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Why OT's Love Cooking with Clients

By Apricus Health

20th January 2021

Parent of two Amanda talks about cooking simple meals as a daily occupational task and how a session can help inspire confidence and independence in kids and young adults. 

As parents, we can tend to do everything for our children. However, there are many jobs around the house that they are expected, and more than capable, of doing. In my house, I still make sandwiches every school day, even though my children are now 14 and 11. Yes, they can do this themselves but it’s my small way of staying involved in their morning routine as they learn to become more independent. They then pack the rest of their lunch themselves.

As children become teenagers, it is important to teach them about nutrition, meal planning, and developing food preparation and cooking skills. They will not live in your house forever and will need these skills of daily living to survive. I boarded at university and distinctly recall some of the students needing help with basic living skills like cooking a meal or putting a load of washing on! So I like to think that I am preparing my children to be self-reliant.

For some of our clients who are ready to transition into this stage of independence, cooking simple meals as a daily occupational task can be a little daunting, so our OT’s work with clients and incorporate food prep and cooking into a session to help clients feel more confident and safe in the kitchen.  

This works on life skills like planning, task breakdown, organisational skills and completion, and time management. 

With cooking, the reward is not only visually appealing but also appealing to other our senses (we have eight senses!) like touch, taste and smell. And what a reward! 

The enjoyment we see when our clients have made something themselves and sharing their finished product with family is so rewarding. You could not wipe the smile off their faces!

Recipe: Cocoa Balls

OT tip: Use a rolling pin and wooden spoon to combine instead of mixer to assist with upper limb/hand strength.


  • Mixing bowl
  • Big zip lock bag
  • Rolling pin
  • Wooden spoon
  • Storage container
  • Teaspoon


  • 1 x 250g packet of plain biscuits (Arnotts)
  • 1 x 395g tin of condensed milk
  • 1 cup of coconut
  • ¼ cup of cocoa
  • Extra coconut for rolling


  1. Place the biscuits into a big zip lock bag.
  2. Crush by using a rolling pin until the biscuits resemble fine crumbs. OT tip: this helps supports developing fine and gross motor skills (upper limb and hand strength).
  3. Put into a mixing bowl.
  4. Add the cocoa powder, coconut and condensed milk.
  5. Mix using a wooden spoon until well combined. OT tip: this supports developing fine and gross motor skills (upper limb and hand strength).
  6. Roll heaped teaspoons of the mixture into balls. OT tip: this supports the development of fine motor skills (in-hand manipulation), self-care skills (using a spoon) and sensory exploration/play.
  7. Roll in the extra coconut to coat. OT tip: This supports sensory exploration/food play.
  8. Store in an airtight container in the fridge (use baking paper to separate if putting multiple layers in the container to prevent from sticking together).
  9. Enjoy!