Grandpa and I have travelled the world, with both our feet and our stomachs. We have dined on and across 6 continents (seriously, there are no good eateries on Antarctica, we looked). We have racked up Michelin stars in swanky big city restaurants. We have also frequented and have some of our best meals from food trucks, street stalls, and gas stations (it's a risk but sometimes worth it)! As our adventurous streaks wane we trade in chocolate covered grasshoppers and grilled gator for yogurt covered raisins and chicken nuggets. We swap durians, lychees, and mangosteens for canned fruit cocktail (we are both elated when we get a lion's share of those abnormally pink cherries). No, Grandpa will not be participating in the meal plan at his community living dining room, not just yet. But when we go grocery shopping I will imperceptibly help him fill his grocery cart with better choices, more attuned to his aging needs. Because what goes into our bodies matters at every age!
He wants deli meat for sandwiches; we buy rotisserie chicken instead: less preservatives, less sodium. Hypertension is a concern, no need for added sodium. I also trade out his potato chips for the low salt version.
He wants fish sticks; we buy wild, fresh caught local fish: whole foods are better than processed varieties. Wild fish (rather than farmed varieties) contain less contaminants and more healthy fats. Buying local is an added bonus.
He wants fresh strawberries, but it’s the middle of winter and the overpriced strawberries are looking suspect; we buy frozen strawberries and fresh pineapple from Hawaii: we buy seasonally available fresh fruit and calculate for the shortest distance travelled from field to store. We also account for country of origin for peace of mind in farming and processing oversight/regulation.
He wants eggs and egg product (i.e. liquid eggs) to mix for a low cholesterol scrambled egg breakfast; we buy farm fresh eggs from the farmer down the road: farm fresh, free range eggs have significantly less “bad” cholesterol than store bought eggs and therefore no need to mix with low cholesterol, processed egg product. Eggs should come out of a shell from happy chickens running around a farm, not from a cardboard container from chickens penned up like prisoners. Even if the chicken’s state of mind doesn’t ruffle your feathers then the continuous recalls for salmonella on store bought eggs should be cause for concern!
He wants that bright yellow-orange cheese packaged in single serve slices; we buy “real” cheese, pre-sliced: cheese should not be overly processed with chemicals and preservatives, real cheese has just a few ingredients. We also stay away from the cheese in the deli section, it’s nice that we can get it sliced extra thin but deli machines are notorious for spreading listeria.
He wants kale and carrots for his weekly kale and carrot salad; no Grandpa did not stutter and yes, he is serious that he eats raw kale and carrots with just a little bit of ranch dressing: we buy organic. While I understand the appeal of carrots I am mystified by the raw kale request and question if we are actually related. I can’t decide if I am impressed or disgusted, then remember this is the same man who just requested day glow colored “cheese” singles and I give up trying to figure out his predilections.
He wants fresh baked sourdough bread; I push aside the kale quandary and rejoice that we are definitely related, because we both know inherently that nothing beats a piece of fresh sourdough toast: fresh baked bread from any bakery, including the grocery store bakery, is better than anything processed and filled with preservatives in the bread aisle. Granted, it will start to mold quickly due to the lack of preservatives but extra can be frozen and defrosted (or toasted) as needed.
He wants canned fruit cocktail, I get the sneaking suspicion he is going for the “very cherry” version which is also loaded with extra sugar; I fill the cart with fruit cocktail in 100% fruit juice with no added sugar and promise him I won’t take any of the cherries: really there is no need for added sugars of any kind with fruit, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) is the only acceptable additive necessary. Be cautious and always read labels, I recently found one brand with “Packed in 100% fruit juice” in bold on the front but upon reading the small print on the back discovered there was added artificial sweetener.
Grandpa wants a take away meal from the deli counter, he’s not particular other than he doesn’t want to do more than microwave for his next 2-3 meals; we get chicken tenders, vegetable soup, mashed potatoes, grilled veggies and some pulled pork: we never buy any products made with mayonnaise or cream, they are high on the list for gastrointestinal issues and food poisoning-mashed potatoes instead of potato salad and vegetable soup instead of a bisque or other creamy soup. We also make sure his animal proteins are very well cooked such as the pulled pork and tenders, no raw or intentionally undercooked meal selections. Past a certain age food borne illness is not worth the risk, no matter how appealing the lomi lomi salmon looks!