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Nutrition During the Golden Years: 24 Easy Recipes for Seniors
There are a number of issues that can make it difficult for seniors to eat a good diet. Many seniors have a lack of interest in cooking and their changing taste buds may lead to general apathy in regard to food.
Older adults who are taking an array of medications may not be able to taste the food they’re eating due to side effects from the pharmaceuticals. And in addition to all these difficulties, many seniors have special nutritional needs.
As a CDPAP caregiver, these issues can make it difficult to provide wholesome meals that satisfy a senior’s needs. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of healthy recipes for caregivers who are looking for tasty, but also healthy foods that specifically meet the needs of older adults.
Seniors need more B vitamins than younger adults and their need for calcium and proteins is also higher. Vitamin B12 is especially important since many seniors develop difficulties absorbing this nutrient through their food as they age.
Iodine in combination with potassium iodide as well as magnesium are important in keeping an older person’s thyroid gland and circulatory system healthy even if the fruits and vegetables on sale at the market are low in these essential nutrients.
Nutrient absorption issues create a need for foods that are nutrient dense, yet flavorful. This is a tall order since many seniors also lack a full set of teeth and some may also suffer from issues with digestion.
We’ve put together a selection of flavorful, nutrient-dense recipes of food options that are easy to chew and easy to digest. If you’re planning meals for an older adult, always be mindful of their unique dietary restrictions when planning menus.
What foods are good for elderly parents?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the majority of diseases that senior citizens suffer from are a result of poor diet. For example, the consumption of high-fat foods has been correlated with cancer of the prostate, colon, and pancreas.
Diet has also been implicated in a number of deficiency diseases including diabetes and osteoporosis. A deficiency of micronutrients is a common problem among the elderly often because they lack diversity in their diets.
As a caregiver, if you start your meal planning with diversity in mind and a goal to serve primarily fresh fruits and vegetables, this is a good start. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain more bio-available nutrients than canned foods which means that elderly patients will be able to absorb more vitamins and minerals from these foods than what they would get if they eat canned or frozen foods.
In addition to fruits and vegetables, meat and eggs are an important part of an older adult’s diet because this is one of the primary sources of vitamin B12 that seniors get and these days, it can be difficult to get vitamin B12 injections on a regular basis at the doctor’s office.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a variety of symptoms that mimic other diseases in the elderly including dementia and chronic digestive disorders such as constipation or diarrhea and as a general rule, many elderly patients have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12 from food.
Juices made of raw fruits and vegetables are an excellent choice for just about any older adult because they contain a selection of fruits and vegetables without the pulp which makes the nutrients easier to absorb. Seniors who no longer have teeth can consume freshly-made fruit and vegetable juices easily and these foods pack a lot of nutrients into small space for older adults who don’t have a strong appetite.
What is a good lunch for seniors?
Caregivers who want to keep nutrition at the forefront of their minds should start with a freshly made fruit and vegetable drink as an appetizer for their elderly patients. Lunches should also include a source of protein, ideally a small portion of meat or eggs so that patients will also get a healthy dose of Vitamin B12 and omega 3 fatty acids.
While milk may seem like an excellent source of calcium, the largest, most comprehensive study of nutrition ever done in the world proved that greens are a better source of calcium than milk. The acidity of milk and dairy products can actually contribute to the development osteoporosis while collard greens and broccoli provide a balanced source of calcium along with an assortment of other vitamins and minerals.
What are good snacks for the elderly patients?
Snacks are an important part of an older person’s diet. Highly processed foods contain very few vitamins and minerals and when you offer these kinds of foods to older adults, they’re consuming empty calories.
Countries like Japan that have a much higher life expectancy than people in the United States consume large quantities of iodine in their diets in the form of seaweed and other marine-based foods. Snack foods that contain nori seaweed provide high levels of iodine and omega 3’s as well as other nutrients.
Foods like bananas and raspberries make great snacks because they’re easy to eat and they provide high levels of magnesium, another important nutrient for good heart health.
Is oatmeal good for elderly patients?
Oatmeal is a great breakfast item or it can be served as a snack. Oatmeal contains a high dose of fiber and it’s very filling, affordable, and easy to chew so it’s a great option for elderly patients. Consider sprinkling a bit of spirulina or powdered moringa into each serving of oatmeal to make it more colorful and nutritious.
Is yogurt good for elderly patients?
A high-quality yogurt may be good for the elderly, especially if it’s made with soy or coconut milk rather than cow’s milk, which, according to The China Study, can acidify the body and contribute to the development of a number of degenerative diseases in elderly populations.
Yogurt that’s made with honey or coconut palm sugar are superior to yogurts made with refined sugars.
What foods should seniors avoid?
While eggs, meat, and poultry are essential for good health in elderly populations as a vital source of vitamin B12, raw or undercooked meats and eggs can be deadly. Food poisoning can result from consumption of raw or undercooked meats and eggs.
If the elderly patient is on a number of pharmaceuticals, avoid grapefruit because grapefruit inactivates an enzyme that’s essential in drug metabolism. On the other hand, elderly patients who are not on meds can benefit a great deal from the powerful liver-cleansing properties of grapefruit.
Refined sugars should be avoided because they contribute to the development of inflammation throughout the body. Foods that contain refined sugars provide only empty calories, so these should always be avoided.
Seniors should also avoid alcohol and caffeine except in the form of green tea. Green tea has special properties that make it one of the healthiest drinks on the planet. It’s loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that can enhance the health of older adults.
Excellent Recipes for the Elderly
The banana smoothie is a classic and delicious breakfast drink. With the addition of spices and gut-friendly kefir, this particular Banana Spice Smoothie recipe is good for digestion and for keeping inflammation under control. Plus, the kefir in this smoothie is particularly good for seniors because of its high vitamin B12 content.
For cool fall and winter mornings, there’s nothing better than settling in with a warm, tasty bowl of oatmeal. This Pumpkin Oatmeal packs in extra vitamins and minerals with the inclusion of canned pumpkin as well as with pumpkin pie spices and enriched dairy OR non-dairy milks. This recipe is packed full with vitamins A and C (from the pumpkin) as well as being rich in dietary fiber (from the oats).
Even if you hadn’t originally thought of carrot juice as one of your favorite juices, this Immunity-Boosting Carrot Ginger Juice will surely convert you to a lover of both carrots and ginger.
Some people might not think that a beet-carrot-apple juice combo sounds like much fun, but after one sip of this juice, you’ll surely be hooked! This surprising juice combination is incredibly sweet and rich while also offering an abundance of health benefits for seniors in particular. Beets are particularly good for brain health, while carrots support eyesight with lots of vitamin A.
If you want a more luxurious breakfast food option, look no further than this Dark Chocolate Date Protein Smoothie. Seniors who love good chocolate treats will adore this smoothie! And best of all, there’s no guilt involved with this smoothie because it’s entirely healthy and filled with nutrients. Chocolate contains high levels of iron and magnesium, and the enriched nut milk, kale, bananas, and dates raises the nutrient value even further.
Fruit salad is easy to make, fun to eat, and highly customizable to your individual tastes. This particular fruit salad recipe incorporates fruits high in vitamin C with a dosing of honey and orange juice to make a delicious anti-bacterial breakfast food that’s both filling and refreshing. Berries, kiwis, and mango bring in a twist to classic fruit salad, while sliced apples and grapes keep things classy and simple.
The traditional American breakfast foods of French toast and pancakes are definitely delicious, but they’re not particularly nutritious. But if you love to eat a sweet, decadent bread item in the morning, look no further than this Peanut Butter & Fruit Toast! Made using whole grain bread, seniors can be sure they’re getting optimal levels of fiber, minerals, and vitamins in their diet without having to compromise on flavor.
A juicer is one of the best investments that a caregiver can make, not only because of the diversity of tasty juice possibilities, but also because of the numerous health benefits of juicing. Normally overlooked veggies like cucumber, celery, and kale are the stars of this green juice, but you’d never know it. For seniors, fresh green juice is one of the absolute best ways to incorporate a lot of nutrients into the diet.
This vegetable soup is easy to make and also quite healthy. Despite the name, this recipe is made with whole milk rather than cream, so it’s a healthier alternative to regular creamy vegetable soup. The abundance of vegetables along with the dairy ensures that you’ll get an extra dosage of vitamin B12 while also getting a lot of other nutrients along the way.
If you’ve been looking for a fun and exciting new lunch meal, look no further than this delightful cauliflower bean dip. The cauliflower in this dish is high in vitamin C, so this dip provides an immunity boost. The diverse mix of Mediterranean spices also helps reduce inflammation and add a burst of flavor.
For seniors who prefer a hardy, wholesome lunch, a veggie-loaded omelette is a fantastic way to start things off right. This Spinach & Mushroom Omelette is fluffy and light, but also filling and packed with flavor. Eggs in the morning are a great way to get some extra B12 into your diet, and with the veggies in this omelette, you’ll also take in vitamins A and B6 along with extra potassium and magnesium.
Potatoes for lunch are sure to provide plenty of sustenance to get you through the day. And these “loaded” mashed potato cakes are so much fun to eat! They have a lot of flavor from the cheese and extra spices, but their clever presentation makes them both easy to chew and entertaining to serve.
These Quinoa Black Bean Burrito Bowls are exceptionally simple to put together for a lunch meal, making them ideal for ambitious seniors who have projects and goals. Quinoa is a Peruvian superfood that has a super high nutrient content, so it’s great for older adults. Fresh vegetables, protein-packed legumes, and delicious spices unite in this colorful and tasty lunchtime specialty.
Fried rice is a traditional Asian dish. This particular fried rice recipe takes into account the individual needs of seniors, and with its abundance of vegetables, it packs in a lot of nutrient value without compromising on flavor or fun. This Very Veggie Fried Rice also uses scrambled eggs to make it more filling while also offering up some extra protein, iron, and other essential nutrients.
Tomatoes are rich in lots of nutrients, and vitamin C in particular. This easy to make tomato soup can be made in the morning as an immunity-boosting lunchtime meal. Eat this tomato soup with a slice of toasted whole wheat bread or enjoy it by itself. Simple and straightforward, tomato soup is a fantastic meal option for seniors who want an easy yet nutritious lunch meal that can be made on a budget.
This is a light Mediterranean salad that features a symphony of wonderful flavors all in one easy to makelunchtime dish. The quinoa in this dish is of course packed full of nutrients, and the spices offer additional healing and health benefits too. Fresh tomatoes and mozzarella finish the dish and add in delightful textures that make this meal both entertaining and flavorful at the same time.
These stuffed green peppers put a fun spin on the classic Mexican stuffed poblano peppers. Delicious and full of protein, vitamins (specifically B12), and minerals, combine this dish with a fruit salad or smoothie to round out a nutrient-packed dinner meal.
Chicken enchiladas are a beloved staple dinner option for many people, and this cheesy, vibrant Chicken Enchilada Casserole is simple and flavorful, making it an accessible dinner option for seniors. Because this casserole is absolutely filled to the brim with decadent flavors, it’s a great option for people who struggle with subtle flavor or chewing difficulties
For seniors, this is an excellent meal for nights when a simple yet healthy dinner is in order. Pasta is a food that’s good for seniors with chewing problems, and whole grain pasta provides additional health benefits in the form of essential vitamins and minerals. Garlic is fantastic for digestion and immunity, and the inclusion of butter and chicken stock in this pasta also adds some extra vitamin B12 into the diet.
Risotto is a flavorful comfort food meal that’s easy to make and full of flavor. It’s also another meal that’s good for seniors with chewing problems. This particular Mushroom & Leek Risotto recipe is vegan, so this is a good dinner to eat on days when you want to give your body a break from digesting animal proteins.
This recipe takes average meatloaf one step further. Root vegetables like carrots, beets, and parsnips are nutrient dense and lend a unique flavor and texture to this meatloaf, and meanwhile, the turkey contributes additional protein, iron, and vitamin B12 to your dinner meal.
This Coconut Chickpea curry is a classic Indian style dish that boasts amazing flavors from its vibrant spices, and also offers up plenty of nutrition too. This is another vegan dish that provides plenty of protein and healthy fats while giving your body a rest from animal products.
It’s not uncommon for seniors to experience brain-related issues, and maintaining brain health at any age is extremely important. These fluffy and yummy banana pancakes that are sugar-free, vegan, and gluten-free are specifically designed to incorporate brain-friendly foods that support cognitive health and general well being.
There’s nothing better on a cold winter’s day than a hot, delicious bowl of traditional chicken noodle soup. Rosemary Chicken Noodle Soup will definitely become a regular favorite in your household because it’s a healthy and feel-good dinner that goes down easy.
Seniors who eat nutritious meals on a regular basis are more likely to thrive than those who don’t, but providing nutritious meals to elderly patients is a challenge for a variety of reasons. Despite the challenges, as a caregiver, if you take the extra time and care required to make healthy meals, your patients will benefit from it and enjoy not have better cognitive performance and higher energy levels but also enhanced well-being overall.