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Winter is the perfect time to enjoy cozy, delicious comfort food that warms you from the inside out. Whether it’s a steaming bowl of soup or a hearty casserole, there are so many great winter comfort food recipes to choose from that can help boost your hearing health. With the holiday season behind us and the new year stretching ahead, this is also a great time to introduce some healthy dishes – that can also benefit your hearing – into your recipe collection!
How Can Winter Foods Help my Hearing?
According to the National Campaign for Better Hearing, five key nutrients can help boost your hearing health: magnesium, potassium, folate, zinc and omega-3s. Luckily some great fresh produce and other healthy options can help you achieve your servings of these nutrients. Leafy vegetables such as spinach, mustard greens and kale offer a great source of magnesium (so is dark chocolate!) For potassium, enjoy edamame, broccoli, mushrooms, peas and sweet potatoes. Zinc can be found in lentils, beans, beef, spinach and oatmeal. Enjoy some spinach, beetroot, mustard greens, oranges and nuts for a dose of folate (folic acid). Squashes like pumpkin, acorn and butternut are all great sources of omega-3s.
So how do these nutrients actually help with your hearing health?
- Magnesium: this helps protect your hearing by maintaining your ear’s natural nerve function. Magnesium ensures the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your ears, and it also protects the delicate hair cells inside your inner ear.
- Potassium: this helps regulate the fluid inside your inner ears. As you age, your body’s natural level of potassium inside your body drops, which can cause hearing loss. So, it’s important to eat potassium-rich foods to restore those levels.
- Folate (folic acid): this enhances circulation throughout your body. Adequate blood circulation protects the delicate hair cells in your inner ear.
- Zinc: this helps boost your immune system and promotes cell growth throughout your body. It also helps protect against tinnitus and ear infections.
- Omega-3s: this helps prevent age-related hearing loss. Research shows there’s a link between fatty acids and decreased risk of hearing loss.
You can also learn more about different foods and nutrients that can boost your hearing health here.
Winter Recipes that Promote Hearing Health
1. Lemon Dijon Pork Sheet Pan Dinner
- 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 lb. fresh Brussels sprouts, quartered
- 4 boneless pork loin chops
- Coarsely ground pepper, optional
Preheat oven to 425°. In a large bowl, mix the first 4 ingredients; gradually whisk in oil. Reserve 1 tablespoon mixture. Add vegetables to the remaining mixture; toss to coat.
Place pork chops and vegetables in a 15x10x1-in. pan coated with cooking spray. Brush chops with reserved mustard mixture. Roast for 10 minutes.
Turn chops and stir vegetables; roast until a thermometer inserted in pork reads 145° and vegetables are tender, 10-15 minutes longer. If desired, sprinkle with pepper. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Special credit to Senior Home Companions and Taste of Home for the recipe and photo.
2. Broccoli & Wild Rice Casserole
- 2 cups uncooked wild rice
- 10 cups low-sodium chicken broth, more if needed for thinning
- 3 heads broccoli, cut into small florets
- 1 lb. white button or cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 whole medium onion, finely diced
- 2 whole carrots, peeled and finely diced
- 2 stalks celery, finely diced
- 4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 tsp. salt, more to taste
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Add the wild rice into a medium saucepan with 5 cups of the chicken broth and cook until done (35-40 minutes). Blanch the broccoli in boiling water for 1½ to 2 minutes, until bright green and still slightly crisp.
Melt 6 tbsp of butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, mushrooms, carrots and celery and cook until the vegetables are soft and the mixture begins to turn darker in color (6-8 minutes).
Sprinkle flour on the vegetables, and cook for about a minute. Pour in the remaining 5 cups of broth and bring to a gentle boil. Pour in the heavy cream and let the mixture cook until it thickens. Season with salt and pepper.
Layer the cooked rice, broccoli and vegetable/broth mixture in a casserole dish. Melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and mix with panko breadcrumbs. Spread this mixture over the top of the casserole. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and continue baking for 15 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Enjoy more winter casserole recipes like this from The Pioneer Woman.
3. Winter Squash Risotto
- 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 medium shallots, thinly sliced
- 3 cups chopped peeled butternut or kabocha squash (1/2-inch pieces)
- 2 cups shiitake mushroom caps, thinly sliced
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads, (optional)
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine, or dry vermouth
- ½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Place broth in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat so the broth remains steaming, but is not simmering.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in squash and mushrooms; cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms give off their liquid, about 5 minutes. Add thyme, salt, pepper and saffron (if using); cook for 30 seconds. Add rice; stir until translucent, about 1 minute. Add wine (or vermouth) and cook, stirring, until almost absorbed by the rice, about 1 minute.
Stir in 1/2 cup of the hot broth; reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring after each addition until all the liquid has been absorbed, until the rice is tender and creamy, 30 to 40 minutes total. (You may have some broth left.) Remove from the heat and stir in cheese.
Enjoy more delicious winter recipes like this from Eating Well.
4. Super Chopped Salad with Salmon & Creamy Garlic Dressing
- 1 pound salmon fillet
- ½ cup low-fat plain yogurt
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
- 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
- 1 medium clove garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- 8 cups chopped curly kale
- 2 cups chopped broccoli
- 2 cups chopped red cabbage
- 2 cups finely diced carrots
- ½ cup sunflower seeds, toasted
Arrange rack in upper third of oven. Preheat broiler to high. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place salmon on the prepared baking sheet, skin-side down. Broil, rotating the pan from front to back once, until the salmon is opaque in the center, 8 to 12 minutes. Cut into 4 portions.
In a small bowl whisk yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Parmesan, parsley, chives, tamari (or soy sauce), garlic and pepper.
Combine kale, broccoli, cabbage, carrots and sunflower seeds in a large bowl. Add 3/4 cup of the dressing and toss to coat. Divide the salad among 4 dinner plates and top each with a piece of salmon and about 1 tablespoon of the remaining dressing.
Try other super salad recipes like this one from Eating Well
5. Sweet Potato Muffins
- 3 cups of mashed sweet potato see below for instructions
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup ground flaxseed meal optional
To prep the sweet potatoes (this can be done a day or so ahead if you want to break up the muffin-making process): Pierce the potatoes with a fork and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 45 minutes, or until the inside is soft when poked with a fork. Remove and let cool. When the potatoes are cool, peel off the skin and mash the sweet potato filling with a fork or masher until any big lumps are gone. Measure out 3 cups worth of filling.
To make the muffins: In a large bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and then add the sweet potato.
Pour into muffin tins/cups. If using flaxseed, sprinkle on top of the muffins. Bake at 325 for approximately 30 minutes.
Check out more healthy baked good recipes like this from Good in the Simple.
Ready, Set, Share Your Favorite Comfort Food Recipes
Make sure you get the whole conversation when your loved ones share their favorite recipes over the phone – this winter and all year long! ClearCaptions allows you to see every word that your caller says! If you don’t have a caption phone, find out how you can qualify for one: contact us today!