Often times many of my clients express how much they adore their caregiver, private duty, or CNA, but indicate that they wish that they could cook better or even a little. Meals and dining are an important part of life. Meals are more than just health and nutrition related, they are a social and an enjoyable activity that should be looked forward to during the day.
When possible I suggest that clients shop for groceries with their caregivers, share family recipes and participate with meal preparation even if this is by sitting in the kitchen and giving instructions or chatting. Sometimes the caregiver has cultural barriers to cooking, so having the caregiver share some of their family recipes can also be fun for all. Helping a caregiver with meal prep for those with cognitive issues can also be extremely beneficial and therapeutic. Having options and plans for caregivers to reference and follow are the best way to have success long term!
Below is one of the custom meal plans that I have have provided for one of my clients to try and help them to get past these issues in a positive way.
When everyone communicates and works together good things happen!
• Simple yet fun Bread Pudding. This can be prep the day before by day or night shift caregivers and kept in the refrigerator prior to cooking. This is also a nice participation activity for those with cognitive issues that like to do things with their hands or sort. Cut or tear bread with hands into approximately 1 inch cubes. This can be any type of bread preferred! Prepare enough to fill an 8x8 or 9x9 square, glass, baking dish. Spray bottom and sides of dish prior to filling with non stick spray. Once brad is prepped and in baking dish. Sprinkle over the bread cubes the goodies of your choice; this can be varied which is fun and another participation activity. You can use mini chocolate chips, raisins, currants, nuts, coconut, etc. Then, break 2 eggs in a mixing bowl and whisk with 2 cups of fat free half and half or heavy cream depending upon the level of fat and calories you prefer. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Pour mixture over the bread pieces. Cover tightly, pressing down on the pieces to ensure all are covered in the egg mixture. Refrigerate for 2 hours of overnight. Then bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until the center puffs up a bit and it is slightly brown on top. Serve with fresh fruit and whipped cream.
• Warm oatmeal with fruit and nuts. This can be made in a small pot or started by night shift by following these instructions..
• Place berries, dried fruit, and nuts (pecans, almonds, etc) in a crockpot on low. Add a pat of butter and follow measuring instructions for one serving of old-fashioned oats and water. Cover and cook on low, for several hours (or overnight). Top with some agave nectar as it has a low glycemic index and is nice and sweet! Serve with milk or low fat half and half.
• Eggs: A hard-boiled egg, scrambled egg, poached egg or sunny side up egg. Accompany with a side of fresh fruit, turkey bacon and a slice of whole-wheat toast with butter or a fruit / bran muffin.
• Whole grain pancakes or waffles. (can purchase frozen to make it easy ) Then top with fresh berries and low fat whipped cream or yogurt to add protein. Serve with maple, low sugar or sugar free syrup and turkey bacon.
• Yogurt parfait. Layer together yogurt, nuts, cereal, granola and fruit. Top with low fat whipped cream!
• More than just toast. You can easily add protein and healthy fats by spreading peanut butter, almond butter, hazelnut chocolate spread or cream cheese on whole-wheat toast or a bagel, enjoy fresh fruit on the side or on top. Can even add smoked salmon or ham and tomato, lettuce, onion if using cream cheese.
To add extra protein mix 1 egg with 1/4 cup of milk or fat free half and half. Dip bread into egg mixture. Put 1 tablespoon oil in pan, heat on medium heat. Place bread on pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Serve with syrup or with nut spread and fruit.
• Salad: Chef salad (mixed greens, kale or spinach, diced ham, turkey, cheese, with dressing of choice), fruit and cottage cheese (1 ice cream scoop of cottage cheese with grapes, strawberries, sliced apples, jello, melon, etc), serve with a dinner roll, regular or whole wheat.
• Eggs, peppers and potatoes. Melt a pat of butter in a skillet; chop up potatoes in cubes, onion and red or green peppers and add to skillet, over a medium heat., cover for 3 minutes then saute until tender and starting to brown. Then, pour scrambled eggs over potatoes, add pepper and toss until eggs are hot. Season with a sodium free seasoning or fresh herbs and a dinner roll.
• Fun sandwiches ( Roast beef, ham, turkey,cheese, egg salad with lettuce, tomato and mayo or mustard on whole wheat bread) Or grilled cheese (plain or with ham or tomato) or cheese quesadilla (or chicken) with sour cream and avocado. Can cut sandwiches into fun shapes. Serve with a side of fruit.
• Western omelet. Beat 2 eggs. Put 1 Tbs. olive oil in a skillet. Pour in the egg mixture; add shredded. Cheese and diced onion and green peppers. . When eggs are firm, fold and can serve with sliced avocado. Tip: can substitute salsa for the mixed vegetables, as Chili and spices help boost diminished taste buds.
• Tuna or salmon salad sandwich, salad or wrap. Mix canned Alaskan boneless skinless salmon or tuna with 1/4 cup mayonnaise, place on a sandwich wrap. Add sliced avocado, tomatoes, greens. Wrap tightly, cut in half and serve. Can also be done using hard boiled eggs. Can serve also on a croissant or roll.
Can also be made on top of greens as a salad.
• Avocado toast: Toast the bread of choice, choose whole wheat if possible for fiber and nutrients. Slice in half and then in thin slices an avocado, squeeze a bit of lemon juice on top of avocado, add small amount of salt or low sodium seasoning. Place on top of toast. Can drizzle with a bit of worcheshire over and serve. Great essential oils and nutrition!
• Baked or grilled Fish: Top of fish of choice (I like Salmon) with diced tomatoes, onion, dried or fresh basil, 1 tsp chopped garlic and 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil. Wrap fish tightly in aluminum foil and place on baking sheet. Cook in the oven at 300 degrees for about 15 - 20 minutes. Serve over rice using package directions.
• Braised ham steak : Heat in a pan 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup maple syrup. Add ham steak and cook on both sides until slightly brown. Clean and wrap a baking potato in foil, adding a pinch of salt inside before wrapping. Cook at 350 degree in the over for 45-60 minutes until soft. Serve potato open with butter, sour cream, cheese.
• Shrimp and pasta. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 Tbs. olive oil in a saucepan. Add 1 clove of garlic diced and a handful of shrimp. Toss and cook until shrimp are pink. Toss with cooked pasta of choice and top with chopped fresh tomatoes .
• Simple sausage, beans, and rice. Heat up a can of black or seasoned chili beans. Serve with brown rice. Saute mild or spicy Italian, turkey, or polish sausage and add on top.
• Shrimp Saute with fresh veggies. Saute fresh vegetables of choice in a saucepan (these can be purchased pre-cut if easier, with olive oil. Add shrimp cook until pink and veggies are tender. Serve over rice or with a store bought citrus or berry vinaigrette salad dressing and lime slices to garnish.
• Southwest chicken salad. Use a rotisserie chicken, shred and mix with salsa and black beans or chickpeas. Serve over greens with avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese and tortilla chips. Shredded chicken can also be saved in the refrigerator to use in the future.
• Simple Quiche: Buy a 9 inch frozen pie shell. Whisk 5 eggs with 3/4 cup of milk, add dash of low sodium seasoning and pepper to taste. Sprinkle 1 cup of shredded cheese at the bottom of the pie crust and 1 cup of meat or vegetable of choice. Pour egg mixture into pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees in an over for 45 minutes or until slightly brown on top and set. Serve with a fresh fruit salad or sliced melon.