We all know that Thanksgiving means family friends, and most importantly food. And it’s the food that tends to hold center court. But if your guest list includes seniors with special nutrition needs, preparing a holiday feast that’s healthy and not harmful can be somewhat stressful. Thankfully, we’ve culled the Internet and compiled a list of senior diet-friendly versions of holiday favorites.
For the Diabetic: Sweet Potato Fries
Sweet potatoes are packed full of good nutrition providing a good source of vitamin A, fiber and vitamin C, and they’re also lower in carbohydrates than regular potatoes. But all that goodness goes out the window on Thanksgiving when sweet potatoes are covered in syrups and sugar, butter and oozy gooey marshmallows. Sweet potatoes are especially flavorful on their own so there’s no need to add extra sugar or butter.
For High Blood Pressure/High Cholesterol: Baked Mac & Cheese
Thanksgiving isn’t complete without mac-n-cheese, but for seniors battling high blood pressure and high cholesterol, this traditional dish can take a negative toll on those ailments. One slice of processed American cheese contains 406 milligrams of sodium, which is almost one-third of the AHA’s recommended daily amount. But substitute cheeses lower in sodium – such as mozzarella, Gruyere and cottage cheese – and you can make the dish more tolerable. Check out this recipe from eatingwell.com.
For Difficulty Swallowing: Turkey Meatloaf
For many families, a turkey is synonymous with Thanksgiving. But for seniors with dysphagia, turkey, chicken an
d other difficult to swallow meats are not an option. Kellie Anderson, a cancer health educator and author of the blog Kellisfoodtoglow.com, offers this tasty alternative.
1 tbsp olive oil or rapeseed oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 ½, tsp dried thyme
1 ½ tsp ‘chicken seasoning’ or 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp ground pepper
2 rounded tbsp tomato puree
500 g turkey mince
100 g porridge oats
2 eggs, beaten
60 ml vegetable or chicken stock
10 g parsley, chopped
100 ml tomato ketchup OR barbecue sauce
In a frying pan, over a medium-hot heat, sauté the onions in the oil for about five minutes. Add the garlic and carrots to the pan and cook for a further eight minutes, or until the carrots begin to soften. Add the next five ingredients and set aside to cool for a few minutes. Blend the cooked vegetables if you are having trouble chewing.
Put the turkey mince and porridge oats into a large bowl and mix together. Add in the cooled vegetable mixture, beaten eggs, stock and parsley. Mix well; it will look quite sloppy. Pat the meatloaf mixture into an oiled rectangular baking tin (approximately 28 x 18 cm) and cover with the ketchup or barbecue sauce. Bake at 350 F for 50 minutes to one hour, or until a meat thermometer registers 160 F. If you don’t have a thermometer, ensure that the loaf is starting to pull away from the sides, or cut into the middle and see if steam escapes.
Serve 3-4 cm thick slices of the turkey meatloaf with mashed potato and celeriac, steamed dark greens (such as purple sprouting broccoli) and carrots, or red pepper strips. Serves 6-8.
For Lactose Intolerant: Dairy-Free Buttermilk Biscuits
Creamy mashed potatoes and beans, buttery pies, biscuits from scratch – a food lover’s dream but a potential nightmare for the lactose intolerant senior. Fortunately there are many delicious dairy-free recipes that look and taste as good as the original. Check out the Southern Vegan’s take on grandma’s homemade buttermilk biscuits.