Mother and daughter cooking combo, Martina and Violet, had tried to tackle traditional recipes but with limited success. Then Easy Spoonfuls came along to turn their kitchen into a hive of fun and productivity.

“Traditional recipes have been difficult for Violet to follow, as there are only really pictures of the finished recipe”, says Martina, mum to 9 year-old Violet. “Easy Spoonfuls has pictures for each step which is great as a visual for Violet to know that she is doing it correctly.  It has given Violet the confidence to bake on her own enabling her to follow easy steps with amazing outcomes such as Jammy muffins and scones!”

But Martina has seen far more benefits besides a plentiful supply of edible treats, with Violet proudly sharing her new found skill with family and friends.

“Following Easy Spoonfuls recipes has given Violet a real love for cooking and baking which is such an important skill to have.  This has really helped her confidence and she has been so excited to bake for family members explaining she did it all on her own. She has become very independent and confident with cooking now – never too young to learn! It has also encouraged her to try new food.”

So what did Easy Spoonfuls offer that traditional recipe books didn’t deliver?

“Easyspoonfuls recipes are easy to do by yourself”, says Violet. “I found the recipes fun because I can do it all by myself as there are pictures showing me how to do it.”

Clare Campbell, NHS Mental Health Nurse left home with very little practical cooking experience, and quickly became reliant on jars and packets. When she saw Easy Spoonfuls, Clare realised this was her opportunity to learn how to cook delicious, healthy, homemade meals, without fuss or stress.

“My sisters were very keen to cook and bake and spent a lot of time in the kitchen with Mum.  But I was a tomboy with no interest in being in the kitchen. So I grew up with no knowledge, no skills, no experience and definitely no confidence in the kitchen.

I have lived reliant on jars and packets….always just making do.  Later in life the realisation that jars and packets are not healthy had made me reconsider my eating habits.”

But when Clare tried cooking from scratch, she had little success following conventional recipe books.

“Most recipe books assume a fair amount of knowledge of ingredients, preparation and cooking methods. They were full of ingredients that I had never heard of and preparation terms that I had to look up to even know what I was supposed to try and do.  I also found a lot of multi-tasking was involved and lacking confidence doing more than one thing at the same time with a timer ticking down was a sure way to get me flustered.”

Determined to improve her cooking skills, Clare looked into alternative ways to learn – which is when she found Easy Spoonfuls.

“Easy Spoonfuls was exactly what I needed!  I had the information I needed about the ingredients, including how to prepare them – especially helpful for unfamiliar ingredients. There was no multi-tasking therefore no stress in the kitchen. And the pictures at every step reassured me that I had got it right.”

Clare quickly gained confidence in the kitchen, expanding the range of dishes she could cook. She even started enjoying meal preparation.

Finally I had prepared healthy family friendly meals that I was proud of, and actually enjoyed my time in the kitchen!  My husband and daughter enjoy the meals and I was even brave enough to cook for my Mum when she came to stay for a week recently!”

I want everyone to experience the confidence-boosting joy of independently preparing something delicious to eat. To help me refine my Easy Spoonfuls recipes, I invited ALP (initials used to protect his identity), an autistic adult, to try out a baking activity with Rosie, one of the carers from his Assisted Living complex.

All structured activities at the centre are formally documented and I was sent a copy of the formal activity summary written by his carer to use as feedback on the Easy Spoonfuls system. I’m sharing it here as it gives an insight into what makes Easy Spoonfuls special, and how enjoyable and empowering independent food preparation can be.

“On 27th November 2015 I carried out baking activity with ALP.

This was a specially designed activity to see whether adults on the Autistic spectrum would find it easier and in their best interests to follow a more simplified, specially designed recipe.

Whilst supporting ALP through this activity I observed to see how he managed the activity and his level of understanding the recipe.  Upon observing I found that ALP was able to independently follow the step by step recipe with only occasional verbal prompting and sometimes the use of key words.

ALP was able to independently weigh the ingredients, identify and find the equipment needed for this activity and was able to easily follow the method set out in the recipe only seeking support and reassurance occasionally. I believe that ALP fully understood the purpose of this activity and engaged fantastically throughout with staff.

I think the layout of the recipe was clear, simple and the pictures guided ALP with a visual support throughout the process of making the muffins.  I would most certainly recommend using this recipe in the future. ALP appeared to really engage and thrive at this activity and I was really pleased to see that he was able to enjoy an activity that was suited to his needs and at a suitable level for his understanding.  

Rosie Oak, Carer for Adults with Autism

These words mean so much to me.  I shed a few happy tears when I first read them.  It was the confirmation that my original idea of helping autistic people to learn to cook more independently was proving to have such a positive effective.  However, the recipes aren’t just suited to those with Special Needs. Their simplicity, the visual nature, the layout would benefit anyone who gets flustered by traditional recipe books.  

I couldn’t be happier knowing that I am making cooking accessible to all.