Plant-Based, Protein-Rich Recipes for Senior Nutrition

plant-based recipes for seniors

If you’ve ever looked into a plant-based diet, you might have been discouraged by the idea that you might not get enough protein. Even with a typical diet that includes protein-rich lean meats, about one-third of senior adults don’t get an adequate amount of protein[1]. This can be thanks to a variety of problems, including reduced appetite, dental issues that make eating meat more difficult, problems with taste or smell, and even limited financial resources, as protein can be one of the more expensive purchases at the grocery store.

What happens if you don’t get enough protein? Bad things, as it turns out.

Our bodies need protein for basic functioning. According to the Journal of Gerontology, elderly adults who ate more protein were less likely to suffer from functional impairment, such as having difficulty bathing or dressing, as opposed to those who had less protein over the years. As we get older, muscle and bone loss becomes a factor, as does weight gain. Sarcopenia, a condition common to those over the age of 45 that results in a loss of muscle mass, is also a problem. All of these issues can be avoided or slowed in progression through adequate protein in the diet[2]. (And all of these conditions can make you a greater fall risk; that’s why fall prevention devices, such as a medical alert pendant, are a very good idea as we age.)

But how much protein do we actually need?

The current recommendation for protein intake for older adults is 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. What does that mean? To put it in perspective, that means a 150-pound woman needs 69 to 81 grams of protein every day, and a 180-pound man needs to eat between 81 and 98 grams per day.  These recommendations are higher than the recommendations for younger adults, reflecting the elderly’s need for more protein. (However, the Kaiser Family Foundation points out that those with certain illnesses might need more or less protein, so for your personalized amount of daily intake, check with your doctor.)

How can you get enough protein in a plant-based diet? Make sure it’s full of protein-rich foods, such as[3]:

·         Nuts, seeds, and nut butters

·         Tofu

·         Beans and legumes

·         Lentils and chickpeas

·         Nutritional yeast

·         Vegan meat substitutes

·         Tempeh (a traditional Indonesian food)

As we get older, lots of things about our bodies change. That’s why it’s so important to be proactive about our health. This includes making sure we get adequate nutrition, but also that we are prepared if we don’t get the nutrition we need sometimes. A medical alert system with fall detection is an excellent investment in your health and safety. If you suffer a fall, accident, or other emergency, having that panic button right there at your fingertips to summon immediate help can give you peace of mind.

Plant-Based Protein Recipes for Seniors

These plant-based recipes pack a protein punch and are great for the whole family, but especially for seniors who want to try a vegetarian diet.

Tofu Tacos

·         1 tbsp. chili powder

·         1 tsp. ground cumin

·         ¼ tsp. dried oregano

·         ¼ tsp. salt

·         ¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper

·         Dash of ground cinnamon

·         1 16-ounce block of extra-firm tofu

·         2 tbsps. olive oil

·         ½ cup chopped red onion

·         2 cloves of minced garlic

·         1 15-ounce can of black beans

·         Warm corn tortillas

·         Side fixings, including shredded cabbage, guacamole, or salsa

Combine the chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and cinnamon in a bowl. Cut the tofu into small squares and toss them in the mixture to coat the tofu thoroughly.

In a nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the red onion and cook it until it begins to soften. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Increase the heat and add the tofu, cooking until it begins to brown, which should take about 10 minutes. Add the beans and heat them through.

To serve, fill each tortilla with the tofu filling and top with whatever “fixings” you enjoy.

Easy Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

·         2 tbsps. olive oil

·         8 ounces of sliced, fresh mushrooms of your choice

·         1 cup thinly sliced Vidalia onion

·         1 tbsp. sliced garlic cloves

·         6 ounces chopped baby spinach

·         6 eggs

·         ¼ cup milk

·         ¼ cup half and half

·         1 tbsp. stone ground mustard

·         ¼ tsp. salt

·         Ground pepper to taste

·         1 ½ cups shredded mild cheese, such as Gruyere

Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Generously coat a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray.

Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet. Cook the mushrooms until they are browned, tender, and starting to shrink. Add the onion and garlic and cook another five minutes or so, until the veggies are tender. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, which should only take another minute more. Remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly while you whisk together the eggs, milk, half-and-half, mustard, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

Fold the mushroom and spinach mixture into the egg mixture. Add the cheese and stir gently. Immediately spoon the mixture into the prepared pie pan and bake it until set and golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Vegan Spaghetti “Bolognese”

·         1 pound of mushrooms, your choice

·         2 tbsps. olive oil

·         ½ cup chopped onion

·         ½ cup chopped carrots

·         ½ cup chopped celery

·         Dash of salt

·         ½ cup unsweetened milk of your choice

·         ½ cup dry white wine

·         1 cup canned crushed tomatoes

·         1 pound of whole-wheat pasta

·         Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Roughly mince half of the mushrooms. With the other half, chop them well but leave them in larger pieces.

Heat the oil in a deep skillet and cook the onion, carrots and celery until they are softened. Add the mushrooms and cook over medium heat. Sprinkle the dish with salt. Stir until the mushrooms release their juices and begin to reduce. Add the milk and stir gently until it reduces. Add the wine and stir until it evaporates, then add the tomatoes. Bring the skillet to a boil.

Once you reach the boil, lower the heat to a simmer. This will need long cooking time of at least 45 minutes. Stir it occasionally and add more water as needed if the sauce becomes too dry.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Top the hot pasta with the sauce and with freshly grated parmesan, if desired.

Note: If you want even more protein, consider replacing the mushrooms with an equal amount of a vegetarian meat substitute.

Balsamic Roasted Veggies

·         1 15-ounce can of chickpeas

·         8 ounces trimmed and peeled baby carrots

·         1 quartered sweet onion

·         6 tbsps. olive oil

·         ¼ tsp. salt

·         8 stalks trimmed and cut asparagus

·         ½ cup grated parmesan

·         2 tbsps. balsamic vinegar

·         2 tsps. honey

·         ½ tsp. stone ground mustard

·         ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with paper towels. Drain the chickpeas, then spread them on the paper towels. Rub them with the towels to remove any skins and discard those. Place the skinned chickpeas in a large bowl and add the carrots, onion, asparagus, a dash of salt and 3 tbsps. of the olive oil. Stir to coat the veggies. Pour them onto a rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Sprinkle the parmesan evenly over the veggies during the last five minutes and cook until the cheese is melted.

Whisk together the balsamic, honey, mustard, pepper, 3 tbsps. olive oil and the remaining salt. Drizzle the mixture over the hot veggies straight from the oven and serve immediately.

Portobello Pizzas

·         8 large Portobello mushroom caps with the gills removed

·         2 tbsps. olive oil

·         ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper

·         ½ cup pizza sauce

·         2 cups chopped baby spinach

·         ½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

·         1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts

·         ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

·         ½ cup feta cheese

·         ½ tsp. dried Italian seasoning

Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Set a wire rack into a large rimmed baking sheet and place the mushroom caps on it, white side up. Brush them with olive oil. Roast them for 10 minutes, flip them over, then roast them for another five. Remove them from the oven.

With the white side up, season them with the pepper and spread pizza sauce inside each cap. Divide the other ingredients evenly among the caps. Return them to the oven and bake until the cheese is browned and melted, which should take about 15 minutes. Watch them closely do they don’t burn!

Healthy Enchiladas

·         2 11-ounce cans tomatillos, drained well

·         2 cups diced white onion

·         1 large bunch cilantro

·         2 cloves garlic

·         1 chopped and seeded jalapeno pepper, if desired

·         2 tbsps. lime juice

·         1 tsp. ground cumin

·         Corn tortillas

·         2 cups canned beans of your choice, rinsed well

·         2 cups frozen chopped collards

·         2 cups feta cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the tomatillos, one cup of the onion, cilantro, garlic, pepper (if using), lime juice and cumin in a blender. Puree the mixture until smooth.

Spread ½ of the sauce into a 9x13 inch baking pan. Layer tortillas over the sauce to cover. Top with ½ cup beans, ½ cup collards, ½ cup cheese, and ¼ cup of onion. Repeat the layers twice. End with another layer of beans, collards, cheese and onion. Spread the remaining sauce on top.

Cover the dish with a piece of foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle on any remaining cheese, and bake for another 20 minutes or so.

Taking Care of Your Good Health

As you can see, it’s entirely possible to get good amounts of protein on a vegetarian diet. But you have to keep it up and pay attention to the recommendations of your doctor for the adequate amount of protein!

No matter your diet, there might be times when you’re not getting enough nutrients, and those are the times when you are most vulnerable to falls. When it comes to your health, an ounce of fall prevention is worth so much more than a pound of cure. To that end, perhaps it’s time to consider an emergency response solution? The affordable options at Alert1 can give you the peace of mind you need around the clock, but especially on those days when you’re just not feeling your best. A good investment in your health and safety today can lead to much healthier tomorrows!