Carol Higgins Taylor
Special to The Weekly
Seems that everywhere you turn, someone is touting the benefits of eating a healthful diet. And there is always some new “miracle food” that will prevent the disease du jour. While there’s a lot to be said for that idea, such as increased energy and overall well-being, eating “right” can also be overwhelming.
One of the problems of developing a healthful diet is that some of us have an all or nothing attitude. The “I will eat only good food and no bad food all the time, every day,” mantra is what the junk food producing giants depend on. After all, no one can keep this up forever. And actually no food is really deadly if eaten in moderation.
Even chocolate has gotten a reprieve, well, dark chocolate anyway, because of its antioxidants.
Seniors cooking for one or even two may find challenges in developing or sticking to a healthful diet. However, adding certain foods or replacing old standbys is not such a difficult task but can make a big difference.
For example, substituting brown rice for white rice will give your diet a boost. While white rice is commonly used, it has no real nutritional value, but brown rice has a host of vitamins and fiber. It also has a hearty, almost nutty flavor. Try the microwave to cook individual servings which are so simple even I can make them perfectly every time.
As Mainers, we are fortunate to live in blueberry heaven. These small, dark blue fruits are another body-booster, just chock full of fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants. Pair them with yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, which is a good source of protein, and you have a terrific breakfast. You can boost the nutrients even more by using a high-fiber crunchy cereal as a topping. And well-known registered dietitian, Katherine Musgrave, has said that seniors do not get enough fiber.
Love pizza? Many people don’t realize that it can be a nutritious food. Try a whole grain crust, low-fat cheese and add chopped up veggies as toppings. The tomato sauce is especially good for you too and has nutrients that can support eye health.
The latest in the super-greens is kale. It has nudged spinach out of the spotlight. It has kind of a smoky flavor but is wonderful in smoothies, but then what isn’t?
I talk about smoothies a lot, but with good reason. They are a fantastic and easy way to eat your vegetables and fruits. Add Greek yogurt for protein and you have a balanced meal. You can sip your way to good health and for seniors who have digestive or dental problems, this might be just the thing to raise their nutrition levels. To get a really smooth consistency, you’ll need a high-quality blender.
If snacking is on your mind, think about whole-grain rye crackers. Often called crispbreads, they are usually fat-free and a good source of fiber. These are especially good with peanut butter, sliced bananas and sprinkled with raisins. Add a cup of tea, also full of antioxidants, for a delicious and easy little meal.
Now, how about fish for dinner? Sardines and salmon are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids which can contribute to heart health. A tablespoon of flaxseed is also rich in omega-3s and can be added to applesauce and yogurt. It has a nutty flavor and should be ground to be fully absorbed. Coffee grinders are inexpensive and work well for this task. You also can put flaxseeds in smoothies.
So the next time a miracle food hits the media, remember, toss it in the blender.
Carol Higgins Taylor is an advocate for seniors and owns a public relations firm in Bangor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.