Easy Recipes for Optimal Senior Nutrition

Easy Recipes for Optimal Senior Nutrition

According to Feeding America, 5.5 million seniors were not getting sufficient nutrition in 2021.We might think of a lack of nutrition as not having enough food, but that’s not always the case. Poor nutrition can include a lack of fresh vegetables or fruits, or a lack of a protein source. You could have plenty of food in the pantry but if you don’t have vegetables or fruits, for instance, your body will be lacking in the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and strong.

Signs of malnutrition can include losing weight without intending to, losing your appetite, feeling weak or tired, being able to eat only a small amount at a time, and retaining fluid in your legs and feet. According to WebMD, malnutrition can lead to a wide range of problems, including a weakened immune system, wounds that don’t heal well, and a higher risk of falls and fractures as a result of decreased bone mass and muscle weakness.2


Since malnutrition can show up rather quickly in the elderly, it is important to have a personal alarm button for safety. This can help assure that if weakness or fatigue hits and leads to a fall or other accident, reaching out for help is easy – simply press the medical alert button to get assistance right away.


A medical alert bracelet or wristband is also a great idea anytime you’re working in the kitchen. There are many things that could go wrong in a place where you are working with water, heat, and sharp objects – sometimes all at once! Though medical alert technology is often marketed for those at risk of falls, it is also incredibly helpful for all types of accidents in the home or on the go.


The following recipes help prevent malnutrition in seniors by including both a protein and fruits or vegetables. These meals are easy to make and require very little hands-on time.

Italian Casserole

This is a classic dish that is also very versatile. Add in whatever veggies you like to change up the flavor a bit every time. You can also swap out the beef for ground turkey, which is perfect for those watching their cholesterol.

·        2 cups cooked multigrain pasta of your choice

·        ½ pound lean ground beef or turkey

·        ½ pound ground Italian sausage

·        1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

·        ½ cup chopped sweet onion

·        ½ cup chopped green pepper

·        1 tsp. dried oregano

·        ½ tsp. garlic powder

·        ½ tsp. onion powder

·        Several grinds of pepper

·        1 15-ounce can tomato sauce

·        ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

·        2 tbsps. Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, cook the beef and Italian sausage until browned and broken into small crumbles. Add the mushrooms, onions, and green pepper; cook until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the seasonings and tomato sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, spread the pasta into an 8-inch square baking dish. Top the pasta with the meat mixture and then with the mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes; uncover and bake for another 10 minutes to brown the cheese a bit before serving.

Cabbage Rolls

Did you love cabbage rolls as a kid? This hearty dish is a money-saving staple that warms you from the inside out, and the nostalgic flavor is oh so good.

·        1 large head of cabbage

·        1 8-ounce can of low-sodium tomato sauce

·        1 small sweet onion, chopped fine

·        1/3 cup uncooked long grain rice

·        2 tbsps. chili powder

·        ½ tsp. garlic powder

·        Dash of salt

·        1 pound lean ground beef or turkey

·        1 15-ounce can tomato sauce

Place the cabbage into a Dutch oven with enough water to cover. Boil the cabbage until the leaves easily separate. Set aside 12 large leaves for the rolls.

In a large bowl, combine the 8 ounces of tomato sauce, onion, rice, chili powder, garlic, and salt. Crumble the beef over the mixture and mix it all together very well.

Cut the thick vein from the bottom of each cabbage leaf. It should be a v-shaped cut.

Shape the meat mixture into 12 ovals. Place each on a cabbage leaf. Overlap the cut ends of the leaf and fold in the sides, rolling from the cut end. When the cabbage roll is complete, secure it with toothpicks.

Place the cabbage in a slow cooker. Pour the 15-ounces of tomato sauce over the rolls. Cook on low for 8 hours or until the cabbage is tender and the beef is cooked through. Be sure to discard the toothpicks before serving.

Burger Bowls

Ditch the buns and the heavy condiments for a lighter summer meal that brings the delicious taste of burgers to a salad. It has vegetables, fruit, lean protein, and a healthy dash of seasonings that make this a dish that seniors will want to put in your regular dinner rotation.

·        3 tbsps. fat-free milk of your choice

·        2 tbsps. quick-cooking oats

·        Dash of salt

·        ½ tsp. ground cumin

·        ½ tsp. chili powder

·        ½ tsp. pepper

·        1 large shallot, chopped fine

·        1 pound lean ground turkey

·        ¼ cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

·        1 tbsp. sriracha (optional)

·        4 cups salad blend

·        2 cups fresh pineapple, cut into ½ inch cubes

·        1 mango, peeled and cubed

·        1 red sweet pepper, cut into thin strips

·        4 tomatoes or tomatillos, sliced thin

In a large bowl, combine the milk, oats, seasonings, and shallots. Add the turkey. Mix it all together and shape the mixture into four ½ inch patties.

Grill the burgers over medium heat for five minutes or so per side, or until a thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Blend the mayonnaise with the sriracha; set aside.

Place the salad blend in the bowl; add the remaining ingredients. Serve with a turkey patty on top of the salad. Drizzle with the mayo-sriracha blend or your favorite dressing.

Basil Shrimp and Corn Salad

Shrimp is a little powerhouse of nutrients, according to Healthline. It has potassium, phosphorous, zinc, magnesium, and plenty of protein for very few calories. Shrimp is also a healthy source of omega-3 and iodine, a nutrient that most are lacking.3

·        2 cups of canned sweet corn

·        ½ cup packed fresh basil leaves

·        ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

·        A healthy dash of salt

·        2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

·        Dash of pepper

·        1 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped

·        1 pound uncooked shrimp, deveined and peeled

In a food processor, pulse the basil, olive oil, and dash of salt until well-blended.

Put the corn into a bowl. Stir in the tomatoes, pepper, and avocado. Add two tablespoons or so of basil sauce. Stir well to combine.

Thread the shrimp onto skewers and brush them with the basil sauce. Cook them over medium heat until the shrimp turn pink, which should take only about four minutes on each side. When done, remove the shrimp from the skewers and serve them over the corn salad.

Kiwi Chicken Kabobs

These fun kabobs are packed with nutrients and have a bit of a spicy kick. If you’re not into chipotle peppers, you can use a bit less or omit them altogether for a sweeter version of this dish.

·        6 garlic cloves, minced fine

·        2 tbsps. lime juice

·        1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

·        ½ tsp. salt

·        1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes

·        8 kiwi, peeled and halved

·        3 tbsps. honey

·        1 tbsp. minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

·        Extra lime juice

·        Cooked white rice, served hot

Mix the garlic, lime juice, olive oil, and salt. Pour it into a Ziploc bag along with the chicken and kiwi pieces. Seal the bag, massage the mixture to blend well, and put it in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes.

Mix the honey and the peppers together. Remove the chicken and kiwi from the fridge, discard the marinade, and thread the pieces onto metal or soaked wooden skewers. Cook the skewers over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the juices run clear and the chicken is cooked through. Baste a few times with the honey-pepper mixture.

Serve the kabobs immediately with the lime juice and rice.

Firehouse Chili

No “meal in one” recipe list would be complete without the granddaddy of them all: firehouse chili. A classic in firehouses across the country, this chili is loaded with protein and vegetables, making it a hearty choice for anyone. This recipe feeds a crowd, so serve it up to hungry guests or freeze some for another meal.

·        4 pounds lean ground beef or turkey

·        2 medium onions, chopped fine

·        2 medium green peppers, chopped fine

·        4 16-ounce cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

·        3 28-ounce cans stewed tomatoes

·        1 14-ounce can beef broth

·        3 tbsps. chili powder

·        2 tbsps. ground coriander

·        2 tbsps. ground cumin

·        6 cloves garlic, minced fine

·        1 tsp. dried oregano

In a Dutch oven, brown the beef while crumbling it well, until it is no longer pink. Drain all but a few teaspoons of the drippings and set the beef aside. Add the onions and green pepper to the pan, cooking until they are tender. Return the meat to the pan, stir in the remaining ingredients, and bring the mixture to a boil.

Simmer the chili for about two hours or until all the flavors are blended. Serve with the usual accompaniments, such as shredded cheese and sour cream.

Stay Safe in the Kitchen

Part of staying safe and independent is eating well. Getting the nutrition you need is made easier through these meal-in-one recipes. As you work in the kitchen, remember that another part of staying safe is being able to reach out for help whenever and wherever you need it.

A medical alert system with fall detection can be a true life-saver. Not only do you have the emergency panic button alarm to push in case you need it, you also have tiny fall sensors in the pendant that can alert a 24/7 monitoring center that a fall has occurred, which doesn’t require you to press a button at all. Nourishing your body and mind are essential to aging well.