How many of your mom’s favorite foods have ties to her childhood memories? Food cravings and nostalgia often do go hand in hand. If you think about the popular meals from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, what comes to mind?
Some of the most popular meals from the 1950s and 1960s include dishes like Tuna Noodle Casserole made with canned soup, canned tuna, pasta, and American cheese. Go back to the 1940s. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes and meat and potato patties were growing in popularity. If your mom was born or growing up in the 1930s, she probably remembers dishes like macaroni salad or chicken and dumplings/biscuits. Senior care providers can help your parent reminisce as a memory activity and to compile the recipes she needs.
While your mom still craves some of these dishes, they’re not often a healthy choice. Canned cream soups are high in sodium and usually have added sugar. Pasta, while affordable, doesn’t usually contain whole grains. People made mashed potatoes with cream and butter. Meat and potato patties mixed the meat with mashed potatoes and were pan-fried in butter or lard.
Instead of telling your mom she can’t have her favorite childhood foods, turn them into healthier versions. Here are some of the ways to make them healthier.
Switch to Whole Grains
Look for pasta that is whole grain or whole wheat. There are types of pasta made from brown rice flour, lentil flour, or chickpea flour. They all boost fiber intake and may have fewer calories depending on the brand. They add a nutritious kick to a pasta or macaroni salad.
If your mom is craving Tuna Noodle Casserole, use egg noodles made from whole wheat or one of the gluten-free options, make homemade cream of mushroom soup using sliced mushrooms, cornstarch, and a nut-milk cream, and use a low-fat cheese instead of American cheese. Add vegetables like broccoli to increase her vegetable intake. A senior care provider can help your senior parent do the grocery shopping to pick up these healthier items, as well as the other helpful services they offer.
Instead of mashed potatoes, mash cauliflower or a mix of potatoes and cauliflower. Choose a healthier oil, such as avocado oil spread, instead of butter. Finally, skip the heavy cream or half and half and use nut milk instead. Cashew mix tends to be very creamy tasting.
For the meatloaf, use ground turkey or chicken. Skip the canned soup and ketchup and make a meatloaf that you flavor with grated vegetables, fresh herbs, and garlic.
Senior care providers can turn your mom’s food cravings into nutritious meals that support her dietary needs. Call a senior care agency and ask about having caregivers to help with meal preparation and grocery shopping.