Bringing veggies to healthy meatloaf

Senior-living facilities have their fair share of residents craving comfort foods such as meat and potatoes. But that isn’t exactly in line with Kim Smith’s Brain Healthy Cooking guidelines at the 12 Massachusetts communities within Senior Living Residences. The guidelines aim to improve the quality of life for residents, especially those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, by introducing more produce, whole grains and fish. The corporate director of dining experience found a way to keep the meat in meatloaf while delivering on her healthy initiatives.

meatloaf veggies plate

1. Ground turkey and chopped vegetables 

Smith says substituting turkey for beef and replacing one-third of the recipe’s meat with veggies like spinach, carrots, celery, onions and squash brings another choice to the table. But there’s still room for flexibility. “If the residents aren’t too crazy about [the turkey meatloaf], what we’ll do is cut it with half beef and half turkey so they can get a little bit of the greasiness,” she says.

2. Whole-wheat breadcrumbs and wheat germ 

Because Smith wants to maintain the traditional texture of meatloaf, her staff grinds their own crumbs from whole-wheat bread sourced from a vendor. “It’s still a regular meatloaf, but it’s just healthier,” she says. Wheat germ adds a concentrated source of nutrients including essential fatty acids, vitamin E, folic acid and fiber.

3. Herbs and spices 

Senior Living Residences doesn’t add salt to any of its dishes, but that doesn’t mean meals are flavorless. The facility produces its own “Spice of Life” seasoning blend comprised of 18 vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices, and each community has its own garden. “[Residents] pick and bring the things into the kitchen, and then they get to have it with their dinner,” Smith says.

Traditional recipeSharedRevamp
Ground beefEggsGround turkey and chopped vegetables
White bread crumbsOven-bakedWhole-wheat bread crumbs and wheat germ
Added salt Herbs and spices




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