Harvest Season: A Checklist for Senior Nutrition
Fall is the perfect time to enjoy seasonal fruits and vegetables. Think of a cornucopia overflowing with fresh produce, just waiting to be consumed. But there’s a catch: It takes time and effort to transform seasonal food into satisfying snacks and meals. If you're responsible for ensuring that someone receiving in home care receives healthy meals, you may feel overwhelmed with this daily task. That's why it's important to keep meal planning simple. Here is a checklist of seasonal fruits and vegetables that are flavorful, packed with nutrition, and ideal for keeping seniors healthy during the colder months of the year. Best of all, this harvest produce can be quick and easy to prepare.
Even the most discerning eater doesn’t need to be cajoled into eating tasty winter squashes, which are packed with vitamin A and beta carotene. And whipping up a pot of butternut squash soup couldn’t be easier. With their subtly sweet flavor, winter squashes are ideal served alongside fish or lean meat. Spaghetti squash is a great alternative to starchy pasta and is delicious topped with Parmesan cheese. If you’re cooking for a senior or someone receiving respite care who loves pumpkin pie, this dessert is easy to make, and you can use the canned variety of pumpkin as a time-saving alternative.
Eating this tasty fruit daily may not actually keep the doctor away, but apples contain fiber-rich pectin and may help prevent heart disease. During the harvest season, a variety of apples are abundantly available, including Honeycrisp and Gala varieties. Apples, of course, can be enjoyed raw as a snack. If you’re prepping food for a senior who prefers soft foods due to dental issues, however, you can opt for making a baked apple dish, which is a cinch in a slow cooker. Baked apples are ideal served as a dessert with frozen yogurt or enjoyed with breakfast oatmeal.
A slow cooker is also your best friend if you want to make a root stew. Simply load your slow cooker with vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, onions and potatoes, add spices and vegetable broth, and you're good to go. Here’s a recipe that couldn’t be easier. Meal prep (and clean-up time) is minimal, and you can store the extra stew in the fridge to have as leftovers. Carrot muffins or carrot cake is also an easy way to incorporate root vegetables into a senior's diet. And while not everyone is a fan of beets, this root vegetable is a nutritional powerhouse and is easy to cook on the stovetop or even a microwave.
Some people avoid Brussels sprouts, which are often served overcooked. However, roasting this nutrient-dense vegetable to perfection is easy. Simply mix fresh Brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic, place them on a baking sheet, and after about 35 minutes in the oven, you have a nutritious side dish that’s irresistible.
Many people eat pears year-round, but this fruit is actually in season during the fall months. Like apples, pears are high in fiber and vitamin C. Whether eaten raw, baked or incorporated into a fruit tart, pears have a delicate sweet taste that can easily satisfy someone’s sweet tooth and help them forgo calorie-rich desserts. Baked pears with just a dollop of whipped cream and a square of chocolate could be the perfect way to end a meal while contributing to a balanced nutritional diet — and will surely delight the senior for whom you’re providing in home care.
Contact Us Today
Planning and preparing nutritious meals for seniors receiving in home care doesn’t have to be a challenge. At Visiting Angels, we provide expert respite care services and can provide you with the support you need today. Start the conversation by calling us at 828-665-3944.