Many people often equate eating healthy with eating food that’s bland, tough, boring, and expensive. While this can be true for certain diets that require the elimination of specific foods and the addition of other foods, this doesn’t have to be true for every diet. Being healthy is important, and eating in a healthy way can benefit you greatly.
Seniors have a higher need for nutrient-rich foods that have a lower salt content. Because of this lowered salt content, people think that it means that their food will have a blander flavor. With the addition of healthier herbs and spices, salt can be minimized to its lowest need, and your food can be more flavorful than ever. We will explore what foods are rich in nutrients and then how to utilize them, along with other ingredients, to prepare dishes that will possibly become your favorite dish to make and eat.
Nutrient Dense Foods
Kale: If we’re talking super-foods, Kale should definitely be the first one on the list. In the past, this leafy green was often overlooked. In fact, before 2013, when the kale craze began, the pizza chain Pizza Hut was the largest buyer of kale in the world. To Pizza Hut, it wasn’t a food item, it was just a garnish for their buffet tables. Kale has the distinction of having an assortment of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and even a variety of bio-active compounds. One quarter pound of kale has 200% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin C, 300% of the RDA of Vitamin A, and 1000% of the RDA of Vitamin K1. It also has a plethora of calcium, copper, manganese, B vitamins, fiber, protein, potassium, and more. When it comes to foods that are worth their weight in gold, kale ranks at the top and has moved on from garnish to main dish.
Garlic: If you happen to have some vampires nearby then you should get some garlic to repel them. On second thought, garlic might not work. Regardless, garlic is a flavorful powerhouse of an ingredient. It has a wonderful flavor that has become the star of many dishes, and probably prevented many kisses. It is super good for you being as it is loaded with vitamins C, B1, B6, Potassium, Calcium, Selenium, and Copper. The active ingredient in garlic is a compound called Allicin. Allicin has been shown to lower blood pressure and have cancer-fighting properties. No matter how strong your opinion is about the intensity of garlic and its breath-changing qualities, you got to admit, it’s a pretty amazing food.
Salmon: Is there a better fish out there? Probably not, when you in factor taste and amount of health benefits. Salmon is king (pun intended). Loaded with a high content of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fat that’s actually good for you. Not only do you need this type of fat, but there is also a vast benefit to your health. For example, some research suggests that ingesting foods high in omega-3, like salmon, may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. There’s even a link to having a positive effect on memory loss due to aging. When buying salmon, opt for wild caught versus farm raised. The reason is because wild caught salmon has a more varied diet than farm raised salmon, and thus impart those nutrients it consumes onto you. Salmon that’s caught in the wild can have as much as 236% of your RDA of vitamin B12, 128% of your RDA of vitamin D, and a huge assortment of other essential nutrients. So when you’re at the store and are looking for fish, choose salmon, they’re just better.
Oats: Having a warm bowl of oatmeal in the morning is perfect for starting your day. In a study involving satiety, individuals that consumed oatmeal instead of ready-to-eat-cereals, felt fuller for a longer time period. Oats are particularly good for our digestive tracts by regulating the speed in which we digest and thus helping to control our blood sugar regulation. Oats come packed full of manganese, a nutrient that helps with bone production, blood sugar control, skin integrity, and more. In fact, just a quarter cup of oats can have 96% of your RDA of manganese. There are plenty of other nutrients that are present in oats, like molybdenum, phosphorus, copper, biotin, zinc, etc. It is highly recommended that if you’re going to eat oatmeal, you diverge from buying the instant oatmeal that is peppered with a high content of sugar. Instead, buy oatmeal that is free from flavorings and add your own assortment of ingredients, this way you’ll control what is in your oatmeal, and if you add things like fruit and/or nuts, you’ll make your morning oatmeal even healthier and more satisfying.
Cheese: Yes, you read that right, it does say cheese. No, we’re not talking about American cheese, which by definition is not actually cheese, but rather a by-product of cheese. We’re talking about real cheese, made from milk, separating curds and whey, then pressed, and then aged. Although, there are numerous techniques to cheese making which are way more in depth then what was just mentioned, you get the point. Cheese predates all recorded history, although the earliest mention of cheese making dates back to 5,500 BCE. Besides tasting amazing, cheese is full of good quality protein, healthy fats, and an array of nutrients. One four ounce chunk of parmesan cheese can have up to 44 grams of protein. In contrast, beef only has 29 grams of protein per four ounces, on average and depending on the cut. Cheese is very high in calcium, a nutrient that’s been shown to strengthen bones and teeth. Cheese is high in a lot of nutrients in varying quantities that depend on the type of cheese. Overall, cheese is one of the best sources of protein per ounce in the world, and in so many varieties, flavors, and even colors, you’re sure to find something delicious and healthy.
Potatoes: Pound-for-pound potatoes are the most widely consumed vegetable in the United States. Americans love potatoes. Any way you can think to make them, we’ll eat them. We enjoy baked, fried, roasted, and boiled. We’ll eat them whole, as fries, hash browns, cubed, mashed, sliced, diced, as chips, and any other way you can think of. If it’s a potato, we’ll eat it. Although, the majority of the way we eat this nutrient rich vegetable is generally not a very healthy way to eat it. For example, a typical baked potato has butter, sour cream, and bacon. All of which is high in fat and lower on the nutrient rich side of things, although it is delicious. Potatoes have a long history, dating back to its first known cultivation between 8,000 and 5000 BC. In America alone we produce over 20 million metric tons a year. We’re not even the leading producer, with China producing over 95 million metric tons a year! In the world, humans produce somewhere around 380 million metric tons a year. Let that sink in. That’s over 837,000,000,000 pounds of potatoes a year for the entire world. If, for example, three potatoes is equal to one pound, then the world grew over 2,511,000,000,000 potatoes in one year. This figure is of course a very light number, due to the fact that there are close to 4,000 varieties of potato that vary in size from massive Russets to tiny new potatoes, and everything in between (this excludes sweet potatoes and yams, as they are not classified in the same avenue as your everyday spud). If you split the number of potatoes grown in a year, every person on the earth would be able to enjoy about 357 potatoes in a year, almost a potato a day. The nutritional value of potatoes is evident in how many we grow as a species. High in fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, copper, and other vital nutrients. According to a study done by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition concluded that out of all foods, potatoes keep you full for longer, limiting the need to eat more food at a sooner time.
There are tons of other foods that are rich in nutrients, but our findings have led us to these six that are especially rich in nutrients. Others include: eggs, blueberries, sweet potatoes, beans and legumes, grass-fed beef and lamb, pasture-fed chicken and turkey, and a massive amount of other foods.
Healthy Cooking With Nutrient Dense Foods
Now that you know what some nutrient dense foods are, what can you do with them? As you may, or may not, know, the more you cook a food the more nutrients are lost. Certain nutrients are susceptible to more loss through heat cooking than others, while some aren’t affected at all. It depends on the food and type of cooking. So it’s a good rule to cook foods for the least amount of time possible and using the lowest heat possible to maintain nutrient quality. Obviously, when speaking of foods that present the risk of food-borne illness, you’ll want to make sure that you bring them up to their optimal temperature for safe consumption.
The Best Overnight Oatmeal
If you haven’t tried overnight oatmeal yet, you’re missing out. It’s exactly as it sounds, oatmeal made overnight. Get a mason jar, add 1/3 cup rolled oats and 1/3 cup your favorite type of milk (whole is best, but any will do), then place lid on and place in fridge overnight. The oats will absorb all the liquid and be done in the morning (about 4-6 hours). Once done add the toppings of your choice. Things like a little bit of pure maple syrup or honey for sweetness, a handful of blueberries, a spoonful of natural peanut butter or other nut butters, cinnamon, dark chocolate pieces, or whatever you can think of. The sky is the limit. The oatmeal will last for about four days so you can make a couple batches so that you always have a breakfast handy. It’s packed full of protein and nutrients by itself, required no heating, so nutrients weren’t damaged, and can be even healthier and more delicious by adding toppings. You can add the toppings the night before if you’d like, it makes no difference. Although, if you add something crunchy, like granola, it may become soft.
Super Simple Salmon
As mentioned above, salmon is a great choice of food for a healthy meal. High in fatty acids, high in protein, and very delicious. For one serving, obtain a single half pound filet of salmon. In a non-stick pan, heat up two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Once heated, lay salmon in pan, skin-side down and cook for roughly six to eight minutes, or until it flakes easily with a fork. Remove from pan and squeeze half of a lemon onto the cooked salmon. Drizzle with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. For a flavor boost, add garlic and rosemary to the pan while cooking and baste salmon with flavor infused oil. Try not to have the pan too hot, a medium heat should be sufficient.
Easy Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Since potatoes have a ton of nutrients, especially in the skins, no peeling is required. For one person, one large, or a few small red potatoes should be enough for a single serving. Boil or steam potatoes until cooked through and soft. Remove from water and immediately add in a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, a few cloves of minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix together until thoroughly blended and enjoy. For an added enhancement, stir in some shredded cheddar or Parmesan (or both) cheese. This will bring your potatoes to the next level of flavor. Nutrition and delicious!
Our Bonaventure Senior Living Twitter has lots of information about eating healthy, as well as photos of our chef creations.
We hope you enjoy this installment of “Eating for Health”. We hope you have a happy, and healthy, day!