A New Spin on Comfort Foods Pleases Aging Palates

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A Palo Alto Home Care Company & Sur La Table Team to Create Innovative Caregiver Cooking Classes to Improve Nutrition for Seniors

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We invest in training our caregivers because we want our clients to enjoy longer, happier, healthier and more balanced lives, said Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC, Founder and CEO of Home Care Assistance.

To meet the culinary challenge of appealing to senior taste buds with healthy versions of familiar foods, Home Care Assistance, North America’s leading provider of non-medical, in-home senior care, and Sur La Table, are hosting innovative cooking classes for caregivers. A new class kicks off today at Sur La Table in Palo Alto, CA.

Home Care Assistance initiated the classes as part of its commitment to improving the lives of seniors through its Balanced Care Method™ (BCM), an approach to caregiving based on the positive health practices of the legendary centenarians of Okinawa, Japan. Proper nutrition is a key component of BCM which emphasizes five main elements: healthy diet, physical activity, mental alertness and social ties, as well as maintaining calmness and purpose.

“We invest in training our caregivers because we want our clients to enjoy longer, happier, healthier and more balanced lives,” said Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC, Founder and CEO of Home Care Assistance. “Through these new cooking classes, which are unique in our industry, we’re teaching our caregivers to prepare foods that bring back childhood memories while also emphasizing wholesome, seasonal ingredients.”

“We encourage the caregivers to come up with their own food ideas,” said Gale Tan, resident chef at Sur La Table who oversees the culinary program and manages chef instruction. “And we also recommend that they listen carefully to their clients and find out about their dietary preferences and restrictions.”

The monthly classes, taking place at Sur La Table in the Palo Alto Town and Country shopping center, will cover a full range of diet-related issues faced by seniors. To boost the nutritional value of these comfort foods, Home Care Assistance caregivers serving clients in the South Bay and Peninsula are learning how to enhance food flavors with herbs and spices, instead of relying on unhealthy options like butter and salt.

They will also gain experience with techniques such as steaming, stir-frying and cooking in parchment to stimulate the taste buds, and improve the appetites and diets of aging adults who often turn to processed foods or dinners heated in the microwave for their daily meals.
“The Sur La Table cooking class was really helpful,” said Home Care Assistance caregiver Genise Pelaiz. “The recipes they put together were easy, fun and delicious. More importantly, we learned that we didn’t have to rely on frozen prepared foods. We could easily provide tasty, nutritious meals for our clients, since they don’t tend to keep a lot of ingredients on hand. For one client, I cooked roasted vegetables and potatoes with a little seasoning in a toaster oven and, while it sounds simple, she was very pleased.”

Caregivers in the Sur La Table cooking class will get to try out healthier recipes for old favorites such as tuna casserole and chicken noodle soup. And they will learn the latest information on incorporating “super foods” into daily diets; for instance adding sources of omega-3 fatty acids like flax seed to salad dressings, or topping pancakes with antioxidant-rich blueberries.

“We want all of our caregivers to be familiar and comfortable cooking basic healthy fare,” Dr. Johnson added. “We want them to know they can go into a client’s kitchen and whip up a decent meal. And our caregivers get a kick out of learning that cooking is an art, it’s not just about following a recipe.”

Home Care Assistance, headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, is North America’s leading provider of in-home senior care, specializes in around the clock live-in care. All Home Care Assistance caregivers are trained in the company’s proprietary Balanced Care Method which emphasizes healthy nutrition, mental stimulation and other components of senior wellness. For more information about Home Care Assistance, visit http://www.homecareassistance.com, or call 650-462-9501.


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Shelly Gordon
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