Wednesday 24 May 2017 News Updated at 11:05 AM IST
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A wholesome meal - Deccan Herald
A wholesome meal
Pramod Kumar Samal
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Preparing a palatable platter as per someone else’s taste can be a real challenge. More so when you are cooking for patients in hospital, where you need to keep the key ingredients - salt, sugar, spices and oil - in check.

Churning out upmarket restaurant-style palates of Indian, Italian or continental cuisines after keeping all the guiding parameters in place, is no child’s play. Read on to know some interesting tips on how to cook a tasty patient-friendly platter.

A challenging task
When a person is unwell, the immune system becomes weaker, and the patient might suffer from a loss of taste also. Therefore, it’s highly necessary to ensure that you cook something that meets the patient’s preferences and also takes care of all the diet restrictions. Just because you are cooking for a patient, it doesn’t mean you have to ditch your usual meals, and go in for something completely alien. In fact, doing this might cause more harm to the patient. So, take your own recipes that focus on the patient’s favouritepalate, and add some healthy twists to it by including what the nutritionist and doctors suggest for the patient.

One of the biggest misconceptions people have is that excess of oil and spices makes the food tastier. But only the right proportions of these elements makes food palatable. Below mentioned are some such parameters to keep in mind while preparing food for patients:

  • For both hypertensive and renal patients, a salt restriction of about four gm should be maintained as compared to six to seven gm of salt permitted for normal person.
  • To cut down on the oil and spice intake, adopt cooking techniques like boiling, grilling and baking as they involves only using a teaspoon of oil.

    These are healthier methods of cooking that promise to retain all the nutrients of the vegetables. Rather than preparing a curry which demands a good quantity of spices and oil, go in for these healthy and easy methods.

    As patients have weak immunity, any contact with germs will further weaken their immune system. Hence, it is important to follow basic hygiene requirement while cooking.
    Read on to know about some safe food-handling tips:
  • Wear gloves while cooking.
  • Keep the kitchen area clean.
  • Discard any fruit or vegetable that has scratches or dents as they may collect dust and microorganisms, which can enter food during the preparation.
  • Make sure that there are no peels of fruits and vegetables lying on the preparation or serving table as there are chances of contamination.
  • Properly sterilise the cutting knives and all other utensils before using them.
  • Wash all the fruits and vegetables properly, especially the leafy ones, to prevent cross-contamination

    Food texture: Post-operation patients are weak and find it difficult to chew hard food. Therefore, while preparing food for patients, it is essential that the right textured food is served, which can be easily swallowed without much effort. Soft foods can be easily digested and help in proper bowel movement too.
    Quick tip: Try including idly, khichdi and porridge as these are light on stomach and can be easily digested.

    Correct temperature: Maintaining correct food temperature while cooking is essential, both in terms of health and taste. To prevent the food from being hard or slushy, cook at the right temperatures. Never serve raw or overcooked food to patients.
    Quick tip: While grilling or baking chicken, maintain the right temperature to prevent it from turning elastic or remaining raw.

    Food presentation:
    Try serving small portions of meals with attractive presentation for patients. When food is properly served, even bland meals appear delectable. It is also easier for patients to consume smaller portions of food rather than large meals.
    Quick tip: While serving grilled fish, add some boiled colourful vegetables too. These veggies will enhance the sensory appeal and will influence good intake.

    Flavour: Try enhancing the flavour of the food by adopting different cooking methods. This will make the food look and taste different. That way, patients won’t get bored of eating the same thing over and over again.
    Quick tip: Slightly roast or grill veggies to give them a smoky flavour. Add herbs like coriander and parsley leaves to enhance the flavour. Choose pepper instead of red chilli powder for that dash of spice.

    Spices: Try avoiding excess of spices including red chilli and garam masala while preparing food for patients, as these are basically a combination of acids which can damage the stomach’s mucosal lining, leading to various gastric ailments. Surplus spices can lead to appetite suppression and cause difficulties in sleeping as they raise the internal body heat.
    Quick tip: Add your everyday spices like turmeric, salt, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds in limited quantities to make the food tasty.
(The author is a cafe chef, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Bengaluru)