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MHC for Seniors: More Than Meat


February 8, 2021 - Author: Erin Powell

Making Healthy Choices for Seniors: Week 7

More than meat

Protein is an important nutrient that helps build bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. While animal sources of protein are often the first to come to mind, many plant-based sources can provide your body with not only protein but also a range of other nutrients.

Power up with plant protein

Beans are one of the most popular sources of plant-based protein. There are many different types of beans, and they can be used in a variety of ways. When trying new types of beans, remember that it can take up to 15 tastes of a new food to start liking it.

Other types of plant-based protein include nuts such as almonds, walnuts and cashews; seeds such as pumpkin
seeds and sunflower seeds; and soybean products such as tofu. Nuts and seeds can be a great snack to have on
the go since they come ready to eat and don’t need to be kept cold.

Don’t forget, not only is it important to make sure you are eating from each of the food groups, but it is also
important to eat a variety of foods within each group. Including different types of plant-based protein in your
weekly meals is a great way to do this.

You can start by choosing one day a week to swap animal protein for plant protein. Think of it as an easy way to try new recipes, taste new food and eat a variety of protein sources.

The recommendations for this food group are in ounce-equivalents. Think of an ounce-equivalent as one serving. Serving sizes are not the same for all types of foods because different foods contain different amounts of nutrients. (For more information, visit For example, ¼ cup of cooked beans counts as one serving, but 12 almonds (or ½ ounce of almonds by weight) also counts as one serving. Meeting a daily recommendation of five servings could look like this:

½ cup of cooked black beans, 12 almonds, 2 tablespoons peanut butter


½ cup of cooked kidney beans, ¼ cup tofu, 2 tablespoons hummus, ½ ounce of sunflower seeds

Did you know?

Dried beans are often less expensive than canned beans and don't have any added salt. You can choose the exact amount you want to cook when using dried beans. Soaking dried beans overnight will save cooking time the next day. Prefer canned beans? Rinse canned beans before using to reduce salt.

Weekly Recipe

Remember to wash your hands and prepare food safely.

Crockpot Vegetable and Lentil Soup

  1. Gently wash and then chop 1/2 cup carrots, 1 cup kale and 1 cup Swiss chard.
  2. To medium skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add 1 clove of minced garlic, and ½ chopped onion, and sauté until tender.
  3. In a large slow cooker, combine garlic and onion mixture with chopped carrots, kale, Swiss chard,
    1 cup dried lentils, 4 cups vegetable broth and 1 bay leaf.
  4. Cook in slow cooker for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.
  5. Remove bay leaf and serve.

Recipe adapted from “Crockpot Vegetable Lentil Stew” by the USDA as cited by the University of Illinois Extension.


MSU Extension programming

Michigan State University Extension helps people improve their lives by bringing the vast knowledge and resources of MSU directly to individuals, communities and businesses.

To help you be healthy at every stage of life, MSU Extension delivers affordable, relevant, evidence-based education to serve the needs of adults, youth and families in urban and rural communities. Programs focus on helping you gain the skills you need to buy and prepare nutritious, budget-friendly foods, increase your physical activity and stretch your food dollars.

MSU Extension’s children and youth programs address needs and issues from birth through age 19, providing parents with educational resources related to your child’s development and giving youth the opportunity through 4-H programs to build leadership and teach practical life skills.
With a presence in every Michigan county, Extension faculty and staff members provide tools to live and work better. From a personal meeting to information online, MSU Extension educators work every day to provide the most current information when people need it to ensure success – in the workplace, at home and in the community.

For more information or to join a class, visit To find your local county office, visit


Adapted by Krystal Avila, Heather Dyer, Ashly Nelson, Yolanda ThrashAmanda Huletand Karen Barbash from the original family newsletter set developed by Erin E. Powell, MS, RDN; Tom Cummins; Elizabeth Dorman and Denise Aungst, MS; for MSU Extension. Based on a concept created by Denise Aungst and Layne Schlicher for MSU Extension. Originals were produced by ANR Creative for MSU Extension. Adaptations for the senior series were produced by the MSU Extension Educational Materials Team.

This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP.


Tags: food, food & health, health & nutrition, making healthy choices, mhc senior newsletter, nutrition, snap-ed, supplemental nutrition assistance program education

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