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Christmas arrived early for a group of Mater lunch club members with celebrity chef Luke Mangan dishing up festive fare to patients who will spend the holiday season in hospital.
Six long-stay patients at Mater Hospital Brisbane were treated to a restaurant-style three-course Christmas menu as part of the state-wide Eat Walk Engage program designed to improve patient outcomes through exercise and socialising over a meal.
Mater’s Eat Walk Engage project officer Jessica Wall said COVID-19 restrictions had resulted in fewer visitors coming into the hospital, highlighting the importance of the program in reducing patient loneliness.
“Eat Walk Engage offers our long-stay patients the chance to move, chat to other people and share a meal together – three important ingredients for their mental, emotional and physical health,” Ms Wall said.
“With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, we’re able to assist patients to move around a bit more and entice them with a Christmas meal created by Mater chefs alongside cooking guru, Luke Mangan.”
Mater Director of Dietetics Sally McCray said Mater chefs had created the Christmas dishes with Mr Mangan to ensure patients spending the festive season in hospital had the chance to enjoy a nutritious, festive meal.
“Up to 40 per cent of hospital patients can be malnourished and long-stay patients are particularly vulnerable to this, given they are often elderly or undergoing cancer treatments that often leave them without an appetite,” Ms McCray said.
The Christmas menu includes entrees such as turkey Waldorf salad with dried cranberries and main meals like pork striploin with maple glazed apples. Dessert options include plum pudding with bitter chocolate sauce.
Mater was the first hospital in Australia to partner with a celebrity chef to create a range of nutritionally balanced, restaurant quality meals for patients with the first joint menu launched earlier this year.
It was also the first hospital in Australia to introduce a hotel style room-service model for patients, enabling Mater patients to enjoy meals of their choice delivered to their bedside at a time that suits them.
Ms McCray said the collaboration with Luke Mangan had built on their goal to improve nutritional intake of patients and reduce food wastage.
“When patients can select dishes that appeal to them, and eat when they’re hungry, they are more likely to reach their nutritional requirements,” she said.
“We eat with our eyes and so visually appealing, restaurant quality meals are more likely to encourage better intake.”
“The menus we have created with Luke Mangan are not only healthy, but they are also made with the freshest seasonal produce available.
“We try to develop menus based around local, seasonal produce. Apart from tasting better, fresh, seasonal produce can have better nutritional quality and higher vitamin content.”
Mr Mangan said he was delighted to see long-stay patients enjoying the special lunch.
“We want patients to experience restaurant-standard Christmas food to bring them some joy while they’re in hospital and that’s what this menu is all about,” Mr Mangan said.
“The menu features dishes with turkey, figs, pork, asparagus, peaches, plum pudding, all made with fresh, seasonal produce.
“The menu caters to all dietary needs, including vegetarian and vegan options.
“There’s something for everyone.”
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