Not everyone is blessed with a talent or an interest in cooking. However, everyone needs to be able to eat nutritious meals on a regular basis to stay healthy. Here are some ideas for making do with what you have on hand or making an easy low-cost healthy meal.
Things to Consider
Seniors should consider their nutritional needs. Both from the standpoint of what we should be eating to stay healthy and what we should avoid. Preparing a variety of foods to get in all the nutrients they need is the best practice. If a plate looks like a bright rainbow you’re probably making great choices. A healthy meal should include:
- Lean protein (lean meats, seafood, eggs, beans)
- Fruits and vegetables (think orange, red, green, and purple)
- Whole grains (brown rice, whole-wheat pasta)
- Low-fat dairy (milk and its alternatives)
- Remember to choose foods that are high in fiber and low in sodium or salt. Also, look for Vitamin D, an important mineral as we age.
If you’re preparing food from a box take a look at the nutrition label. Processed food often is very high in sodium, sugar, and carbohydrates. The best food is always whole foods like dairy, protein, and fresh produce. Whole foods take longer for the body to break down and provide more nutrients than their processed counterparts. There are always going to be times when we need to take a shortcut, or if mac and cheese is your favorite with the grandkids. Just be sure to balance out the processed food with whole foods as much as possible.
Technology to the Rescue
If you are stumped on what to make with the ingredients you have on hand you can turn to an online tool like Supercook.com to help you come up with a recipe. If you would like, you can focus on a primary ingredient and the online portal will help you do the rest. This actually is kind of fun!
Enter the type of meal you are making, breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Enter the ingredients you have on hand. Supercook will come up with a list of things you can make. If you prefer using your smartphone or tablet, Supercook has an app for that. With the app, you can simply touch the microphone button while looking in the refrigerator or pantry and just say out loud the ingredients you have. Let’s imagine you stick your head in the refrigerator and you are aghast at the empty cavern before you. A quick look in the pantry and you find only the bare minimum. You put the ingredients that look edible into Supercook.com. Butter, eggs, milk, flour, olive oil, and hamburger. Then you see a selection for what meal you are cooking and it happens to be dinner. If they have some noodles you can make this meal spectacular! (hopefully whole grain)
Fiber can also be missing in processed foods. Not enough fiber can cause seniors to have health issues that can impact the heart, colon, kidneys, and more. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture women over 50 need 21 grams of dietary fiber per day; men over 50 need 30 grams. Too much or not enough fiber, over time, will cause unpleasant issues. To understand why it’s helpful to know how fiber works click here. Processed food alone will rarely have the fiber necessary to meet the guideline.
For those of us that still like to look through a paper cookbook, there are quite a few choices that are dedicated to meals that are quick, nutritious, and use only a few ingredients. FlavCity’s cookbook is the top-rated 5-ingredient cookbook at Amazon. Written by Food Network champion Bobby Parrish it shares the ins and outs of his five-ingredient meals and assures us that his quick and easy recipes are doable for anyone and everyone.
A quick 5 Ingredient meal idea from FlavCity
10 total chicken drumsticks & thighs bone-in
1 pound green bean ends trimmed
3 medium-sized yellow squash
1 pound cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese
Fresh cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place chicken on a sheet tray and season both sides with a generous pinch of salt and a few cracks of pepper. Bake chicken in the oven for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, cut the squash in half lengthwise, and then into large bite-size pieces. Place squash on a sheet tray with the green beans and season them with 1 tablespoon of oil, just under 1 teaspoon of salt, and a few cracks of pepper. Mix well and bake in the oven along with the chicken for 25 minutes.
While the veggies are cooking, slice the cherry tomatoes in half and season with 1 teaspoon of oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a couple of cracks of pepper, mix well, after 25 minutes, add the tomatoes to the sheet tray with the squash and cook another 15 minutes. Remove veggies from the oven and add the grated cheese on top, adding more cheese if needed. When the chicken is done, place the veggies under the broiler set to high, and cook for 3-5 minutes, until the veggies get a little charred and the cheese has melted, don't walk away or it will burn.
During the last 10 minutes of cooking the chicken, you can raise the oven temperature to 430 F so the skin can get golden brown. Remove from oven after 1 hour.
Plate some chicken with the cheesy veggies and enjoy! Everything will keep in the fridge for 5 days or can be frozen for 2-3 months, but the veggies are way better if you don't freeze them. It's best to thaw everything the night before you want to eat it. Take the lid off the container, cover it with tin foil, and heat in a 400-degree F oven for 10-12 minutes. If using the microwave, take the lid off, cover it with a wet paper towel, and reheat making sure not to heat it too long or too hot, or the chicken will dry out.
375 calories per meal
20.2 grams of fat per meal
14.1 grams of carbs per meal
34 grams of protein per meal
5.2 grams of fiber per meal
This is a good meal for almost anyone, don’t count the spices and oil as part of the ingredients, and perhaps eliminate the salt if you require low salt intake. Best of all it’s also not a very expensive meal! If this seems a little techie do it with your grandkids. Everyone can have fun.
Happy cooking everyone!