Easy and Healthy Meals for Seniors
Easy and Healthy Meals for Seniors | America Homecare
Healthy meals are super important for seniors and the elderly. Cooking easy and healthy meals for seniors doesn’t have to be a chore. It can even be fun to mix and match different ingredients into a delicious, nutritious meal.
However, it’s very crucial that before one plans meals for seniors that their doctors are notified. Make sure you know of any diet restrictions, nutritional recommendations, or food allergies and plan with them in mind.
Make Cooking Easier
While there’s no universal, guaranteed tip that will work for everyone, care.com has some tips that will make cooking and planning easier on caregivers and their clients.
- Make a plan and write it down. Pick a preferred day (Sunday or Monday) and write down your plan. Especially in this climate, it’s important to get all your supplies in one grocery trip. Collaborate with your client (while also keeping in mind the doctor’s recommendations) to plan meals.
- Make meal prep a group project. Getting your senior’s help will take some of the burden off you and they will feel more invested in what they are eating. They may even enjoy having a weekly project to look forward to.
- Prep versatile ingredients for the week. Meal prep is supposed to make your life easier, not more difficult. Start by prepping certain foods that make more than one appearance in your senior’s meal plan for the week.
For example, cook enough quinoa for the week or wash and chop vegetables and put them in tightly-sealed containers in the refrigerator. This will ensure that no one is starting from zero when they begin cooking the meal.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, seniors need 65 grams of protein a day. While a frequent component of a balanced breakfast, nuts and seeds can be difficult for some seniors to digest, so avocados can be a substitute.
- Warm oatmeal and berries. Place frozen or fresh berries in a crockpot at a low heat setting. Add a pat of butter and one serving of old-fashioned oats and water. Cover and cook on low for several hours (or overnight). This will give it the consistency of bread pudding. (The easier option is adding berries to warm oatmeal.)
- A hard-boiled egg. Accompany with a side of fresh fruit and a slice of whole wheat toast.
- Whole grain pancakes or waffles. If you can find one, choose a brand that contains chia seed which is more stable than flaxseed. Then top with fresh berries. For protein, also eat a handful of walnuts or almonds.
- Yogurt parfait. Mix together yogurt, nuts and fruit. It’s a good combo of healthy fat, Vitamin C and carbohydrates.
- Power toast. For healthy fat and some protein, spread peanut butter or almond butter on whole wheat toast. Enjoy fresh fruit on the side.
- Poached egg. Place egg on top of whole wheat toast and steamed asparagus. Top with a small amount of butter.
The USDA recommends that seniors get 2-2 1/2 cups of fresh vegetables daily (such as kale, spinach and carrots). Feel free to add leafy greens to any of these meals for additional midday nutrients, like fruit with breakfast meals. Steaming or sautéing all vegetables can make for easy chewing.
- Quinoa salad. Saute pre-chopped stir-fry vegetables (onion, red pepper, mushrooms). Combine with pine nuts or pecans and cooked quinoa. Toss with Italian salad dressing. Eat fresh, warm or cold. Keeps well refrigerated. The USDA recommends steaming or sautéing vegetables in olive oil instead of boiling, which drains the nutrients.
- Eggs and red potatoes. Melt a pat of butter in a skillet. Chop up potatoes and add to skillet over a medium heat. Cover skillet for two minutes. Then, pour scrambled eggs over potatoes, add pepper and toss until eggs are hot. Rather than season with salt, which can lead to water retention and high blood pressure, use fresh herbs and spices.
- Cottage fries. Slice parboiled red potatoes. Heat extra virgin olive oil in a skillet and cook the potatoes at a medium heat. Top with leftover vegetables and grated sharp cheddar cheese. Cover, let steam and serve.
- Southwest omelet. Beat two eggs. Put 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet. Pour in the egg mixture, and add pepper jack cheese chunks and natural salsa or chili sauce. When eggs are firm, fold and serve with sliced avocado. Tip: Chili and spices help boost diminished taste buds.
- Salmon wrap. Place canned Alaskan boneless skinless salmon on a whole grain wrap. Add chopped avocado, tomatoes, greens and plain yogurt. Wrap tightly, cut in half and serve.
Most dinner menus will call for sauteing vegetables or a protein in a healthy fat such as olive oil. Canola oil has been linked to decreased cognitive function. In addition to extra virgin olive oil, integrate avocado oil into your cooking.
- Baked or grilled Alaskan salmon. Top each steak with tomatoes, sweet onion, dried or fresh basil, chopped garlic and one tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Wrap each piece of fish tightly in aluminum foil and place in the oven on a low heat (300 degrees). If the fish is thawed, cook for about 15 minutes. Dinner is ready when the fish is flaky but still moist.
- Lamb and potatoes. (If you can keep some parboiled red potatoes on hand, you can prepare fast and easy meals.) Form ground lamb into small meatballs. Tear fresh basil into slivers, or use a pinch of dried basil. Slice pre-cooked red potatoes into small pieces. Slice a clove of garlic. Warm extra virgin olive oil in a skillet. Saute garlic and basil on a medium heat for five minutes. Add lamb and brown. Add potatoes; cover for 10 minutes Toss ingredients; add a dash of ground pepper. Cook for an additional five minutes.
- Shrimp and pasta. Heat a pat of butter and one tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan. Add chopped fresh herbs, garlic and a handful of shrimp. Toss and cook until shrimp is done. Place on a bed of pasta and top with chopped fresh tomatoes.
- Liver and fennel. Place liver slices in a skillet with extra virgin olive oil. Top with chopped fennel, red onion and cabbage. Cover and steam until liver is tender. Serve.
- Beans and rice. Heat up a can of black, pinto, or white beans. Serve with brown rice, oats, or barley. You can warm the meal in a crockpot and serve later.
- Shrimp and fresh greens. Saute fresh vegetables in a saucepan (again, you can buy pre-cut veggies), with olive oil. Add cocktail shrimp, which can be bought peeled, cooked and chilled. Serve with a berry vinaigrette salad dressing and lime slices.
- Southwest chicken salad. Cook boneless, skinless chicken breast on a medium heat in a skillet with extra virgin olive oil. Add salsa. Shred chicken and reserve in refrigerator to use for wraps, salad, or soup.
Nutritional snacks in-between meals such as high-fiber rye crisps with Swiss cheese or guacamole on top can be an option. While seniors do need to stay well-hydrated, they are better off taking small sips during the day in order to avoid frequent sprints to the bathroom.
To avoid stomach upset, the water should be room temperature or warm. Add in some lemon, lime, or a few berries for extra flavor and they can take small sips all day to stay sufficiently hydrated.
Alternatives for Cooking When It’s Not an Option
Be alert for signs that your seniors might not be as handy — or safe — in the kitchen as they once was. Some of these signs: spoiled food in the refrigerator, an empty refrigerator, diminished energy or strength lifting dishes in and out of the cupboard, a burner is left on, cutting skills are shaky, pans are burned (signs they were left on the stove too long).
If your senior can no longer cook and doesn’t have someone who can cook for them, these companies and organizations help provide meals:
- Meals on Wheels Association of Western NY: Prepares and delivers more than one million meals to seniors each day.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): This is the government food assistance plan once referred to as Food Stamps. Seniors who have trouble affording fresh fruits and vegetables and other food can apply.
- Schwan’s: A national grocery store, delivers frozen meals-breakfast, lunch and dinner-door to door every two weeks.
- Silver Cuisine: Focused solely on delivering fresh meals to seniors, Silver Cuisine can accommodate many different dietary restrictions and will even deliver nutritious snack options.
- Magic Kitchen: Another online meal delivery service, Magic Kitchen allows you to choose from several dietary types, including senior diets.
- Mom’s Meals: Mom’s Meals has been delivering to people nationwide for over seventeen years and focuses on meals for specific dietary needs, including those of seniors.
You can also check your local grocery store, their website, food banks, or instacart.com to utilize meal or grocery delivery.
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