Dietitian-Approved Menus Help Plan Heart-Healthy Meals

  Menu Planning

Did you know that dietitian-approved menus can help you serve nutritious, heart-healthy meals at your assisted living facility?

heart healthy meals

February is American Heart Month, so what better time to take stock of how well your food menu program protects the cardiovascular health of your residents. A heart-healthy diet reduces the risks of heart attack and stroke, yet many of the older adults in your care probably need guidance in making the right food choices.

Developing a heart-healthy food menu program can make a difference for the residents of your nursing home or assisted living facility. These six tips will help you plan, prepare and serve senior menus designed to improve cardiovascular health.

Scale Back on Sodium

Too much sodium in the diet increases the chance of stroke, cardiovascular disease and heart problems.

Taking control of the salt shaker isn’t enough, however, as many foods have hidden sodium. To make sure your adult care facility meals and snacks are heart-healthy, read food labels and cut back on using ingredients that contain high levels of sodium.

Feature Fruits and Veggies

Not only are fruits and vegetables excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber, but they also contain substances that may aid in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Offer fruit or veggies as snacks, and work on incorporating more produce to create dietitian-approved menus for better heart health.

Serve Whole Grains

Whole grains are packed with fiber and other nutrients that may help regulate blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health. Whole grain bread and pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, high-fiber cereal and whole wheat flour are among the best heart-healthy grains to use in assisted living facility meals and snacks.

Limit Unhealthy Fats

To reduce blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease for your residents, limit the amounts of saturated and trans fats used in your adult care facility snack and meal recipes. Monounsaturated fats, such as canola or olive oil, are better choices for heart-healthy dietitian-approved menus.

Choose Low-Fat Proteins

Serving low-fat proteins, such as skim milk and skinless chicken breast, can also help keep cholesterol under control. Fatty, cold-water fish, eggs, beans, lentils and soy products are also recommended sources of heart-healthy protein in dietitian-approved menus.

Control Portion Sizes

How much your residents eat can be as important as which foods they choose. For a heart-healthy food menu program, aim to serve larger portions of low-fat, nutrient-dense foods and smaller portions of foods that don’t offer health benefits, like protection against cardiovascular disease.

Developing heart-healthy dietitian-approved menus to celebrate American Heart Month is easy with the Grove Menus food menu program. Our cost-effective software system is designed to simplify the process of meeting the individual dietary needs of adult care facility residents.

Along with helping you plan delicious, heart-healthy meals, the Grove Menus suite of user-friendly software tools can also facilitate food ordering and preparation – which will save you both time and money. For a complimentary, no-pressure demonstration of how our food menu program and dietitian-approved menus can benefit your assisted living facility, contact us today.

Dining with Dementia: Food Menu Program Tips for Focused Mealtimes


Adapting an assisted living facility food menu program to meet the needs of adults with dementia can be a challenge.

Food menu program tips

Anything can be a distraction at mealtime for these residents, and it’s often difficult for caregivers to know whether someone who has dementia simply isn’t hungry or if they’re unaware of their need to eat.

The dining experience and surroundings can play a significant role in how well adults with dementia eat. For more focused mealtimes at your assisted living facility, look to the practical approach used in food menu programs.

Have a Dedicated Dining Space

For adults who dementia, visual cues can act as reminders that mealtime is about to take place. Having a specific room or designated space for dining can help develop familiarity and encourage appetite.

Create a Relaxed Environment

Mealtime distractions can make dining with dementia more difficult. Your assisted living facility residents will be better able to concentrate on their food if the environment is relaxed and free of excessive noise.

For more focused mealtimes, eliminate non-essentials — including napkin holders and centerpieces. Provide stable chairs with armrests to aid mobility and replace the television with soothing, quiet music.

Choose High-Contrast Dishes

Many older adults have vision problems, and those who have dementia may have visual-spatial difficulties. If your residents can’t see their food clearly, they’ll be less likely to eat.

Swapping out basic white dinnerware for high-contrast dishes may help boost food consumption and improve nutrition for residents dining with dementia.

Limit Dining Utensils

Too many utensil choices at mealtime can frustrate adults who have dementia. Offering just one utensil at a time – either a spoon or fork – may help allow for more focused mealtimes. Instead of putting out the full table setting, only set out the utensil that is needed or preferred.

Most advanced dementia patients can’t use a knife anyway, so ensure that menu items are bite-sized, or have food service staff cut the food up before serving.

Serve Several Smaller Meals

Serving up a full, well-balanced breakfast, lunch and dinner every day works to meet the nutritional needs of most assisted living facility residents. For adults dining with dementia, however, too much food at once can bring about confusion. Try offering one course at a time or serving half portions for more focused mealtimes and better overall nutrition.

Meeting the nutritional needs of assisted living facility residents who have dementia requires taking a flexible approach to mealtime. Food menu preferences and dining abilities often change as dementia progresses, so meals and snacks may need to be adapted.

The Grove Menus software system, with a suite of user-friendly food menu program tools, includes hundreds of delicious dietitian-approved recipes that can easily be adjusted for special menu requirements and diet extensions. Contact us today for a complimentary, hassle-free demonstration of how our food menu program can help provide better nutrition to residents who are dining with dementia.

A Menu Planning Program Facilitates Diet Extension Management

  Menu Planning

Using a menu planning program can make diet extension management much easier in the residential care or nursing home environment.

Menu Planning Program

Trying to keep track of which resident has which dietary restriction can be a challenge if you’re stuck with paper spreadsheets or outdated software. Ensuring that every tray of food complies with the patient’s doctor’s orders can strain staff resources, leading to increased costs and potential errors.

A food menu program can greatly simplify the process of providing nutritious, dietitian-approved meals to the residents of your adult care facility. Everyone can have healthy foods that meet their dietary guidelines or restrictions – and none that don’t – at every meal.

How to Manage Diet Extensions with a Menu Planning Program

Start by choosing a menu planning program that includes an extensive database of dietitian-approved recipes. Scaling the meals to add or subtract servings is simple, and the nutrition facts for every recipe are automatically updated when adjustments are made.

The recipes can be sorted by ingredient, allowing your dietary staff to plan menus based on the foods that meet your residents’ dietary restrictions. You can also search for recipes by specific diet extensions. And, if you’d like to modify a particular recipe to meet a certain dietary requirement, instructions are included.

Use Tray Cards to Ensure Diet Extension Accuracy

The diet extensions of each of your adult care facility residents can be integrated into food menu program software, which allows the kitchen staff to easily print out detailed tray cards.

Tray cards identify the menu items that are supposed to be included on each tray, along with reminders of foods that aren’t in line with the resident’s dietary restrictions. To know whether to leave the sugar off the tray, serve the cereal without milk or cut the food into bite-sized pieces, for example, all a food service staff member has to do is glance down at the tray card. This ensures that every tray meets its intended resident’s needs.

Additional Benefits of Adopting a Menu Planning Program

A food menu program can save your dietary and kitchen staff both costs and time.

Along with managing diet extensions, menu planning software also streamlines adult care facility food purchasing. Order lists are automatically generated, based upon your menu choices. And, you’ll know your food costs ahead of time, as the program uses your price lists to calculate the total for every recipe in the database.

Meal preparation is also much easier with a food menu program. Automated pick and pull sheets tell kitchen staff which foods need to be pulled from the freezer and prepped for upcoming meals. Everything is listed on a calendar spreadsheet, including the necessary quantities and exactly how the foods need to be prepared.

If you would like to see exactly how a food menu program can benefit your facility, schedule a complimentary, hassle-free demonstration of the comprehensive Grove Menus meal planning system.

Our cost-effective suite of user-friendly food menu program tools, including hundreds of dietitian-approved recipes, can save your facility time and money. To see how our menu planning program handles managing diet extensions, food purchasing and meal preparation and planning, contact us today.

Recipe Ideas for Seniors: Healthier, Heartier Soups

  Menu Planning

Hearty, wintertime recipe ideas for seniors often involve warming comfort foods like stews and soups. When the cold winds blow outdoors, a delicious soup can really hit the spot, especially for older adults who become more susceptible to the cold.

  Recipe Ideas for Seniors: Healthier, Heartier Soups


National Soup Month is the perfect time to explore the secrets to making healthier, heartier soups for seniors. Follow these dietitian-approved tips for recipe ideas your residents are sure to enjoy.

Start with the Right Base

Generally speaking, broth-based soups are lower in calories and fat than those that are cream-based. Low-sodium beef, chicken or vegetable broth or stock make for a healthier starter for soup recipes. If your adult care residents prefer creamy soups, use starchy vegetables like potatoes or butternut squash, or make a roux to get the right texture. Or, swap out the heavy cream for reduced-fat milk or half-and-half.

Add Plenty of Veggies

Doubling or even tripling up on the veggies can make for much healthier, heartier soups. Chopped or diced carrots, celery, broccoli, turnips and cauliflower can work for many soup recipe ideas for seniors. Or, you could toss in a handful of fresh arugula or baby spinach. You can also stir in a vegetable puree for added nutrients and a thicker texture.

Make Smart Protein Choices

Most seniors need protein with every meal, and serving it up in soup is a great way to deliver this important food group. Beans, chicken, fish, turkey and tofu are among the healthiest proteins you can use in soup recipes, but other protein picks can be used in moderation at adult care facilities.

Serve Soup on a Bed of Whole Grains

Instead of simply ladling soup into empty bowls, why not provide a nutritional boost by serving it over whole grains? Brown rice, barley and whole grain pasta can add fiber and flavor, which makes for healthier, heartier soups.

Garnish with a Healthy Topping

Crackers are often the go-to garnish for soups, but other toppings can add crunch and/or flavor without adding an excessive amount of sodium, calories and fat. Cubed and toasted whole wheat bread or baked whole grain tortilla strips are healthy options. Or adding a teaspoon of pumpkin seeds works for some recipe ideas. For a flavor boost without the crunch, serve up soup with a dollop of nonfat, plain Greek yogurt, fresh herbs or a small amount of finely-shredded hard cheese.

Creating healthier, heartier soups to celebrate National Soup Month is simple with the Grove Menus meal planning software system. And, all of our tasty recipe ideas for seniors are dietitian-approved, designed to meet the unique nutritional needs of older adults.

For a free, no-pressure demonstration of the Grove Menus food menu program tools, contact us today. We would love to show you how our user-friendly software system can offer you hundreds of cost-effective, well-balanced recipe ideas for seniors.

Assisted Living Food Menus & Memory-Boosting Superfoods

  Assisted Living Menus

When assisted living food menus incorporate memory-boosting superfoods, it helps improve residents’ brain health and protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Assisted Living Food Menus & Memory-Boosting Superfoods

Superfood compounds are available as nutritional supplements. However, older adults are better off consuming the whole foods than taking pills, as superfoods in their natural forms are more easily absorbed and utilized by the body.

As you plan your assisted living food menus, consider adding more of these nutritious – and delicious – memory-boosting superfoods.

Vegetables & Leafy Greens

Studies show that consuming leafy greens, like spinach and turnip greens, can have a proactive effect on brain health. Broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous veggies are also considered to be memory-friendly superfoods. But researchers say that increasing the intake of any vegetables can slow the rate of cognitive decline in older adults.

Cold-Water Fish

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in salmon, halibut, tuna and other cold-water fish, may help protect against memory decline. More research is needed, but serving more of these fish varieties in your senior care center food menus could be beneficial. Beans, flax seeds, and some types of grains and nuts are other superfoods with high levels of omega-3.

Coffee, Chocolate and Spices

Daily caffeine intake has been linked to increasing memory capacity and may even help reverse some memory impairments – so, that makes antioxidant-rich coffee a perfect option for your food menus. The antioxidants and compounds in coffee may also work to improve cognitive function. Chocolate and spices like turmeric, nutmeg and cinnamon have been shown to provide a similar brain health boost.

Berries & Dark-Skinned Fruits

Researchers have also discovered some evidence that fruits packed with antioxidants might help with cognitive function in older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and conditions involving dementia. Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and dark-skinned fruits like cherries and plums are excellent memory-boosting superfoods to use in assisted living recipe ideas for seniors.

Healthy Oils

Scientists have found that using healthy oils in meals for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease might offer a memory-boosting effect. Further research is necessary, but coconut oil and olive oil contain unique compounds that might help protect senior brain health.

Are you looking for an easier way to plan dietitian-approved assisted living food menus? The Grove Menus meal planning software system is a cost-effective solution for meeting the dietary needs of your senior residents through delicious, easy-to-make recipes.

The Grove Menus user-friendly suite of meal planning tools can help you with everything from incorporating memory-boosting superfoods and other nutritional powerhouse ingredients to tracking inventory, creating food prep lists and keeping your budget in check. For a complimentary, no-pressure demonstration of our software system for assisted living food menus and planning, contact us today.