When it comes to planning meals for the senior in your life, you might be thinking of ease or convenience over healthy eating and nutritional value.
A meal that mom or dad can pop in the microwave, is better then you worrying about if they turned the stove off after making dinner.
Healthy eating is so important for seniors and we want to provide some small changes that you can make to ensure that mom or dad are staying healthy and eating a well balanced meal that will keep them full and energized throughout the day.
To help with this, we enlisted the help of one of our Culinary Directors – Maeghan Corbo from Avita of Wells. Maeghan will share her tips on healthy eating and what to swap out to boost nutritional value!
Maeghan breaks down the three meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner, and includes small changes that can be made to boost the nutritional value and encourage healthy eating.
Eat This – Scrambled egg whites with spinach and reduced fat feta cheese with whole grain avocado toast
Not That – Scrambled eggs with American cheese and buttered white toast
What’s the difference?
- Egg vs. Egg white – there is a substantial difference in the caloric content of a whole egg vs. one whole egg white. While one egg white has 18g of calories, a whole egg has 81g of calories. The protein content drops a little going from the whole egg to an egg white but only by 2g.
- Bread- swapping out white bread for whole grain bread is a great way to make sure you feel full for longer. Whole grain bread is nutrient dense and has a lower Glycemic Index than white bread.
- Avocado – using avocados instead of butter adds more vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber to your diet while lowering the amount of sodium.
- Feta cheese vs. American cheese – feta cheese has less sodium than American cheese, feta cheese also has a lower fat content. Adding reduced fat feta cheese is a great way to add texture and flavor to scrambled egg whites.
- Fresh fruits and veggies – adding fresh fruits and vegetables makes this a well-balanced meal and a great way to start the day!
Tip from Maeghan on healthy eating – If you are on a gluten-free or gluten restricted diet, consider looking for gluten free bread that is made with whole grains like brown rice, sorghum, millet, and/or whole grain oats rather than gluten free breads made primarily with white flour.
Eat This – Chickpea pasta with lean turkey meatballs and homemade marinara
Not That – Spaghetti and meatballs with store bought sauce
What’s the difference?
- Chickpea vs. regular pasta- chickpea pastas, like the popular brand Banza, is higher in protein than regular pasta. Chickpea pasta contains twice the amount of protein and four times the amount of dietary fiber of regular pasta. Beans can be difficult for some to digest due to phytic acid, however, having them processed into pasta makes it much easier for most to digest.
- Ground turkey vs. meatballs- using a lean, ground turkey can make a tasty and healthy meatball with less saturated fat and just as much flavor.
- It’s all about the sauce- it’s always best to swap out store bought sauces for homemade whenever you can. Store bought sauces tend to be loaded with added sugars, fats, and sodium. It’s much easier to control these when making sauce at home. Click here to for Maeghan’s Easy Homemade Marinara recipe!
Tip from Maeghan on healthy eating – You can also add some extra vegetables to your sauce to boost your nutritional value.
Eat This – Veggie or Turkey Burger on a whole grain bun with baked French fries
Not That – Cheeseburger on a bun with traditionally fried French fries
What’s the difference?
A note about the fries! White potato vs. Sweet potato – contrary to what some popular fad diets will tell us, there isn’t a huge difference between the nutritional value of a white potato and a sweet potato. You can use whichever one you prefer and it’s always good to alternate the types of potatoes you use to ensure you are adding variety to your diet.
Homemade vs. oil fried – the biggest difference will be swapping out potatoes fried in oil for baked or air fried potatoes. This will significantly cut down on your saturated fat and trans fat intake. Air fryers have been a game changer because you can still have delicious French fries and feel like you are indulging while significantly cutting back on unhealthy fats.
Veggie/turkey burger vs. cheeseburger – using a vegetable burger patty or lean ground turkey will also help reduce saturated fats. Adding some lettuce, tomato and avocado will help increase the nutritional value of the meal.
Tip from Maeghan on healthy eating – You can always swap the bun out and opt to have the burger on a bed of lettuce to add more nutritional value and increase your dietary fiber, while lowering your carbohydrate intake.
Maeghan started with Northbridge as a chef and has grown to become the Culinary Director of her community, Avita of Wells. To learn more about Maeghan, her growth within Northbridge and her passion for all things cooking and memory care – click here to read her Growth Story blog post!
All Northbridge Senior Living communities enjoy inspired and thoughtful menus created by our seasoned Culinary Directors. Favorite dishes along with healthy eating options are incorporated to make unique daily menus. Find a community near you and join us for a meal!
Discover life at a Northbridge community
If you’re considering senior living for yourself or a family member, we hope you’ll visit one of our communities. You’ll find a maintenance-free, activity-filled and engaging lifestyle to help support your wellness goals.
We’re here to answer any of your questions and invite you to download our complimentary guide Choosing the Right Senior Living Community: A Step by Step Guide for Making an Informed Decision. Please contact us if we can provide further information or if you would like to schedule a personalized tour.