There are 57 million Americans living with disabilities and National Disability Employment Awareness Month is dedicated to teaching people to look beyond their disabilities and see all of their abilities.
1. Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods.
2. Support sustainable farms and limit subsidies to big agribusiness.
3. Expand access to food and alleviate hunger.
4. Protect the environment and animals by reforming factory farms.
5. Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids.
6. Support fair conditions for food and farm workers.
Every family is unique. When planning our meal we considered foods from our garden, finances, physical abilities, including finger foods and easy to chew and swallow; and color – the theme for our dinner. Our family and friends come from diverse backgrounds with physical and emotional challenges or chronic illnesses, such as Cerebral Palsy, Autism, and Heart Disease.
The main course is a tri-color pasta with a variety of toppings to choose from. Our garden provided us with tomatoes, onions, broccoli, cucumbers, and basil. We purchased spinach, pasta sauce, locally grown fruits, part-skim mozzarella and for the meat eaters we had ground turkey meatballs and shredded chicken.
In addition, we prepared a red, white and green grilled cheese sandwich from the US Dept of Health and Human Services cookbook “Keep the Beat Recipes,” recipes. A free copy of the cookbook is available on their website.
The dessert was a big hit. We made fruit kabobs using locally grown fruits and paired with low fat ice cream and for Jake we prepared a smoothie using the same ingredients.
From Our Garden
Adaptations and Individual Preferences
The meal would feed six people, each with unique needs. My son Jake was born with Cerebral Palsy and is a quadriplegia. He is unable to hold utensils and requires a straw to drink fluids. Finger foods and a weighted cup with a flexi straw usually provide him the most independence.
When purchasing pasta, I look for shapes about one-inch long and easy to hold, such as Rotini (a helix or corkscrew-shaped pasta). As a backup plan, sandwiches are easy to make from most recipes and a perfect finger food. Resources and References
Pink Grapefruits contain lycopene. Lycopene is a naturally occurring chemical that gives fruits and vegetables a red color. It is one of a number of pigments called carotenoids. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that may help protect cells from damage. Current research is exploring the role of lycopene in relationship to preventing heart disease and cancer of the prostate, breast, lung, bladder, ovaries, colon, uterine, and pancreas.
Pink Salmon is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, pink salmon is rich in calcium, protein, magnesium and potassium; and contains iron, niacin, selenium, and vitamins A, B-12, C and E. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids may reduce inflammation and help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function.
Beets are a good source of fiber, potassium and folate. Researchers believe the red pigment (called betacyanin) in beets may protect against the development of cancerous cells and might play a role in reducing the inflammation associated with heart disease.
Raspberries contain high levels of ellagic acid, a polyphenol and antioxidant being studied as a food in the fight against cancer. Raspberries are also rich in anthocyanins, a flavonoid compound that gives them their red color. Anthocyanins may help protect the circulatory, cardiovascular and neurological systems. Raspberries are a rich source of vitamin C, manganese and dietary fiber; and is a low-glycemic index food.
Red Onions are a natural sources of quercetin. Quercetin is a bioflavonoid and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Quercetin is being studied for treating conditions of high cholesterol, heart disease, circulation problems, diabetes, cataracts, peptic ulcers, inflammation, asthma, gout, chronic fatigue syndrome, preventing cancer, and for treating chronic infections of the prostate. Quercetin research is evaluating the effectiveness of increased endurance and improved athletic performance. Red onions also provide allicin, an organic sulfur compound responsible for the taste and smell of onions. Allicin may protect against inflammation, allergies, and bacteria; and may reduce the risk factors of certain types of cancers.
Guavas are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, folic acid, potassium, and manganese. A guava contains about 4 times the amount of vitamin C as an orange. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which helps, protects cells from free radical damage. Currently there is insufficient evidence to rate the effectiveness of guava in the treatment of colic, diarrhea, diabetes, cough, cataracts, high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, and other conditions. More research is needed to evaluate the usefulness of guava for these conditions.
Yogurt, Raspberry, Low Fat or Fat-Free Yogurt has been associated with a wide range of health benefits, due to its bacterial cultures and the many nutrients it contains. Yogurt is an excellent source of protein, calcium and potassium. Some research shows that yogurt with probiotic cultures may help improve the immune system; reduce yeast infections in women; help with digestion; and reduce colon and other cancer risks. Calcium has beneficial effects on bone mass and may help prevent osteoporosis. Many people who are lactose intolerant can enjoy yogurt. One serving of yogurt is one eight-ounce cup or serving.
MBCN is a national, independent, nonprofit, patient advocacy group dedicated to the concerns of the women and men living with metastatic breast cancer. They strive to help those living with stage IV breast cancer be their own best advocate through providing education and information on treatments and coping with the disease.