Shopping Tips and Recipes

Consumer pushing shopping cart in supermarket.

Preparing foods that address the special needs of aging bodies has significant benefits and is possible for everyone.


Here are things to keep in mind when you are selecting your foods

  • When shopping think in terms of the general categories of foods rather than individual foods that are depicted on the MyPlate for Older Adults.
  • Frozen, fresh, and canned fruits and vegetables contain similar amount of nutrients. Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are more likely to be available year round, less likely to spoil if not used quickly and already in a ready to use form, cleaned and cut up.
  • Canned fruits and vegetables also store well and are convenient – just watch for added salt and sugar.
  • Buy fresh, frozen, or no salt added canned vegetables.
  • Choose “low sodium,” varieties as available.
  • When food is not prepared at home it is helpful to identify, in advance, restaurants and other food outlets near home, work and play that offer options consistent with healthy dietary patterns. When in doubt ask the restaurant for information – chain restaurants usually post nutrition information on their website and sometimes have it available in the restaurant, and other restaurants frequently allow some customization of entrees to make them more likely to fit into a healthy dietary pattern or accommodate modest shifts when requested.


See some recipes below and see some suggestions from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) here.

Spice mix for use instead of salt

NOTE: making a spice mix at home ensures it is low in salt.

2 tablespoons black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 bay leaf, ground

Night before breakfast

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup milk or lactose free milk or soy milk
  • 1/2 cup fat free or low fat yogurt

Mix the above; top it with berries, banana or other fruits and nuts; cover and leave in refrigerator overnight and have for breakfast.

Black Bean & Barley Salad

  • 3/4 cup quick-cooking barley
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups frozen corn niblets
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce, such as Tabasco, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked dried black beans
  • 15 ounces or can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 2 avocado
  • 1 lime
  1. Combine barley and water in small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until barley is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. Fluff with a fork; let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, cook corn according to package directions. Drain and refresh under cold running water.
  3. Combine orange juice, vinegar, oil, cumin, oregano, garlic, hot sauce and salt in small bowl or jar with a tight-fitting lid; whisk or shake to blend.
  4. Combine barley, corn, beans, bell pepper, scallions, and cilantro (or parsley) in large bowl. Add orange-juice dressing and toss to coat well. (Salad will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.) Just before serving, garnish with avocado, if desired. Serve with lime wedges.

Yield: 8 (3/4-cup) servings.

No-bake Breakfast Bars

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup unsalted shelled sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup unsalted peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup mild honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened puffed rice cereal
  1. Line a 7x11 or 9x9-inch baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving a 1-inch overhang along each long side.
  2. Mix 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, 1 cup unsweetened puffed rice cereal (preferably brown rice), 1 cup dried cranberries, 1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, 1/2 cup unsalted shelled sunflower seeds and 1/4 cup chia seeds in large bowl.
  3. Combine 3/4 cup unsalted peanut butter and 1/2 cup mild honey in small saucepan; stir over low heat until blended and smooth.
  4. Stir in 1 tsp vanilla extract. Add to oat mixture; mix well.
  5. Scrape into prepared baking dish; press firmly into an even layer.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
  7. Use foil overhang to transfer bars to a cutting board.
  8. Cut into 18 bars.

Bars will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Yield: 18 (2 1/4x2-inch) bars.

Turkey-White Bean Chili

  • 2 cans white beans (15-oz), such as cannellini, great northern or navy beans, preferably no-salt-added, drained and rinsed thoroughly (3 cups) (see Tip)
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 cups frozen pepper stir-fry vegetables (or 1 red bell pepper and 1 large onion, diced)
  • 1 can chopped green chiles (4-1/2 oz)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chile powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 cups low-sodium turkey broth or chicken broth
  • 2 cups diced cooked skinless turkey or chicken breast (9 oz)

Garnishes: 6 Tbsp nonfat plain Greek yogurt; 1 avocado, quartered, peeled and sliced; 2 Tbsp chopped scallions; 2 Tbsp torn fresh cilantro leaves; 2 limes (cut into wedges); hot sauce to taste

  1. Place 1 cup of the beans in a medium bowl and mash with a fork; set mashed and whole beans aside.
  2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add frozen pepper vegetables; cook, stirring from time to time, until starting to brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Add green chiles, garlic, chili powder and oregano; cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Add broth and mashed beans; bring to a simmer, stirring to incorporate mashed beans. Add whole beans and return to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until flavors have developed, about 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in cooked turkey (or chicken); simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. Garnish as desired. (The chili will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months. Add a little additional broth or water when reheating to achieve desired consistency.)

Yield: 6 (1-cup) servings.

Per serving (with garnishes): Calories: 270. Unsaturated fat: 6.5 grams. Saturated fat: 1.5 grams. Cholesterol: 35 milligrams. Sodium: 260 milligrams (with no-salt-added beans). Carbohydrates: 28 grams. Fiber: 10 grams. Sugars: 3 grams. Protein: 23 grams.

Simple Salmon & Parsey-Caper Sauce

Samon Packets: Preheat oven to 425 degrees or heat a gas or charcoal grill at medium-high. Cut 1 lb salmon fillet (or steelhead trout or Arctic char) into 4 portions. Place a 22-inch-long sheet of aluminum foil on the work surface. Coat with cooking spray. Arrange salmon pieces on one side of sheet of foil. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp dry white wine (you can substitute nonalcoholic wine or use 1 Tbsp low-sodium seafood or chicken stock mixed with 1 Tbsp lemon juice). Sprinkle with 1/4 cup finely chopped shallot, 1/8 tsp salt, and pepper to taste. Fold the other half of the foil rectangle over to enclose contents. Roll up edges to seal packet.

  • To cook in oven: Place packets on baking sheet and bake until salmon is opaque in the center, 8 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness of salmon. (When you open a packet to check doneness, be careful of steam.)
  • To cook on grill: If using a gas grill, turn off one of the burners. If using a charcoal grill, push hot coals to one side. Place packets on unheated portion of grill. Cover grill and cook packets over indirect heat until salmon is opaque in the center, 8 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness of fish. (Again, be careful of steam.)
  • To serve: Use a wide spatula to transfer the contents of each packet to individual plates. Spoon any juices over salmon. Accompany with the following sauce. Yield: 4 servings.

Parsley-Caper Sauce: Place 2 cups lightly packed fresh Italian parsley leaves, 2 Tbsp drained and rinsed capers, and 2 garlic cloves (crushed) in food processor; process until finely chopped. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp low-fat mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, and 1/2 tsp anchovy paste; process until mixture forms a creamy sauce, stopping to scrape down sides of work bowl as needed. Also delicious with steamed vegetables, white-fleshed fish, beef, chicken or turkey.

Yield: 1/2 cup