The Elder Court

Elders Sharing Good Eating Habits

category_bug_journal2.gif One of the most important things we can do to help maintain our health at any age is to eat well. In a culture with six fast food joints on every block and even in some supermarkets, it can be hard to do.

But even if we succumb to temptation now and then (my bete noir is ice cream), we all know the rules: low or no salt, low fat, lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains with a little protein thrown in – fish high in omega fatty acids is particularly good.

Not long ago, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) ditched its long-time, oft-revised food pyramid for a food plate that is a clear representation of good eating:


By the time we reach old age, we should know all this and even if we fall off the wagon from time to time, we have developed some good habits too. So today, I'm inviting you to share some of them.

Here's what I propose: that readers each supply one healthy recipe in the comments below for any meal of the day. It can be your own or if not, giving credit is good, especially if it is from a cookbook or recipe website.

And it should not be elaborate or difficult or involve hard-to-find ingredients. Take pity on the rest of us and keep it simple.


There are zillions of recipes for smoothies, but you don't need one. You can invent it new every time as long as the proportions are vaguely as follows. It's hard to go wrong.

Place the following in a blender:

• 2-3 heaping T of no-fat plain yogurt
• 1/2 sliced banana – extremely ripe, lots of brown on the skin
• 1 C of fresh berries – one kind or mixed
• 1/2 C melon, sliced
• 1-1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, trimmed and sliced
• 1 T honey (optional)*
• 6-8 ounces of juice, enough to just cover the fruit in the blender. Pineapple or apple works well

Cover blender and whiz on high for about 2 minutes.

I feel so healthy when I have this for breakfast (or lunch, sometimes). It's like I can feel all the good, little vitamins and minerals and all running around taking care of my body - and mind, too.

*The very ripe banana is what gives the smoothie its sweetness. If the banana is less than overly ripe, I add the honey. I like the ginger because it gives the drink a spicy kick, but it's not required.

Some people throw in a handful of cracked ice. You can do that; I prefer my smoothie closer to room temperature than cold. If you think you need more fiber, you can include a tablespoon of wheat germ or other whole grain.

There are endless fruit substitutes you can make: half a mango, for example or peach - peeled, of course. The meat of a couple of plums turned out nicely once but it's a bitch to peel them.

And here's a smart tip I learned just recently. When fresh fruit is less available in winter or if the price of berries at the market gives you a heart attack, you can substitute frozen berries (or any other fruit). Just be sure to buy the bags that have no added sugars.

Because the fruit is frozen within a day of picking, it often retains more of its nutrients than fresh fruit that may have been shipped on a truck for days or even weeks.

Now it's your turn. One recipe. Any meal of the day. Healthy.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Brenton “Sandy” Dickson: Thick-a-Dungeon


Best Bran Muffins

2 cups buttermilk
1 egg
2 tablespoons oil
½ cup honey
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 ½ cups wheat bran (not Bran Flakes; you can get plain wheat bran at Whole Foods or a natural food store.)
1 cup raisins
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine buttermilk, egg, oil, and honey. Stir together flour, bran, raisins, baking powder, and baking soda. Add to liquid ingredients. Pour into oiled muffin tins and bake 18-20 minutes.

Variation: Instead of raisins, use 1 cup nuts, 1 mashed ripe banana, ½ cup chopped dates, or ½ cup peanut butter.

This recipe comes from my ancient Laurel's Kitchen cookbook.

I make a variation of a smoothie. I use low fat vanilla yogurt, cut up any fruit that is available (at least two fruits)and mix with muesli or bran cereal.

I don't measure. I just fill a cereal bowl with the fruit and cereal and use just enough yogurt to hold the fruit and cereal together. I always use 1/2 banana as one of the fruits for the potassium. I prefer cantaloupe or blueberries for the second fruit. In the winter I often use an apple. Of course you can make a fruit bowl with 3 or 4 fruits, but that is really too much for one meal.

Mage's Low Fat Half Sandwich Lunch

1 slice of bread: whole grain
1 tsp no fat mayo
2 slices no-fat spicy Jack cheese
1 slice turkey lunch meat
Lettuce tomatoes sprouts cucumber

Put a skim coat of mayo on the bread and cut the piece of bread in half. Add everything else, close the sandwich if you want, and eat with a few olives.

Is a suggestion good enough? For lunch (3 or 4 times a week),I have a gala or delicious apple (crispy, cold & scrubbed well)with about 2 & a half TBS. of chunky natural peanut butter (no sugar added)I cut it into wedges & eat it slowly, enjoying every bite. One of the things I notice lately, is that many of us don't take the time to sit & enjoy our food without the distraction of TV or the PC. Just a thought. Dee

Since I have been learning so much about "ethical eating" in the past year or so, I cannot help but raise the flag of "eat more local foods in season" and try to forgo those vegetables and fruits from afar, i.e. asparagus from Chile.
Organic is also good; however, if it's a choice between local and organic, vote for our local farmers, they need it! And--if you have a local, organic farm, you've hit the jackpot! Many local vegetables are raised essentially organically; however, are not certified (high cost), and cannot advertise themselves with the organic label.

My favorite quick, healthy meal is stir fries. Slice up whatever vegetables you have, including onions and garlic, along with some protein if you like, cook quickly in olive oil over fairly high heat (in a wok if you have one) and serve either solo or over a whole grain such as rice, pasta, or quinoa. Quinoa, if you haven't tried it, in an ancient grain and a complete protein.

All the recipes sound great. Thanks for the information. Here is my breakfast: 3 cups of latte coffee. The milk has protein in it and the coffee is full of antioxidants. Sometimes I have some fruit too. Dianne

If there's not much time for cooking, one of the frozen stir fry veggie mixes (the kind that includes a sauce of some kind) over brown rice is very good.
Especially the Asian type mixtures. And you can always add other ingredients.

I can't say this is a favorite yet because the recipe is too new to me.I have made it and like it. My daughter and granddaughter love it.
Don't be put off by the title. Try it. You may like it too. I copied it here from a blog called chocolate covered Katie.

Spinach Ice Cream
2 frozen bananas, as ripe as possible
2-3 drops pure peppermint extract
scant 1/16th tsp salt
1/4 cup or more frozen spinach (I used 40g) (If you don’t like spinach, you can sub food coloring or omit completely.)
scant 2T non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
chocolate chips or cacao nibs

Blend everything together in the Vita-Mix. (If you don’t have a high-powered blender, just add more liquid; it won’t be as ice-cream-like, but it’ll still taste good!)

I don't have a Vita-Mix so I used my blender. My husband can't get past the idea of spinach and banana mixed together so I use one banana and a quarter package frozen chopped spinach to make enough to eat some and freeze a little for later.
Ice cream for lunch today, yum.

Favorite Lunch Sandwich

Half an avacado
Thinly sliced veggie(s)in season
Seasoning/dressing optional
2 slices of organic Alvarado Street bread (purchased at my local supermarket in PA)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Alvarado Street Bakery is a worker-owned bakery located in Petaluma, California that produces certified organic whole grain breads and bagels. Alvarado was featured in the 2009 Michael Moore documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story.[1]
Alvarado is organized as a worker cooperative and each employee receives one share in the cooperative. The shares grant each employees an equal vote on business matters, including employee benefits, salaries and the reinvestment of profits.[2] As of 2009, more than half of the employees had been with the company for over 15 years and the average worker earned between $65,000 and $70,000 a year.[2]

One of my best investments was a grill. Grilled veggies are easy, fast and delicious. I use:
mini peppers (red, orange and yellow), trim ends off
zucchini cut into chunks
small potatoes, sliced thinly
portobello mushrooms
In a small cup mix about 1/4 cup low salt soy sauce with about 1/3 cup olive oil and lots of minced garlic.
Toss the marinade with the veggies and grill in a wok or basket for about 5 minutes. Delicious! You could probably also do these in the oven on a baking sheet. I use the veggies all week. You can use your imagination for other veggie options.

Learned a long time ago that being naughty once in a while was a good thing! I go by the 80/20 rules: if you're good 80% of the time, you can be a little touch naughty the other 20% and everything will be just fine.

Also I am totally a peanut butter freak: I'll put peanut butter on darn near anything. One of my favorites is carrot sticks and peanut butter or celery and peanut butter. But darn near anything is better with peanut butter.

Haven't eaten beef or pork for over 20 years. Eat eggs, cheese and fish about once a week. My proteins of choice are any kind of nuts and beans -- along with the peanut butter somewhere in the menu, of course.

And at age 74, I weigh five pounds less than I did in high school and have surpisingly normal lab tests every time I remember to go to the doctor. And I quote my MD's medical advice to me, "Whatever you're doing, don't stop!"

And believe it or not, I had a weight problem all my life ... until I quit eating beef and pork and stopped smoking. It really pays to behave 80% of the time!

Killer Salmon

Fresh salmon (any kind except farmed Atlantic, from a real fishmonger) skinned & cut into desired portion size (suggest 4-6 oz)

Rub With Love brand dry spice Seafood Rub

Spray a frypan with olive oil. Arrange salmon portions. Sprinkle on Seafood Rub, rub in.

Bake in 400-degree oven for 10 minutes (fish flesh should flake/ separate easily. Don't overcook!

While it's cooking, lay arugula leaves on a plate. Shake a few gorgonzola crumbles on the greens, sprinkle a small handful of walnut pieces on top. Drizzle with most excellent olive oil and two or three little dots of balsamic vinegar.

Lay the perfectly prepared salmon on the bed of greens, garnish with fresh cracked black pepper.

Serve with Demaris' grilled veg.

You will be full! And so healthy!

In our smoothie we have tofu.
That's the morning protein and painless with all the fruits and yogurt and such.

Roasted Vegetables
Peel and chunk sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, and parsnips (and other veg as you please). In a bowl or the pan you're going to roast them in, add 1 T oil and stir the veg until they all have a bit of oil on them. Pour in a shallow pan and season with Montreal Steak Seasoning (or salt and pepper). Roast at 400 until the veg are really soft and somewhat brown (20 minutes or more). We call this dinner at least one night a week.

Summer vegetables - zucchini, summer squash, peppers, onions, peas, green beans, even eggplant, garlic - whatever the farm market of the garden has - sauteed in olive oil - either add salt-free tomato sauce and herbs or a low-salt spaghetti sauce or fresh tomatoes - serve over rice or whole wheat pasta. We do this in the summer for a light a quick meal that's a nice change from the usual oriental stir-fry.

If my cooking calls for honey I substitute Agave Nector. It's low on the glycemic index. My main protein comes from Quinoa, which is a whole protein. In winter I prepare it with almond milk and agave nectar and eat it as a hot cereal. In non winter months I use it in my salads. But my all time favorite is juices. I love putting my salad in a blender. I put in lots of spinach and dandelion greens (fill whole blender loosely) with about half to 3/4 cup of water blend about five minutes, slice up a whole sweet and juicy apple, blend in, cut up one carrot, blend in, two stalks of celery, and table spoon of ginger. There are many variations you can come up with but if your in a hurry juicing your salad or even your fruit is a good way to go. I will say that because I don't use a juicer, which extracts the fiber, or a vita mix blender, just a good regular blender my juices do come out a bit fibrous. Sometimes I will strain out the fiber but most times not. I enjoy it either way.

I was en route to take a nap, but then I stopped to read this, and it all sounds so good, I have to go make a frozen banana, tofu, romaine lettuce, carrot, flax seed meal and almond meal smoothie! I am a flexitarian--mostly vegetables, fruits, dairy, soy, and some fish. Oh, and I am one of the ones that really has to eat gluten free, so quinoa is a staple.

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