Medical experts agree that eating a balanced diet can promote health and physical well-being. According to the Mayo Clinic, some foods may also boost cognitive ability and slow mental decline by helping individuals maintain appropriate levels of cholesterol and blood sugar. Focusing daily meals around whole grains, fruits, vegetables and foods that contain healthy fat can promote these efforts. Here are a few ideas for people in independent living who want to incorporate a few of these items into their regular diet:
Filling and nutritious, grains are a staple and can make for a simple centerpiece in any meal. Try incorporating a variety of grains in your weekly menu. For lunch or dinner, whole grain pasta is a quick and versatile option, which can be dressed up with a dab of olive oil and spices or marinara sauce, and combined with low-fat protein like chicken, as well as grilled or stir fried vegetables. Try making a cold salad of cracked wheat or barley, paired with sun dried tomatoes, chopped parsley and cucumbers, topped with a splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with feta cheese. Whole wheat can also make a great breakfast food. Consider making toast topped with natural peanut or almond butter, or cooked steel-cut oats sweetened with chunks of apple, cinnamon and molasses.
Fruits and Vegetables
Vegetables and fruits both make perfect snack options, especially when you're on the go. Grab an apple or banana and pair it with a handful of almonds or walnuts or some dried cranberries. Blueberries may be especially helpful in boosting short-term memory, according to research from Tufts University. Likewise, vegetables are easy to incorporate into any meal as a steamed or grilled side dish topped with olive oil, or sauteed with garlic or nuts and sprinkled with salt.
Nuts and Seeds
Pack protein into any dish by adding a handful of chopped nuts. Sliced almonds and green beans complement many noodle or protein dishes, and walnuts are tasty atop plain yogurt and berries, drizzled with a spoonful of honey, or as a topping for homemade applesauce. You can create your own version of trail mix by selecting two types of nuts and combining them with dried fruit, unsweetened coconut flakes and semi-sweet chocolate chips. Don't forget to save the pumpkin seeds from your Jack-o'-lantern, which can be lightly salted and baked for a crunchy and seasonal snack.
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