ST. MARYS — Local seniors have been learning healthy strategies for better living as part of various programs at the Auglaize County Council on Aging.
On Thursday, seniors at the center took a break from exercising to participate in “Blueberry Day,” where they learned about blueberries and their health benefits.
“Our goal for our seniors is to do things that are light, fit and healthy,” ACCA Activities Director Evelyn Hartley said as she prepared items for that day’s treat. “Today is blueberries.”
Hartley made blueberry parfaits for the seniors at the ACCA on Thursday — a healthy treat that she said would be easy for them to eat at home.
“We’re using Dannon’s Light and Fit yogurt, blueberries with a little bit of Splenda for sweetness, low-fat granola and raisins,” Hartley said. “We’re going to top it off with an extra special treat — chocolate chips.”
In conjunction with exercise activities — such as line dancing and throwing balls — the food days help the seniors add another healthy aspect into their lives.
“This keeps them eating good, eating healthier,” Hartley said.
“By eating healthier, people live longer.”
She noted July is blueberry month — which was why she incorporated blueberries in their activities Thursday.
“Blueberries are a great source of antioxidants,” she added.
Hartley noted seniors tend to eat small meals, which may not give their bodies enough nutrients.
“All my programs use these ideas — even Bingo — we try to give them ideas to eat healthy,” she said. “For my Bingo prizes, they have fresh fruit and fresh veggies. We make snack packs, which have apples, string cheese and crackers — that can be a meal, with the protein from the cheese and their fruit.”
For seniors who have sensitive teeth, Hartley said an easy snack could be cutting an apple in slices and heating it up in the microwave and adding cinnamon.
“We try to constantly give them ideas for easy meals,” she said.
Another idea, she said, was to purchase tuna packets.
“They just have to open the tuna, add in a little light mayonnaise and add crackers or bread and there’s their meal,” she said.
While July was blueberry-focused, June was potato month, Hartley noted.
“I bought a bag of potatoes and brought in my skillet,” she said. “I fried potatoes in olive oil with mushrooms, onions and peppers. In another skillet, I had sausage and cheese. There you have a complete meal in one skillet.”
Another quick idea using potatoes, Hartley noted, was putting butter over a potato with cheese.
“There are all kinds of things for them to eat healthier,” she said. “I know a man who grows watermelon, and I’m hoping I can find a way to get a grill in here, so we can have grilled watermelon.”
After the seniors were given their parfaits, Hartley gave them some information on blueberries.
“I have a lot of websites where I find my information,” Hartley said, adding she also tells about the health benefits of the berries.
“One I found tells how blueberries go clear back to the beginning of time and how they have been used.”