By: Jean Johnson for Reflux1
If Mother’s Day plans include a meal and mom – not to mention dad – who is getting a bit older, thinking ahead can go a long way toward honoring them with respect and dignity.
“I’m 74 now and have a touch of stomach problem. Acid reflux, you know,” said Dorothy Read of Portland, Ore. over dinner. “I take medication, but I still stay away from onions unless they’re really cooked very well. Citrus is another thing I can’t take. Citrus juices and fruits including tomato juice. And then there’s all the acid in coffee and tea. I always chose herbal teas, and they taste delicious.” Like so many of us, Read loves her chocolate, but with that too, she watches it. “My son Bryon made some fudge. And you know how rich that is. I take just one piece a week, the same as I do all chocolate. More than that and the ‘bod’ knows.”
Reflux, of course, is just one of the problems that can ruin a perfectly good holiday food feast for folks getting on in years. Between appetites that might have gotten smaller due to diminished taste receptors, mobility issues that make it tough on a woman or man who wants a second helping and a range of other problems, seniors will benefit from thoughtful meal planning and table arrangements.
Swallowing difficulties can be one aspect of aging, so an appetizer course including items that are easily chewed and swallowed will be a hit. Slices of cocktail bread work well here as do a variety of soft cheeses and dips for the veggies. Olives, patés and stuffed grape leaves are another good choice for folks that have developed lactose intolerance.
Soups and chowders are always well-received and can be as elegant as the fresh asparagus some might harvest for the pot from the backyard stand. While a splash of white wine in the stock might give the primavera dish some zing, serving without salt lets relatives that deal with heart disease savor without worry.
If it’s not the salt, it’s the sugar, of course. More, with diabetes currently sweeping the nation in epidemic proportion, others than just the old guard might wisely find enjoyment in a lovely poached pear or baked apple or even some apple crisp in which a few raisins stand in for the sweet white crystal. And of course, there’s always sparkling water with glistening slices of lemon and lime that on recycling day leave a few less aluminum cans in the bin.
Dentures are another issue that oldsters sometimes contend with, so cooks that consider the texture of the dishes they prepare will ratchet up the comfort of their loved ones. Also seniors trying to keep their weight under control will appreciate those who know how to be a miser with the oil. Fresh herbs, vinegars, a scraping of a vanilla bean, baking the yams instead of top-loading them, having a dish of salsa on hand, are all ways to help boost flavor without the cheaper quick fix trio – salt, sugar and fat – that’s found in so much processed food.
So pull out the stops on Mother’s Day and around the holiday calendar. Slice and dice. Smell the flowers. And see the smiles on the old folks. They very well might be contagious.