Teach healthy living skills to adults with autism

 
$19,600
$10,400
Raised
Remaining

Learning about nutrition and helping to prepare healthy snacks during the day program is a good introduction to some of the key components of embracing a healthy lifestyle, but the best place to reinforce healthy eating habits is in the home. My last stop of the evening, after all of the cooking classes and groups have left for the day, is always to one of the many homes in the CSS residential community. 

 

Every home in the residential program has a house menu, many of which are tailored to the specific dietary needs of the individuals living in the house. By visiting the houses at dinner time I am able to assist the staff in following their house menus and help them to find creative ways of including more of the foods that their clients enjoy. In this way we ensure that the individuals are enjoying the food they eat in addition to getting the nutrition they need to stay healthy.

 

In all of the houses, individuals are encouraged to participate in preparing their own meals. With guidance and supervision, many high functioning individuals are able to prepare meals independently. Making a healthy dinner can become a fun activity for everyone to enjoy instead of a chore. While the individuals sit down and enjoy the meal, I meet with the staff and discuss strategies to meet the clients’ nutritional needs and keep them satisfied while following the guidelines laid out in the planned menus. Subjects in this area include developing healthy shopping habits, understanding proper food sanitation, and recognizing healthy alternatives to components of the meal that the individuals don't like.

 

Low-Guilt Comfort food

Most people don't get cravings for celery sticks and quinoa. Often times the foods that we crave are the ones that do the least for our bodies, at least from the standpoint of trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. One way of overcoming such cravings is to simply cheat! Find creative ways to make the junk food that you crave into a healthy meal that you can feel good about indulging in. Think about the criteria that make healthy foods good for you and then look for innovative ways to make the less-healthy foods that you crave fit into that group. The following recipe is a variation on the classic macaroni and cheese that is so easy to make and satisfying to eat, you'll never buy the prepackaged stuff again (as if you could even call that stuff "cheese!”).

 

Low-Fat Homemade Mac'n'Cheese with Broccoli

Ingredients

1/2 box Whole Wheat pasta

1 can Low-Fat Condensed Cheddar and Broccoli soup

1 cup Fat-free Milk

1 cup Low-Fat Shredded Cheddar cheese

2 cups Broccoli, steamed

Garlic and onion powder to taste

Black pepper to taste

Method:

Boil pasta according to package directions; Drain and set aside. While the pasta is boiling, combine condensed soup and milk in a medium sized pot. 

Bring the soup to a simmer over medium heat and stir until it is blended well and has thickened slightly; remove from heat. 

Return the drained pasta to the pot and pour the cheddar soup mixture on top of it; add the shredded cheese and cooked broccoli and gently fold the ingredients into the pasta. Place the pot over very low heat and continue to mix until the cheese is melted and the pasta is coated with sauce.

 

Makes 4 servings

Cooking as therapy

There are few things in life that bring such immediate satisfaction as sitting down and enjoying a tasty snack. My goal each day in Cooking Class is to supplement that enjoyment with an understanding of where our food comes from, how it is made, and how knowing what goes into our food can help us to make healthy food choices.

Although the common theme of the classes is learning to prepare healthy food, I maintain the premise that simply being in the kitchen opens infinite opportunities for therapeutic activity: Students apply critical thinking skills to recognize and measure ingredients; basic motor skills are engaged in holding and using kitchen tools; examining the recipe as a group is an opportunity for students to utilize reading skills as well as verbal and social skills. The list of benefits goes on and on and at the end of it all we are left with not only the gratification of having accomplished a series of tasks, we are able to sit down and enjoy the product of our labors as reinforcement for a job well done.

 

Holiday favorites

In my mind, nothing heralds the start of the holiday season quite like the smell of freshly baked gingerbread! Something about the special blend of spicy ginger and clove with hints of fragrant nutmeg and cinnamon just makes us feel comforted and warm.  This recipe produces a loaf of moist, cake-like gingerbread.

This recipe is relatively low in sugar, calling instead for black strap molasses. Unlike refined sugars, molasses contains trace amounts of vitamins and significant amounts of several minerals. Blackstrap molasses is a source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron; one tablespoon provides up to 20 percent of the daily value of each of those nutrients. The fact that this recipes calls for no egg or dairy products also makes it entirely vegan. The addition of it being infinitely simple to make is a great holiday bonus.

 

Gingerbread

Ingredients:      

1 Cup dark molasses

                ½ Cup brown sugar

                ½ cup Canola oil

                ½ teaspoon cinnamon

                ½ teaspoon ground clove

                ½ teaspoon nutmeg

                1 teaspoon ground ginger

                1 Cup boiling water

                2 ½ Cups Flour

                1 teaspoon Baking Soda

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl, blend together the canola oil, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger, brown sugar and molasses.
  3. Stir in boiling water.
  4. Mix in flour.
  5. Dissolve the Baking Soda in 2 tablespoons of hot water and add to the batter.
  6. Pour the batter into a greased 8x8x2 inch baking pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Links:

Individuals at CSS continue to nourish the six garden plots at Wooten Mill Garden Park in Gaithersburg. While many crops are coming to a close for the season, the tomatoes are abundant! Dozens of crates of a variety of tomatoes are brought back to the CSS kitchen. Chef Adam incorporates the fruit, as well as other crops from the garden,  into the weekly Healthy Living cooking classes, using recipes such as fresh tomato and basil soup. The remaining tomatoes are cooked in bulk recipes, such as marina sauce or ketchup, and canned. The resulting product is divided among CSS residential houses for the individuals to use at home while preparing healthy meals.

Rockville 11's special correspondent Rocio Snowdy covers Community Support Services, Inc.'s Garden to Table program at the Woottons Mill Garden Plots - watch this short video to find out how the program fosters a unique learning experience for community members.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZMUK6ZyExs&feature=youtu.be

2012 spring Crops
2012 spring Crops

The Garden to Table program is an ongoing activity in which individuals who receive day and residential
support services can participate. Some individuals work in the gardens just during the growing season, others participate in cooking classes year round, some assist with distributing fresh produce to houses and others receive
nutritional consultation and individual instruction.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults and children with disabilities face rates of
obesity that are often 38-57% higher than the national rate of obesity in non-disabled adults and children. There are currently no community classes or programs accommodated to provide specialized instruction for adults with down’s syndrome or intellectual disabilities.

In direct response to the need for nutrition education in the community, CSS piloted a "Garden to Table" program this past year. Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities planted and harvested seasonal vegetables in partnership with Red Wiggler Farm, participated in cooking instruction and incorporated nutritional recommendations into daily menu planning in their own homes. Increased skill and independence in cooking and healthy eating provides multiple opportunities for inclusion with other people such as gardening in community plots alongside community members, grocery shopping at local stores, and social events involving food preparation such as dinner parties or picnics.

 



Garlic
Garlic
broccoli, onions, lettuce, spinach
broccoli, onions, lettuce, spinach
cabbage onion kale snowpea seedlings from seeds
cabbage onion kale snowpea seedlings from seeds
Purple lettuce, Georgia onions, and spinach
Purple lettuce, Georgia onions, and spinach
giant red mustard greens and garlic at lowfield
giant red mustard greens and garlic at lowfield

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Organization

Project Leader

Ashley Chatneuff

Communications Coordinator
Gaithersburg, MD United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Teach healthy living skills to adults with autism