Summer is the perfect time to get your residents outside enjoying the sunshine.
The benefits of getting a little fresh air and sunshine can’t be overstated. Company, sociable chat, warm summer breezes, a bite to eat and drink – lovely. An opportunity to enjoy the garden is not only great for your residents but your staff, too.
Having a theme can also help to focus an event and give it a greater fun factor. Any catering does not need to be over complicated but should be inclusive. If you are catering for any vegetarian or vegan residents there is no reason why they should be given an afterthought option. Or why not make the whole event veggie?
Summer can evoke so many lovely memories and there are endless themed events you can host around this time. If you are making plans for any outdoor activity then it’s easy to make sure the catering is inclusive – catering well for vegetarian and vegan residents, as well as those with allergies or intolerances.
Here are our top ideas for some summer activities and how to make these inclusive for all.
Anyone for tennis?
How about strawberries and cream on the lawn with a fun and friendly game of tennis, cricket, or badminton? Games like these don’t need expensive equipment or the perfect space and can even be played seated for those with mobility issues. Refresh and revitalise the players and spectators with a simple serving of strawberries and cream. For a vegan/dairy-free alternative try Elmlea plant cream or Oatly creamy oat. Both can be served as a single pouring cream, or make a great whipped cream.
What about a garden picnic?
Or invite the residents' grandkids and make it a teddy bear’s picnic – a fun, lighthearted event with story time and encourage the children to bring along their favourite teddy. This could also work well as a reminiscence activity, looking at old toys that would have been fashionable and may start some lovely conversations. An easy activity to bring into the lounge, too, if the weather does not want to cooperate.
Catering wise: sandwiches, cake and tea are the order of the day. On our website you can find lots of recipe inspiration. Here’s some great sandwich filling ideas and a tasty, vegan cake. This is an easy cake to make and is topped with apricot halves before being baked. The apricots sink slightly as it bakes. Dust with a little icing sugar when cooled. I have made this cake several times and it always turns out well. Of course many other fruits can be used to top the cake depending on what you have. Pears, apples or plums would all work well.
A barbecue may take a little more organisation, but can be the main meal of the day, so perhaps in total does not take that much extra effort for the day. A couple of steel drum barbecues will really give a sense of occasion and fun. A string of bunting and a little music – what could be better? Vegetarian and vegan options should not be an afterthought. Catering suppliers now have wide range of veggie burgers and sausages available. Some are faux meat – many meat eaters would not be able to tell the difference. Other products are made from pressed vegetables. These tend to be softer in texture, requiring a gentler touch when cooking. Again, it is easy to create your own veggie burgers, too. This recipe uses black beans and can be made ahead of time. Add a little relish, salad and a slice of tomato and it will be a winner.
Do you need a separate veggie BBQ? Ideally, yes. This may seen as an extra expense but all of the vegetable options can be cooked here: vegetable kebabs, sweetcorn, pineapple slices and baked banana for pudding. Not to mention providing a space to toast the burger buns, flat breads etc. If you were vegetarian you would not want to have meat cooked in the same pan as your veggie option. If this isn’t possible you could cook the veggie options first or keep one side of the BBQ for veggie dishes only.
What about a sing song?
Now that things have got back to some state of normality why not invite a local choir to give a recital? Choirs have not been able to meet over the past year and may be glad of the opportunity to get together. This will give the chance for your residents to sing along or just enjoy the music. Perhaps you could treat your guests to a cup of tea and slice of pistachio cake. This is simply delicious, looks magnificent with a wonderful unique colour. Oh... and it’s vegan.
While the sun is out, how about a little light gardening?
Gardening can have a real positive impact on mental wellbeing. This does not mean heavy digging. Sowing seeds, potting, taking cuttings, etc. may all be possible. Creating raised beds for easy access with paths may be an investment in time and perhaps a little money, but will last for years and will bring pleasure to all. Perhaps create a wildlife garden: put up bird boxes and a bird feeding station. All these things may help to create a sense of belonging for your residents and control over their environment. All too often gardens can be ignored, but with a little effort they can be really wonderful places to spend time. And of course any herbs, vegetables or fruits can be put to good use in the kitchen.
We all scream for ice cream – why not set up your own ice cream van for the afternoon and evoke those lovely summer memories of summer days out? Buy in a variety of ice creams, cones, sauces and sprinkles. Again it’s easy to make this inclusive for vegetarians, vegans and those with dairy allergies. There are plenty of dairy-free ice creams readily available now from wholesalers. Or a quick trip to the supermarket will reveal plenty of branded and own brand options including Alpro, Swedish Glace, Ben and Jerry’s, Vegan Cornetto (vegan and gluten free), Tesco Wicked Kitchen ice creams and many more. Plain cones will normally be vegan and for sauces and toppings you’ll just need to check the label.
‘Fish’ and chip supper by the seaside – you may already do fish and chip Friday, but why not make it extra special? You could try and decorate the care home with a local seaside theme. Recreate taking orders, invite family members, maybe even serve in paper like you’d have at a real chip shop. Again it’s easy to be inclusive and no need for vegetarians or vegans to miss out on this tasty treat. You can buy frozen soya ‘fish’ fillets easily from wholesalers or the supermarket. Or try making your own. Here’s our tasty ‘Tofish’ recipe or you could even try making it with banana blossom, which can be bought in tins from supermarkets. Drain and coat in batter and fry, as you would the tofu.
Whatever you decide to do, celebrating outside this summer has extra special significance, considering the past year that we have all had. Enjoy a little outdoor time: it’s later than you think.
For more recipe suggestions, nutrition information or further support from VfL, please visit https://vegetarianforlife.org.uk/