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Nutrition – Hunkerin’ Down at the Homestead

Nutrition – Hunkerin’ Down At The Homestead
Nutrition – Hunkerin’ Down At The Homestead

For people living with Duchenne, nutrition is a top priority. But there are several considerations to keep in mind at mealtime regarding caloric consumption – including amount of ambulation, physical activity, and steroid use. Specialists in the field suggest patients avoid excessive intake overall, prescribing a daily caloric consumption of 80% of what those without Duchenne muscular dystrophy would consume.  Salt intake should not be more than 1500 mg daily, and adequate calcium intake is also recommended. For these reasons and more, I recommend reviewing more comprehensive nutritional guidelines available here.

Let’s get cooking!

If you’re feeling down lately about being banished to your abode full-time, maybe a shift in perspective is what you need. Cooking at home can be therapeutic and a fun family activity. With a little shift in focus, typical dining experiences can be replaced with brand new ones that may prove rewarding and serve your whole family well in the future. Whether following a recipe or making it up along the way, putting your brain to work helps you focus on something other than your worries. By filling your home with the warm smells of the kitchen, you’ll help create an inviting atmosphere to boot!

  • Kids can get restless, so get them involved in the cooking process! This provides a needed break from the digital world and teaches them much needed life skills.
  • The cooking process will likely introduce them to new foods and increase the chances they will try new things, as well.
  • Chopping, stirring, blending and mixing can even count as a little exercise for some family members who are less mobile.
  • Non-ambulatory individuals who have a stander can stand near the countertop to have a better vantage point to see and reach to assist with the chopping & cooking.

Stocking Up Nutrition

Some people are going to find that their usual staples are unavailable. But, for most people ‘stocking up on food’ generally means heading straight to the beans, grains, rice and pastas. Many of these foods fall under the FODMAP category, and according to guidelines, these are foods people with Duchenne should limit anyway. Foods that do not contain carbohydrates – meat, poultry, fish, eggs, butter, oils, and hard cheeses – are not a concern.

Vegetables are always welcome, as long as they’re not too starchy. The problem with vegetables is that they aren’t going to stay fresh for long – but mixing them into a stew or soup performs multiple nutritional duties:

  • Soups and stews are easy to freeze or store in the fridge, which offers a longer shelf life than veggies have by themselves.
  • Anyone with difficulty chewing, or just suffering from a little winter malady will find it easy to sip or spoon small bites, as well.
  • Canned vegetables are good for stews – just watch out for things canned in brine – salt water is still salt, and kids with Duchenne need to watch the salt even more than adults.

Keep in mind that cultural stews and soups are staples across the world. With a little investigation, you might discover some new flavors that are out of this world! We’re talking Hungarian Goulash, Ukrainian Borsch, Persian Ash, Mexican Albondigas, and a slew of Indian stews you can easily make at home. Feel free to add your own flare to come up with a little fusion. Any recipe you find may need some modification to accommodate the needs and tastes of your family. Don’t be afraid to puree or substitute ingredients according to guidelines provided by a registered dietician or nutritionist.

Another consideration to digest is adding smoothies to your nutritional schedule. A simple recipe I routinely blend up is:

  • 1/2 – 1 cup of ice (more or less to adjust thickness)
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 1 handful of blueberries
  • 1/2 cup coconut water (which softens the beverage and is fantastic for hydration!)
  • Add in some nuts like cashews for easy to digest complex fats.
  • A dash of cinnamon or lime can add a little kick for those who seek it.

What I’d really like to do is promote sharing of recipes, so if you have any that work for you – please share them with the rest of us! That’s what community is all about.

Share Your Recipes!

recipes submitted by the community

Hearty Lentil Stew

Serves: 8
Submitted by: Josh Argall


  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 large carrots
  • 2 medium yellow onions (diced)
  • 4 stalks celery (diced)
  • 6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups red lentils (rinsed)
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice


  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Toss in the carrots, onion, and celery. Cook until onions are translucent (about 5-6 minutes), stirring occasionally. 
  2. Toss in the garlic and stir until it’s fragrant. Add the balsamic vinegar, paprika, cumin, cayenne, and lentils. Continue stirring.
  3. Stir in vegetable stock, salt, and pepper.
  4. Bring the stew to a simmer. Cover the pot partially with a lid and let simmer for about 7-10 minutes. Add in lemon juice.

Curry Chicken Salad

Serves: 4
Submitted by: Josh Argall


  • 1 small white onion, sliced
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 clove garlic, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 15 oz can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced apple
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2 tbsp flaked coconut
  • 1/2 bunch mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Arrange onion slices on the bottom of a medium-sized glass baking dish. Place chicken in baking dish and sprinkle with curry and diced garlic. Drizzle orange juice on chicken.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
  4. When cool, cut into bite-sized pieces (shred if swallowing is difficult).
  5. In a medium bowl, mix chicken, mandarin oranges, green onions, apples (can be made without apples if swallowing is difficult), and 1 tablespoon of coconut. Stir in mayonnaise.
  6. Pour into serving bowl and top with remaining coconut and chopped mint.

Sweet Caveman Casserole

Serves: 8
Submitted by: Devin Argall


  • 1 lb ground meat (beef, bison, venison)
  • 4 large sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 lb bacon
  • 1 onion
  • 3 carrots (shredded)
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup crushed pecans
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp nutmeg


  1. Place peeled and cubed sweet potatoes in a pan, cover with water, and boil until potatoes are soft. 
  2. While potatoes are cooking, heat another large, deep saute pan or Dutch oven over medium high heat.
  3. Add bacon and cook for about 6 – 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add ground meat to the bacon and cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Add onions and carrots. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots start to soften. 
  6. Add in balsamic, honey, and cinnamon. Mix well. Remove from heat.
  7. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  8. Strain sweet potatoes and place in bowl. Add butter, coconut milk, and nutmeg. Mash and mix well.
  9. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Place the bacon and ground meat mixture in the dish. Spread the sweet potatoes over the top of the meat mixture using a spatula.
  10. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven, top with crushed pecans, and bake for an additional 10 -15 minutes.

Share Your Recipes!