Halloween & Fall Ideas for Seniors
For many, Fall is the best time of the year. The freezing temperatures of Winter haven’t hit yet, the holidays are right around the corner, delicious seasonal food is on every store shelf. It’s a wonderful time no matter what stage of life you are in. While you may not be going door-to-door in a costume in your golden years (although you definitely could get away with it). There are still a ton of incredible Fall and Halloween options for seniors.
Celebrate the changing of the leaves and unofficial season of apple cider and hot chocolate at a Fall festival. Tell scary stories from your youth and reminisce about jumping at shadows and eating smores by fire — or flashlight.
Enjoy festive foods with your close friends and acquaintances over a potluck themed around the season. Or participate in a local bake sale to raise money for a great cause while watching people enjoy your hard work in the kitchen.
There is a whole bevy of great reasons for seniors to attend local Fall festivals. They are a great way to maintain a sense of community, an excellent form of low impact exercise, and they are perfect for mental stimulation. Not to mention, they are just plain fun at any age.
Most local festivals are always looking for additional help or vendors as well. If you are particularly crafty or great in the kitchen, consider contributing your talent. Even if you don’t necessarily want to become involved as a vendor, there may be volunteer opportunities. Some Fall festivals even highlight senior members of the communities with “story hours”, in which long-time residents share stories with attendees of the towns past.
Today’s seniors grew up during what is arguably the golden-age of spoken word scary stories in America. There are still major Hollywood blockbusters being created today from the stories that were passed around all over the country back then. Plus, everyone knows that nobody tells a better story than a senior! A few ways to facilitate this within a senior community would be to have a “Scary story” night. Some communities have thrown themed parties with Halloween decorations, fake campfires, story circles. The whole nine yards.
For seniors that are a member of a community; such a retirement community or a long-term care home, potlucks are a great option. Cooking for others can be incredibly therapeutic and often comes with a host of hard to quantify benefits. There is a large body of research that states that seniors that stay socially engaged well into their golden years are less likely to develop a range of issues related to brain health. Not to mention the considerable benefits to stress levels, and the overall boost to mental health that a sense of community can constitute.
While potlucks are traditionally difficult to participate in if you are attempting to be conscious of your overall health, they can easily be done differently. Themed potlucks that focus on heart healthy or sugar-free foods can be a great way to still get the full experience. Another huge advantage of healthy potlucks is how much they can expand attendee’s food horizons. They are a great way to discover new dishes that may be a little easier to stomach than your usual health food fare. There are some great healthy recipes included at the bottom of this blog!
Halloween bake sales are an age-old American tradition; dating all the way back to 1891. That’s 126 years of community bake sales! There is a reason the institution of the American bake sale has thrived for so long. They are a great way to encourage community, socialize, get active, and most importantly; eat tasty Fall themed confections.
The best part about bake sales is that they work no matter your living circumstances. Whether you live in a long-term care community, retirement neighborhood, or still live in your original home. Coordinate with some neighbors and before you know it you’ll have a line around the block ready to buy tasty Fall-themed treats.
With all this talk of potlucks and bake sales, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share some great Fall recipes as well. These recipes are sure to be a hit at any age whether you’re serving a large group at a potluck or aiming to be the star of the bake sale. Bonus: Every one of the following recipes is heart healthy and either sugar-free or low sugar! They also are all limited to 3, easy-to-follow steps.
Cold weather means warm drinks, and this spiced coffee recipe is a perfect, healthy way to have a delicious holiday drink.
Step 1: Create the spiced syrup by heating a small saucepan over medium heat. Add ½ cup of sugar, and ½ cup of water. Add 1 ½ teaspoons of allspice, 1 ½ teaspoons of ground cinnamon (plus more to taste), and 1 ½ teaspoons of ground ginger. Simmer for about 5 minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Step 2: Add spiced syrup to coffee to taste. ¼ of a tablespoon is usually plenty to adequately flavor a single cup of coffee.
Step 3: Enjoy!
Apple pie eggrolls are a perfect solution for those looking for the traditional taste of apple pie without all of the fuss and additional calories. They are also great for parties and pot lucks because they are made in individuals servings!
Step 1: Heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat until it begins to brown. Add 5 cups of diced and peeled Granny Smith apples, 3 tablespoons of sugar, ¾ teaspoon of cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt to taste. Cook until the apples are softened, add 1 tablespoon of flour and cook for one more minute. Remove from heat and stir in 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.
Step 2: Place about ½ cup of the apple filling in the center of a single egg roll wrapper. Fold both sides of the wrapper over the filling, then fold the bottom corner and roll up as tightly as possible. Repeat with all of the remaining wrappers.
Step 3: Combine 1 tablespoon of sugar and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and place near oven. Heat oil until shimmering and add rolls turn frequently until golden brown on all sides. Dredge the hot rolls in the cinnamon-sugar. Let the rolls sit for several minutes and serve.
This dish is so good and rich that people won’t even believe that you made it healthy. Rather than using extremely high sodium canned soup, this recipe calls for making your own creamy sauce substitute; that not only tastes better, it’s much better for you.
Step 1: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add 1 cup diced onion and 1 cup diced bell pepper; sauté 5 minutes. Add 32-ounce bag of frozen potatoes; cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook 8 minutes or until potatoes begin to brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in salt and black pepper to taste.
Step 2: Combine 1 ½ cups of low-fat milk and 2 tablespoons of flour, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring frequently. Remove pan from heat. Stir in 4 ounces of low-fat yogurt and 1 cup of low-fat cheese. Spoon mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Step 3: Place sugar-free cornflakes in a medium bowl; drizzle with butter and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, and toss to coat. Sprinkle cornflakes over potato mixture. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until bubbly around the edges and topping is crisp.