“Take 1 hospital dinner, give it a makeover with a couple of my own little additions. Hey presto, a proper meal,” the tweet reads. “It’s really not that hard to improve #HospitalFood. Does anyone at @HSELive want to see a change?
It was posted by Diane Masterson, who is a patient in a Dublin hospital. Instead of chocolate and soda, she has been asking visitors to bring her fresh vegetables, which she uses to transform the meals served to her and to add nutrition and variety.
The 34-year-old, who has been in hospital for eight weeks, recently began uploading images of the meals they gave him and the improvements he made to them, on social networks. The transformations are remarkable: After starting life fulfilling all the clichés of terrible hospital food, they now seem like foods most of us would love to eat.
“Tonight’s #HospitalFood shine is a completely fake Shredded Beef Satay Salad,” reads one of his tweets.
In another Masterson writes: “After the procedure, the kitchen was left with nothing but a dry chicken fillet. I fixed it by adding grilled red pepper seasoning + chili oil, added it to my own whole wheat bread, salad, jalepenos + roasted peppers. Patients shouldn’t have to worry about malnutrition.”
In his next tweet, he says: “Dry, overcooked hospital roast beef and sad salad, transformed into colorful sweet chili beef and cashew noodles. No scurvy for me today.
“First we eat with our eyes,” he writes in another Twitter post. “#HospitalFood transformed. Chopped baked potato seasoned with basil pesto and mayonnaise, add greens, sun-dried tomatoes from a jar, canned sweet corn, scallions and some fresh sliced vegetables for color and texture.”
Visitors are not allowed into the hospital, so Masterson has been meeting them outside to receive the greens and salads. Since he can leave the hospital for short periods, he has also been walking to nearby supermarkets to buy food. He can’t wash the produce, so he has been buying organic vegetables and salads wrapped in plastic and using them straight from the packaging.
Having been an extended-stay patient in the past, Masterson knew what was in store for her and prepared for her admission by assembling a collection of spices, condiments and sauces, which she stores in her semi-private room. “I’ve been mixing salad dressings in tablet containers,” she says.
His hospital pantry supplies have included peanut butter, pesto, canned fish, roasted red peppers, canned chickpeas and mixed beans, and sun-dried tomatoes. “Jars of feta cheese in chili oil keep well, and small amounts of Parmesan cheese are fine, wrapped and stored.”
For lunch today, he ordered baked potatoes and chicken goujons, which he intends to enhance with cottage cheese and Chimac Sriracha caramel sauce.
Masterson’s medical team suggested that he use the hospital store and cafeteria to purchase additional food. “I bought a biscuit from the cafeteria with ham, egg mayonnaise and red onion. It was very small and cost €7. A 500 ml protein milk from the hospital store costs €2.40; It’s €1.25 at Tesco.”
Your alternative and better value approach certainly seems to be getting some delicious results.