Seniors & Aging

Eating local gives bounty of nutritional boosts

Harvest soup can be made with whatever mix of vegetables is available at your market.
Harvest soup can be made with whatever mix of vegetables is available at your market. BOB FILA THECHICAGO TRIBUNE

Planning your meals around foods grown and produced in Whatcom County is great for your health. Fresh whole foods tend to be higher in vitamins and fiber. Since seniors generally have lower alorie requirements and eat less, enjoying foods packed with a lot of nutrients is beneficial.

Another advantage to eating local fruits and vegetables is that they are picked when ripe. Generally, they taste best and are at their highest nutritional value when allowed to fully ripen before harvesting. Since seniors often lose some of their sense of taste, such intensely flavorful foods are a treat.

Many of these ingredients are found at the Bellingham Farmers Market, local farm stands, small specialty shops and some local grocers.

Ratatouille

A French-inspired dish, ratatouille captures the essence of summer flavors.Store tomatoes at room temperature; refrigeration damages their delicate texture.

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 small sweet onion

½ red pepper

½ yellow pepper

1 small zucchini

1 small yellow squash

½ small eggplant

4 tomatoes (tennis ball size)

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

6 basil leaves, torn in small pieces

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1 lemon

Salt and pepper

Cut all vegetables into 1-inch dice.

Heat oil in a large sauté pan and add onion and peppers. Cook until softened, 4-5 minutes.

Add zucchini, yellow squash and eggplant, cook additional 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes and garlic, cook one minute longer.

Remove from heat and add fresh herbs, juice and zest from lemon and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve at room temperature. Serves four.

Plank-grilled salmon

Grilling planks, available at most cookware stores and some grocers, add a sweet, smoky flavor to the fish. Soak plank according to directions.

Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to protect against coronary disease and help reduce blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice per week.

1 to 1¼ pound salmon fillet

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper

Lay salmon on plank. Combine remaining ingredients and spread over salmon. Let marinate 20 minutes. Grill, over medium heat, about 15-20 minutes.Flake leftover salmon into salad greens. Add some feta, tomatoes, cucumbers and a few sprigs of fresh dill for a light lunch or supper.Serves two or three.

Zucchini pancakes with chèvre

Anyone with a garden, or a friend with a garden, can appreciate another zucchini recipe. These can be served as a side dish, or with a salad and some fruit for a light lunch.

Whole-wheat pastry flour can be substituted for all-purpose flour in most recipes. It has fiber from the wheat bran, not found in regular white flour.

1 small zucchini, grated (1 to 1¼ cups)

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon chives, minced, plus 1 teaspoon for garnish

1 tablespoon egg substitute

1/3 cup flour, all-purpose or whole-wheat pastry flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

Freshly ground nutmeg

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons chèvre, crumbled

Combine all ingredients except olive oil and chèvre in a bowl. Let rest 15-20 minutes.

Form batter into four 3-inch patties and fry in preheated skillet containing the olive oil. Cook 3-4 minutes per side, until golden.

Sprinkle each pancake with ½ tablespoon chevre and a pinch of chives before serving.Serves two.

Blueberry sauce

Serve over pancakes, cheesecake, mixed into yogurt, or better yet with Mallard vanilla ice cream. Berries are one of nature’s miracle foods: high in nutritional value, high in fiber, low in calories. Freeze fresh berries for year-round use: wash, dry on paper towels, freeze on baking sheets then transfer to zip-top bags.

4 cups blueberries

1/3 cup water

¾ cup sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Bring to a boil and simmer 30 minutes.

Freezes well.

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