Finding healthy meals for senior adults can be challenging, as senior malnutrition is a serious concern for older adults and those who care for them. It’s common for elderly people to experience a decreased appetite and diminished sense of taste and smell as they age. It can also become increasingly hard for elderly adults to do their own grocery shopping and cooking.
To maintain good health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that seniors eat a variety of foods including 1-2 servings of fruit, 2-2 ½ cups of vegetables, 6 to 7 ounces of grains and 65 grams of protein each day. To help your elderly loved ones get the daily nutrition they need, it’s helpful to plan meals in advance. Be sure to choose a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and healthy sources of protein (rather than processed meats or pre-packed foods).
Start the Day with a Power Breakfast
A healthy breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day, stabilizing blood sugar and helping maintain energy through the morning. Aim for a variety of nutritious food choices that include protein, whole grains and fruits, including:
- poached or hard boiled eggs
- low fat Canadian bacon
- cottage cheese
- whole wheat toast
- fresh fruit or frozen berries in a smoothie
Adding a small serving of milk to a morning cup of tea or a bowl of porridge will help provide an additional source of calcium at breakfast, which is important for maintaining healthy bones and teeth at every age.
Pack Lunch with Healthy Vegetables
Offer a soup or veggie-packed sandwich for the mid-day meal to ensure your elderly loved one gets a variety of nutrients.
Any whole grain bread (pita, tortilla, bun) can be made into a delicious sandwich with fresh in-season veggies like tomatoes, cucumbers and avocado. Add grated beets or carrots for additional flavor and nutrients. Shredded cheese, tuna, chopped ham, chicken salad or a few tablespoons of hummus can be an additional source of protein.
Hearty Lean Protein and Vegetable Dinners
While you need a dinner that keeps you full all night, a heavy meal will make you feel sluggish and make your digestive system work harder at night. Instead, opt for hearty meals full of lean protein, fresh vegetables and bright flavors that are satisfying and won’t encourage you to overeat.
Here is a great recipe for Orange Chicken that the whole family will love. Choose lean poultry pieces for this recipe for a healthy serving of protein.
- 2 pieces of chicken
- 4 tablespoons orange juice
- 2 tsp grated orange zest
- ¼ cup dry breadcrumbs
- ½ tsp chicken stock powder
- ¼ cup hot water
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350. Prepare ovenproof dish with oil or cooking spray.
- Combine orange juice and zest in one bowl and breadcrumbs in a second bowl.
- Dip chicken in orange juice and then the breadcrumbs.
- Bake in dish for 30 minutes.
- Mix chicken stock powder with hot water, honey, mustard, corn starch, salt and pepper with the leftover orange juice. Pour sauce over chicken and cook for another 10 minutes.
Serve orange chicken and sauce with steamed seasonal vegetables and brown rice. In order to be able to serve simple, healthy and appetizing meals for seniors, pre-planning is necessary to avoid succumbing to processed and packaged foods. For assisted living facilities looking for healthy meals for elderly adults, a web-based menu planning software can help.
Jen Stott is a writer and blogger, and works as the Content Director at Be Locally SEO in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Looking for healthy meals for your assisted living facility? Create a menu using a planning software.
Photo. Keegan Evans