Healthy Cooking with Dyspraxia

Recently I was asked to deliver a webinar sharing nutrition tips and recipes for the Dyspraxia Foundation. In planning for this event I did lots of research to make sure I covered the areas that the audience would most benefit from. The research I did led me to think through some of the key challenges posed when it comes to cooking and eating healthily with dyspraxia and how these might possibly be addressed. In the broadest terms here are those challenges and possible solutions:

Wanting to start everything at onceOne Pot Cooking
Managing TimingsKitchen Timer
ChoppingBuying ingredients already chopped/prepared
Standing Still for a long timeMinimal prep and one pot cooking
Portion SizingUsing your hands as measuring tools
Cooking with Dyspraxia Challenges and Possible Solutions

One Pot Cooking

As far as the one pot cookery goes many of you will already know that I am the author of 2 one pot/pan recipe books. This is a style and speed of cooking that I enjoy very much. I don’t do faff! These are the books I have written so far that may be useful:

Sheet Pan Cooking

The Modern Multicooker Cookbook

I also have a vegetarian one pot book coming out in February 2021 called Modern Vegetarian Instant Pot Cookbook.

Furthermore, during the webinar I shared four more recipes that are not in my books. One is below:

A Curried Butternut Squash Soup

You will find these recipes at the end of this blog:

An Instant Pot Bacon and Mushroom Risotto – see below

One Pot Pepper, Olive and Mascarpone Pasta – see below

Chocolate and Banana Overnight Oats – see below

Kitchen Timer

The kitchen timer that I recommend for ease of use is this one.

However, other ideas from the audience included:

Using Alexa or similar devices

Using your Mobile Phone Timer

Using the Timer on your Oven

What to Buy Pre-Prepared

There are so many foods that have already been prepared and either frozen, refrigerated or tinned that make the objective of healthy eating without lengthy and intricate preparations easily possible. Often those that have been prepared and refrigerated lose significant nutritional value by the time we eat them. Frozen prepared vegetables are therefore preferable.

Frozen vegetable recommendations:

Garlic, ginger, onions, shallots, leeks, spinach, butternut squash, peppers, peas, sweetcorn, soffrito/mirepoix (a combination of onion, carrot and celery), green beans, ratatouille vegetables, kale, sweet potato chips

Tinned/Jarred recommendations:

Tomatoes, sweetcorn, artichokes, green beans, dried mushrooms, beans, lentils, chickpeas

Portion Sizing – A Rough Guide

Another health consideration is the quantity of food and the ratios of different food groups. Whilst it may not always be easy for some to weigh and measure precisely these rough guides can help. So, for each meal:

  • Vegetables or salad: Half a plate
  • High-quality protein: Quarter of a plate — this includes meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, tofu, beans and pulses
  • Complex carbs: Quarter of a plate — this includes whole grains and starchy vegetables
  • High-fat foods: 1 tbsp — including cheese, oils and butter

OR if you prefer – Using Your Hands for Portion Sizing

A rough guide for each meal is:

High-protein foods: A palm-sized serving – such as meat, fish, poultry and beans

Carbohydrates: A fist-sized portion – starchy foods and whole grains

Vegetables: two cupped-hands per portion – eat a rainbow for a variety of nutritional benefits

High-fat foods: One-two thumb-sized portions — such as butter, oils and nuts

Straight-Forward Snacks

Healthy snacks are always good to have to hand in case you get caught short and having lots of varied ideas for healthy snacks means you are more likely to stick to healthier snacks and not get bored.

  • Apple wedges (using apple wedger) and peanut butter
  • Pre-packed smoothie mix with coconut water
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Trail Mix
  • Chia Pudding – 35g chia seeds, 200ml milk, 10g cacao/cocoa, 25g honey
  • Hummus/Tzatziki and mini cucumbers or oatcakes
  • Nut butter on oatcakes
  • Boiled eggs
  • Tinned fish in sauce
  • Olives

Minimal Preparation Meals

Some meals and recipes can be off-putting if they’re just too long-winded or require too many steps and processes. Some simpler recipes that involve minimal steps are as follows:

  • One pot mushroom risotto – using soaked dried mushrooms, frozen onion/garlic, vegetable stock
  • Ratatouille – using frozen ratatouille vegetables, tomato paste and seasoning
  • Caponata – frozen ratatouille vegetables, frozen garlic, tomato puree, green olives, capers, balsamic vinegar, sugar
  • Dahl – red lentils, frozen vegetables, tomato puree, frozen onions/garlic/ginger, cream, curry powder, water, salt
  • Bean stew – frozen butternut squash, tinned whit beans, passata, frozen garlic, paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, chilli powder, olive oil, water, salt

Useful Equipment

Finally, there are certain kitchen gadgets that make it easier to cook from scratch. The following are products that really do cut out time in preparation and cut out processes in the method.


Creamy One Pot Pepper and Olive Pasta

350g penne

1 bag frozen peppers

250g pack of mascarpone

100g black olives

1 tbsp oregano

1 litre of vegetable stock

Ground black pepper

Simmer ingredients together in one pot for 15-20 minutes until pasta Al dente.

Bacon and Mushroom Instant Pot Risotto

1 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp frozen chopped onion

1 tbsp frozen garlic

1 small pack of lardons

30g dried mushrooms, soaked in boiling water

250g arborio rice

650ml vegetable stock

Heat the pan on sauté. In the oil sauté the onion, garlic and lardons. Add the mushrooms, rice and stock. Set to High Pressure for 6 minutes. Quick Pressure Release at the end. Serve with parmesan cheese over.

Overnight Oats

50g oats

100ml milk

1 tsp maple syrup

1 tsp cocoa

1 tbsp peanut butter

1/2 banana, chopped

Combine and leave to soak overnight in the fridge.

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