Most Thanksgiving meals are full of fats, carbs, sugar, and salt. But with some creative cooking ideas, you can make a delicious low-calorie Thanksgiving meal for your senior loved ones. Here are 13 healthy foods and desserts that older adults can enjoy this Thanksgiving.
1. Whole Wheat Rolls
Seniors must get 14 grams of dietary fiber for every 1000 calories consumed. This is according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. Fiber allows seniors to keep their digestive tracts healthy and functional. Switch out the traditional dinner rolls with ones made out of fiber-rich whole wheat flour.
2. Turkey Breast
Lean protein in the form of roasted turkey breast is a great food choice for seniors. Protein makes the bones and muscles more robust, and lean protein is better for digestion and lower fat. Just be mindful of the gravy, as this can add on more calories. Low-calorie gravy recipes are also an option here.
If you’re an overworked caregiver, then preparing healthy and nutritious meals is no easy task. Suppose your family is in the position of needing to care for an older loved one and not having the ability to do so. In that case, a senior living center can be of great benefit.
Alternatively, instead of turkey, you can make salmon the centerpiece of their Thanksgiving feast. Fatty fish such as salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital for good heart health. Whether or not a senior has heart disease, this healthy fish can serve as an excellent alternative to turkey or ham.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are practically a superfood. You can never eat enough of this food – it’s that good. They are chock full of vitamins and minerals to keep your body healthy. For instance, it has vitamin A which boosts bone health. It also contains vitamin C, which is essential for a healthy immune system. Sweet potatoes also have fiber, which your body needs for good digestion.
5. Fruity Desserts
If you’re looking for something even sweeter, then this one can work well. Unfortunately, as people age, they usually start consuming more and more sugar. This is because their taste buds begin to weaken, so other foods and flavors don’t taste as good. Still, the ability to taste sugar remains strong. Excess sugar is unhealthy, so it’s best to prepare naturally sweetened foods for your senior loved one. For example, baked apples and fruit tarts still taste good without relying too much on sugar for its flavor.
6. Cranberry Sauce
Freshly concocted cranberry sauce is rich in antioxidants, the crucial compounds that shield the body from adverse oxidative effects. Cranberries will also improve cardiovascular health, urinary tract health, and teeth. Homemade cranberry sauce can confer these benefits while still containing a lot of sugar. To limit sugar intake, utilize natural sweeteners and flavors when creating your cranberry sauce.
7. Roasted Broccoli
Thanksgiving isn’t complete without some steaming hot vegetables. Roasted broccoli is a great choice because it’s high in calcium. Weakening bones is always a concern when people get older, but consuming foods rich in calcium can help stave off osteoporosis. To make the roasted broccoli even yummier, you could add a sprinkle of parmesan with some sliced almonds on top, which provides 2 more sources of calcium.
8. Brussel Sprouts
Vegetables are nearly always the healthiest thing on a Thanksgiving plate. But, they are often covered in high-fat gravy, which can minimize their health benefits. To make Brussel sprouts tastier while still preserving their health benefits, you can roast them. There are even more ways that you can make this vegetable more delicious, such as adding tasty flavors like olive oil, garlic, and balsamic vinegar.
9. Spinach Salad
A seven-layer salad is a common Thanksgiving dish. However, iceberg lettuce can drag down its nutritional value. One solution is to revamp this dish by turning it into a spinach salad with light poppyseed dressing as the topping. Leafy vegetables have the massive benefit of protecting our brain from Alzheimer’s disease.
10. Mashed Cauliflower
Cauliflower contains the following beneficial nutrients: protein, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, and potassium. Mashed potato recipes are high in carbs and are often difficult to replace for many people. Still, mashed cauliflower might just do the trick as a replacement. It’s definitely a healthier alternative. With a variety of different flavors available such as rosemary, parmesan, and garlic, you’re sure to create a delicious and healthy mashed cauliflower dish.
11. Wild Rice
Wild rice is yet another healthy food option for your Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a great source of magnesium, protein, zinc, and fiber, and it can also boost cardiovascular health. If you want to create a wild rice dish for your Thanksgiving feast, then just add some autumnal flavors and ingredients. Examples are nutmeg, pecans, onions, and apples.
12. Green Beans
Green beans have both vitamin C and fiber. Vitamin C improves digestion, and fiber offers antioxidant protection. One example of a popular green beans Thanksgiving meal is the green bean casserole. However, the recipe variations of this dish are often high in fat content. But for a low-calorie version, take out the cream sauce for a sauce made of flour, a dash of olive oil, low-fat milk, mushrooms, and onions.
13. Baked Ham
If they aren’t feeling like turkey and salmon isn’t preferred, then ham can work great as well. While it’s often high in salt content, baked ham still has some healthy nutrients like vitamin B12, niacin, and thiamine. B vitamins are necessary for the healthy functioning of nerve tissues. For a baseline reference, every 3 ounce serving of baked ham holds 122 calories and 20 grams of protein.
Don’t let your loved ones’ good eating habits disappear after Thanksgiving. Ensure that they have the support they need to continue eating healthy and tasty meals after the holiday has passed. One way to ensure that they continue to have nutritious and delicious meals is to introduce them to a senior living community.