App Allows Caregivers to Track Calories By Taking Pictures of Food

When it comes to tracking calories and watching what you eat, it seems fairly reasonable when you're eating products with a nutrition label. But what about when you go out to dinner, or over to a friend's house and you eat something that they cooked? It can be tricky to know how many calories are really in your lunch. Luckily, the Calorie Mama AI app makes tracking estimated calories as easy as snapping a photo on your phone and letting the app analyze it. 

When caregivers first download the app, they need to create a profile using either their Facebook profile or their e-mail address. Then, caregivers need to enter their weight information and indicate if they have a weight loss goal. The app seems like it would be useful for those not looking to lose weight, but simply seeking to better understand the caloric makeup of their meals, too. The app provides a recommended calorie intake based on the information provided and then takes caregivers to the home screen to start entering foods. 

For caregivers to enter foods, they can take a photo of an item or they can scan a barcode of a packaged product. For example, if you're out to dinner at a restaurant, you can take a picture of your plate and the app will use its Artifical Intelligence to recognize that you're eating a burger and french fries and log generic nutrition information for such an item accordingly. For a packaged item, the app can analyze the front of the package and figure out what it is, or it can scan the barcode on the item for accurate information. Upon testing the app by taking a photo of the front of an energy bar, it correctly identified on the first try. 

Once a food item has been logged, the app adds it to the user's nutrition log for the day. It provides a recommended intake of calories for each meal, and upon logging foods, it shows you whether you're above or below your calories for that meal. An overall ticker at the top of the page shows how many calories you have remaining for the whole day. 

Caregivers can also log any exercise they do in a day to earn additional calories, and they can record how many glasses of water they drink. As time goes by, caregivers also can log their body weight to track weight loss, if that's one of their goals in using the app. One of the icons at the bottom even brings up a page showing a graph to track body weight over time. 

The Calorie Mama AI app is available for Apple platforms. 

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 relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

Learn to Cook for Caregivers With Video Recipe App

Looking at a recipe on a piece of paper and following the instructions to the best of your ability only to have the end result turn out nothing like it's supposed to can be frustrating. Sometimes learning to cook requires more than step by step printed instructions. Caregivers can learn how to cook new recipes by watching videos for each step using the Yummly app. 

When users first download the Yummly app, they are asked to enter some personal information such as age and who you most often cook for. Caregivers then pick their favorite types of cuisines. Options include Asian, Cajun & Creole, Greek, Mexican, etc. There's also a category for Kid-Friendly, in case there's a child you often cook for. 

The next section asks for information on specific allergies, such as dairy, gluten or soy, or diets, such as vegetarian, paleo or vegan. The next section breaks down foods the user dislikes, with options such as alcohol, bacon, beef, mayonnaise, etc. If you often cook for a senior client, it might be beneficial to complete this section with them so the recipes are tailored to their preferences. 

Users then rank their cooking skills as beginner, intermediate or advanced. Then caregivers are presented with an array of recipes that they can scroll between, either clicking Yum or skipping. This part gives the app an idea of actual recipes you might enjoy to further personalize your recommendations. In addition to personalized recommendations, users can also browse popular recipes in their area if they so wish. 

When caregivers scroll through the homepage and find a recipe they're interested in, they can click on it to see a snapshot including the number of ingredients, calories per serving and how long it takes to make. After that, they can scroll up to see the recipe itself and, if applicable, the accompanying video.

Not every recipe in the app has an accompanying video, but it's easy to distinguish which ones on the homepage have them because a play button appears over the image. The videos provide a good step by step overview of the recipes, as well as advice on how to properly apply cooking techniques and avoid pitfalls not fully described by printed recipes. 

Caregivers can rate the recipes from the app after cooking them to share their experience and how the recipe turned out. The Shopping List area of the app also provides a place for users to record what they need to buy, and it even integrates with Instacart to provide delivery of ingredients within an hour. 

The Yummly app is available for Apple and Android platforms. 

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discovers additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

Cook New Meals Using New York Times Recipe App

Whether you're looking to surprise a loved on Valentine's Day, to share something special with a senior client or to spoil yourself, try cooking a homemade meal. The New York Times Cooking app offers a variety of tasty sounding recipes ranging from basic recipes for daily cooking to fancier recipes for a special occasion. 

The homepage of the app features the Latest Recipes category by default. An array of new recipes such as Wild Rice and Quinoa Stuffing or Vegetarian Skillet Chili show up here for users to browse. Recipes like the Vegetarian Skillet Chili are comprised of  ingredients typically found in a pantry, such as canned tomatoes and beans plus garlic and onion. 

The length of time needed to make the recipe and the number of servings appears at the top for a quick decision about how much work it will take. A recipe like this one would be perfect for caregivers to make on a day off and eat throughout the rest of the week for dinner, or to share with a senior client who's trying to eat healthy. Users can also see how many stars the recipe has from fellow app users who have previously made the dish. Unfortunately, the app does lack a comments area to read about any tips or difficulties other users experienced when making the recipe. 

Back on the homepage, other topics for sorting recipes include Vegetarian, Times Classics, One Pot, For Two and Gluten-Free. For other dietary restrictions, caregivers can type in the search for terms like Low-Sodium, Low Cholesterol, Low Sugar, Kosher or Vegan. This feature serves particularly useful for caregivers whose senior clients have dietary restrictions set by their doctors. Narrowing down the recipes by diet restrictions still gives caregivers plenty of options. A search for Low-Sodium recipes offers 514 recipes to choose from. 

The major other area of the app features lessons on How to Cook. For example, the first screen that appears after selecting the category says, "Learn to Cook Salmon." Ideal for caregivers who are new to the kitchen, this area of the app serves as a step by step guide for not only the act of cooking salmon, but also selecting the correct cut and giving it the right preparation to be successful. 

This section of the app provides detailed instructions and videos on all of the various ways to cook salmon. Caregivers can learn to sauté, poach, sear, roast, broil or cook en papillote with their fish. Underneath the details for some of the techniques, the app brings up recipes which use that method for caregivers to choose from. This area of the app also features some videos and photos to augment the learning process. 

An additional feature of the app gives caregivers the ability to save recipes for later use if they create an account. The NYT Cooking App is available for Apple platforms. 

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discovers additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

Find Recipes and Designated Meal Ingredients Delivery Service Using App

For senior caregivers, planning a nutritious meal can not only be difficult in terms of deciding on a recipe and figuring out the correct portions, but also in shopping for ingredients. We've all had the moment when a recipe calls for two tablespoons of something like buttermilk and the remainder of the half gallon we bought then goes unused. The Blue Apron app includes an optional service that sends users predetermined recipes and the exact measurement of ingredients needed to make that recipe each week. 

When users first open the Blue Apron app, they are presented with the option to create a new user account or browse as a guest. Guests have all of the same options to view recipes, but if they would like to use the meal delivery service then they need to create an account. Even if users have no interest in using the delivery service, they can still see full recipes including ingredients lists and instructions to shop for the ingredients themselves. 

Caregivers can search the recipe catalog by type of food or ingredient, or they can browse the menu put together by the chefs at Blue Apron for that particular week. Once caregivers find a recipe they're interested in making, they can click on the title to read more about it. Directly under the recipe title users can see the number of serving and calorie total for each serving, the amount of time it will take to make the recipe and if it is vegetarian. 

Under the directions for each recipe, the chefs also offer tips and tricks specific to cooking that particular recipe, such as "How To: Hold a Chef's Knife." The directions also include step by step photographs in the app for caregivers to follow along with at home. The recipes are created specifically to feed two or four people, as the subscription service includes three recipes per week.

Users can save favorite recipes and take photographs of their own food once it's made to save alongside the recipe. They can even add fun filters and effects, such as animated steam or a chef's hat graphic, to their photo before sharing it on social media sites. The app is easy to navigate and users who decide to sign up for the subscription service can also manage their upcoming meal choices and delivery preferences within the app. 

The Blue Apron app is available for Apple platforms. 

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 relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

Senior Caregivers: Check Food Expiration Dates!

I hate waste, especially when it comes to food. But while spring-cleaning my mother’s refrigerator and pantry, I was more than happy to toss those foods whose expiration dates have come and gone. However, because of my near-pathological hatred for throwing away food and the fact that my mother lives on a very fixed income and can’t afford to replace perfectly good food, I decided to do a little research and see which of the foods were salvageable.

The rule of thumb is that the more processed a food is, the longer you can extend its expiration date. While it might not be at its optimum for taste, it doesn’t necessarily prove hazardous. Those foods with lower-to-no water content (like dried pasta, crackers), dry formulation (like cake mixes), and shelf-stable because they have been heat treated (canned foods) can be safe well past the package expiration date.

Seniors should still be careful to make sure not too much time has passed, however. In an extreme case of ingesting food well past its prime, a grandmother in Italy recently sent herself, her husband, their son, and their grandchildren to the emergency room  with food poisoning after making hot chocolate with chocolate sachets that were purchased in the 80s — 25 years out of date.

Seniors should try to buy only what they will eat in a relatively timely manner. Sometimes seniors will buy more food than they can possibly consume because they don’t get to the grocery store as often, so they’ll stock up. While not an issue with sealed pantry goods, it’s not a great idea with meat and dairy (unless it’s well-wrapped and put into the freezer.)

Older people are at greater risk for serious foodborne illnesses because of their lower immune systems. Contaminated foods make you sick within a few minutes or up to a few days after eating. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, headache, fever, and weakness are some of the signs that you should see a doctor right away.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Food and Drug Administration has issued a booklet entitled Food Safety for Older Adults. In it, they cite the statistic that 48 million persons get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne infection and illness in the United States each year. Many of these people are children, older adults, or have weakened immune systems (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

Senior caregivers can proactively help their senior care recipients by learning more about food safety. And if there’s any food in the house that’s been there from before the fall of the Berlin Wall, I think it’s safe to say, “Toss It!”

Shop For Groceries and Delivery to Home in Peapod App

For senior caregivers who live in urban areas and don't own a car or for senior clients who are isolated and have difficulty getting to the grocery store, keeping the fridge stocked can be difficult. Instead of facing cold the temperatures and snow that accompany winter in many parts of the nation to get to the store, senior caregivers can use the Peapod app to shop for groceries for themselves or for senior clients and schedule a time for delivery right to their home. 

Users can search for food items within the app in several different ways. If you'd like more of a product you already have at home, you can scan the barcode into the app and it will try to find it for you in their store. Users can also create lists of all the items they'll need or look at previous orders and click "Buy" directly on the product list page. There's also an area for Specials and New Arrivals that users can browse and pick from. For a more traditional grocery store experience, users can decide to "Browse the Aisles" to see foods in categories like produce, deli, bakery, frozen, etc. laid out exactly the way they are when you walk through a grocery store. 

Items that are on sale throughout the app are marked with a little red price tag icon. Once users click on a item to view the details closer, a full nutrition label also appears to help shoppers make nutritionally conscious decisions. After shoppers have added all of the items they want for this grocery trip into their cart, they can checkout and schedule a time for delivery. Orders must be received a minimum of 12 hours in advance of the desired delivery time, although during the winter and on weekends caregivers may need to schedule further in advance if they live in a popular area because time slots will sell out. 

The Peapod app is available for Apple and Android platforms. 

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 relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko


German Nursing Homes to Try 3D Printed Food for Seniors

Senior caregivers can find it quite challenging to keep the elderly well-nourished, especially if the senior has problems with chewing and swallowing. A steady diet of baby food-like mush can make seniors dread their next meal. Dealing with the challenges of feeding those seniors can lead to caregiver stress.

So, the European Union is funding a consortium of five European countries along with 14 companies called PERFORMANCE (which stands for PERsonalised FOod using Rapid MAnufacturing for the Nutrition of elderly ConsumErs), to help develop 3D-printed “smoothfood” to create a more appetizing-looking meal.

German company Biozoon created Smoothfood, in which deconstructed foods that are safe to ingest without chewing are reconstructed to look like conventional meals by using plant-based solidifying agents and poured into food-shaped silicon molds. While the food retains its shape on the plate, it completely dissolves in the mouth, making it safe for those with chewing and swallowing impairments.

Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing food, affects as many as 15 million Americans and according to the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR), over 60,000 Americans die from complications associated with swallowing dysfunctions each year. Many times, victims of stroke find themselves unable to chew and swallow regular food.Currently, those seniors have no choice but to eat a variety of pureed foods, much like baby food. Needless to say, a constant diet of unappealing and uninteresting food has been shown to cause a loss of appetite and lead to malnutrition.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are already overtaxed and overburdened with senior care, so the objective of the PERFORMANCE project is to utilize new processing approaches and tailor-made technologies for the use by small and medium sized (SME) food producers to produce personalised food for the frail elderly European consumer, thereby improving the quality of life.

Over 1,000 retirement homes in Germany have already implemented the smoothfood concept according to Wired UK. The PERFORMANCE project is hoping to take that idea and, by applying automated 3D printing technology, make it easier and more affordable to use on a broader scale by nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

But how does that food taste? Sandra Forstner, the project manager at Biozoon spoke to food blog Munchies about the taste of 3-D printed food. “The food tastes like normal food. It is made from fresh ingredients, so the taste doesn’t change. One of our goals is not to change the flavor; the texturizing system doesn’t change it.”

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