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Senior couple cooking dinners and tasting a healthy salad.

Food plays a significant role in our lives. Colorful, inventive, delicious, and comforting, food is a common thread that brings people together — all while providing nourishment and fueling our minds and bodies.

Unfortunately, mealtime can often grow frustrating and for older adults living with dementia. As their dexterity wanes and memories become clouded, navigating a meal can make them feel anxious and irritable — the exact opposite of the positive emotions that mealtimes should promote.

By taking a more thoughtful approach to meal planning, caregivers can greatly enhance the experience their loved ones have when they sit down for a meal. Let’s review a few of our favorite easy recipes for dementia patients.

Healthy Recipes for Dementia Patients

Healthy and delicious recipes abound, so when choosing recipes for this list, we considered several factors:

  • Simplicity
  • Nutrition
  • Flavor

1. Fruit Salad

Fruits are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals that provide a wide range of benefits. This easy-to-assemble salad is packed with flavor and contains a variety of fruits that will feed both the mind and the body. The best part? You can easily add or subtract ingredients based on the tastes of your loved one and the availability of fruit at your local grocer:

Ingredients:

  • Pre-cut watermelon
  • Pre-cut cantaloupe
  • Pre-cut pineapple
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2 tbsp. bottled orange juice
  • 1 tbsp. bottled lime juice
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup basil
  • 2 tsp. chia seeds

Simply place the fruit in a large bowl, add the spices and juices, stir, and serve. (Tip: If you include chia seeds, add them to each individual serving just before mealtime or they’ll soak up all the juices.)

2. Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli is a hearty dish and signature staple in Italian restaurants. It’s easy to see why: This delicious soup is easy to prepare, packed with tons of flavor, and offers plenty of creative freedom if you want to experiment with other ingredients (for example, seasonal vegetables).

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots scrubbed and coarsely chopped, about 1 cup
  • 1 small onion finely chopped, about 1 cup
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
  • 2 large cloves garlic minced, about 1 tablespoon total
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 3 cups cooked gigante beans rinsed well if canned (from 2 15-ounce cans)
  • 2 cups Marinara sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 2-inch Parmesan rind (optional)
  • ⅔ cup small whole-grain pasta such as orzo or ditalini
  • 2 cups chopped kale leaves fresh or frozen and quickly thawed by rinsing with hot water
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese to top (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Warm the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, and sauté the carrots, onion and a pinch of the salt, for 8 to 10 minutes (or until the vegetables are soft).
  2. Add the garlic, broth, beans, marinara sauce, red pepper flakes, the remaining salt, and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer for 20 minutes. Cover with the lid askew, stirring occasionally, until the soup is thick enough to coat the beans.
  3. Add the kale and the pasta and continue to simmer for an additional 5 to 8 minutes. Cook until the pasta is al dente (cooked through but still chewy, not soft).
  4. Taste and season to your liking with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a spoonful of grated Parmesan. When the soup is gone, discard the Parmesan rind.
  5. Keep leftovers tightly covered in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

3. Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Sweet treats can be enormously comforting, especially to adults with Alzheimer’s or dementia. This recipe tastes indulgent, but with the addition of super-food avocado, it’s much healthier than many sugar-packed alternatives. In fact, this dessert is packed with potassium, fiber, vitamins C and A, and calcium. You’ll also love how easy it is to whip up.

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado (ripe)
  • 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons water

Instructions:

  1. Scoop the flesh of the avocado into a mini-food processor or blender. Add in the cacao powder, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, vanilla, salt, and water, and blend until smooth.
  2. Taste the pudding and add more maple syrup if needed. (Or any other extra flavorings you like!) You can serve this right away, or put it in an airtight container in the fridge to chill.
  3. Leftovers can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 48 hours. The pudding can sometimes separate, but stirring it will restore the texture.

At The Moments, we place tremendous importance on mealtimes. We  honor our residents with delicious food enjoyed at consistently comforting dining experiences — and we always promote healthy eating habits. We believe in the vital role that nutrition, combined with the sociability of shared meals, plays overall health and wellness.. We also understand the impact our sense of taste can have on the formation and recollection of emotional memories.

Visit us to learn more about how we meet our residents’ nutritional needs and discover how and why taste has such a powerful influence on our memory.

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