Four Healthy Senior-Friendly Recipes

For the past few weeks we have dedicated a number of articles to the benefits of healthy living including attention to fitness and diet. We would be remiss if we failed to suggest some healthy, yet tasty dishes you can prepare to yourself. So take a trip to the grocery store, pick those veggies from the garden or head down to the local farmers market and start cooking.

These are a few simple and savory favorite recipes of mine that incorporate lots of fresh vegetables for you to try out yourself. The beauty of these recipes is that now many stores, like Trader Joe’s,  offer vegetables that are already washed, sliced and bagged, ready to be tossed directly into your dish!

The “Healthy” BLT (or BLAT)

While summer is ending, there are still some hot days ahead of us, and sometimes it’s good to have an easy quick recipe that’s heavy on veggies and flavor in the heat of the afternoon.

  • 2 slices of whole grain sandwich bread (I am partial to Dave’s Killer Bread 21 Whole Grains and Seeds.)
  • 4-5 slices of bacon (drained of grease and patted dry)
  • 2 romaine lettuce leaves (You may substitute any type of lettuce or if you want to get really fancy and healthy, try substituting watercress, spinach or kale.)
  • 4 slices of tomato
  • ½ an avocado, sliced or mashed
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Caprese Salad

This one is especially tasty at this time of the year with vegetables fresh from harvest—especially if you happen to have tomato plants or fresh basil—and the recipe couldn’t be simpler. There’s nothing special about the preparation and the proportions can be modified to suit your preferences. But, because the recipe is so simple, the most important thing is to have fresh, high quality ingredients.

  • 2-3 ripe tomatoes (on-the vine, Romas or even heirlooms are options)
  • 12 ounces of fresh mozzarella (about ¼ inch thick slices)
  • ½ cup washed and patted-dry fresh basil leaves
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (If you want to get really fancy, you can try a balsamic vinegar reduction as in this recipe.)

Cut your tomatoes into roughly ¼ inch slices. The fresh mozzarella should be of similar thickness, but I personally prefer to simply tear it apart with my fingers, leaving rougher pieces where oil, vinegar, salt and vinegar to be caught, soaking up the flavor. I recommend picking up some fresh baked bread, such as a baguette to dip in the oil and vinegar!

Place the tomatoes flat on a plate, and layer mozzarella chunks on top, and then tear off fresh basil leaves to place on top of your mozzarella. Drizzle olive oil on top. Sprinkle with salt, and ground pepper to taste. Finally drizzle balsamic on top, but use very sparingly. A little can go a long way. For those who really want to find tune the flavor, take a look at this article for choosing balsamic vinegar.

Feel free to experiment with the amount of oil and vinegar you use until you find what works best for you. You can even use sliced or whole cherry tomatoes, small slices of basil leaves, and chunks of cheese tossed together in a bowl. Get creative!

Kale and Mushroom Frittata

This is a relatively quick, hearty and inexpensive meal that can be prepared for breakfast, lunch or dinner leaving plenty of leftovers for the next day!

  • One 10-ounce bag or one bunch of kale with stems and center ribs removed (You may substitute any leafy green vegetable, such as spinach, chard or collard greens.)
  • 10 ounces of pre-sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely sliced or minced (I prefer sliced because it’s easier and I love finding larger bites of garlic.)
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk or half and half
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pancetta cubes or finely sliced bacon (about three strips)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk eggs, milk together with pinch of salt and ground pepper. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large cast-iron or oven-safe pan over medium heat. Cook the pancetta until it just starts to brown. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent (2 to 4 minutes) stirring occasionally. Add kale little by little, letting it wilt before continuing to add. Once the kale is added and has wilted, add the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until they have softened and released some of their water. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant (about 15-30 seconds).

Remove from heat, stir in egg mixture and parmesan. Place pan in oven and bake until eggs set and a toothpick comes out clean, or about 25 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes, and serve hot or cold.

You can also experiment with adding herbs to the egg mixture, such as dill or oregano.

Vegetable Curry Soup

This is a great fall recipe that I’m fond of making, particularly if I’m feeling stuffy and I recommend savoring this with a thick and hearty whole wheat bread from your grocery store bakery. While this recipe is definitely a bit more challenging and time consuming to prepare, it incorporates plenty of fresh vegetables and can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer for many more meals!

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder (can be purchased at most grocery stores)
  • 2 teaspoons yellow curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 tablespoons butter or ghee (you may substitute olive oil)
  • 5 large carrots, grated
  • 5 medium zucchini, grated
  • 1 bag of frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I recommend Better Than Bullion low sodium, or vegetarian “no chicken” broth can be substituted).
  • 1 bunch cilantro (optional)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 cups red lentils (thoroughly rinsed)
  • Ground black pepper to taste

Heat butter in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add bay leaves and cook for about 1 minute. Add ground cumin and stir into oil, let sit about 30-60 seconds. Add diced onions and cook until soft and translucent 4-6 minutes. Add curry powder, garam masala, black pepper, and a dash of salt, and cook mixture while stirring for 2-4 minutes. Stir in garlic, cooking for about 30 seconds.

Slowly stir chicken broth into mixture thoroughly, taking care to scrape any browned spice and oil mixture from bottom of pan. Stir in zucchini and carrots, cook until it begins to bubble, reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook about 15 minutes and add red lentils. Add water as necessary to keep from becoming too thick (the vegetables should have released some of their water by now). Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. Add frozen chopped spinach and wait for soup to bubble again. Add chopped cilantro, stir and adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve with a hearty whole wheat bread to dip.

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