A chilly fall afternoon calls for a nice warm cup of soup. Some store bought canned soup can be surprisingly high in both sodium and fat content, but homemade soup allows senior caregivers the ability to control all of the ingredients. Our Chicken Tortilla Soup comes together in a medley of several types of vegetables, low sodium chicken broth and black beans for a delicious but surprisingly nutritious dinner.
1 fresh tomato
1 fresh green pepper
1 fresh red pepper
1 small white onion
1 tablespoons olive oil
10 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 single use packet taco seasoning
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
Low fat shredded Mexican cheese mix
Low fat sour cream
Tortilla chips or strips, optional
Chop the tomato, red pepper, green pepper and onion into small pieces. Spread one tablespoon of olive oil over the bottom of your pot and add the vegetable medley. Sauté until the vegetables are cooked. Add chicken broth and taco seasoning mix to the pot and stir. Bring the broth to a boil then drop uncooked chicken breasts into the pot, cover and simmer. Allow the chicken breasts half an hour to cook then pull them carefully out of the soup. Place the cooked chicken breasts on a plate and shred using two forks pulling in opposite directions. Add shredded chicken breast back to the pot then squeeze the lime juice into the soup. Stir then serve. Garnish with low fat sour cream, low fat Mexican cheese mix and chopped avocado to taste. Eat with tortilla chips or add tortilla strips to the soup if desired.
Caregivers and their senior clients can customize the recipe based on their personal tastes. Almost any favorite taco topping can be incorporated. Add brown rice if you'd like more fiber full carbohydrates, substitute kidney beans instead of black beans or add garlic and jalapenos for a stronger flavor. The result is a dish with a much lower sodium count than canned soup with fresher ingredients and low fat dairy products keeping the overall unsaturated fat content low.
Tacos make a fairly easy go-to dinner for any group because they're totally customizable. Try our version of the classic taco with some substitutions for heart health. Share them with a senior client, a friend or just enjoy them yourself.
Using lean ground turkey instead of ground beef, greek yogurt instead of sour cream and low fat cheese significantly decreases the amount of saturated fat in the dish. Adding avocado brings in some monounsaturated fat, which helps lower cholesterol. Avocados also have a high nutrient count and contain fiber to keep you feeling full for longer.
For caregivers or senior clients who may be allergic to gluten, corn tortillas make a great substitute to still be able to enjoy this dish. Likewise, for those who are simply trying to eat healthier, using a whole wheat tortilla will get more fiber which can help lower blood sugar and cholesterol for heart health.
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 packet taco seasoning
1 head romaine lettuce
1 8oz container plain greek yogurt
1 package low fat shredded mexican cheese mix
1 package tortillas of choice (flour, wheat, corn)
Brown ground turkey in pan until completely cooked. Drain excess fat then return to pan and season with taco seasoning packet. Chop the lettuce, tomato and avocado as desired. Assemble ingredients on tortilla and enjoy.
Other ingredients to try in your tacos include green or red bell peppers, brown rice or black beans for extra protein. If you'd like to serve with a side, try a small salad with low fat dressing or a side of beans and brown rice.
I love MasterChef. And Iron Chef. And just about any show that features competitive cooking.
If you didn’t see Monday’s MasterChef finale, I’ll stay clear of spoilers, but one of the final contestants, Leslie Gilliams, was complimented by Gordon Ramsay for disproving the adage “cooking is a young man’s game.” Mr. Gilliams is 56.
Seniors are an anomaly on MasterChef. The oldest contestant, Sue Drummond, was 61 when she competed on MasterChef New Zealand. Kumar Pereira was MasterChef Australia’s oldest ever Top 24 contestant at 62.
While a small number of contestants were a bit older, the food they presented was not necessarily food that should be served to older adults.
As we age, it’s harder for our bodies to fight off the germs and bacteria found in raw or undercooked food. Salmonella, E. coli, and other bacteria can grow to high levels in some of the “healthiest” and tastiest dishes. Some of the MasterChef dishes that are not necessarily elderly-approved included:
- Ceviche: a seafood dish especially popular in South and Central America. The raw fish is “cooked” by curing it in citrus juices such as lemon or lime.
- Raw or undercooked eggs: these are found in Hollandaise sauce, homemade Caesar salad dressing, and tiramisu.
- Raw meat: like carpaccio (thin shavings of raw beef fillet) and steak tartare.
- Raw fish: shellfish, such as oysters, mussels and clams, and raw fin fish, like sushi and sashimi.
- Soft cheeses: cheeses like feta, Brie, or Camembert (my favorite!) can be breeding grounds for bacteria.
Senior caregivers need to be especially careful when preparing meals for the elderly. Yes, the food needs to be palatable, look appealing, and be nutritious, but meals should be safe, first and foremost.
If you are a caregiver who subscribes to Caregiverlist’s newsletter, The Caregiver’s Gist, you know we provide a delicious, nutritious recipe—safe for seniors.
We’d also love to hear from you caregivers. Do you have a special recipe that your senior client or loved one especially enjoys? Send it to me at email@example.com. I promise to try them all and report back on my favorites. Who knows? Maybe your recipe will make it into an online Caregiverlist safe-for-seniors cookbook.
And I’d like to challenge the MasterChef franchise. Your MasterChef Junior, the kids version of MasterChef, was incredibly popular. So popular in fact, that MasterChef Junior returns for Season 2 on Friday, Nov. 7. Come on, Chef Ramsay, how about a MasterChef Senior?
Planning meals for yourself and your senior clients while adhering to dietary restrictions or simply trying to eat healthy can be tough. Food products that seem healthy may be deceiving, like a low-fat item with additional salt or sugar than the original.
Senior caregivers can take the mystery out of reading labels at the grocery store with the Fooducate app. Instead of staring at a label and analyzing all of its parts before deciding whether the food inside the box is dinner-worthy, Fooducate offers a label scanning service that provides a brief breakdown of the nutritional value of a product. By holding your smartphone over the barcode of a product, you can see the calories per serving, warnings of high levels of sugar, fat, artificial coloring and a letter grade for the product showing how healthy (or unhealthy) it is.
This app can be particularly useful when determining between different brands of a similar product. A brand name product might have surprisingly more fat than a generic version, for example. It also provides options for gluten free or other dietary restrictions to help alert you of products you should avoid. Alerts appear with a red exclamation mark next to them, while positives of a product appear with a green check mark. The product below, for example, is 100% whole wheat, which provides more fiber than similar white crackers.
The app also offers nutrition tracking services through logging what you eat throughout the day. The scanning option may be used to log food as well as simply searching a dish name, such as "scrambled eggs." Foods you can be marked at "liked" or "disliked" for future reference.
Currently it is available for Apple products and Android. There is a free version as well as a paid version with more features.
Lose weight by eating REAL food! Fooducate grades your food, explains what's really inside each product, and offers healthier alternatives. We've got the largest database of UPC-based nutrition information - over 200,000 unique products and growing."
Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help to relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist.