Although it can be easy to lose motivation when cooking for one or two; as a senior, nutrition is more important than ever. Nutrition has significant impact on your immune system, proper kidney and liver function, cognitive ability, muscle and bone health, as well as your mental health! Sometimes all you need is a little inspiration to bring back your inner chef, and this summer is the perfect time to start. These easy seasonal recipes will not only help liven up your meals, but they also support senior nutrition. See how.
It’s true, senior nutrition can be complicated and that’s another reason why many lose interest in cooking. Not only can it be intimidating as your body may need more of certain nutrients, less of others and chronic conditions plus medications may require dietary restrictions, but your palate and digestion may also change making your once favorite recipes less enjoyable.
That said, these recommended daily servings for seniors from the National Institute on Aging can help:
• Fruits—1½ to 2½ cups
• Vegetables—2 to 3½ cups
• Grains—5 to 10 ounces
• Protein foods—5 to 7 ounces
• Dairy foods—3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk
• Oils—5 to 8 teaspoons
• Keep the amount of solid fats, added sugars and sodium (salt) to a minimum
Also - particularly in summer but all other seasons as well - don’t forget the water! Generally, adults need around 64 ounces of fluid every day (through beverages or food). But that amount can certainly vary with heat, strenuous activity, medications and health conditions so always check with your doctor on how much water you should consume daily.
Now for the good stuff, literally! Not only are these nutritious recipes easy and delicious, they feature fresh summer ingredients like asparagus, corn, zucchini, spinach, green beans, snap peas and fruits. But even better the ingredients can easily be swapped out by season, so you can also enjoy variety throughout the year.
● 4 eggs or 1 cup of plain egg substitute
● ½ cup Bisquick or other prepared biscuit mix
● 1/3 cup melted butter
● 1 ½ cup skim milk
● 1 TBS. onion flakes or 2 tsp. onion powder
● 4 ounces shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
● Sliced mushrooms and/or steamed, chopped asparagus
● Blend everything except cheese and vegetables until smooth.
● Add vegetables and stir to mix in.
● Pour into an oil-sprayed mini-muffin tray then top with shredded cheese and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
● Let sit for 15-20 minutes to cool before removing from the tray.
Tip: These also freeze well for a make-ahead breakfast. Once prepared, simply freeze individually on a greased cookie sheet and place them into a zipper freezer bag. Then just remove and microwave what you need for 30 seconds
2. Corn Chowder
● ¼ cup water
● ½ celery stalk, minced
● ½ small onion, minced
● ¼ green pepper, minced
● 1 ½ cup water
● Fresh corn or 1 10-ounce package of frozen whole kernel corn
● 2 small potatoes, peeled and diced
● Salt (optional)
● ¼ teaspoon paprika
● 2 cups skim milk
● 2 tablespoons flour
● Sauté finely minced onion, celery, and pepper in ¼ cup of water in a large soup pot for 2-4 minutes until vegetables are soft.
● Add water, corn, potatoes, salt, pepper and paprika and bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 15 minutes.
● Put ½ cup milk in a small cup and add flour then whisk till blended. Gradually add milk/flour mixture to soup – then gradually remaining milk.
● Turn up the heat and stir constantly until the soup is boiling and thickening. Garnish with parsley.
Tip: You can add cooked diced chicken to make this a heartier meal.
3. Salmon and Veggies
● 1 squash or zucchini, sliced into rounds
● ½ onion, cut into wedges
● 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
● 1 bell pepper, sliced
● 3 tablespoons olive oil
● 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning or other fish-seasoning blend
● 2-3 salmon fillets, around 4 ounces each
● 1 lemon, optional
● Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and line your baking sheet with either parchment paper or aluminum foil. If you prefer, you can grease the pan with vegetable oil instead.
● In a large bowl, toss veggies with 2 tablespoons of oil and seasoning, then spread them into a single layer on your baking sheet.
● Place your salmon fillets, skin side down, between the vegetables. Brush with remaining olive oil, and top with 2 thin lemon slices each.
● Roast for 12-15 minutes, until your salmon is flaky and mostly opaque.
● Then serve one salmon fillet with roasted veggies to each plate.
Tip: You can replace salmon with another flaky fish like tilapia or trout and swap out the veggies for whatever’s in season (or currently in your fridge).
4. Berry Chicken Salad
● ¼ cup olive oil mayonnaise
● 1 teaspoon sugar
● ½ teaspoon dried tarragon
● 1½ cups chopped chicken (about 1 breast)
● 1 cup quartered fresh strawberries or whole fresh blueberries
● ½ cup fresh or frozen peas, thawed
● ¼ cup chopped celery
● Torn salad greens or spinach
● Whisk the first 3 ingredients together in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
● Add chicken, berries, peas, and celery and stir well.
● Scoop chicken salad over salad greens or spinach.
Tip: To make this dish even easier to prepare you can use shredded leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken instead.
5. Easy Pasta Salad
● 1 package bow-tie pasta (16 ounce)
● 1 bottle of low-fat Italian dressing (16 ounce)
● 2 chopped fresh cucumbers
● 6 chopped fresh tomatoes
● 1 bunch chopped green onions
● 4 ounces grated parmesan cheese
● 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
● Cook pasta al dente, drain and rinse under cold water then place in a large bowl.
● Toss vegetables and pasta together with salad dressing.
● In a separate small bowl, mix parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning and gently fold into pasta salad.
● Cover and refrigerate.
What if you can’t get out to buy fresh ingredients? Or want recipes perfect, as is, for any time of year? We can help there too, with some favorite recipes that our very own residents have shared.
1. Huntington Chicken Casserole by Ginny Coleman
● 1 small chicken or 4 chicken breasts; cooked and diced
● 1 box of macaroni noodles; cooked in chicken broth
● ½ pound of shredded cheese
● 1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
● 1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
● 1 box Stove Top Dressing
● Mix all ingredients together.
● Put into a greased casserole dish and add a little chicken broth to make it extra creamy.
● Put Stove Top dressing on top of mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.
Tip from Ginny: This meal can also be frozen to use at a later date, and it’s a great dish for someone who comes home from the hospital and can only eat soft food.
2. Monkey Bread by Alice Muzzey
● ½ cup pecans (in first pan)
● ½ cup sugar
● 2 teaspoons cinnamon
● 1 cup brown sugar
● 3 packages Hungry Jack Biscuit (blue package; Cut into quarters)
● 1 stick margarine
● Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
● Using an angel food pan or Bundt pan, spray with Pam.
● Place ½ cup pecan at the bottom of the pan.
● Place quarters of Hungry Jack biscuits in a plastic bag with sugar and cinnamon, shake to coat. Place in the pan.
● Melt butter with brown sugar and pour over the biscuits.
● Bake for 40 minutes or until deep golden brown.
● Remove from the oven, wait 5 minutes before flipping over to remove.
For more information on senior nutrition, download our Guide to Aging Gracefully or call Friendship today to schedule a virtual tour at 540.385.8720.