Healthy Cook: Adding on calories when your senior loved one is too thin

BEING A FEW POUNDS overweight can be a pain in the patootie. That can often be solved by using the simple food equation: calories in versus calories out. On the other hand, people who are too slim and can’t gain weight often have no patootie to speak of. Their challenge of putting on a few pounds can be harder than the overweight folks.

First thing to do, Slim, is check with your doctor about reasons for your size. I don’t even play a doctor on TV, so I’m not getting into the possibilities.

But, let’s say you get a clean bill of health and still can’t find a belt small enough to fit. Look at the food equation: Calories in versus calories out:

• If you burn more than you eat, you should lose weight.

• If you eat more than you burn, you should gain weight.

Here are some simple numbers to remember: Food is made up of protein (four calories per gram), carbohydrates (also four calories per gram), fat (nine calories a gram), and water (zero calories a gram). Not that anyone is counting, but alcohol has seven calories a gram. There are 28.3 grams in an ounce by weight, so 450 grams per pound is a good working number to remember.

If you perambulate your patootie a mile at an average pace, you should burn about 100 calories. There are 3,500 calories in a pound. So it takes a lot of miles to reduce the view of you from the back. On the flip side of that coin, muscle weighs more than fat and exercising will add good weight.

Let’s look at the fat. There are good fats and bad fats. Bad fats are saturated. Good fats are not. It tells you the fat breakdown on the label. Good or bad — fats have 9 calories per gram.

To beef up your lunch, start with a simple PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICH. It has two slices of bread, 120 calories or so, and a tablespoon of peanut butter at about 100 calories. Add a tablespoon of margarine for 50 calories and double the peanut butter for another 100. The new sandwich has 120 calories + 100 + 50 + 100 = 370 calories. If sugars are not an issue, drizzle on a tablespoon of honey for 64 more calories. Who doesn’t like a peanut butter and banana sandwich? A medium banana has 105 calories. You’re up to 539 calories. That’s respectable.

Now dip it in beaten egg and fry it in butter for an Elvis Special that’s far past respectable and decidedly decadent.

An eight-ounce glass of orange juice has no fat but it will add 112 calories and plenty of good-for-you vitamins and minerals.

PASTA with a many-vegetable, no-cholesterol spaghetti sauce is a super easy, but low-calorie, meal. We add cannellini beans for extra protein, again, without cholesterol. To bump up the calories, you can top a serving with full-fat mozzarella then melt it in a microwave. Be sure to make enough pasta and sauce for a second meal and mix the leftovers with full-fat ricotta for baked spaghetti. Top that with mozzarella, too.

You can’t have spaghetti without bread; for more authenticity and caloricity, trade the usual thin layer of butter for some good olive oil with Italian herbs. Dip chunks of bread in the oil and if some falls on the pasta, all the better.

Salad goes well with pasta, and here’s where reading the label is important. Not all dressings are created equal. Buy the kind with the most calories.

Ground beef with 7 percent fat costs a fortune and doesn’t make a GOOD BURGER. It’s too lean. You need ground chuck with 15 percent fat to have some moisture in the meat. Here’s a tip for any burger-maker. You see it done wrong on TV. Don’t press on the burger with a spatula. That forces out the juices and makes the burger dry.

When it’s cooked the way you like it (use a meat thermometer) let it sit for a minute while you dress the bun.

Skip the lettuce. It has too few calories. Instead, add a dollop of coleslaw. Slather on the mayo at 100 calories per tablespoon instead of ketchup at 20 calories per tablespoon. If you need something that looks sort of like ketchup with tomato taste, stir a tablespoon of tomato paste in to a cup of mayo and keep it in the fridge.

French fries are supposed to have come from Belgium, not France. Do as they do in Belgium and dip your fries in mayonnaise instead of ketchup. You can add herbs, hot sauce or curry powder to the mayo to break the bland monotony.

Milkshakes can be storehouses of calories and are simply made in a blender, but ice creams are not all the same. The calories vary with how much air is whipped in. Read the labels on a couple of cheap versus high-priced ice creams so you don’t pay for air. Start with whole milk and add fruits, too.

No matter what you decide to eat, talk to your doctor first. Your weight, and your health, depends on it.


article by TRENT ROWE, CFHN Food Editor

Posted April 8, 2016

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