Here in Chicago, fall is truly a special time. The leaves on the trees slowly transform, turning vibrant shades of red and gold. The heat and humidity of the summer give way to cool, crisp days and long sunsets. Pumpkins are picked, comfy sweaters are unpacked, and apple cider is poured. There’s nothing like it!
While the fall weather can be beautiful, it also poses some unique challenges to seniors, who may have some trouble adjusting to the lower temperatures and longer nights. Fortunately, the autumn season is also associated with bounteous harvests, making it a perfect time to help your senior loved one restock their refrigerator and pantry with delicious and nourishing fall foods.
Eating healthy and hearty fall meals can help make the changing of the seasons easier, and allow seniors across Chicagoland to truly enjoy all that the fall has to offer. Looking for some inspiration as you start menu planning and grocery shopping? Here are five classic fall foods that are delicious and healthy for seniors:
1.) Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes often take up a place of honor on the Thanksgiving dinner table, where they can be found mashed, baked, or whipped into a pie. Beyond Turkey Day, sweet potatoes are a fabulous food to add to your fall shopping list, offering tons of nutrients with very little guilt.
Harvested mainly between September and December, sweet potatoes are a true superfood, packed with goodness like vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. Feasting on sweet potatoes can help reduce inflammation and help improve the health of a senior’s eyes, skin, and bones – all while containing just over 100 calories per serving.
2.) Pumpkins and Squash
What’s a fall harvest without a pumpkin or two? These bright orange squashes are everywhere during the fall season, whether being served up on the dinner table or decorated for the front porch. In addition to being festive and seasonal, pumpkin and other winter squashes are also a remarkably healthy addition to your fall diet.
Pumpkin is naturally rich in potassium, and is a great source of B vitamins and dietary fiber. A single serving of pumpkin can also help provide more than 200% of your daily supply of vitamin A. It’s also considered to be a nutrient-dense food, packing in all those nutritious vitamins and minerals while being low in calories and easy to eat. Pumpkin seeds, sometimes called pepitas, are also edible, and make for a tasty and nutritious snack. Alongside pumpkin, see what other winter squashes are on display at your local grocery store or farmer’s market. Winter squash is loaded with healthy fats, vitamins, and antioxidants.
Squash can also be paired well with hearty fall seasonings like turmeric, clove, cinnamon, and ginger, which all contain healthy and invigorating properties of their own.
3.) Apples and Pears
Heading to the apple orchard for a day of picking freshly grown fruit is a classic fall tradition – and a great activity for the whole family to do together! When you bring your bushel of apples home, your senior loved one can snack away, knowing that they’re dining on something tart, tasty, and good for their health.
Apples are a famously healthy fall fruit, bursting with benefits. In fact, apples have been shown to help promote a healthy weight, improve heart health, lower the risk factors of diabetes, promote healthy digestion, strengthen muscles and bones, and even boost your brainpower.
While you’re filling up your basket with apples, don’t forget to stock up on its relative, the pear. Sweet, tart, juicy, and versatile, pears hit their peak in late fall and early winter, and are a sound source of vitamin C, vitamin K, copper, and dietary fiber.
In a delicious fall salad, nothing beats a beet! While this mushy veggie can be a bit difficult to prep on your own, there are plenty of pre-packed and even pre-cooked beets available at most markets.
While beets have a variety of healthy benefits, they’re particularly noteworthy for any seniors pursuing an exercise regimen or focusing on their heart health. Studies have shown that beets are rich in nitrates, which the body converts to nitric oxide and which can help expand blood vessels, improve blood flow, and improve overall cardiovascular function. In addition to helping your heart, beets may help reduce inflammation and improve digestive health.
Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that really flourishes in the fall – and it’s as nutritious as it is versatile! Cauliflower can be served raw, baked, steamed, pureed, or mashed; it can be served as a substitute for proteins like chicken, made into a hearty soup, or transformed into a healthy replacement for white rice.
However you prepare it, cauliflower has a number of significant nutritional benefits. It is a great source of vitamin C, and contains plant compounds that may help battle cancer, along with phytonutrients that can promote healthy cholesterol levels. Cauliflower is also loaded with vitamin A and is a great source of potassium, which has countless health benefits, including promoting healthy muscles and lowering blood pressure.
Make Your Senior Loved One’s Fall Richer With Food, Family, and Friendship
As the hot and sticky dog days of summer give way to the crisp days of fall, Companions for Seniors is here to help. Our goal is to help provide older adults with the support they need – while giving family caregivers the respite they truly deserve.
We know the importance of food as a way to bring people together, build lasting bonds, and promote healthy living. That’s why, at Companions for Seniors, we make food and mealtimes a cornerstone of the care we provide. During autumn and throughout the year, a companion can help step in and provide for your senior loved one in many different ways when it comes to all things food – from sharing meals, to assisting with grocery shopping and other errands, to providing cooking and food prep services.
Our companions don’t look at cooking and shopping for our clients as a chore, but a privilege. We recognize that making grocery lists, planning menus, and sharing a meal all present an amazing chance to connect with seniors, and help truly enrich their lives.
When our caregivers cook and share meals with their clients, they talk about their day, share stories, and, most importantly, forge a meaningful friendship. We often hear that these shared meals become highlights for not only our clients, but for our caregivers as well.
Beyond meal prep and shopping, our professionally trained and bonded companions offer flexible hours and a wide variety of personalized care services, designed to help meet the needs of each of our senior clients and their families. Our mission is to help your elderly loved one maintain their independence and a higher quality of life. We offer meal prep services, companionship, driving services, assistance with housekeeping, and much more.
If you have a loved one that could use assistance with meal prep, or simply a companion to help them make the most of the fall and winter seasons, we’d love to be there for you. Have any questions? Want to get in touch? Don’t hesitate to reach out online here, or give us a call at 866-910-9020 to get the conversation started!