Live Your Health
In 2010, after completing a rigorous application and site review process by Meals On Wheels America, we were awarded “Exemplary Status” Magnet Accreditation for our outstanding senior nutrition program.
How to pick a snack bar that is actually better than a candy bar
There are a million types of snack bars out there, and many are marketed to the health- conscious. Many bars claim they contain the “perfect” amount of vitamins and minerals and the “right” proportion of carbohydrates, fats and protein. These bars can be a convenient grab-and-go meal alternative or make us feel like we are having a “guilt-free” snack because, after all, it’s better than a candy bar.
Or is it?
To pick the right bar, you have to look past the marketing headlines. In 2015, for example, the manufacturers of KIND bars received a warning letter from the US Food and Drug Administration for mislabeling some of their fruit and nut bars as healthy without meeting the requirements to do so.
What do you look for in a snack bar? While some of the decisions may vary based on your health goals, here is a general guideline:
- Calories: Desired calories may depend on your weight goals, but as a frame of reference, a Snickers Original 2 Go bar has 220 calories. Generally, a bar having between 100 to 200 calories is a good choice.
- Protein and Fiber: Protein and fiber will help you feel full and keep you satisfied. Aim for about 7 grams of protein and at least 3 grams of fiber per snack bar.
- Carbohydrates: A good range of carbs in a snack bar is 15 to 30 grams, but what’s more important is the type of carbohydrates. Are the carbohydrates mostly from added sugars? To find out, read your ingredient list. Ingredients are listed in order of quantity, so if sugar, brown rice syrup or cane syrup are among the first ingredients listed, the bar is high in added sugar. The ingredients you want to see listed first include whole grain oats, nuts and fruit.
- Fat: Your bar should contain zero grams of trans fat and no more than 1 gram of saturated fat. The amount of total fat will vary based on the type of bar you choose. For example, a bar with nuts as one of the first ingredients will likely be higher in fat than a bar with granola or oats listed as a top ingredient.
- Ingredients: The fewer the ingredients, and the more ingredients that you can pronounce, the better. This means the bar is made of more natural and whole foods.
You can easily find a snack bar that is better to eat than a candy bar. However, if you or a loved one are consistently eating bars in place of meals or other healthy snacks such as fruits and vegetables, consider a change in your eating habits. Make sure your daily diet contains healthy and wholesome foods that are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals (like the kinds that Meals on Wheels provide!).
Share with us the type of snack bars you like to eat and let us know how they match up nutritionally!
Hayley Daubert is a registered and licensed dietitian and nutritionist who consults with Meals On Wheels of Northampton County and other organizations. For more information, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
4 Smoothies Seniors Should Incorporate Into Their Diet
Smoothies are a simple, delicious and refreshing way to fill your body with the nutrients it craves on a daily basis. This is doubly so for senior citizens.
However, it’s important that you’re smart about what goes into your smoothie. One that’s loaded with added sugar isn’t going to be ideal. Instead, you want one that’s packed with the right ingredients. But what are the right ingredients a senior should add for the most health benefits?
Today we’re sharing a few of my favorite smoothie recipes that are packed with superfoods and provide a whole host of benefits as we age…
- Tropical Greens Smoothie
To get in your daily dose of greens, this Tropical Greens Smoothie will really hit the spot! Even though it’s packed with fresh spinach, you’d hardly notice thanks to the sweet, tropical flavor the pineapple and mango provide. Pour yourself a glass of this, kick back outside, and just envision you’re relaxing somewhere on a beach!
To make this smoothie, you’ll need:
- 2 handfuls of fresh spinach
- 1 banana
- 1/2 cup of pineapple
- 1/2 cup of mango
- 3 tbs of flaxseeds
- 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
Why is this smoothie so good for your health? Spinach is great because it has tons of vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, magnesium and vitamins B6, B9 and E. It’s also an excellent source of calcium, which is essential for bone health, especially as we age. Plus, it even contains lutein, which has been linked to improved eye health, as well as kaempferol which may decrease your risk of cancer and chronic diseases.
Both pineapple and mango are great for getting in a dose of vitamin C to keep your immune system functioning at its best. Plus, the flaxseeds provide great benefits as well because they’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Getting plenty of fatty acids in your diet is important because it can help reduce inflammation in the body, which can lead to health problems like arthritis, heart disease and even cancer. Three tablespoons of flaxseeds will also give you six grams of protein in your smoothie.
- Strawberry Oatmeal Smoothie
By now, you’ve probably already heard that oatmeal is great for your heart. But if you’re getting a little bored with eating the same old bowl of oatmeal every morning, why not incorporate it into your daily smoothie? You can get all the benefits in one cool, refreshing drink.
To whip up this smoothie, just grab the following:
- 1/2 cup of rolled oats
- 1 banana
- 1 handful of fresh or frozen strawberries
- 2 tbs of chia seeds
- 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
Oats are great to add to your smoothie because they’ll fill you up and keep you feeling fuller longer. Plus, they’re a great source of fiber. The soluble fiber in oatmeal provides a cholesterol-lowering effect, which is why many people eat it in the first place.
You’ll also get plenty of potassium and calcium, thanks to the banana in this recipe. Strawberries provide a great dose of vitamins C and K, as well as folic acid and potassium. Vitamin K is important as we age because it helps with bone health and can prevent arthritis and osteoporosis. And last, but not least, by adding in the chia seeds you’re getting plenty of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.
- Zucchini and Apple Pie Smoothie
For something a little more savory, you’re going to love this zucchini and apple pie smoothie. It’s perfect in the morning, but you may even want it as an after-dinner treat. Not only will it help boost your immune system, thanks to plenty of vitamin C, but it has other benefits you’ll love too!
For this smoothie from GreenBlender, you will need:
- 1 1/2 oz collard greens
- 1 cup of zucchini, chopped
- 3 tbs of walnuts
- 1 apple, chopped
- 1 tbs mesquite
- 1 tsp apple pie spice
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup of ice
One thing you absolutely don’t want to neglect as you get older is your eye health. Our vision can deteriorate quickly, which can lead to glaucoma and other detrimental health issues. If you want to be proactive about your eye health, make sure you’re getting plenty beta carotene in your diet. Beta carotene has been linked to improved eye health because our bodies convert it into vitamin A, which is essential for good vision. Zucchini is a great source of beta carotene, but make sure you don’t peel it. The skin is where the majority of its nutrients are.
Apples are beneficial as well because they’re rich in antioxidants. In fact, a study from California State University revealed that high-antioxidant foods like apples are linked to “improved outcomes related to cognitive decline of normal aging, diabetes, weight management, bone health, pulmonary function, and gastrointestinal protection.”
- Chocolate Lover’s Delight
If you’re someone who has a bit of a sweet tooth, you’re going to appreciate this chocolatey smoothie from Gimme Some Oven. It’s the perfect treat that you don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying, because it provides some research-backed health benefits that you’ll love just as much as the taste.
The ingredients you’ll need are:
- 1 banana
- 1 cup of fresh spinach
- 1 cup of ice
- 1 cup of milk (unsweetened almond milk is great)
- 3 tbs chia seeds
- 2 tbs of unsweetened cocoa powder (try dark cocoa powder)
- 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
Who would have thought a smoothie with chocolate could be healthy, right? Well, when you use quality dark chocolate (above 75% cacao) you’re actually consuming antioxidants like polyphenols and flavonoids, which help fight against free radicals. In fact, studies have shown that eating small amounts of dark chocolate on a regular basis can lower blood pressure, boost brain health and help prevent heart disease.
And thanks to the spinach that’s hiding inside this smoothie, you’ll also get a dose of quercetin, which can help prevent infection and inflammation. As we get older, it’s important that we protect our immune system, and spinach can help with that. Preventing inflammation is crucial as well, since it can lead to arthritis and heart disease. Plus, spinach has zeaxanthin to improve eye health.
These four smoothie recipes are a great way to incorporate essential vitamins and nutrients into your daily diet as a senior. They’ll provide you with a whole variety of health benefits, while still tasting delicious. Getting in a quick and easy healthy meal can still be enjoyable!
Dan Scalco is a columnist at Inc., Entrepreneur, and the Huffington Post. In his precariously free time, he writes about the many facets of the meal delivery industry at FoodBoxHQ.com. Connect with him on Twitter @DanScalco.