Eating a healthy diet is important, but let’s be honest: life would be rather dull without desserts. Lynne McKee, Hotel Service Manager from Baptist Care’s Maranoa Centre in Alstonville couldn’t agree more.
“Desserts are very, very important,” McKee said. “Many residents would rather have sweets than the main meal.”
At Maranoa, desserts and sweet treats make every day special. Lynne ensures desserts are on the menu every day, following both lunch and dinner.
“Residents have dessert every lunchtime and some will also have a lighter, smaller dessert in the evening. Even a small serving of ice cream, custard, jelly, yoghurts or mousse is the perfect way to end the day.”
Mealtimes at Maranoa are special occasions where residents chat and share stories; Lynne McKee believes mealtimes should never be a rushed affair. “Food is such an important part of a resident’s day and a positive dining experience can be the difference to a happy day. Keeping residents sitting together with the promise of a delicious dessert is a crucial way to increase their socialisation and sense of community.”
While most residents aren’t fussy about desserts and are happy with anything sweet put in front of them, there are a few favourites.
“Here on the Northern NSW Coast people often come from a farming family background so some of the favourite desserts are things like bread and butter pudding, rice pudding, sticky date pudding, trifle or lemon meringue pie, just to mention a few,” said Lynne. “People love the old English-style puddings and tarts bring back fond memories of their younger years.”
McKee and her team love to learn some of the residents’ own signature recipes too. “Over the years, we have picked up many lovely dessert recipes from our residents – Apple Roly Poly, Gramma Pie, as well as many slices and cakes such as Raspberry Jam Slice and Frangipani cake.”
Residents on special and texture-modified diets never miss out on desserts. Often softer desserts like mousse, custard, jelly or cheesecake are more suitable for people with dentures, or chewing and swallowing difficulties, so these are regular additions to the menu.
“We create our menu around our residents with special diets – no one likes to miss out on sweets! Our diabetics can have most desserts on our menu, although it is usually a smaller serve. There is nothing more disappointing for a resident to be sitting at a table where everyone else gets a cheesecake and they get fruit and custard.”
“We also use gluten-free flour to make many sweets and morning tea items for gluten intolerant residents.”
“To modify textures, we often will puree the sweet or offer a slightly varied version, such as baked custard. We use moulds also.”
Special celebrations like major milestone birthdays are always a lovely excuse for a cake.
“We often have special cultural luncheons with food from a different country each time. It’s a lovely way to celebrate our residents’ diverse cultural heritage. We’ve had a Greek Baklava, French Crepe Suzette, Indian Rice Pudding with Saffron Honey Pears & Cashews and German strudel.”
As for Lynne’s secret dessert tip, she has two: Cream and Butter. “These two ingredients are added to many desserts – especially in sauces.”
“While many people have been on a life-long diet – a habit that’s hard to break – cakes and desserts are an important part of a resident’s overall diet. A daily sweet treat helps keep them in the healthy weight range and in a positive frame of mind, all day long,” Lynne said.