Celebrate National Dairy Month in Your Seniors Menus

  Menu Planning

Seniors menus that feature a variety of foods rich in fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients provide a powerful health boost for your residents. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet helps older adults stay active and independent as they age.

dairy month

This is National Dairy Month, so what better time to celebrate the benefits of the healthy foods? And the best way to celebrate is by including plenty of dairy foods in senior menus at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Here’s Why Your Seniors Menus Should Include Dairy Foods

According to the National Institute on Aging, most senior menus don’t include enough dairy products. Each day, seniors should consume a total of 3 cups of foods from this food group.

Dairy foods are important for senior health because they contain nine essential nutrients: calcium, protein, potassium, phosphorous, riboflavin, niacin and vitamins A, D and B12.

Regularly consuming dairy foods can help seniors improve bone density and maintain a healthy weight. And, a dairy-rich diet helps reduce the risk for osteoporosis, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.

Incorporating Dairy Products in Senior Menus

For older adults, low-fat and fat-free dairy foods are recommended because they are packed with nutrition but not saturated fat.

At many senior care centers, a glass of milk is offered with every meal, to comply with state dietary requirements. However, serving milk isn’t the only way to incorporate dairy products into nursing home menus for older adults.

Low-fat and fat-free cheese or yogurt are healthy and tasty snacks, and both ingredients can be used in a wide range of dietitian-approved recipes. For seniors with a sweet tooth, low-fat or fat-free frozen yogurt and ice cream or pudding made with milk are all good options for boosting dairy product intake.

What About Seniors Who Have Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is a problem for many seniors, causing uncomfortable digestive symptoms after eating or drinking dairy foods.

Avoiding the dairy group completely isn’t the answer for lactose intolerance. In fact, doing so could put seniors at nutritional risk. Instead, many nursing homes and senior care centers use dietitian-approved menus that are planned specifically around the medical condition.

Some lactose intolerant seniors can comfortably consume small portions of dairy products without adverse symptoms. Others may require lactose-reduced or lactose-free milk, yogurt and cheese instead of the traditional versions. Or the patient’s doctor can prescribe digestive enzyme supplements.

In most cases, you can substitute lactose-friendly milk, yogurt and cheese for the traditional products in dietitian-approved senior recipes. Calcium-fortified soy milk, almond milk and rice milk can also provide nutrient-rich options, if patients are cleared to consume these products.

With the Grove Menus advanced meal planning program, offering healthy, well-balanced senior menus is easy. Our healthy and delicious dietitian-approved recipes can be adjusted to meet the nutritional needs of all older adults, including those with dietary restrictions. For a complimentary demonstration of our senior menu planning program, contact us today.

Dietitian-Approved Menus: 5 Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors

  Menu Planning

Dietitian-approved menus make healthy eating much easier for anyone. For seniors, however, nutrition is especially important. A balanced diet promotes good health, improves many chronic health conditions and helps older adults enjoy a better quality of life.

eating tips for seniors

Making smart food choices isn’t always easy for seniors. Fortunately, at least for those living in nursing homes and residential care centers, the responsibility for good nutrition falls on the facility’s food service program.

If you are struggling to improve the quality and nutritional value of your food service program, dietitian-approved menus and our helpful tips can help you with this challenge.

No. 1: Offer Seniors Plenty of Liquids

As people age, their sense of thirst becomes dulled. In addition, many older adults take prescription medications that compound the effect.

Proper hydration is essential to maintaining good health. For this reason, dietitians recommend offering seniors liquids throughout the day – not just at mealtime. Water is best, but unsweetened tea, black coffee, low-fat milk or 100% fruit juice can also be incorporated as part of a healthy eating plan for seniors.

No. 2: Plan Ahead for Nutritious Menus for Seniors

Left to their own devices, many older adults wouldn’t get enough of the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

To that end, senior care centers must plan balanced meals for their residents well in advance. Dietitian-approved menus focus on including a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats.

Planning ahead helps keep costs down and reduces food service staffing requirements.

No. 3: Boost Flavor with Healthy Herbs and Spices

Seniors often complain that their food lacks flavor. That’s no surprise, since both our taste buds and our sense of smell decline with age. Some medicines can also influence how food tastes.

Unfortunately, the go-to flavor enhancer – salt – is restricted in most senior diet plans due to its negative health consequences.

As an alternative to salt, dietitians suggest adding healthy herbs and spices to boost flavor. Making foods more appealing can encourage older adults to eat more nutritiously.

No. 4: Steer Clear of Empty Calories

Most seniors can enjoy an occasional treat, like chips, cookies, candies or soft drinks. As part of a regular healthy eating plan, however, foods like these are not a good fit. Dietitians advise that these are empty calories, as they have no nutritional benefit.

Instead, consider creating healthier versions of well-loved treats. Dietitian-approved menus often include low-fat, low-sugar snacks that are just as tasty as their unhealthy counterparts.

No. 5: Keep Food Safety in Mind

Food safety is important for everyone. For seniors, it can be a matter of life or death. Because seniors have a harder time fighting off infections, eating contaminated food can result in dire consequences.

Dietitians urge food service workers to handle raw food with care, keeping it away from other foods during meal preparation. Once cooked, food can only remain at room temperature for a limited time. After no more than two hours, cooked foods must be refrigerated.

All food in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry should be clearly labeled and dated so it can be used before it goes bad. Sniffing or tasting food is not a reliable way to determine if it is safe to eat – when in doubt, toss it out.

If you are not already required to do so by your county or municipality, send the members of our staff to a comprehensive food safety course every year. Choose a nationally known program such as ServSafe, or a local program certified by your county.

If you would like more help establishing healthy eating programs for seniors, consider the Grove Menus program. We offer a cost-effective, easy-to-use meal planning program designed around the dietary needs of older adults. For a free demonstration of our exclusive food service system, pre-loaded with hundreds of dietitian-approved menus, contact us today.

Dietitian-Approved Menus Celebrate National Egg Month

  Menu Planning

Dietitian-approved menus include a variety of flavorful options for seniors, with meals designed to meet their nutritional needs.

Eggs have a reputation for being unhealthy but updated research has proven that the infamy is undeserved – eggs actually have some impressive health credentials. May is National Egg Month, so let’s take a look at how these nutritional powerhouses can play a role in senior meal planning programs.

dietician approved menus

Health Benefits of Eggs in Menus for Seniors

Eggs are only 70 calories each, yet they are rich in several nutrients.

One large egg contains over 6 grams of high-quality, complete protein that provides all nine of the amino acids that must be obtained from the diet. For seniors, adequate dietary protein is essential for muscle strength and energy.

In addition, eggs are high in biotin, riboflavin, vitamin B12, selenium, choline, and a host of other vitamins and minerals seniors need. They also contain compounds with antioxidant properties that may help prevent heart disease and cancer.

Considering Cholesterol in Dietitian-Approved Menus

Eggs are high in cholesterol. Each one contains 186 milligrams (mg). Seniors with high blood cholesterol levels are at an increased risk of heart disease.

However, egg consumption actually has less of an effect on blood cholesterol than consuming trans fats and saturated fats. So, as long senior menus consider the recommended daily limits of cholesterol in foods, eggs can be included.

What are the cholesterol limits for dietitian-approved menus? Healthy seniors should consume no more than 300 mg per day, while those with diabetes should keep daily intake under 200 mg.

Keep in mind, too, that all of the cholesterol is in the egg yolks. So, for seniors who need to lower their consumption, just the whites can be used.

Dietitian-Approved Egg Recipe Ideas for Seniors

Eggs are an incredibly versatile ingredient for cooking, and they can be used in many healthy senior recipes.

Breakfast is a natural fit, and seniors often appreciate favorites like scrambled, poached or soft-cooked eggs with whole grain toast. Omelets and breakfast burritos are also good choices, particularly when filled with healthy vegetables.

Quiches and frittatas make for healthy and delicious lunch or dinner options. Or, serve up classic deviled eggs or egg salad sandwiches using non-fat yogurt instead of mayonnaise.

For desserts, many seniors enjoy meringue cookies, egg custard and mousse. Low-fat and low-sugar dietitian-approved versions of these recipes are healthy treats that can satisfy a sweet tooth.

Celebrate National Egg Month with a complimentary demonstration of the Grove Menus advanced meal planning system. Our user-friendly food service program reduces waste and saves time, and your seniors are sure to appreciate our tasty dietitian-approved menus. Contact us today to learn more.

Menus for Seniors: 4 Tips for Improving Older Adult Health

  Menu Planning

Menus for seniors must be tailored to meet the unique and complex health needs of older adults.

Age-related changes to the metabolism and digestive system affect how the body processes food. As a result, seniors have different nutritional requirements than children, teenagers and even middle-aged adults.

menus for seniors

Adapting senior menus to promote good health doesn’t have to be a challenge. These dietitian-approved tips can help get you started with the basics.

No. 1: Aid Digestion by Increasing Fiber in Senior Menus

Seniors often have digestive issues, and eating more fiber each day can be beneficial for good bowel health.

Regular consumption of high-fiber foods helps regulate how food moves through the digestive tract, aiding older adults in staying regular. Whole-grain breads and cereals, beans, peas, and raw fruits and vegetables are good high-fiber options for senior menus.

No. 2: Support Bone Health by Adding Dairy to Senior Menus

Aging adults need more calcium and vitamin D to prevent or slow the progression of osteoporosis, a common health condition that results in brittle and fragile bones.

Eating plenty of dairy products can improve bone health, as the calcium and vitamin D these foods contain help to keep the bones strong. Low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese are dietitian-approved favorites for senior menus. Other options include dark green, leafy vegetables and calcium-fortified orange juice or cereal.

No. 3: Boost Energy by Adding More Produce to Senior Menus

Older adults sometimes experience low energy levels, and snacking on fruits and veggies can help them feel recharged.

Fresh produce is packed with vitamins and natural sugars, so it’s the perfect energy boost to include in senior menus. Apples, bananas and oranges flood the body with natural nutrients, replenishing energy that has been lost during the day. Sweet potatoes and green veggies like spinach, broccoli and kale also provide much-needed fuel for seniors.

No. 4: Meet Special Health Needs with Dietitian-Approved Senior Menus

Many older adults have specific nutritional considerations due to medical conditions. Those with diabetes, for example, require foods that keep blood sugar levels in check. And seniors with oral health problems rely on a variety of soft foods for proper nutrition.

Meeting the special health needs of older adults can be a challenge for many senior care and assisted living centers. A dietitian-approved meal program addresses these issues, providing menus that are designed to address residents’ medical concerns.

Dietitian-approved menus take all of the guesswork out of serving balanced diets for seniors. And, by using an advanced food service program, senior care centers and assisted living facilities can save on food costs as well as the labor needed to create nutritious meal plans.

The Grove Menus meal planning system offers a much easier and more cost-effective way to meet the dietary needs of older adults. For a free demonstration of our exclusive food service program, containing hundreds of dietitian-approved menus for seniors, contact us today.

Food Menu Program Ideas: Planning a Healthy Cookout

  Menu Planning

Is your food menu program ready for a seasonal update? May marks the beginning of cookout season, so why not incorporate some backyard barbecue favorites into your nursing home or assisted living menus?

Proper nutrition is essential for seniors, but maintaining a balanced diet doesn’t have to mean missing out on summer picnic or cookout favorites.

planning healthy cookout

Choose Healthy Proteins

Who doesn’t love a char-grilled burger at a cookout? Go with lean ground round or ground sirloin to please the beef-lovers at your adult care facility. Ground turkey, chicken breast, salmon and tuna also make tasty burgers, and the lean proteins fit well in any food menu program.

For seniors craving hot dogs, low-fat varieties made with beef, poultry or soy can be an incorporated for an occasional treat.

In either case, pair the lean proteins with whole grain buns and top them with plenty of veggies to make the meal even healthier.

Grill Veggies for Sides

Grilled corn is a cookout favorite, but many seniors have to limit their servings because of the sugar content.

Most older adults, however, can enjoy a variety of other tasty and nutritious grilled veggies. Marinate chunks of bell pepper, tomato, zucchini and mushrooms, and cook them on skewers or in a grill basket for a delicious side dish. Or, serve up some grilled sweet potato wedges finished with a salt-free seasoning mix.

Offer Fresh Salads

Traditional macaroni salad and potato salad aren’t very nutritious, so they may not be ideal for your food menu program. Dietitian-approved recipes modify these conventional cookout recipes by using whole grains, adding more veggies and lowering the fat content.

Fresh green salads, using a variety of colorful veggies, are also great for adult care center backyard barbecues. Mixed bean or legume salad is another option, and offers a healthier menu program alternative to sugar-laden baked beans.

Serve Fruit-Based Desserts

For dessert, a seasonal fruit salad fits right into the picnic theme. But, be careful with your choices, as using too many fresh fruits with a high concentration of natural sugars – like grapes, bananas, oranges and pineapple – could affect the blood sugar levels of the residents at your adult care facility.

Fresh raspberries, blackberries and strawberries are healthier fruit salad options. Melon and kiwi are also smart menu program choices.

Fruit kebabs are another nutritious cookout dessert option. Skewer chunks of peaches, plums, mangoes and nectarines, then grill over medium heat. Serve the kebabs with a creamy yogurt dip sweetened with honey or artificial sweetener.

The Grove Menus meal planning system makes it easy to incorporate seasonal favorites in your adult care center menus. To learn more about our cost-effective system, or to schedule a complimentary demonstration of our advanced food menu program tools, contact us today.