Easy & Healthy Recipes

These easy and healthy recipes are targeted primarily for caregivers and residential institutions. My aim is to provide nutritional and attractive solutions to problems related with eating in the elderly. You’ll find a few recipes below. You can download a copy of all my recipes, which I’ve divided into segments according to stages of eating problems suffered by dementia sufferers, here as of 20th December 2017.

Food for the elderly needs to be as tasty and attractive as it can be for the rest of us. When my mother began to show signs of disinterest in food, I searched for possible ways to prepare food that she has always loved in a way that would be easily ingested and digested. My efforts searching for recipes on the internet came to absolutely nothing and so I went about researching dietary needs for the aged. These recipes and meal plans are the tried and tested result of years of research and collaboration with gerontologists, professional health care workers, and our own GP.

I’ve been looking after my 93 year old mother for over 4 years. She was initially diagnosed with vascular dementia as well as with paranoia. As carers of dementia patients will know, the disease will, at mid to later stages, affect the patient’s ‘tolerance’ to food, and frequently his/her ability to swallow (dysphagia). The elderly, in general, whether they suffer from dementia or not, may lose interest in food and fluids as their body begins to require less calorific content, and messages from the brain begin to slow down resulting in a disappearance of the basic wish to drink. The whole ‘eating and drinking’ process then becomes a challenge for any carer or caring institution. Obviously, when a patient is clearly in the active dying stage, all experts in the gerontological sciences agree that ‘force feeding’ should be avoided. The recipes and meal plans below address and recommend simple but tasty foods which can be easily ingested by the elderly and the dementia sufferer well before and just prior to the onset of this final phase.

Alcachofas

The recipes and meal plans have been revised by a gerontologist and by a G.P., to validate their efficacy in providing the best balance of essential proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals for the elderly. All of the recipes and plans in this book have had huge success with my ‘guinea pig’ – my own mother. The recipes are divided into the various stages of aging, and specifically into the various stages of dementia. This will allow carers to determine which foods are best ingested and tolerated by those they look after.

I’ve kept measures limited for the feeding of one individual. Evidently, care homes can easily increase these measures pro rata.

Elderly with Appetite
Food for most of us is a joy. And there is no reason why this should change in any way once we’ve hit our ’70s and ’80′s, especially if we still have healthy appetites and we don’t suffer from any digestive disorders. However, those over 70 and certainly those who are over 80 generally require lesser volumes of food, a reduction in strong spices, a reduction in salt, and foods generally more easy to digest. The question of teeth is important. These recipes presuppose that the recipient has either his/her own teeth or has dentures.

lip-smacking chicken

ingredients

1 skinned chicken leg (thigh and drumstick)
1/2 an onion
1 clove of garlic
1 bay leaf
2 tblsp olive oil
half a medium sized red pepper
half a smallish courgette
1 medium sized potato
salt
half a fish or chicken stock cube
half a teaspoon of turmeric
half a teaspoon of any or combination of the following spices: ground cumin, five spice powder, oregano
get cooking
Use a medium sized saucepan, enough to lay the chicken pieces side by side and to allow the vegetables to sauté.

Heat the olive oil gently and introduce the sliced or crushed clove of garlic. After 30 seconds, add the diced or sliced onion and stir to ensure the onion is coated in oil. Let the onion sauté for around 2 minutes. Next, add your spices and stir making sure you’re cooking on a low to medium heat. Leave to cook for about 2 minutes and then add the chicken pieces. You want the chicken to turn a light golden colour so you need to cook each side for around 4 minutes. Dice or slice the remaining vegetables and incorporate into the pan, stirring them so that they are coated with olive oil. Add the bay leaf. The vegetables don’t have to be cooked through at this stage, just sautéd.

Add half a stock cube and enough boiling water to cover the chicken. When the water comes to the boil in the saucepan, turn down the heat, add about a teaspoon of salt, stir and the cover. Reduce the heat so that the chicken is simmering slowly. Leave to simmer for 50-60 minutes.

I suggest you remove the lid of the saucepan 45 minutes into the cooking time if you want the stock to reduce and become a bit thicker. Once the cooking time is finished, put the lid back on and let the chicken rest for 30 minutes.

The dish can be eaten “as is”, or you can remove the chicken and blend the vegetables and stock with a hand blender, adding the vegetable puré to the chicken.

dry fried turkey chops


ingredients

2 medium sized or 3 small turkey chops (you can use turkey breast but these are less juicy)
ground cumin powder and/or ground five spice powder
salt
4 stalks of brocolli
olive oil
get cooking
Make small cuts around the edges of the fillets or chops to ensure that the sides don’t curl up during cooking and are properly cooked. Heat a frying pan on medium heat for around 30 seconds and place the turkey in the pan. Sprinkle a little of the spice(s) over the turkey. Once the underside is a golden brown, turn the turkey over and cook. You may need to regulate the heat slightly either up or down to ensure the turkey is cooked through. If you press the turkey down with a fork you shouldn’t see any red juice seeping out. The turkey will need around 3-4 minutes to cook on each side, but this depends on the thickness of the meat – more if the turkey is thicker. Close to the end of the cooking time, sprinkle salt over the turkey and make sure you turn the turkey again on the salted side for about 30 seconds.

Boil the broccoli with half a teaspoon of salt for about 6 minutes. Drain and serve with the turkey. Drizzle olive oil over the broccoli and if you want, over the turkey.

ratatouille and broken eggs

ingredients

3 tablespoons diced aubergine
3 tablespoons diced courgette (skin on)
3 tablespoons diced red pepper
half an onion diced
half a tin of peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon artificial sweetener or 2 teaspoons of sugar
olive oil
salt
1 clove of garlic
teaspoon dried oregano
half a teaspoon of turmeric
1 large egg
half medium sized potato, diced
get cooking
Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a medium sized frying pan and gently fry the garlic. add the onion and give it time to become translucent. You don’t want the onion burning so make sure you cook gently. This dish essentially merges all its flavours by gentle cooking. Add the spices and stir making sure they blend and don’t burn. Now add the aubergine, and stir. The aubergine will quickly suck in all the olive oil so you may need to add a bit more oil to the pan. leave the aubergine to cook for about 2 minutes and then add the peppers and courgettes. Add half a teaspoon of salt. make sure you stir the ingredients so that they are coated with spices and olive oil. After a few minutes, pour in the tomato and bring it to a gentle simmer. Add the sugar or sweetener and stir. Now add the diced potatoes. stir again and cover the pan. Lower the heat and allow to gently simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Allow the ratatouille to rest for 10-20 minutes off the heat. Fry an egg, add a pinch of salt, and serve over the ratatouille. I like to break up the egg so that the yolk spreads over the vegetables.

knuckles down (braised ham hocks)
for 2

ingredients

2 Ham Hocks
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
mixed Provençal herbs or teaspoon each of oregano, thyme, rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 fish or chicken stock cube
salt
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
½ glass of dry white wine
2 small carrots
2 medium sized potatoes
get cooking
Make a couple of incisions on either side of each of the ham hocks. Heat oil and add roughly chopped and peeled garlic. Add roughly sliced onion. Let these cook until transluscent. Add the herbs and stir until incorporated. Immediately add the hocks and sear on both sides. Roughly cut the carrots and add them to the hocks.

Add the wine and let it simmer until the alcohol has evaporated. This shouldn’t take more than 2 minutes. Add the vinegar and stir. After a minute or so add boiling water just sufficient to cover the hocks (if using normal saucepan) and add the bay leaves, stock cube and carrots. Add a teaspoon of salt. Cover and leave on a low simmer for around 90 minutes. Add roughly cut potatoes to the hocks after 1 hour of cooking.

Take the lid off the saucepan. If there is too much liquid, reduce by leaving the lid off the saucepan and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.

If using a pressure cooker, instead of covering the hocks with boiling water, add around a glass of cold water together with the bay leaves, stock cube, carrots and potatoes. The pressure cooker should be set to a low setting and I always keep the heat to medium. Cook for around 30 minutes to ensure the meat just falls away from the bone.

honey fried pork with sweet potato mash

ingredients

2 pork porterhouse chops (chops from the middle back – they have more fat than other pork chops)
3 tablespoons diced aubergine
3 tablespoons diced courgette (skin on)
3 tablespoons diced red pepper
half an onion diced
half a tin of peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon artificial sweetener or 2 teaspoons of sugar
olive oil
salt
1 clove of garlic
half a teaspoon of dry Chinese five spice powder
teaspoon dried oregano
half a teaspoon of turmeric
half large sized sweet potato, or 1 medium sized sweet potato, diced
get cooking
Salt and pepper the chops as you wish. Sprinkle the five spice powder on one side of the chops. In a largish frying pan, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. When not too hot, add the sliced clove of garlic, the oregano, turmeric and sliced onion, and stir until everything is nicely mixed. When the onions become translucent, add the chops and fry these for about 6 minutes on each side. Remove the chops and keep them warm.

Ensure there’s enough olive oil in the pan. If you want, you can add a bit more because the aubergine is going to absorb a lot of the oil. Add the vegetables. Increase the heat so that the vegetables and sweet potato become slightly brown. Stir so that all ingredients are well mixed. Pour in the peeled tomatoes. Break them up with a knife and add a teaspoon of sugar or equivalent sweetner. Lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook for another 15 minutes. Put the chops back in the pan leaving the lid of, and cook for another 5 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat. Put the lid back on and leave the chops to “rest” for 10 minutes.

News on Treatment of Delirium

New research suggests that for some hospitalized ICU patients on mechanical ventilators, using headphones to listen to their favorite types of music could lower anxiety and reduce their need for sedative medications.

In a clinical trial, the option to listen to music lowered anxiety, on average, by 36.5 percent, and reduced the number of sedative doses by 38 percent and the intensity of sedation by 36 percent compared to ventilated intensive care unit patients who did not receive the music intervention. These effects were seen, on average, five days into the study.

The research is published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers first assessed the patients’ musical preferences and kept a continuous loop of music running on bedside CD players. When patients wished to listen to music, they were able to put on headphones that were equipped with a system that time- and date-stamped and recorded each use.

Professional guidelines recommend that pain, agitation and delirium be carefully managed in the ICU, with the goal of keeping mechanically ventilated patients comfortable and awake. However, the researchers acknowledged that over-sedation is common in these patients, which can lead to both physiological problems linked to prolonged immobility and psychological issues that include fear and frustration over not being able to communicate, and even post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We’re trying to address the problem of over-sedation from a very different perspective, by empowering patients. Some patients do not want control, but many patients want to know what is going on with their care,” said Linda Chlan, distinguished professor of symptom management research in The Ohio State University’s College of Nursing and lead author of the study.

“But I’m not talking about using music in place of the medical plan of care. These findings do not suggest that clinicians should place headphones on just any ICU patient. For the intervention to have the most impact and to have the desired effect of reducing anxiety, the music has to be familiar and comforting to the patient – which is why tailoring the music collection for the patient to listen to was key to the success of this study.”

Chlan also presented the research Monday (5/20) at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in Philadelphia.

Chlan and colleagues conducted the study with 373 patients in 12 ICUs at five hospitals in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Of those, 126 patients were randomized to receive the patient-directed music intervention, 125 received usual care and 122 were in an active control group and could self-initiate the use of noise-canceling headphones. All patients had to be alert enough to give their own consent to participate.

A music therapist assessed each patient in the music group to develop a collection that met the patient’s preferences. This was no easy task, as the patients are not able to speak when they are on a ventilator. The research team developed a screening method specifically for this part of the study. Researchers purchased downloadable files and placed up to 1,000 selections on each patient’s mp3-compatible CD player.

Researchers instructed patients to use the intervention if they were feeling anxious, wanted to relax or needed quiet time. Nurses were asked to prompt patients twice during each shift about their interest in listening to music. In weaker patients, nurses helped with placement of the headphones.

In all patients, researchers performed daily assessments of anxiety and two measures of sedative exposure to any of eight commonly used medications: intensity of the medication and frequency of doses. Anxiety was measured with a visual analog scale that asked patients to describe their anxiety by pointing to a chart anchored by the statements “not anxious at all” and “most anxious ever.” Patients remained in the study as long as they were on ventilators, up to a maximum of 30 days.