As you age, cooking and eating healthily can become more and more of a challenge. Preparing a nutritious meal can sometimes seem time-consuming and boring—but it doesn’t have to be. Here are six handy tips and two recipes that keep it nutritious and delicious.
- Blend your veggies. If you or your loved one has trouble consuming the daily minimum recommended amount of veggies for seniors (which is five servings) try blending up veggies to eat as a sauce or as soup. You can use a handheld immersion blender to cream the ingredients directly in a bowl or pot for easy clean-up.
- Add lots of fresh herbs. To omit salt from your diet, add plenty of fresh herbs and spices to any recipe. You won’t even notice the lack of salt in the dish, and you will be incorporating even more healthy nutrients to your diet.
- Put your fruits and veggies on display. Store your fruits and vegetables somewhere that will catch your attention, like on the counter or in the front row in your refrigerator. This will encourage you to snack on them throughout the day and use them in your recipes.
- Use low or nonfat cooking oils. Whether you usually reach for oil for salad dressings or for frying, opt for liquid vegetable oils or nonfat cooking sprays. Check the nutrition labels in the grocery store and choose an oil that is low in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol. Don't be fooled by coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil – even though they are vegetable oils they are actually high in saturated fats.
- Utilize your slow cooker. Crock-pots or slow cookers are great for healthy eating because most of the recipes that you will find contain nutritious, fresh ingredients. They are also an ideal way for senior citizens to cook, as they require such low-maintenance. Cooking is as easy as placing ingredients into a slow cooker in the morning and having a delicious meal a few hours later.
- Have a dinner party. Take turns with your friends preparing home-cooked meals. This allows you the opportunity to share some of your favorite recipes, as well as taste new dishes. Sharing meals with family and friends allows you to discuss the methods of cooking used as well as the ingredients to gain some insight on healthy cooking from a different perspective.
And now, two yummy recipes to get you started.
Root Vegetable Stew Recipe
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 6 hours
1 large white onion OR 2 leeks (white portion only), chopped
1 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 lb. carrots, peeled and chopped
1 lb. parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs, stems removed and chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp. fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp. freshly-cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 cups chopped fresh kale
Add ingredients to a slow-cooker and carefully stir to combine. Cook on low heat for 6-8 hours until the vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaf and carefully stir in the kale. Let the stew continue cooking for 10 minutes or so until the kale is wilted. Season with additional salt and pepper if need be. Turn off slow cooker and serve immediately.
Crockpot Cauliflower & Broccoli Au Gratin
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 2 hours
4 cups broccoli florets (from 2 small heads)
4 cups cauliflower florets (from 1 small head)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
½ pound sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded (2 cups)
1 cup coarse plain dry bread crumbs (or crushed rice chex for gluten free)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Grease your 4 qt crock pot. Then, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over moderate heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook just until fragrant. Off the heat, add the broccoli and cauliflower and toss. Incorporate half of the cheese with the vegetables. Transfer to the crock pot and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. In a small bowl, toss the crumbs with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the crumbs over the cheese. Cook on high for 1 hour or low for 2 hours.
This post brought to you by the caregivers at Brentwood Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, a nursing home in Danvers, MA.