Snow is falling, strong cold winds are everywhere, families are pulling blankets and quilts out of the linen closet… It’s definitely winter in Chicago!
Here in our area, we’re known for our legendary winter weather, which usually brings piles of snow and freezing temperatures for months at a time. (This year, our first snowfall started all the way back on Halloween! Now that’s spooky!)
Though the weather outside can get frightful, winter can also be pretty delightful. After all, the coldest months of the year can be a magical time to cozy up indoors with a good book and a warm cup of tea, or enjoy the holidays surrounded by family and friends. Wintertime is also perfect for spending hours in the kitchen, whipping up your heartiest, most satisfying – and most nutritious – cold weather favorites.
Winter is a great time to help your senior loved one restock their refrigerator and pantry with delicious and nourishing foods. Focusing on nutrition is important all year long, but it’s particularly crucial in the wintertime, when cold weather and dark days can impact seniors’ health and well-being. Serving up tasty and delicious meals can be an effective way to encourage seniors to get the nutrients they need, and keep their spirits high.
Looking for some inspiration as you start menu planning and grocery shopping? Here are five winter classics that are also considered to be healthy “superfoods:”
Squashes are decorative, unique additions to any tablescape – plus, they’re versatile, and can be cooked in any number of ways. Hearty winter squashes make for great soups, and can also be baked, roasted, or mashed. They also pair well with some of the warm, fragrant (and healthful) seasonings of winter, including cinnamon, clove, and turmeric.
However you serve them up, winter squashes – a category that includes acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and even pumpkins – are full of nutrients. Butternut squash, for example, is loaded with vitamins A and C, which can help charge your immune system during the height of cold and flu season. Squash is also a great source of dietary fiber, as well as potassium and protein.
Cabbage is an affordable holiday favorite. It’s a staple on plenty of tables at Christmas and in the New Year, and can be prepared in any number of creative ways. Whether you serve it roasted, stuffed, pickled, or chopped up as part of a fresh and crispy winter salad, cabbage is incredibly filling, and is known as a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate. This unassuming wintertime classic has also been shown to help reduce cholesterol, and perhaps even lower the risk for developing certain cancers.
What’s a winter without cranberries? These beautiful red fruits are served up by the bushel throughout the winter – and for good reason! In addition to their pleasing color and deliciously tart taste, cranberries are known as a “nutritional powerhouse.” Whether served fresh, dehydrated, juiced, or as a flavorful sauce, nutrient-dense cranberries are high in antioxidants, and may help protect against liver disease, lower blood pressure, and promote a healthier urinary tract.
Beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, celery root, radishes – the winter months are when root vegetables really shine!
Whether served roasted, mashed, or baked, root vegetables are a hearty and nutritious addition to any winter plate. These nutrient-dense foods grow underground, where they spend plenty of time soaking up minerals from the soil. As a family, root vegetables are high in fiber and protein.
Even better? Different types of root vegetables also come with their own unique health benefits. Bright red beets are full of vitamin C, potassium, iron, and antioxidants; sweet potatoes are bursting with vitamin A; parsnips are surprisingly dense with vitamin C; and the humble carrot is packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, iron, and potassium.
While many of us think of citrus fruits as a summertime staple, these tart, healthy classics actually peak in the middle of winter. Grapefruits, lemons, oranges, tangelos, and limes can add a bright, floral zest to hearty winter meal; stand out in freshly made salads; and can also make for tasty snacks in their own right. Citrus fruits are known for being a great source of vitamin C, which helps promote a healthy immune system and strengthens bones, teeth, and skin. Citrus fruits are also a well-known source of flavonoids, which combat free radicals and reduce inflammation.
While citrus fruits are a wonderful winter treat, don’t skimp on other types of fresh fruits, as well. Kiwis and pears also hit their stride in the winter months, and offer significant health benefits. Kiwis are loaded with vitamin C and fiber, while pears are a great source of fiber and contain vitamin E and vitamin B2.
Food, Family, Friendship: Senior Care for a Warm and Wonderful Winter
During the chilly months and all year long, Companions for Seniors is here to help give older adults the support they need – while giving family caregivers the respite they deserve.
At Companions for Seniors, we make food and mealtimes a cornerstone of the care we provide. During the coldest months of the year, a companion can help step in and provide for your senior loved one in many different ways – 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 bond. We often hear that these shared meals become highlights for not only our clients, but for our caregivers as well.
Our professionally trained and bonded companions offer flexible hours and personalized care plans, designed to help meet the needs of each of our senior clients and their families. 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 winter weather, we’d love to be there for you.
Have any questions? Want to get in touch? Don’t hesitate to reach out through our convenient online portal, or give us a call at (866) 910-9020 to get the conversation started!