handicap and make sure that the flavors of the food are preserved, without having to resort to grinding everything and making porridge, as has been done until now.

It is explained by its promoter, chef Óscar Romero, who shows how he works to transform each preparation into an answer to everyone’s needs.

“The first thing is that the users’ speech therapists make an assessment based on what they can eat. From there, we prepare three options every day, which we individualize. One is the dish with the normal texture, another is the same dish with some adapted elements, and the third is the fully textured dish, but we use the same ingredients for all of them,” he points out.

The presentation is very neat, as it even has molds to shape things like chicken stilts, and avoids having to give up certain foods throughout life.

For this work, he collected ideas from haute cuisine, on the textures and deconstruction of dishes, and uses more common tools from television programs, such as a blast chiller, but he was able to adapt his proposals so that ‘they can be done easily at home, with time and mime.

Although he created it in Aspace, he points out that it is possible to use this cookbook, which has just been published by the entity with the support of the Diputación de La Coruña, also with other people with disabilities or in centers for the elderly, where food is key and it is necessary to avoid these routines of four porridges a day – breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner -, which end up becoming boring and turn food into an unpleasant procedure.

Not just porridge

The director of Espace in La Coruña, Ricardo Iglesias, sees a very important “leap in quality”: “At first they only thanked us. We had people in their 40s or 50s who had eaten porridge their whole life, with everything mixed together, and they didn’t know the flavors, like tomato or lettuce. Now they can try everything,” he summarizes.

It was hard work that started in 2018 and, as he explains, it is a pioneer at the state level, because only one other Aspace center has done something similar in Navarre and no one had published recipe book so far: “It’s designed in such a way that you can do it at home with a simple blender,” he points out.

The Aspace center in La Coruña, located in Sada and which has 125 users including 51 residents, has become a reference in terms of food and even health professionals come to see the work, but it endeavors to export its ideas to the 120,000 people with cerebral palsy statewide.

The users are delighted, “now when they go home at the weekend, they ask that we don’t give them porridge”, adds Iglesias, because they can already taste their favorite dishes and, having broken down this barrier, they want food to be fun every day.

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