As the seniors in our lives get older, healthy cooking becomes more important. “Heart healthy” cooking is actually easier than one might think. Some people may think of bland flavors when they hear “healthy cooking,” but some simple replacements and a little imagination can go a long way in preparing delicious, yet healthy meals in a snap.
There is no reason to settle for pale imitations of once favorite dishes when the doctor recommends a heart healthy diet. Therapeutic diets can be rich in flavor and extremely satisfying! A heart healthy diet consists of plenty of fish, fresh fruits & vegetables, whole grains and legumes. This diet also calls for lean protein, healthy fats, reduced sodium and limited cholesterol.
Four Easy Substitutions
- Instead of using prepared seasonings, which can be high in salt, you can enhance flavors with fresh herbs, lemon or citrus zest. Additionally look for salt-free seasoning mixes when shopping in the supermarket.
- Substitute all-purpose flour with whole-wheat flour, or even oatmeal or cornmeal.
- For all the bakers out there, use a fat-free or low-fat yogurt when a recipe calls for sour cream. Fat-free milk is a better alternative than whole or reduced milk.
- Looking to reduce refined carbs? When making a wrap, use veggies such Swiss chard leaves to hold things together instead of bread.
Things to Avoid When Cooking
- Be wary of canned or preserved veggies – they’re often high in sodium. Strive to buy fresh veggies, or look for the “low-sodium” label. If you do buy canned goods, rinse veggies under cold water after opening – this helps reduce sodium levels.
- Highly refined foods such as sugar have little or no nutritional value. They are considered empty calories. Limit processed desserts, cakes, pies and other baked goods that contain high amounts of sugar. Choose reduced sugar desserts.
- Processed foods contain a great deal of salt, preservatives and additives such as food coloring and are considered “food-like” substances.
- Saturated fats clog arteries. These are animal based fats that solidify when cold. Use healthier fats when cooking such as olive oil or grapeseed oil
- Limit cholesterol in your diet. Cholesterol is found only in animal products. The body needs some cholesterol to remain healthy but too much leads to heart disease.
Time Saving Tips
Keep a supply of chopped fresh veggies on hand to shorten prep time. Items like onion, peppers and carrots can be easily added to meals boosting flavor and nutritional content. Trim all the fat from meats and create portion packs for the freezer. This helps prevent overeating and reduces harmful artery clogging fats. Create large batch bases that can be used in a variety of recipes. Black beans or lentils are heart healthy and can be used in a variety of soups and stews.
Two New Recipes:
Looking for a little inspiration? Here are some easy recipes for the seniors in your lives:
Healthy Black Bean Dip and Whole Wheat Pita
- 2 cups of drained and rinsed canned black beans (no added salt)
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp of salt
- 3 tbs olive oil
- Lime juice to taste
- Cilantro to garnish (optional)
Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender until blended to a creamy consistency.
Take whole wheat pitas and spoon in bean mixture then fill with salad of choice!
Stir-fried Veggies with Chicken or Pork
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts or pork cut into small cubes
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 bags of Asian style frozen mixed vegetables
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tbs low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Heat oil in a wok or large heavy skillet. Add chicken or pork, garlic, and oyster sauce, and stir-fry for 10 minutes. Stir defrosted Asian style veggies for 6 to 8 minutes. In a small bowl, mix together water, a little soy sauce and cornstarch. Stir into vegetables, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until sauce is thickened.
Serve over brown rice.
Learn to read food labels, talk to your doctor or nutritionist about acceptable intake levels for each type of food. Remember everything in moderation is the best choice!
If you are helping to care for an elderly family member or friend, contact the professionals at Kupuna Consulting. We are just a phone call away. For more resources, click the button below.