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Wheel Cooking – Adapted Cooking

Aaron Baker
Spinal Cord Injury Lifestyle Specialist | Shield HealthCare
06/30/17  12:03 PM PST
Adapted Cooking

Wheelchair in the Kitchen

With the ever-growing popularity of cooking shows, recipes books and bloggers, saturating our information ethos, very little of that content is focused towards adaptive or alternative methods for culinary creation. That is where my good friends at the Triumph Foundation have stepped up to partner with a cookbook project called “Wheel Cooking.”

Simply put, Wheel Cooking is an open source collaboration of tips, tricks and recipes by and for wheelchair users aspiring to get back into the kitchen! You contribute to the project and learn more about it here.

I recently had the opportunity to host this group at my gym facility, Center of Restorative Exercise in Northridge, California, and test my chops in the kitchen.

Creative Hacks

For those of us that live with quadriplegic paralysis (in my case, reduced function of arms, hands and fingers), maneuvering the wheelchair around a kitchen can be a barrier to cooking, let alone countertop height. For me, my left hand is stronger and more dominant than my right, enabling me to grasp and hold most items. However, when two hands are needed I am prone to kitchen-mishaps and/or emergencies. The hack for a quadriplegic cook is the advent of inventive tools, tailored to the trade.

Utensils such as knives, forks, spoons and spatulas can have subtle handle modifications, but maintain vital function and form.

Flatware can also be modified with handles or fasteners for ease of use. To hold food items in place or carry objects, a cutting board with a rubber, anti-skid pad can be held on your lap.

*Use caution when transporting hot items on your lap. Trust me: I have burn scars on my legs from hot plates and boiling water.*

During our Wheel Cooking demonstration, our class was able to experiment with an electric hot-plate and cook-top to heat a wok for vegetable stir-fry. We also used the George Foreman grill to cook lean steak and zucchini, and a panini press for everyone’s favorite – grilled cheese!

These handy devices were simple and easy to use, and made clean up a snap!

To inspire a day of meal prep, search for “Adapted Cooking.” There are pages and pages of Pinterest images, video blogs and good ol’ fashioned recipes.

Even though I married an incredible Italian cook, I felt a great sense of pride and satisfaction with my ability to make a yummy meal.

– Aaron

Photo credit: Michael Hansel

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