The elderly commonly suffer from poor nutrition for a number of reasons. Lack of appetite, poor dental health, digestive issues, health conditions and treatment for those conditions all contribute to poor nutrition. Not to mention that meal preparation is often simply too much work or challenging.
Below are some quick and easy snacks for the elderly to keep them going between meals and to boost their nutritional intake:
1. Sweet Potato Chips – The Baked Version
Although sweet potato chips are available commercially, they are full of sodium (salt), saturated fats and additives that are not healthy snacks for anyone but should definitely be avoided for seniors. Baking sweet potato slices into chips at home provide all the goodness without the bad.
How To Make:
- Wash the sweet potato and cut into thin slices. Thinner slices will cook faster and be crispier while thicker slices will be softer (ideal for senior with oral health conditions). It isn’t necessary to peel the sweet potato.
- Place slices in a single layer on an oven tray covered with a baking sheet. Brush lightly with extra virgin olive oil (preferably organic).
- Place in an oven pre-heated to 120 degrees C (250 degrees F). Bake until golden brown or desired crispiness has been achieved. Don’t open the oven for optimal results. Be careful not to burn as this will reduce the nutritional value. Burnt food also carbonizes which leads to carcinogenic properties.
Remove from oven and allow to cool. Chips can be seasoned with celery salt or another sodium-free option. (source)
Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber which is important for healthy digestion in the elderly. They contain most essential vitamins including A, B, C as well as the more rare Vitamin K. The veggies are packed full of minerals including iron, calcium and the trace element selenium.
2. Avocado Dip
Avocado dip is delicious, soft and packed full of goodness and ideally suited to seniors. Plus it is really easy to make. While there are different species of avocado, they all contain more or less the same nutritional value. Organic is always the best choice.
How To Make:
There are multiple different ways to make an avocado dip. Creamy avocado dip is however a firm favorite:
- Peel the avocado, remove the seed and blend or mash up with a fork.
- Season with a dash of lemon juice, black pepper and sodium-free salt.
- Add 2 teaspoons of natural yogurt – Greek yogurt is preferable because it is thicker and firmer. Mix.
- Server with crackers or baked sweet potato chips. (source)
Avocado is a great source of healthy fats with zero cholesterol. It is also a great source of fiber to aid digestion. It contains potassium as well as Vitamin C and a range of other vitamins, trace elements and essential minerals.
Adding yogurt to the dip provides additional protein. Yogurt is also probiotic which means it contains good bacteria that is essential for healthy digestion.
3. Devilled Eggs
Protein is an extremely important food group especially for seniors. However, our primary source of protein (meat), is often difficult to chew and digest for the elderly. Hardboiled eggs provide a good alternative source of protein and devilled eggs are ideal as a tasty and soft snack for the elderly.
How To Make:
- Place 6 eggs in a pot with cold water and bring to the boil. Make sure the eggs are entirely covered with water and add a little salt to the water to prevent the egg shells from cracking. Turn the heat down and leave in the water for twelve minutes.
- Run the eggs under cold water for a minute to allow them to cool faster. Shell and leave to stand for a few more minutes until room temperature is reached. Peel the eggs and slice in half lengthwise.
- Scoop out the yolk with a teaspoon and place in a bowl. Place halved shells on a plate or serving dish. Mix 1/2 cup of mayonnaise with the yolks while mashing the yolks to a soft pulp. Add salt, pepper and other seasoning to taste. Chopped chives are a nice addition. Spoon the mixture back into the egg whites. Sprinkle with a tiny dash of paprika. (source)
One egg contains 7 grams of protein and healthy omega-3 fatty-acids. It also contains a good dose of vitamins and minerals including iron. The Choline content in eggs may play an important role in protecting the brain while carotinoids can help prevent macular degeneration that leads to poor eyesight and blindness.
RELATED: High Protein Foods for the Elderly
4. Granola Bars
Carbohydrates have received an extremely bad rep in the last few years. However, carbs are fuel for the body and provide the energy to perform everything from the most basic bodily functions to exercise and activities. Granola bars are a good source low GI (Glycemic Index) carbs to keep the elderly going for longer and are an easy and quick snack.
How To Make:
Soft and chewy versions that contain less sugar are ideal snacks for seniors who may struggle to consume the harder, crunchier versions.
How To Make:
- Place2 1/2 cups of raw, rolled oats and 1/2 chopped or crushed seeds and nuts on a foil-lined baking tray that has been lightly oiled. Put into an oven preheated to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F) and roast for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, stir around and then roast for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and place in large mixing bowl.
- Place 1/3 cup honey, 1/4 cup unsalted butter, 1/4 cup soft brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter and sugar melt and combine.
- Pour the honey mixture over the oats and stir well. Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes and add cranberries, chopped up dried fruit or dark chocolate chips for extra flavor and variety. Mix well.
- Transfer the mixture to a lined baking tray and press firmly until an even layer covers the pan. Slice the slab into bars and allow to cool entirely before eating. (source)
Although granola bars are a little more complicated to make, they can be made in big batches and stored in sealed containers for quick, healthy snacks.
Granola bars provide a healthy and important source of fiber to aid digestion. They are also packed full of good carbs that slowly release energy while the sugar and honey provide a quick energy boost. The bars contain multiple vitamins, minerals, trace elements and other nutrients that come from the multiple ingredients.
5. Fruit Salad
Fruit is a great alternative to unhealthy, sugary treats for seniors. A simple fruit salad is quick and easy to prepare and simple to consume.
How To Make:
Simply peel and chop up a variety of fruit into bite size pieces and place in a bowl. If you like, you can add a dash of orange juice to bring out the sweetness in the fruit. Although most recipes call for sugar to be added to a fruit salad, this is not recommended when you are looking to make healthy snacks. Add a dash of natural yogurt for a creamier version. (source)
- Optional: Add 1/2 a tot of gin to the fruit salad. The bitterness of the gin brings out the sweetness of the fruit and acts to preserve the fruit salad for longer.
Fruit salad is a good source of energy and fiber. It contains loads of essential vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Yogurt adds protein and probiotics to this high energy snack.
These 5 easy but healthy snack ideas will provide much needed nutrition to elderly people. They can all be made ahead too and refrigerated until needed.
Or, if you are looking for some super easy snacks for the elderly that are even quicker, there are store bought options for each of the above recipes too. Just read the ingredients and try to avoid added sugars and fats.