What’s a therapeutic chili cook off?
A fun chili tasting that’s an opportunity to to help people with brain injury work on their speech, language, motor and cognitive skills.
People have to eat anyway, so why not make it delicious and therapeutic?
Brinlee Creek Ranch’s recent chili cook off was a creatively complex activity.
Therapists created evaluation sheets for patients to rate eighteen different chilis (made by patients as well as staff). Patients rated entries for aroma, color, consistency, taste and even aftertaste. It seems simple but a lot of things were going on:
- Making comparisons calls on memory to judge between different chili versions
- Evaluating different values activates critical thinking
- Picking favorites helps rediscover preferences
- Filling out the ranking sheets helps fine motor and writing skills
- Eating chili itself works on motor skills, including the fine hand movements used in spoons
After loading up their bowls with add-ons like extra cheddar cheese, chopped onion and jalapenos, the tables went to work.
After each spoonful, patients gave their brains a workout by talking with each other, comparing notes and coming up with descriptive words that matched their sensory impressions of taste and smell.
Lunch was a leisurely affair, with all those different chilis to go through and everyone drank a LOT of water. Eventually the winning chili was announced….but the recipe remains a closely guarded secret as the best chilis always do!
Holding a therapeutic chili cook off is an inspired activity that works on many levels. It’s not that hard to tweak activities to provide therapeutic benefits; it just takes a creative mindset to look for these opportunities. Pate therapists excel at this. They’re also pretty good chili chefs.