Food guru Michael Pollan’s memorable words make good health simple at any age: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” There’s a great message packed into those short phrases. Essentially, what we eat makes a huge difference in our health. Pollan recommends the inclusion of unprocessed whole foods in our diet. So, healthy meals for seniors in Brooklyn should include fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds.
That said, this advice may be challenging for many seniors: Cooking requires a certain level of energy and many plant foods are difficult to chew or swallow. Two kitchen products can help with these challenges, however. With their assistance, making a fresh, nutritious meal need not be a burden for seniors.
These types of blenders have been used in restaurants and homes for many years. High-powered blenders are available under a variety of brand names, such as Vitamix, Ninja, or Blendtec. They are particularly indispensable in health-conscious kitchens because they facilitate the preparation of smoothies and soups.
With these high-powered blenders, daily breakfasts will be a no-fuss affair. For a hearty smoothie, try blending (in the order given):
- one cup of milk (nut, soy, or dairy)
- a tablespoon of chia seeds, flaxseeds, or hemp protein powder
- one or two leaves of purple kale or purple cabbage
- two to three cups of beet chunks, celery chunks, or carrot chunks
- one or two tablespoons of walnuts and almonds
- a banana
- one to two cups of frozen berries
- a cup of ice cubes
If you’re using a Vitamix, start the blending on the lowest setting and move up to the highest setting incrementally.
Multi-Function Programmable Cookers
The second product, Instant Pot, is a popular multi-function programmable cooker. It performs a variety of jobs, including slow-cooking, sauteing, and pressure-cooking. This type of cooker has reduced kitchen prep time immeasurably.
Many beans can be prepared in an Instant Pot in thirty minutes or less, without pre-soaking. Start with some extra virgin olive oil and saute some carrots, celery, garlic, and onions until they are soft. Next, add liquid (a mixture of water, chicken broth, or diced tomatoes in juice), some seasonings, half a cup of grains (wheat berries, barley, or rice), and two cups of beans.
Press the pressure cook button, close the lid, and vent. You should be able to enjoy a deliciously healthy bowl of soup in thirty to forty minutes. Pressure cooking is great for making foods that are easily chewed and swallowed.
You can also cook a variety of vegetables in an Instant Pot. Put winter squash, beets, or potatoes into the pot with onions, garlic, ginger, and some water. Pressure cook for a few moments until soft. If you like, drop your cooked vegetables with its liquid into your high-powered blender to get a vegetable puree. Note: Only fill the blender to the halfway point if you’re blending hot foods. Filling to the top can increase the air pressure inside the blender and cause the lid to blow off during blending.
Both products come with a distinct advantage: the ease with which they can be cleaned up. For the Vitamix, put a drop of liquid soap into the blender, fill halfway with water, blend, and rinse. That takes care of clean up! As for the programmable cooker, add some water and a drop of soap into the pot and press the “saute” button. Let the soap-water mixture come to a boil and then let it sit. Next, rinse your cooker out. Voila!
If you’re cooking for a senior and yourself, consider making double quantities. Store extra portions in the freezer and pull them out on busy days. Last, but not least, engage your loved one in the process of making healthy, delicious meals. Cooking together can strengthen familial bonds.
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