The kitchen in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies was buzzing during the quiet January intersession thanks to a unique class taught in collaboration with the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders.
The class, Interdisciplinary Care-Based Management in Dysphagia, brings together students from both speech pathology and nutrition master’s programs. Dysphagia, a swallowing disorder, can affect patients of all ages and across many conditions. The course is taught by Erin Embry, Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders and Director of Speech@NYU, and Lisa Sasson, Clinical Assistant Professor of Nutrition. It aims to teach students how to bring pleasure, taste, and satisfaction back to eating for those experiencing dysphagia. “The course was founded in the belief that although individuals may have limitations in their diets, they should not be deprived of the joy and satisfaction of healthy, delicious food,” said Sasson. ”People who eat better have better overall health outcomes.”
The Iron Chef competition, which is the culminating experience of the course, gives student groups a hypothetical patient profile in which to model their plan of action after. Once they have analyzed the needs of their patient (including their medical diagnosis, recommended diet, and cultural and psychosocial considerations), they develop recipes to meet their needs. The recipes were judged by an esteemed panel from NYU Steinhardt, Rusk Rehabilitation, and the food and nutrition communities. Judges included:
Pamela Morris: Vice Dean at NYU Steinhardt and Professor of Applied Psychology.
Dan Amatuzzi: A sommelier, adjunct professor at both NYU Steinhardt and NYU Stern School of Business, and Wine Director for Eataly.
Sonja Molfenter: Assistant Professor in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, whose research specializes in disruptions in swallowing function.
Michael Ferraro: Chef and owner of Delicatessen and Mac Bar, who helped to launch Cooking. Comfort. Care., a program that provides nutritional tips and recipes to caregivers and patients with pancreatic cancer.
Preeti Raghavan, MD: Clinician and researcher at NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation focusing on patients recovering from traumatic brain injuries, stroke, and those with neurological conditions.
Rocco DiSpirito: Cookbook author, television personality, James Beard award winner, and a council member for Feeding America and ambassador for Health Corps.
Special thanks also goes to the “Quickfire Challenge” judges Dr. Christina Reuterskiold, PhD, Chair of the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, Allison Schulman, MS, RD, Pegah Jalali, MS, RD, and Kelila Jaffe, Food Program Coordinator, who tested “mocktails” made by each group to their patient’s specifications. The winner of this round did not have to include the surprise ingredient (tofu) in their dish.
The winners of the competition (Team 1) made a delicious meal consisting of spicy risotto, black beans, and a coconut milk-infused shake for a woman with anxiety related to swallowing. The audience favorite winners (Team 5) produced a macaroni and cheese and vanilla milkshake combo for a young non-verbal child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Other dishes included spicy lentil daal, salmon, roasted carrots, and a mango lassi drink.
Speech@NYU, NYU Steinhardt’s online master’s program in Communicative Sciences and Disorders, put together Dining with Dysphagia, A Cookbook. The book is full of delicious and easy recipes, and just like the Iron Chef competition, it is aimed to make eating an enjoyable experience for patients with all levels of dysphagia.