Carbs and Senior Health: Facts and Recipes

Carbs and Senior Health: Facts and Recipes

Have you heard that carbs are bad for you? Carbohydrates are an essential part of our daily diet. But some experts say that cutting out carbs will make you healthier, while others say that lowering your carb intake could actually hurt you. So which is it?

Like many things concerning health and diet, the answer isn’t all that clear. What is clear is that carbohydrates eaten in moderation can be an incredible source of fiber and other nutrients that contribute to better senior whole health.

The Basics of Carbs

Carbohydrates are one of the three major food groups that everyone should have in their diet. The other two are protein and healthy fats. These three essentials help your body create and use energy. Your brain uses the majority of the sugars in carbohydrates – it helps you think and reason.

According to Eating Well, an inability to concentrate and low energy are among the first problems you’ll face if you don’t get enough carbs. You might feel dizzy, suffer from headaches, or deal with constipation as your digestive tract slows down. You could also face long-term problems, such as a rise in “bad” cholesterol or getting fewer nutrients.1

According to the Delaware Journal of Public Health, seniors need a diet with at least 45-65% carbohydrates; preferably these will be complex carbohydrates, such as those made of whole grains that provide a serious punch of fiber.2 That extra fiber promotes a feeling of fullness, which can then make you less hungry, and that’s great for those who want to lose weight or keep their weight in check.

Carbohydrates often get a bad rap because they are associated with refined sugars and flours, as well as sweet processed foods. But not all carbs are bad! After all, some of the healthiest fruits and vegetables are also great sources of carbohydrates.

So with that in mind, let’s look at a few carb-healthy recipes for seniors.

Remember, before you head to the kitchen, safety is paramount. Take care with knives and hot dishes, watch your step on the floor (in case there’s any water that could cause you to slip) and never rush what you’re doing. Wearing an in-home or mobile alert for elderly adults is also an excellent idea to help ensure your safety and security around the clock.

Crab Cakes

These delicious seafood bombs use whole-wheat bread crumbs for a healthier option. Don’t skimp on the seasonings! Look for the low-sodium version of Old Bay Seasoning.

·        16 ounces crab meat

·        2 eggs

·        3 tbsps. mayonnaise

·        1 tbsp. lemon juice

·        1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

·        2 tsps. fresh dill

·        ½ tsp. Old Bay seasoning (more to taste)

·        ½ cup whole-wheat bread crumbs

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine the crab meat, eggs, mayo, lemon juice, mustard, dill, and seasoning. Mix very well and divide into appropriate portions.

Pour the bread crumbs into a bowl and press each crab cake into them, coating the crab cake well with the crumbs. Place the coated crab cakes on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes until browned on top.

Baked Potato Skins

Many people who are watching their carb intake will avoid potatoes, but that negates the incredible nutrients you can find in these tubers. These potato skins make good use of the “jacket” of the potato, which is the healthiest part!

·        6 large baking potatoes

·        1 tsp. olive oil

·        1 tsp. chili powder

·        Healthy dash of hot sauce

·        6 slices low-sodium bacon or turkey bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

·        1 large tomato, diced fine

·        4 green onions, chopped

·        ½ cup (or more) shredded cheddar cheese

Heat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and coat a baking sheet with non-stick spray.

Scrub the potatoes very well and pierce them with a fork in several spots. Microwave the potatoes for about 10 minutes or until they are tender all the way through. (When a fork pushed into the potato sinks all the way, you know they’re done.) Let the potatoes rest until they are cool enough to handle.

While the potatoes cool, whisk together the olive oil, chili powder, and hot sauce.

Slice the warm potatoes open lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh of the potato, leaving about ¼ to ½ inch of the flesh attached to the skin. (Save the inside of the potatoes for another meal.)

Brush the olive oil mixture on the inside of the potato halves. Cut them in half again, cross-wise this time. Place the pieces on a baking sheet.

Sprinkle each piece evenly with the bacon, tomato, onions, and cheese. Bake in the oven until the cheese melts and all ingredients are hot. Serve immediately with a variety of condiments for dipping. 

Traditional Brown Irish Bread

This bread is a generational blessing! Anyone of any age will love this one. According to WebMD, wheat germ is the healthiest part of the wheat plant, bringing a powerhouse of fiber, zinc, magnesium, phosphorous, and manganese.3

This recipe is very easy and the bread needs no rising time, so it’s on the table in well under an hour.

·        2 cups whole-wheat flour

·        1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for kneading)

·        ½ cup wheat germ

·        2 tsps. baking soda

·        ¼ tsp. salt

·        2 cups low-fat buttermilk

·        1 egg, beaten

Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the flours, wheat germ, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk well to blend. Add the buttermilk in stages, blending gently, and then add the egg. Stir until the dough is blended and sticky.

Generously flour your work surface and turn the dough out onto it for kneading. Flour your hands well. Knead the bread, using more flour as needed. Knead it 10 to 12 times, then gather the dough into a loose ball. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and shape it into a round loaf.

Cut a large “X” into the top of the dough. Cut about ½ inch deep or even a bit more.

Bake the bread until it splits open on top and is done throughout, about 25 minutes or so. Transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Banana, Oatmeal, and Blueberry Pancakes

These pancakes are hearty, loaded with fiber and flavor. The addition of banana and blueberries elevates the dish even further. Remember that you can switch out the berries as you like.

·        ½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats

·        1 cup boiling water

·        2 tbsps. olive oil

·        2 tbsps. brown sugar

·        ½ cup whole-wheat flour

·        ½ cup all-purpose flour

·        1 ½ tsp. baking powder

·        ¼ tsp. baking soda

·        ¼ tsp. salt

·        ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

·        ½ cup milk of your choice

·        ¼ cup plain yogurt

·        1 banana, mashed well

·        1 egg

·        ½ cup blueberries

Combine the oatmeal and boiling water in a large bowl. Let the mixture sit for five minutes until the oats become tender. Stir gently, then add in the oil and sugar. Set the bowl aside to allow the mixture to cool a bit while you mix the other ingredients.

In another bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

Add the milk, yogurt, and banana to the oat mixture. Stir until well-combined. Add in the egg and beat the mixture until well-incorporated. Gently add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring gently until just incorporated; don’t mix it too much.

Heat a nonstick griddle over medium heat. Spoon about ¼ cup of the batter into the pan. Cook on one side for one minute, then drop a few blueberries on top. Allow to cook for two or three minutes more, until the top surface of the pancake is covered in fine bubbles and the blueberries sink into the batter a bit. Flip over and cook for another two minutes or until done. Repeat with the remaining batter and blueberries.

Veggie Penne

Pasta is the quintessential carbohydrate that can be served in a mind-boggling number of ways. This particular dish takes advantage of anything delicious in the garden. Feel free to substitute the veggies as you like or based on what’s about to go bad in the fridge.

·        ½ pound whole-wheat penne pasta

·        1 cup asparagus chopped into 1-inch bites

·        ½ cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half and lightly salted

·        1 tbsp. minced garlic

·        Healthy dash of freshly ground black pepper

·        Chopped fresh basil to taste

·        2 ounces (or more) goat cheese

Cook the pasta according to package directions. While the pasta cooks, place the asparagus pieces in a microwave-safe bowl along with a dash of water. Microwave for a few minutes until the asparagus is tender.

Add all ingredients to a large bowl and toss until well-mixed. Let the mixture cool in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so. (This is a good time to make any side dishes or accompaniments.) Serve slightly chilled and garnish with more fresh basil leaves.

Sweet and Savory Rice Pilaf

Rice is a carbohydrate that can be incredibly good for you. Brown rice is especially healthy, loaded with fiber, selenium, magnesium, and all the vital B vitamins. Once you have the basic recipe down, feel free to experiment with other flavors, such as subbing dried blueberries for the cranberries or using almonds instead of pecans.

·        2 cups cooked brown basmati rice at room temperature

·        1 ½ tsps. olive oil

·        1 cup finely chopped onion

·        ½ cup finely chopped celery

·        ½ cup chopped pecans

·        ½ cup dried cranberries

·        1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves

In a large nonstick skillet or sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil. Cook the onion and celery until they are soft and tender, then add all other ingredients. Mix and stir until well-combined and heated all the way through.

Dessert Latkes

These latkes are sweet yet savory at the same time, a perfect way to end a hearty meal. Top them with your favorite fresh fruit compote.

·        1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

·        ¾ cup whole-wheat flour

·        3 large eggs

·        1 tbsp. sugar

·        ½ tsp. baking powder

·        ½ tsp. salt

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl to form a thick batter.

Lightly grease a large skillet and heat to medium. Spoon two tablespoons of batter onto the hot skillet and spread into a thin circle with the back of a spoon. Allow the latke to fry for two minutes on the first side and then flip it over to cook for another two minutes. Serve the latkes warm right out of the skillet.

An Appropriate Diet Can Help Prevent Falls

The right diet for seniors can help keep you strong and healthy. Getting fewer carbohydrates than what you really need can lead to serious brain fog, as well as a lack of energy. This can include fatigue and muscle weakness. And of course, that leads to a greater risk of falls.

If there is ever any point where your diet is disrupted and you aren’t getting enough of any particular nutrient, it becomes even more important to have an emergency button alert on hand. This can help ensure that if you do suffer an accident, fall, or other medical emergency, you can reach out to trained professionals at a 24/7 monitoring center with a single button push. This provides incredible peace of mind.

When you are perusing the medical alarm options, take the time to look into the fall detection technology. This heightens your protection by ensuring that if you do suffer a fall, the tiny fall sensors in the device can detect that a fall has occurred and alert the monitoring center on your behalf. This can be incredibly helpful if you suffer a head injury on the way down, sustain a serious fracture, or otherwise wind up disoriented and in pain. These medical alert systems also come with GPS and mobile options, for those older adults interested in safety and protection for optimal senior health.