If you have ever said, “There’s nothing I like in my refrigerator so I’ll just go for fast food instead” or “I can’t really afford to eat healthy at home so why try” or, worse: “I don’t feel like cooking so I will just skip dinner” then you might need a kitchen makeover! We have all been there: standing in front of a mostly empty refrigerator or scantily stocked kitchen cabinet. What we must realize is that nutritious foods must get INTO our kitchen before they can go ONTO our tables. It isn’t a good option to choose fast food which is notoriously high in bad fats, sodium, and cholesterol. And with aging adults needing more of certain nutrients, skipping a meal is also not a good choice.
Here’s some tips to make shopping and meal time easier:
- Make out a list before you go. This will take some time on the front end but will be well worth it for cost-savings. This is also a great way to plan out some meals for the week and avoid wasting food or having to make extra trips.
- Shop the perimeter of the store first; this will ensure that your grocery cart gets stocked first with fresh produce, meats, dairy, and grains. The inside of the store usually contains the more processed and convenience-type items.
- When shopping, go when the stores are less crowded such as early on a weekday. This way you can take time to read food labels. Shop when you have the most energy, and make sure you have eaten before making the trip.
- Meat is one of the most expensive grocery items and markdowns are usually made first thing in the morning, so be sure and check the meat counter early. If you have a slow-cooker or crock-pot at home that’s a great way to make tougher (cheaper) meats tender and flavorful.
- Buy produce in season for the best deals. If fresh produce is too expensive then canned or frozen can still be a good choice. If sodium is on your “watch-list” then try to get the canned goods which indicate no added salt. Frozen vegetables/fruits usually have no added salt (unless they include a sauce)—just read the label to make sure. A plus with frozen items is that you can take out of the bag only what you need for each meal–another cost savings!
- Meal replacements such as Ensure or Boost type drinks can be a good option if you have medical conditions which impact your energy level, chewing ability, or alter your tastes. These usually also come in a more economical store brand, so check for the generic products next to the branded items. (Tip: if you aren’t lactose intolerant then adding powdered milk to regular milk makes a similar “homemade” product.)
Stocking your kitchen wisely will help make meal times easier and more nutritious! Here’s a recipe which stores nicely in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, and can be used over rice or noodles with vegetables for a quick Asian meal:
½ c peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
¾ c water
1 T brown sugar
1 t chili sauce
2 t light soy sauce
1 T rice vinegar
1 crushed garlic clove (or ½ t garlic powder)
1 t grated ginger (or ½ t powdered ginger)
Microwave all together about 3 minutes. Toss this over cooked rice or noodles and vegetables for a quick flavorful meal without having to cook meat since the peanut butter is high in protein. It can easily be divided into 3 meals, depending on how much sauce you prefer.
Nutritional Analysis: (per recipe: 872 calories, 49 g carb, 64 g fat, 29 g protein, 990 mg sodium)
Donita Clark, R.D., L.D., C.D.E.
The approaching spring season will move many of us towards outdoor activities. However, after spending most of the winter months indoors, there are considerations to assist with acclimatization to the changing season.
Sun exposure may be increased as walking, gardening and other outdoor hobbies increase with the warm weather. The National Institutes of Health suggests that while some sun exposure is good, certain steps should be taken to protect skin:
- Limit sun exposure. Be more cautious between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Be aware of the increased sensitivity and intensity of the sun when on the water.
- Use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Choose those with“broad spectrum” coverage and apply 15 -20 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or more frequently if sweating or wiping skin with towels, etc.
- Wear protective clothing, such as wide brim hats, sunglasses, and loose, lightweight clothing, including long sleeved shirts and pants.
Temperatures have the potential to go from cold to hot and back again in the spring time. Layering of clothing can help provide comfort.
- First Layer (base layer): Wicks moisture away from the body to outer layers. The best materials are synthetics such as polypropheline, polyester, or Marino wool.
- Second layer (mid layer): Provides insulation, while also transporting moisture away from the skin. Synthetics, fleece, and wool are good choices for this layer.
- Third layer (outer layer): Protects from elements such as wind and rain. Choose garments that cover the head, hands, and feet, as well as the body.
Extra time outside in warmer temperatures require the body to re-acclimate to avoid heat problems, especially as the first 80 or 90 degree day can be a shock to the body. One study showed that 10 – 14 days of training are needed to improve heat acclimatization. Certain individuals are more prone to heat effects than others. Those not yet acclimated to the warmer weather, those taking certain medications or supplements, who are dehydrated, recently ill, fatigued, wearing inappropriate clothing, with poor fitness levels, in harsher environmental conditions can all be at a higher risk of heat effects.
Overall, gradually introducing activity to induce acclimatization, wearing comfortable adaptable clothing, protecting skin, staying well hydrated and checking with your doctor if you have any medicine concerns, may make for a very enjoyable and productive spring season.
Enjoy staying active all during spring!!!