At Park Regency Thornton, residents have access to restaurant-style dining options, making it a little easier to get a variety of nutritious foods. One way to get more nutrients without a lot of extra calories is to combine raw vegetables into salads served with a little olive oil or low-fat salad dressing. Raw greens have several purported health benefits, so they may be a good addition to a balanced diet.
Leafy greens are rich in vitamins and minerals, making them a good base for a salad. Spinach is available throughout the year, but it's at its peak between June and August. This leafy green vegetable has just 6 calories per cup and a mild taste that pairs well with other vegetables. Kale has an earthy taste, but it packs a nutritional punch, making it the ideal addition to a salad. One cup of kale has approximately 33 calories.
Once you choose a base, make sure you clean it properly before consuming it. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends washing your leafy greens just before you use them. Washing them ahead of time and storing them in the fridge can cause bacteria to grow, defeating the purpose of washing the vegetables. If you're using baby spinach, place the leaves in a colander and run cold water over them so you don't have to worry about dropping them in the sink.
If you have a salad spinner in the kitchen of your assisted living apartment, use it to dry the leaves thoroughly. Otherwise, pat them dry with a clean dish towel or a paper towel.
For extra color and nutrition, add more vegetables according to your personal preferences. The following salad ingredients are high in flavor and low in calories.
Cucumbers are full of water, so they can fill you up without adding a lot of extra calories to your salad. Eating cucumbers also increases your intake of fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamin K. If your doctor hasn't recommended limiting your intake of these nutrients, slice a small cucumber and add the slices to your salad.
Bell peppers add a pop of color to any dish, but they're also filled with nutrients. In addition to having few calories, bell peppers have no fat and no cholesterol, so they may be a good option for older adults on heart-healthy diets. If you want to add bell pepper to your salad, look for firm peppers without any pits or shriveled areas. Cut off the top and bottom of each pepper and remove the seeds before serving.
If your salad needs a little texture, add a few spoonfuls of shredded carrots. These bright orange vegetables contain a little more than half of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A, nearly 3 grams of fiber and 33 milligrams of calcium. Carrots get their color from carotenoids, which may protect against certain types of cancer and prevent a vision problem called age-related macular degeneration.
Like the previous ingredients, broccoli is low in calories and has no cholesterol or saturated fat. What it does have is plenty of fiber, making it a filling addition to a salad. When buying fresh broccoli, look for crowns with bluish-green florets. If you pick up a bunch that's limp or has a funny odor, put it back and look for something fresher.
Thornton, Colorado, has plenty of things to do, from 18 holes at Thorncreek Golf Course to paddle boat rides at Margaret W. Carpenter Recreation Center. If you need more energy for all the activities available near your assisted living community, you may want to add some high-protein ingredients to your salad. Before you do this, check with your doctor to make sure it's safe for you to consume a lot of protein. People with kidney disease and some other chronic health conditions have to limit their protein intake. If this applies to you, your doctor may want you to keep your focus on vegetables.
As you choose ingredients, be mindful about how much fat is in each item. Fat is necessary for survival, but too much fat increases the risk for heart disease and other health problems. The American Heart Association also recommends limiting your intake of saturated fat.
Eggs are inexpensive, and they're also packed with protein. One egg has just 70 calories, but it contains 6 to 8 grams of protein. If you're watching your cholesterol intake, add just the white to your salad instead of the whole egg.
Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are high in protein and also contain folate, iron, fiber and phosphorus. The easiest way to add this ingredient to a salad is to buy canned chickpeas, drain them and rinse them thoroughly. If your salad could use a little crunch, you can also try roasting chickpeas in a little olive oil and salt.
Add walnuts to your salad for extra protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce inflammation. Researchers believe eating walnuts may also reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.