Class offers tips on nutrition when cooking small meals
JANESVILLE If you have an elderly parent or grandparent who lives alone, you know they don’t tend to eat healthy meals.
Many times they will snack throughout the day, eat once or twice, or skip eating altogether.
Brittany Miller, clinical dietitian for St. Mary’s Janesville Hospital, thinks this is because cooking for one or two is seen as difficult and not as enjoyable as cooking for a large family.
“To get more nutrition as people get older they need less calories, but they still need all the vitamins and minerals so they need to consume nutrient-dense instead of energy-intense foods that nourish the body,” she said.
According to Miller, that’s not difficult. She explained how during her presentation titled, “Healthy Cooking for One (or Two)” on Wednesday at the Janesville Senior Center.
Among those who attended was single Janesville resident Deb Stover, who was looking for ways to use the food she buys more efficiently. Likewise, Matt McRoberts was concerned he might grow tired of the few simple meals he knows how to cook.
But Stover, McRoberts and the others were given plenty of information about basic nutrition, tools for cooking, shopping and food storage, and quick ideas for easy breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
They also went home with several handouts and a recipe for creamy two-potato salad that Miller demonstrated how to make in class.
For basic nutrition, Miller told the audience it should focus on eating vegetables and on making dinner plates colorful with fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy. She also suggested skipping salt and sugar, adding good fats to diets and reading nutrition labels.
Miller also stressed eating modest amounts of lean meats, trying plant-based proteins such as beans and soy and consuming plenty of calcium found in leafy greens and almonds.
“By focusing on basic nutrition you can have a good, balanced diet,” she said.
Miller said meal preparation can be fast and easy with the use of toaster ovens, rice cookers and sealable containers. Also helpful are blenders, sharp knives, small veggie choppers, food processors, cutting boards, garlic presses and measuring cups, she said.
Miller also suggested planning meals before venturing out to the grocery store, buying in bulk and choosing frozen meats, fruits and vegetables. Buying small amounts of produce more often also can save time and money, she said.
“If you make a list, you’re more apt to stick to it and won’t impulse buy,” she said.
To spice up shopping, Miller suggested choosing seasonal produce.
“It will have more nutrition and be cheaper,” she said.
Dried herbs and spices can make foods more flavorful and delicious, Miller said. She also said keeping staples such as dry whole grains and low-sodium canned goods in your pantry are practical because they have a long shelf life and are easy to grab.
To summarize her presentation, Miller stressed being creative, being open to new recipes and cutting recipe ingredients in half.
“Make a few meals for the week, cook with friends and share, use leftovers for another meal and make salads delicious,” she said.