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Healthy Snacks For Senior Citizens
Written by Debashis Datta - Khyaal Content Community Member
If you ask me about the memorable snacks I have had anywhere anytime, my mind travels back in time by about a decade to a beautiful green valley near Manali. The ambient temperature was around zero degrees Celsius. Up from bed before sunrise for an early drive to the valley, we, the tourists, were hungry like never before. An old lady from the locality, with deep wrinkles around her kind eyes, and an unforgettable celestial smile on her lips, she was one of those beautiful women with an indomitable spirit facing whatever hardship life had presented her with. She offered a plate of simply cooked noodles, hot and steaming.
That day I learned that motherliness is a universal concept, and the best snacks for me are those which remind me of my long-lost mother, her care, and love.
Now there is my wife who has taken over as an able mother of our children, weaving the same magical world of love and care around them, not leaving me out!
That being said, we proceed to list out some healthy snacks for senior citizens. There being no end to the varieties of cuisines out in this world, we have focused only on those easily available and easily cooked in India. Based on our own daily experience we choose foods with high nutrition and easy digestibility for seniors.
This South Indian food is very popular all over India and is a good choice for a nashta, provided you go for the household version cooked using a non-stick frypan and a minimum amount of oil. Sada Dosa, the one with no stuffing, is best for a light meal. The usual sambar, the sour dal (which is supposed to be taken with Dosa) may cause acidity-related digestive problems for seniors and may be substituted by any other normal version of dal.
You can cook a salty khichdi by mixing Dalia (broken wheat) and lentils (Masoor or Moong). Boil in water, with salt as per taste and a little sugar. A sweet porridge can also be cooked by boiling Dalia with Moong dal with a sparse amount of water, stirring over medium flame until a paste is formed, and finally adding a half cup of milk and sugar. Senior citizens can avoid adding sugar.
Pulses and Lentils
Soak a mixture of Moong dal, chana, beans, nuts, and seeds in water and keep it overnight. Take half a bowl of it in the morning, preferably with no salt, or with very little salt. It's best to soak the chana longer to have it sprouted. Once you get used to its taste, it is a highly nutritious healthy diet for seniors.
Tawa Roti with Dal
This traditional combination may be chosen as a standard snack. Soft Rotis are served hot; one piece of normal size is enough for a light meal. Any type of lentils - Masoor (rich in minerals, vitamins, and protein), Moong (rich in minerals and vitamin B complex), or Chana (rich in carbohydrates and protein) may be chosen by rotation, and cooked in so many ways. Go for simple recipes, including "tadka", freely available on YouTube, and use minimum oil and spices.
This is a delicious snack made by boiling chana (chickpeas), pieces of onion, and tomato with a dash of spices. This by itself is a good item for seniors’ light meals. Cooked lightly, it is very nutritious, rich in protein, carbohydrates, calcium, magnesium, potassium, etc. There are many types of chana - white, black, Kabuli - you can pick any as per your choice.
Muri and Chura
These two rice products are very handy as the main ingredients of a quick light meal and are indispensable when you think about a regular Indian "nashta".
Muri (puffed rice), is suitable for a quick swallow any time one feels hungry. A useful wholesome readymade food, it can be consumed directly from its storage pot in the smallest morsels. You can take larger quantities in a bowl and soak them with milk, with or without sugar. Pieces of chopped fruits like banana and apple, or dry fruits can also be added for making it more attractive. If you don't like it sweet and like to retain the crispy fluffy taste, then go and mix it with chopped bits of raw onion, some soft green peas, and a minuscule sprinkle of "Kachchi Ghani" mustard oil to add a tangy flavour. Some portions of the Namkeen Fried Mixture available anywhere in India will turn it into delicious "Jhaal Muri" popular in Bengal.
Chura or Poha (flattened rice) is most commonly soaked in water and then mixed with dahi and a little bit of sugar to prepare an easy-to-chew and easy-to-digest breakfast or snack. There are multiple recipes of mildly salty or sweet chura-dishes cooked easily at home.
It's desirable to buy organic products of Muri and Chura, which are processed without harmful chemicals. Fertilizer grade urea is often used in processing cheap products of Muri, and also other chemicals, which are harmful to the elderly.
Boil small pieces of potatoes (for energy), and cabbages, cauliflowers, beans, carrots, beetroots, radishes, or other vegetables of your choice. Serve it hot in a bowl spreading a dash of salt and pepper, lemon juice, or some good quality chaat masala over it. This is an excellent healthy meal that can be taken with or without a roti or a slice of bread.
A traditional curry of mixed vegetables (with a few pieces of paneer, or soaked soybean chunks for taste and protein) can also be traditionally cooked with a little oil, having light gravy, and a bowl of it can serve as a nutritious snack for senior citizens.
Vegetable Soup with Noodles
This preparation has noodles with a lot of soup. Make a soup of your favourite vegetables like tomatoes, beans, green peas, carrots, cabbages, spinach, or coriander (dhania) leaves, with a small number of chopped pieces of boiled noodles added. Different types of noodles like rice noodles, wheat noodles, and egg noodles can be used. Don't make it too sour to prevent digestive problems of acidity in seniors.
Chicken with Corn Soup
Chicken (a combination of breast and thigh meat) is boiled in a substantial amount of water until the pink colour disappears, adding sweet corn, pieces of vegetables like carrots, beans, and peas, and boiling again to make a light soup. Add crushed pepper or some light sauce over it. You can choose from typical recipes available on the internet. This is an invigorating snack for senior citizens with protein and minerals.
Take some raw oatmeal (about a quarter of a teacup), one cup of toned milk, one sliced banana, four baked almonds, and 1 teaspoon of sugar (it's best to avoid sugar altogether) in a good high-speed blender. Switch on the blender to prepare a smooth cream, add water if it's too thick. Add three or four ice cubes. Your smoothie for breakfast or snacks is ready in minutes! The said amount is sufficient for one person.
You can add other bendable fruits like apples if you like. You can substitute milk with yoghurt. Additions of concentrated syrups or flavours are also not desirable as these contain harmful preservatives.
For a single person, take a quarter cup of oats, add half a cup of milk, one cup of water, and ½ tbsp of sugar or as per taste (you can skip adding sugar), cook it on a medium flame for about 5 minutes, stirring continuously. A thick porridge is ready; you can add pieces of dry fruits after cooking and serve it lukewarm.
Do you know raw uncooked oatmeal is good for maintaining the presence of good bacteria in your stomach, which is beneficial for your good health? Oats are low-fat foods rich in fibres, minerals, vitamins, protein, and antioxidants. Apart from being prebiotic, it has properties of helping optimization of blood sugar & insulin levels, and also bad cholesterol levels among seniors.
Fresh seasonal fruits are always very good for nutrition. Take any fruit like banana, apple, ripe guava, blackberry, pomegranate or grapes. Avoid ripe mangoes, jackfruit and similar fruits which are high in sugar content and lacking in nutritional value otherwise.
The possible varieties of healthy refreshments add up to a limitless number. Indian food Idli (soft rice cakes) is best for lunch and dinner. Italian food Pasta has also gained popularity in India but is suitable for heavy meals. Fruit cakes and plum cakes normally have eggs but also have vegetarian versions in India. Portions of cakes without cream may be had as a side item of snacks. The pastry should be avoided due to its high cream content.
Senior citizens should always go for toned or double toned milk as it is low in fat content, which is most advisable for aged persons.
Consume brown bread made out of wheat; it is healthier than white bread made of maida.
Fruits should be perfectly riped so that they are neither too sweet nor too sour to taste. To dissolve the layer of pesticides used on fruits, soak them in water overnight. Never forget to peel off its external skin. It's advisable for seniors to consume fruits during the daytime to avoid acidity-related problems.
Use oil and spices only sparingly in your recipes and they must be of dependable brands to avoid dangerous adulteration.
Don't have processed foods with preservatives and artificial colours.
It's best to avoid sweet items like gulab jamun, rasgulla, etc. Never consume sweet items with added colours. They don't add safe food-grade colours which are very costly whereas cheap colours are extremely dangerous and often carcinogenic.
Khatta Dahi (plain curds) without adding sugar or salt is very good for health if consumed regularly. A little practice makes us love the taste of it. It is rich in protein and calcium, controls blood sugar levels and helps digestion.
Take items with a mildly sour taste, including curd, and take them during the daytime. It's best to avoid too sour an item like chutney and preserved pickles.
Use minimum salt while cooking. Don't add raw salt while eating. We Indians habitually consume too much salt in cooked form. Try to minimize it. Try to avoid using too much sugar in the same way.
Squeeze a quarter of a lemon on a bowlful of soup, or dal preparation, to add taste, flavour, and vitamin C to your nashta.
Basic Factors of Healthy Snacks
We have talked a lot about snacks that are thought to be nutritious and easy to digest for senior citizens. That's not to forget the truly fundamental health requirements of light meals as well as lunches, dinners, or any feasts whatsoever. The following list is a recapitulation of those basics we must always remember to prioritize:
You are to be hungry: Instead of eating out of habit, there should be a real craving for food inside your stomach before taking any sort of food. A daily routine of light physical exercise or brisk walking out in the open is the surest way to feel hungry at the right time.
You need to chew your food properly: Every morsel is to be crushed by your teeth and mixed with saliva inside your mouth before you swallow it all. This is required for good digestion. Visit the dentist regularly to maintain a fairly strong set of teeth.
The amount of food should be optimal: The amount should be scanty. It's best to stop eating just before you feel full in your tummy.
Allow some time gap between two meals: Repeated intake of foods without intervals will cram your stomach creating inevitable problems for digestion. Give a gap of at least two hours before eating something again.
You should enjoy eating: The selection of items should be as per your liking and the taste is to be mouth-watering. This is needed to have proper salivation in your mouth while you eat.
Most Important Elements
In my present-day reality, I wait for each evening to go to the small balcony of our second-floor city apartment and share half an hour with my wife, talking about whatever has happened that day, sharing some goodies, and a pot of darkish golden tea. Every morning a breakfast is shared equally eagerly.
I never tire of looking at her eyes. More than anything else, I seek that philosopher's stone transforming the simplest menu of our refreshments into a magical concoction - with myriad colours of camaraderie, care and love!