Sunday, November 30, 2014

Dinner with chickpeas, left over mussel fritters, feta cheese, walnuts and broad beans

This wasn't a complete success. I decided the carrots were too hard for my husband's teeth, so I lightly fried them in oil. I should have cooled them before adding chopped up feta cheese. It would have looked nicer because the warmth of the carrots made the feta cheese melt into them. I had broad beans in the freezer and a couple of left over mussel fritters from lunch. The walnuts are good.

Nonetheless he loved it. He did remark that chickpeas are better when served as hummus, so I made a mental note to find other ways of serving chickpeas. The hummus is finished.

There would only be about 40 gm of mussels plus 1/2 egg in the two fritters. At26gm per 100 gm this only gives 10gm protein and 6gm in the egg. Total 16gm.

Here is nearly a cup of walnuts freshly shelled. There is about 15 gm protein in a whole cup so this one would be 13 gm. Rarely would a person eat more than 8-10 gms per serving.

Now compare the protein content of the above meal with this one. It is a slow cooked shank of lamb, thickened. Although it is a small serving of meat, nonetheless the protein in lamb is around 36gm/100 so even 50 gm of meat gives you 18gm of protein, slightly more than the two mussel fritters.

Tomorrow's Bircher's Muesli

This one has in it

1/4 cup quick rolled oats
1/4 cup jumbo rolled oats
chia seeds
pumpkin seeds
sunflower seeds
1/2 cup yoghurt
organic apple juice
apricots from the freezer
1/2 banana

And if you want to add more protein, you could add some protein powder. (My husband doesn't approve so this gets left out.)

After eating this an elderly person wanting more protein will have little room for anything else. It sure keeps you going all morning.

Quinoa can replace potatoes in a meal

Quinoa is a good source of protein and is easily digestible. Hence it is excellent as a source of protein for seniors. 8gm of protein are in a cup of cooked quinoa so that adds to the daily total. Mind you, you would have to eat a lot of quinoa to rely on it too much as a source of protein. This serving is certainly not a whole cup.

So it is just as well this meal has a lot of fish (in this case butterfish). This particular meal has 160gm of fish so that is about 40g protein. Navy beans at 20 per cup are much richer in protein than quinoa.

And he had 1/4c of walnuts before the meal so that helped with the total protein content(about 4gm in those walnuts)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Going out to lunch happens – an occasion when you can't control the protein in the meal

Today was one of those days when we just had to eat out. Sometimes life is like that. No choice but to eat out.

Normally my husband stays in the car listening to the radio while I go in and eat. He doesn't approve much of the meals. But today he came with me (and the newspaper to do the puzzles)

I ordered a large slab of frittata and coffee and a second fork. Well blow me down he ate more than half of because he liked it. It had smoked salmon (I told him it was salmon and didn't mention the smoked so he ate it) And he loved it. Eggs, salmon and veggies. Best we could do.

He said he was still full from the Birchers muesli at breakfast time and I can believe it as he also had a poached egg.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Fish pie with boiled eggs "My word this is tasty"

When we go to a pot luck dinner one of the women, who happens to be a dietitian, said my husband usually makes a beeline for her fish pie. She told me what she had in it so I made it today. In the sauce I put just a little grated cheese, and I boiled two eggs lightly and chopped them in. Then I coated it with mashed potato and breadcrumbs and grilled it for a while.

Well that was a first. Can't believe he ate boiled eggs ( he usually only likes them lightly boiled) and of course in the sauce was a little. Several times while eating it (though I had overdone the serving of potatoes relative to fish and sauce) he remarked how tasty it was. Funny what cheese does to the appetite. Not too much that he gets mucous. And of course there was milk in the sauce. I have just got to be careful that added together the kefir, yoghurt, milk and cheese don't add up to too much.

The same nutritionist said put milk powder in some recipes for extra protein, haven't tried that. I must say some of the milk in that sauce was rice milk just in case. And there was water in it because it was too thick. Oh the wonders of cooking tricks we all get up to!

Salmon, kumera with peanuts, broccoli dinner

I must say this doesn't look marvellous but it is hard keeping the standard up. At least this meal has protein in it. Salmon is a favourite and I have thrown in some crunched up peanuts into the mashed kumera, put on a few almonds and the favourite raw broccoli.

Almonds have 6 gm protein per quarter cup so that is good.

Put peanut butter and avocado on your bread

Avocados are cheap in the early spring in New Zealand so use them if you want extra protein to feed your elderly mother or father according to their taste. Here is a piece of toast with peanut butter and avocado. I often put a bit of green curry on avocado or some chermoula for flavouring but lemon juice and pepper are great too.

Remember that when you are feeding his protein to seniors one source is actually whole grain bread, which of course has plenty of B vitamins in it too. The NZ Nutrition Foundations says 1 slice of multigrain bread 45 gm has 5.3gm protein in it, nothing to be sneezed at. And it is satisfying.

Peanut butter has 8 gm protein for 2 tbl.

So if this slice of bread has 5.3 and there is 1 t/l peanut butter of 4gm and a quarter of an avocado

Avocadoes provide all 18 essential amino acids necessary for the body to form a complete protein. Unlike the protein in steak, which is difficult for most people to digest, avocado protein is readily absorbed by the body because avocadoes also contain fiber. They are high in mono-unsaturated fat and loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, also more easily digested than animal fat. Avocados are filling and have a slow release of energy so very good for athletes. They are a better source of protein than cows milk. Protein content: about 2gm per 100 gm of avocado.

Eggs, peas and quinoa lunch

You see I also have peas with this lunch. Um, I think I will have to use peas in a cleverer way as he says he isn't very fond of them. All suggestions welcome.

The quinoa salad is easy. I used half a cup of brown quinoa with a cup of water and cooked it for 20 minutes with a clove of garlic and a bit of soy sauce. I added chopped tomatoes and chopped spring onion and bit of oil and lemon juice. Quinoa is rich in protein so if you can find it use it for dishes for seniors who need protein.

Here is another photo of the quinoa salad

Quinoa has 4.4gm of protein per 100 gm of cooked quinoa. Not bad. Must measure this next time! Peas have 7gm protein for a cup.

Back to quinoa. It has heart healthy fats in it. Moreover here, from a website called, is a quote about its protein value: "Quinoa has significantly greater amounts of both lysine and isoleucine (especially lysine), and these greater amounts of lysine and isoleucine allow the protein in quinoa to serve as a complete protein source."

And of course it has more than protein

"Neither quinoa nor any grains qualify as good vitamin E sources in our WHFoods rating system. However, in the case of quinoa, or rating system does not do full justice to the fact that quinoa contains significant amounts of certain tocopherols (vitamin E family members) largely absent from most grains. For example, one cup of quinoa provides 2.2 milligrams of gamma-tocopherol—a form of vitamin E that has been more closely associated with certain anti-inflammatory benefits in health research. Quinoa is also a good source of RDA nutrients like folate, zinc, and phosphorus in contrast to whole wheat, which does not qualify as a good source in our rating system.

Quinoa is an equally impressive food in terms of its overall phytonutrient benefits. In many Central and South American countries, the leaves of the quinoa plant are valued for their betacyanin pigments, which provide some of their bright reddish shades. But even the seeds themselves can be phytonutrient-rich and can provide significant amounts of antioxidants like ferulic, coumaric, hydroxybenzoic, and vanillic acid."

Fritter, whero peas and broccoli lunch

I have discovered whero peas which is the Maori name for field peas used as a protein crop for chickens and pigs. It is not heat treated and is a good source of lysine. It is apparently low in fat and rich in protein. Here is what one website says about it:

Grown in NZ. Has a strong peanut flavour. The pigeons discovered how tasty Whero Peas were first and it took us a little longer to cotton on. High in calcium, Iron & Phosphorus. Combine with Blue Pea, toss in olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning, barbque them or bake. Combines well with Feta cheese in salad.

Anyway it doesn't look all that attractive. Here it is for lunch one day with left over protein fritters and broccoli.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bircher's Muesli has protein in it and is apparently very digestible

For this I soaked overnight organic apple juice

Half cup rolled oats

Handful of raisins

Handful of sunflower seeds

1 tbl linseed

Sesame seeds

A few dates

A few almonds

Add yoghurt or kefir the next day and then fruit.

Sesame seeds have 18 g protein per 100 gm

Sunflower seeds have 21 gm

Flax seed has 18 gm per 100 gm

Yoghurt has 24 g per cup (a big serving)

I'll be grating apples into this during the apple season, that's for sure. Apples they say are non negotiable and I have none in this! And you can do it with old fashioned oatmeal – if you can find it in the shops that is.

If you are feeding someone over the age of 70 then this is highly recommended as a breakfast food. My husband doesn't like porridge, but as he needs a lot of protein in his diet, this is a way of getting some oats into him at breakfast.

Here is 100 gm of sunflower seeds. Nearly a cupful. You are not likely to consume this in one meal but it has 21 gm of protein in it.

Mussels are cheap and you can dress them up

You can buy mussels in their shells. When I extracted out the flesh from this lot there were 200g. On this plate there are probably 130 gm which means it has about 35 gm protein.

I tarted them up by cooking up onions and garlic, then adding mussels and chopped cress. We had some new potatoes from the garden, very small but very tasty. No protein in that!

It would be no good an older man just filling up on potatoes as they need about 70 gm protein a day, depending on their weight and their body mass without fat.

Broccoli, quiche and salmon - meal for an older person like this is stacked with protein

I was surprised to learn that broccoli has some protein in it. Never thought of broccoli that way.

Now the quiche is a new introduction to the diet. A friend of mine said this one is her standard dish to take to a pot luck dinner and everyone likes it.

Basically you boil some spinach for short while (or broccoli or silver beet or cauliflower whatever you have) and drain.

Make a base of breadcrumbs. Put drained green veges on top.

Beat up three eggs with s and p and milk, grate over some cheese (I used a little sheep's feta as he is only just getting used to a bit of cheese) and pour over and bake till set. Easy as.. So the main dish is actually fresh salmon. Heaps of protein in this. Older men need quite a lot of protein and salmon has approx 26 gm of protein per 100 gm of salmon. This one is a big one. His main portion of protein for the day and now he has put on a kilo and a half of weight in 12 days. Energy slightly improving.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

This green shake has avocado and tofu in it for more protein

You were probably wondering when the left over meals are coming. All families have left overs that they serve in different ways the next day. Well yesterday I did too much shake. So today I added avocado and tofu and presto here it is again.

And here is the sardines on bread arrangement. Oh dear I must learn to do more with sardines. And of course there is the fruit and kefir that he eats, with ground up linseed, sunflower seed and sesame seed.

All together this meal has quite a lot of protein, ideal for an older man or older woman.

Mussel fritters and walnuts for protein were popular

There might be 3-4 on this plate but he ate all the fritters I had made from the entire pottle of mussels.

2 eggs

2 big tbl cottage cheese

1/3 cup yoghurt

Flour and soy milk to mix to the right consistency

You can improve the protein content of these by adding tofu. When you get mussels from a pottle it is still the cheapest high quality meal I can think of. The walnuts and almonds also have little protein. You could also serve with the peas and curry paste mixture or serve with hummus.

Notice that I have lightly fried and steamed the cabbage this time so it is soft and easier to eat! No choking with this meal.

And by the way he has now put on 1kg, which together with his improvement in wakefulness and mood and energy is showing that when a senior has a high protein diet, his general health will improve greatly.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Dried peas with green curry paste is easy for a llitle added protein to a meal for a senior

OK this meal is not one to write home about, but I did want to tell you about the easiest protein food - well it ain't high in protein but neither is it low – the dried peas and green curry paste dish that is our staple. Just add a little salt and cook for 40 minutes.

This one has fish in coconut milk. But here is a note for myself, don't use the outer leaves of cabbage any more because he chokes on them. The salad had pumpkin seeds in it. These are high in protein but are rather expensive. Older people need food that doesn't get stuck in their throats and I am a bit of a slow learner in this department. But honestly could you whizz up raw cabbage? I doubt it.

This morning he cooked his own fish

And very proud he was too of his effort. Good frypan (stoneware) and slow heat.

I made another green shake made with cooked peas, fresh spinach, vitamin powder, cottage cheese, soy milk, ground up peanuts, a banana and plum jam. He drank two glasses.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Feta cheese is tasty – where a vegetarian elderly man breaks a lifelong habit

Well for years the only cheese my husband would eat was sheep's feta, but always refused it. Fortunately we can get sheep's feta at our Saturday market. So today I put it on polenta with tomato and grilled it. He loved it.


Oh, and do you notice I am serving it these days on a white plate so it looks attractive. I managed to pick this plate up for 50c from a local second hand shop. There won't be much protein in the polenta and since I forgot to add an egg in that I served the egg separately. Total protein still relatively low. But the point of this blog is to say he sat there saying 'This is delicious'. He had said no to feta cheese every time I had offered it to him before and I was at the point of wondering if he would ever eat any cheese and today is the big break through.

This might be the big breakthrough we need to varying the diet and getting protein into him via foods other than fish.

The reason older men get the reputation for being grumpy maybe their protein deficiency

This dinner has fish but probably only 200gm of it. And I tried to make it tasty but really ended up putting a meal in front of him with pummelled lemon grass. Memo to self: use the lemon grass in a tube from now on. I succumbed to buying the stalky one because it was so cheap. I don't want him to choke.

But the other mistake I made was to put too much sweet chilli sauce in and it was actually quite strong.

Now if I had served him a meal like this ten days ago he would have been extremely crabby with me. After all, one of the symptoms of protein deficiency in the elderly is irritability. But he didn't even mention the fact that there was too much chilli! He would also have been annoyed with the roast veges, saying he can't eat them. Well maybe I had only put a teaspoon of coconut oil in the pan and he didn't notice.

But whatever it was, last night's meal was a miracle when it comes to his mood. A turning point. Hopefully!

You know I reckon that the reason older men get labelled a 'grumpy old man' might be that they are deficient in protein in their blood. That's my theory at this stage. This protein rich diet regime has been going just over a week and I have noticed a significant change in my husband's energy and his mood. He is simply nicer to be with. Here's hoping this continues. It will make such a difference to both of our lives when he gets enough protein in his diet.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Easy Chickpea Stew with leeks

This chickpea stew had a great many veges in it and is topped off with some sheep's feta. I did it in the slow cooker. The only catch was that I used the greener part of the leek and it was too hard, causing choking. Now I have read a few websites on smooth food and realise that as a person gets older not only do their gums recede causing food to stick in food traps, but they need softer food. So I am off looking at "soft food" and "smooth food" recipes now. Dishes like chickpea stew can't be the main way of getting protein into an elderly person, because there isn't enough.

The other thing about older people is that they drop food off their fork and need to eat with a spoon. Perhaps the reason older men get a bit crabby is that they are protein deficient causing irritability, and they are being fed unsuitable food like this stew. Of course it was tasty but the texture was wrong.

A quick enough lunch of sardines and avocado

There is a little protein in the avocado (and heaps of good oils and other nutrients) so for a quick lunch you can open a tin of sardines and put it on toast or bread. I had some cold peas today. Fill up on a cocoa ball and fruit. Seniors lacking in protein should always have a tin of sardines in the cupboard.

Green smoothie with peas and spinach

This green smoothie was very nutritious. Let me think. I put in cooked peas, fresh spinach and kale, flax seeds, peanut butter, yoghurt, a peeled orange, soy milk, pumpkin seeds and a handful of seaweed from Moeraki. An older person will love this as it is tasty and protein rich. It could have done with another sweetener and was a bit thick. First attempt not perfect!

I found this great website for diabetics and will vary it from now on. Seems like I will be buying a lot of berries in the late spring and summer. Strawberries are cheap where we live. Must find the chia seeds in the cupboard

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The old favourite is fish and an egg, loaded with protein

What is there to say except I have a stone based fry pan and this is a dream when it comes to cooking fish or eggs. The slab of fish you see here weighed about 300 gm. The amount of protein in that is probably 57 gm (19x3) if we take the protein as 19 gm/100 gm. I have still to learn what the daily intake is because the recommendations vary so much. Mercola says the rule of thumb is take your weight subtract the percentage that is body fat and multiply the answer by 0.8. Well he weighs 57 kg and there is no fat on his body. So he needs 80 gm of protein a day.

Protein rich fritters fill you up

Protein Rich Fritters

Flour 1/3 c

rolled oats ½ c

3 eggs

Tofu 200 gm (cut up finely)

Cottage cheese, maybe a heaped tablespoon

Peanuts (I put them in the whizzer for a while to break them up) about 2 rounded tbl

Soya milk till the right consistency for fritters.

At some stage I will vary the ingredients and would welcome suggestions! These are favourites. Once I did them with 4 egg whites, but then I was faced with using the egg yolks and scrambled eggs with soy or rice milk just doesn't work.

These chocolate bliss balls have protein in the cocoa and peanut butter and walnuts

I recently bought a book on Gluten Free Recipes at the supermarket (as I need to be careful with gluten or more strictly with wheat I think) and I tried all recipes for chocolate balls. This one was the best one by far as the peanut butter made them stick together well. This one also works well for the elderly who needs more protein in their diet.

2tbl peanut butter

1 cup of dates chopped finely

4 tbl cocoa powder

1 cup sultanas

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup chopped walnuts or almonds

Process all ingredients with 4tbl warm water then roll into balls. Chill for an hour and serve.

So where is the protein in these? I the cocoa and the peanut butter.

Cocoa has 1gm protein for every tablespoon of cocoa. In other words, eat three of these and you get 1gm protein. So not significant.

But remember cocoa is also rich in minerals, including magnesium, calcium, and antioxidants and serotonin. Eating it without sugar is good, but you can't eat much at a time.

Peanut butter 8gm of protein in 2 tbl so that is double the protein of cocoa. Note to self: Find recipes with it in.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The quickest and most sustaining meal is a protein shake

Here is the shake I make. I did it on Sunday because we were up late and were going to a 1pm film. So it had to be easy and quick. And blow me down neither of us got the least bit hungry till about 6pm. It is stacked with protein. It also uses ground up peanuts which I have in the fridge all the time ready to be added to suitable dishes

Feeds 2

2tbl cottage cheese

2 tbl yoghurt

1 cup soy milk

1 banana

40gm Tofu

1 tsp vanilla

2tbl ground up peanuts

1tbl red jam (or red berries with a little honey)

I have discovered a Morrocan spice called Chermoula

It only cost me $5.35 for a packet but already I have opened it, put water with the powder, let it stand and then add 2 tbl oil and wow is it yummy! Last night I spread it on his fish and I also put it on my chicken then grilled it. He loved it and ate heaps of fish, probably 150gm of it. No I have just checked the fridge and it was 300 gm!

Then I put a little chermoula paste in his fish soup for breakfast today. He had soup and egg and fruit and bread for breakfast. When older people eat, their food is often too bland. This spice will tempt them and get enough protein into them.

Monday, November 17, 2014

How much protein does an elderly man or woman need?

OMG every website I look up there is a different answer. In fact if I do a search on protein for the elderly, I actually find there are academic studies and these seem to point in the direction of more protein for the elderly than was previously thought optimal.

I have read a good one by Dr Mercola. So just assuming this website has the correct formula, you can work it out that if my husband weighs 57 kg then that is 125.7 pounds. And since for every pound of bodyweight you need 0.6 gm of protein daily that means he needs 63gms of protein per day. Seems a lot.

So looking up the lists we see that the best source of protein is animal flesh, in particular good quality beef. On the other hand you can't go overboard. Have we been doing this with three fish meals a day? Maybe. Here is what one website says about fish

"Most fish are good sources of dietary protein while also supplying essential minerals and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. However, it's important to limit intake of larger, predatory fish like shark and swordfish, as they may contain high levels of mercury. In addition to fish, other foods that represent excellent sources of dietary protein include cheese, beans, lean red meats, seeds, poultry, yeast extract and legumes."

3oz is 85 gm and this is a good serving of fish. In fact today I bought 300 gm of filleted turbot and we expect that would be three to four servings. 100 gm of it would give somewhere between 25 and 30 gm of protein and he needs 63 gm for the day.

Here is what Dr Mercola says in an article The Very Real Risks of Consuming too Much Protein an excellent article on protein

"This comes down to a protein serving that is about the size of a deck of cards. To estimate your protein requirements, first determine your lean body mass. Subtract your percent body fat from 100. For example, if you have 20 percent body fat, then you have 80 percent lean body mass. Just multiply that percentage (in this case, 0.8) by your current weight to get your lean body mass in pounds or kilos. So, in the above example, if you weighed 160 pounds, 0.8 multiplied by 160 equals 128 pounds of lean body mass. Using the "one-half gram of protein" rule, you would need about 64 grams of protein per day."

If my husband weighs 57 kg and it is 100% lean body mass then he has 57kg lean body weight. Multiply by 0.6 an then he needs half gm of protein rule, he needs 34 gm of protein a day. Say the one serving of fish was 25, he has only 9gm to make up in other foods.

Well let's throw in a couple of eggs. That would give 12-14gms of protein and that would be enough for the day.

But it should be more varied that that. One egg should do. The rest can come from yoghurt, tofu, other pulses, broccoli and a variety of other foods. Oh I forgot. The doctor when we visited, gave us a chart that said for a man over 70 the RDI (I think this stands for Required Daily Intake) is 81 gm

Sunday, November 16, 2014

How do you stop coconut cream from being lumpy?

Oh dear I am not going to be very good at this. I had a tin of coconut cream and when I opened it it was basically solid plus liquid. So I whizzed it up but honestly I didn't do it very well. Then I overcooked the yams.

Yes I am going to put on the flops as well as the successes on the blog and here is the meal I produced tonight.

You can see the soused fish with the lumpy coconut cream. It spoils the look of the lovely tomato and red onion.

Protein rich meals for seniors will be a bit tricky I can see, especially as their cooks can often be their wives. Just as well I am a good deal younger. I couldn't do as well if I were in my late eighties too!
If your elderly relative has puffy ankles it just may be a sign of low protein in their blood. When my husband, after a couple of chest xrays and a blood test, was diagnosed with vey low total protein and very low albumin. His blood has been leaking fluid into his ankles and into his lungs and he was seriously lacking in energy. The doctor told us the solution is to eat protein.

That has sent me on a mission to find out about how you can stack a diet with protein rich food. It has sent me looking for different ways of doing fish and eggs, among other things. This blog is about my journey – the recipes I find and the meals he eats – well sometime I am eating meat dishes while he eats a fish dish. He hasn't eaten meat for 40 years so he is unlikely to start at 89 years old.

For four days now we have been on this mission and I guess it is going to take quite a while to get his protein levels up. He has had fish and an egg for almost every meal now and already he is reporting more energy. Actually the first thing he has noticed is that he is sleeping better. And I did notice he spent a bit of time in the garden the other day, which is a good start. But we have to be careful not to overdo it. Yes his levels were extremely low, but still, be careful and sensible.

I understand that as you get older you need more protein because your body doesn't absorb it as well when you are young.

The doctor reminded my husband that he is still doing the washing, and that he is a critically important person in his family. He is a wonderful father and grandfather and great grandfather. He still has more to contribute and also to enjoy the bathroom we have just upgraded in our home. We use the shower for the first time tonight!! Hooray.

Anyway you can help in the following ways: Contribute recipes that are relatively easy. We particularly want variety. We cant go on having fish and an egg three times a day! That would be boring as....And probably dangerous. And expensive.

Today he had fish in tomato for breakfast. For lunch he had dried yellow peas cooked with a bit of salt and flavoured with a piled teaspoon of green curry paste. And because I had to go to Wellington to the dentist I soused fish in apple cider vinegar before I left, then when I got home I drained it and added coconut cream, chopped red onion and spring onion and tomato.

He says he is full. Great news. Hope I didn't overdo the protein today. Hope his kidneys are coping so far. Must find out ASAP.

Malcolm is one unique person but my father in his last decade was another case of someone who needed better nutrition. After our mother dies, Dad was hooked on bread and jam and frozen cheese cake. There are plenty of elderly like Malcolm and Dad who simply don't get enough protein.

And here are some items I bought today for future recipes. I especially look forward to using the chermoula Morroccan herb and spice marinade, which my sister says was delicious with fish.