What to Serve Seniors at a Cookout

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Outdoor cookouts are one of the joys of summer. Here are some suggestions from experts in the culinary and elder care fields about crafting a senior cookout menu.

Summer cookouts are all about serving casual, crowd-pleasing food, spending time with friends and family, and enjoying the warm weather and sunshine. However, when it comes to hosting seniors, the concept of a backyard barbecue suddenly becomes a little more intimidating. What can you serve that will be appealing to and healthy for everyone?

Below, a number of experts in the culinary and elder care Potomac fields offer their best tips and advice for crafting a cookout menu that all your guests will want (and be able) to dig into.

Poll Your Guests

The first step is to request information from your guests about any dietary restrictions they may have. Remember, just because you request this information doesn’t mean you have to satisfy all requests in every dish. But, having this information at your disposal can help you make some simple changes to your menu that make more dishes accessible to more people.

Salt is an excellent example. If you have a few guests who are on sodium-restricted diets, purchasing a package of low-sodium hot dogs or opting to forgo the salt when seasoning your burger patties and potato salad gives them more options to choose from. Including a salt shaker or two on your buffet table allows other guests to season their plates to their hearts’ content.

A Chef’s Take on Senior Cookouts

“In a nutshell, you just want to keep it simple,” says Pat Marone, executive chef at The Regency Assisted Living community in Glen Cove, New York. Throughout his career, Chef Marone has been associated with a number of five-star restaurants. Now his passion is creating menus that accommodate common senior dietary restrictions but do not skimp on flavor. His go-to dish for outdoor parties at The Regency is grilled barbecued chicken, but he marinates it with a low-sodium, low-fat dressing flavored with pepper and garlic. To accommodate his diabetic residents, he either avoids adding sugar or uses sugar a substitute in his recipes. To satisfy seniors who are watching their cholesterol, Marone provides low-fat and full-flavor main and side dish options, such as turkey burgers, watermelon salad with mint and baked beans.