In Seasonal Menus for Seniors, Pumpkin is a Superfood Standout

  Menu Planning

Seasonal menus for seniors celebrate the flavors that are fresh right now. And, since pumpkin season has arrived, why not consider adding fall’s favorite squash to your fall menu?

Because pumpkin is versatile as well as flavorful, the recipe options are seemingly endless. But, beyond the familiar flavor profile, pumpkin packs a powerful health punch. Read on to learn more about this fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!) and why it deserves its status as a superfood standout for seasonal menus.

seasonal menus pumpkin

Pumpkin is Packed with Vitamin A

Did you know that just one cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin is more than enough for seniors to meet their recommended daily intake of vitamin A?

Vitamin A is known to provide many health benefits, aiding in vision and in maintaining healthy teeth, skin, bones and soft tissue. This powerhouse vitamin also plays a role in proper immune system function.

Obtaining vitamins directly from food sources is almost always preferable to supplementation. And, as vitamin A supplements can interact with certain medications, this makes for yet another reason why pumpkin is a great addition to your seasonal menus.

Pumpkin is Loaded with Beta-Carotene

Pumpkin is a source of carotenoids, including beta-carotene. When consumed, the body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A.

More important, beta-carotene acts as an antioxidant, helping to slow or prevent cell damage. Because of its antioxidant properties, the carotenoid is believed to lower the risk of several health problems that are common in older adults.

Seniors who eat plenty of pumpkin may have a reduced chance of developing certain types of cancer, age-related macular degeneration and heart disease.

Pumpkin is a Good Source of Dietary Fiber

Dietary fiber is essential for seniors. Eating high-fiber meals can benefit digestive health and aid in weight management. Fiber also helps to lower cholesterol and control blood sugar levels.

Most senior men need about 30 grams of dietary fiber each day. For senior women, the recommended intake is 21 grams. Because this squash has nearly three grams of fiber per one-cup serving, adding pumpkin to your facility’s seasonal menus can help residents reach these daily goals.

With all of these nutritional benefits, it’s no wonder pumpkin is considered a standout superfood for seniors. And it’s no surprise that adult care facilities across the country are adding more of this squash to their fall menus.

For more seasonal menu ideas, the Grove Menus meal program provides a cost-effective source of easy, delicious and nutritious recipe ideas for assisted living facilities, nursing homes and group homes.

The Grove Menus suite of user-friendly food service tools is designed to make menu planning easier – and seniors at adult care facilities love our dietitian-approved menus. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-hassle demonstration, to see how our meal program can help with your food service operation, including seasonal menu adaptations.

6 Ways Dietitian-Approved Menus Make Pizza Healthier

  Menu Planning

Dietitian-approved menus reinvent classic, well-loved dishes to make them healthier – without sacrificing their flavor or appeal.

October is National Pizza Month, so why not serve up some healthy versions to your senior care center residents? Pizza is a favorite among older adults, but traditional pies are often loaded with calories, fat and sodium. These tips can help you create pizzas that are healthy enough to enjoy any day of the week.

Dietitian-Approved Menus Make Pizza Healthier

No. 1: Skip Traditional Pizza Crust

A fiber-rich, whole grain crust is much healthier than traditional crust made with white flour. Dietitians recommend getting creative – whole wheat tortillas, pita pockets and English muffins can serve as perfect crusts. Or, you can also make tasty and healthful crusts with cauliflower, zucchini and matzo.

No. 2: Use Homemade Pizza Sauce

Store-bought sauces are often packed with sugar and other not-so-healthy ingredients. Dietitian-approved menus feature pizza recipes with simple, homemade sauces that are nutritious and delicious. Tomato sauce is a classic, but your senior care center residents may also enjoy pizzas with other flavorful sauces, like pesto, salsa, hummus, refried beans or BBQ sauce.

No. 3: Choose Lighter Cheeses

Plenty of cheese is a must for many pizza-lovers, but be careful – many varieties are rather high in fat and calories. For healthier pizzas, go with recipes that include lighter cheeses. Part-skim mozzarella, sharp provolone and Parmesan are three light dietitian-approved options that offer a big flavor punch.

No. 4: Add Leaner Proteins

Instead of fatty meats like pork sausage or beef pepperoni, dietitian-approved pizza recipes rely on lean proteins like turkey and chicken. Beans, eggs and tofu can also bring a healthy boost of protein. What about chicken sausage or turkey pepperoni? Dietitians recommend using them sparingly, as many products are actually quite high in sodium.

No. 5: Pile on the Veggies

For flavor and nutrition, veggies are stars in pizza recipes used with dietitian-approved menus. Onions, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, eggplant, chard, kale, spinach – the list of veggies you can pile on pizzas is endless. As an added bonus, if you use up the vegetables in your senior care center inventory, you’ll have less food waste and, therefore, lower food service costs.

No. 6: Serve with a Large Salad

Pizza can be a binge food – many seniors can easily eat several slices. But, even with healthy recipes, portion size is important. Dietitian-approved menus often include a large salad on pizza night. Salad helps round out the meal’s nutrition and makes it easier to get filled up without indulging in a third or fourth slice.

If you’d like more expert tips and senior recipe ideas for National Pizza Month, consider the Grove Menus meal planning system. Our cost-effective, user-friendly senior care center food menu program is designed to meet the needs of older adults. For a free demonstration of our exclusive system, loaded with hundreds of dietitian-approved menus, contact us today.

3 Key Strategies for a Successful Senior Food Menu Program

  Menu Planning

high-quality senior food menu program is essential to the health and well-being care center residents. In fact, cuisine is often a deciding factor for seniors and their families when choosing a residential facility.

To help ensure mealtime satisfaction, assisted living facilities and nursing homes are rethinking their approach to developing menus for seniors. Below are three tried-and-true strategies for creating a successful food program.

Strategies for a Successful Senior Food Menu Program

No. 1: Incorporate Fresh and Seasonal Foods

Canned and frozen prepared foods are simple to heat and serve, which makes them perfect menu program choices in terms of quick and easy food production. But, when too many of these products are used in menus for seniors, the meals lack flavor – and resident satisfaction suffers.

Incorporating more fresh and seasonal foods into the menu program is a great way to maximize flavor and boost mealtime enjoyment.

Sure, providing a fresh food dining strategy may result in increased expenses, but sourcing the products locally can help lower the cost. And, with tastier fresh foods and seasonal menus, seniors are likely to eat more at mealtime – which means they may require fewer costly supplements.

No. 2: Make Choice a Part of the Food Menu Program

The most successful food programs for senior communities incorporate choice. Like anyone else, residents of adult care facilities appreciate being able to make their own dining decisions.

Restaurant-style dining, with increased dietitian-approved menu options, can help make seniors happy at mealtime. Serving up dishes from mobile steam carts or satellite stations is another well-liked menu program strategy.

Choice isn’t just about the food, however. Increased flexibility with the dining schedule allows seniors with busier lifestyles or irregular appetites eat when they’re ready.

Providing choices requires more sophisticated meal planning and food preparation. But, the added effort and expense pay off in terms of mealtime satisfaction. And, with varied food menus, many senior care communities are able to generate additional revenue – visiting family and friends often decide to share a meal with the residents.

No. 3: Put the Spotlight on Food Menu Service

Providing a higher level of service at mealtime is another key strategy for a successful food menu program. Seniors want — and deserve – to be treated with respect and dignity, not as mouths that need to be fed.

Elevating the dining experience can be as simple as providing hospitality training to the food service staff. High employee turnover can bring up the menu planning program costs, though, so adult care facilities may benefit from improving their recruitment efforts. In some cases, working with a food service management company can be an effective method to attract reliable, professional employees.

Transforming your meal planning program to make the menus for seniors more appealing may not be easy, and doing so may increase your food service costs. Fortunately, Grove Menus can help.

The comprehensive Grove Menus meal planning system includes an integrated suite of easy-to-use mealtime planning tools and hundreds of dietitian-approved menus. With us, improving resident satisfaction is simple and cost-effective. To learn more or to schedule a complimentary demonstration of our food menu program, contact us today.

Recipe Ideas for Seniors: 5 Fun and Healthy Halloween Treats

  Menu Planning

Frighteningly fun and healthy recipe ideas for seniors can make Halloween a hit for the residents of your assisted living facility, group home, nursing home or senior care center.

With this spooky holiday right around the corner, now is the time to plan some tasty themed treats. After all, many older adults have a wicked sweet tooth. Serving up healthy, homemade goodies can also help your residents stay away from the trick-or-treat candy.

 

Fun and Healthy Halloween Treats

Here five of our favorite easy, healthy and devilishly delightful Halloween recipe ideas for seniors.

No. 1: Strawberry Ghosts

Strawberry Ghosts All you need for this simple and satisfying senior recipe are fresh strawberries, white chocolate and miniature chocolate chips.

Remove the stems and hull the strawberries, using a small paring knife to make the ends flat. Dip the fruit in melted white chocolate, then add mini chocolate chips as eyes. Let chill before serving.

No. 2: Banana Mummies

If you have bananas, peanut butter and white chocolate, you can easily make this healthy Halloween recipe idea for seniors.

Cut the bananas in half and insert a skewer or popsicle stick in each. Freeze for about 30 minutes, then dip in melted peanut butter. Pop them back in the freezer until firm, then drizzle with melted white chocolate. Keep frozen until ready to serve.

No. 3: Candy Corn Fruit Cups

This tasty and nutritious Halloween snack really couldn’t be simpler.

Take clear dessert cups and place a layer of pineapple tidbits or chunks at the bottom. Add a layer of mandarin oranges, then top with a dollop of whipped cream.

The effect looks just like candy corn! Keep chilled until serving time.

No. 4: Fruity Goblin Smoothie

With a few different fruit smoothies in Halloween colors, you can easily create sweet and healthy goblin potions.

Make an orange-colored smoothie with orange juice, canned peaches and orange sherbet. For a purple drink, combine and blend mixed berries and vanilla frozen yogurt. And, blend up a green smoothie with kale, apple juice and bananas. Layer a bit of each flavor in a tall glass for a super fun and nutritious beverage. Serve immediately.

No. 5: Greek Yogurt Eyeballs

For this spooky senior recipe, you only need vanilla Greek yogurt, blueberries and miniature chocolate chips.

Blend some of the yogurt with the blueberries, then place in a plastic zipper-lock bag or pastry bag. Put the rest in a separate pastry bag. Pipe rounds of the vanilla yogurt into miniature muffin tins. Pipe a smaller round of the blueberry mixture on top for the iris, then add mini chocolate chip pupils. Freeze until solid, then remove just before serving.

Would you like more easy and healthy recipe ideas for seniors? The Grove Menus meal planning system is designed to provide simple, nutritious menu solutions to nursing homes, senior care centers, assisted living facilities and group homes.

Grove Menus offers a range of user-friendly food service management tools along with quick access to hundreds of dietitian-approved recipe ideas for seniors. To schedule a free, no-pressure demonstration, contact us today.

 

5 Menu Planning Program Tips to Reduce Food Waste

  Menu Planning

How does your menu planning program combat food waste?

Waste is an ongoing concern for any adult care facility – throwing away food is like throwing away money, after all. And, many senior centers see thousands of dollars in wasted food every year.

 

Menu Planning Program Tips to Reduce Food Waste

To reduce waste in your assisted living center, group home or nursing facility, try incorporating the following menu planning tips.

No. 1: Pay Attention to Food Prep Waste

How full are the kitchen trash cans after your food service staff is done with the day’s meal prep?

Food prep can result in a great deal of waste if you aren’t careful with your menu planning program. Check out what edible foods are being thrown away and see if any of it can be used for meals. Broccoli stalks, beet tops and other vegetable scraps could form the base of a tasty soup, for instance. Or, use chicken and pork bones to make stock. Putting these otherwise-wasted foods to work in meals can help cut food waste.

No. 2: Be Aware of Kitchen Staff Food Waste

Do spoiled or expired foods routinely hit your facility garbage cans?

Overproduction at mealtime creates leftovers. Having some ready-to-go servings in the refrigerator may benefit residents on irregular eating schedules – but if the extra foods aren’t served quickly, they’ll need to be tossed in the trash. To reduce this common source of food waste, have your kitchen staff work toward menu planning with fewer leftovers.

No. 3: Consider Food Portion Sizes

How much food is left on your residents’ plates after mealtime?

If a lot of people at your adult care facility aren’t even coming close to cleaning their plates, you may have a problem with portioning. This issue may only crop up with certain foods, so take notice of which ones have large portions left behind. You certainly don’t want to skimp, and you can always offer seconds, but serving up portions in a smaller size could help manage waste in your menu planning program.

No. 4: Keep an Eye on Food Waste Trends

Do some of your meals seem to be unpopular among facility residents?

When foods aren’t well-liked, much of what is produced is likely to end up in the adult care facility trash. Pay close attention to which meal items are usually thrown away, and consider modifying or replacing them to better suit the taste buds of your residents. If your menu planning includes more foods that people enjoy, you’ll enjoy less food waste.

No. 5: Turn to a Food Menu Program

Want an easier way to track inventory and keep waste down at your adult care facility?

Meal planning software is the answer. A fmenu program doesn’t just plan out nutritious and balanced meals — it also maintains an up-to-date, organized list of available inventory. This helps reduce both waste and labor costs.

The Grove Menus meal planning software system, with thousands of dietitian-approved recipes, can help you reduce food waste at your adult care facility. To learn more or to schedule a free demonstration of our menu planning program, contact us today.