Deliver Help and Hope to Hungry Seniors This Thanksgiving Season. Donate

Recipes for a Longer, Healthier Life

Ingredients in these 5 dishes can improve memory, lower blood pressure, boost the immune system and more

En español | These recipes are colorful and flavorful, but they also include superfoods that can improve memory, lower blood pressure and boost your immune system.

Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter

Fresh pomegranate and blueberries.

With very high levels of antioxidants, pomegranates can help keep the cardiovascular system healthy. — Getty Images

As warmer weather peeks over the horizon, we're ready to pack up the casserole dishes and slow cookers and get ready for lighter fare. But it's not too late to enjoy one last helping of a classic comfort food — with some healthy ingredients and a few new twists. Forget the ketchup-spiked, drab meat loaf of yore. Many of these eight recipes include international flavors, whole grains and lots of vegetables.

Pomegranate Glaze

Makes 1 cup

  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • Sea salt
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate molasses, homemade or store-bought
  • 1/4 cup organic vegetable or chicken broth, homemade or store-bought
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed blood orange juice (can substitute Valencia orange juice)

1. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, shallot and a pinch of salt and sauté until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the pomegranate molasses, broth, maple syrup, tomato paste and cinnamon stick. Decrease the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, remove the cinnamon stick and stir in the orange juice. Do a taste test; you may want to add a pinch more salt and more lemon juice to taste.

3. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Nutrients per serving (2 tablespoons): 45 calories, 11g carbohydrates, 0g protein, 0g fiber, 0g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 5mg sodium

Kale, Orange, Grape Tomato and Carrot Salad With Rebecca Katz's Greener Than Green Goddess Dressing

Serves 4

  • 1 (12-ounce) bunch kale (preferably Tuscan or black kale), stems removed, leaves cut into thin strips
  • Greener Than Green Goddess Dressing (recipe follows)
  • 2 organic carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 10 grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 very small orange or clementine, peeled and separated into sections and diced

1. Place the kale in a large bowl. Pour 1/2 cup of the dressing over it. Using your hands, gently massage the dressing into the kale for 2 to 3 minutes. Let rest for 30 minutes. (This will marinate the kale and help remove some of its bitterness.)

2. Just before serving, add the carrots, tomatoes and orange sections. Drizzle with a quarter to half a cup of the remaining dressing, toss to combine and serve immediately.

Nutrients per serving: 57 calories, 3g protein, 13g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 1g fat (0g saturated fat), 0mg cholesterol, 43mg sodium

Greener Than Green Goddess Dressing

Makes about 2 cups

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup organic plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 avocado, halved, skin and pit removed and flesh scooped out
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1. Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Do a taste test; you may want to add a pinch more salt and more lemon juice to taste.

2. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Nutrients per serving (1/2 cup): 80 calories, 1g protein, 4g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 7g fat (1g saturated fat), 1mg cholesterol, 158mg sodium

Roasted Garlic Asparagus With Rebecca Katz's Basil-Pistachio Pesto

Serves 4

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds thick asparagus, ends trimmed
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Basil-Pistachio Pesto (recipe follows)

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.

2. In a small skillet or saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, until the garlic just changes color and is aromatic.

3. Put the asparagus in a baking dish in a single layer. Drizzle with the garlic oil and season lightly with salt. Roast the asparagus for 8 to 9 minutes, until tender.

4. To serve: Transfer the asparagus to a serving platter. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of the pesto, reserving the other half for another use.

Nutrients per serving: 122 calories, 5g protein, 9g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 7g fat (1g saturated fat), 0mg cholesterol, 868mg sodium

Basil-Pistachio Pesto

Makes about 1 cup

  • 1 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup shelled raw pistachios
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon water (optional)

1. Combine the basil, pistachios, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor and process until well blended. For a thinner pesto, add the water and briefly process again. (For this recipe, make sure your pesto is thin, as it will be drizzled over the asparagus.) Do a taste test; you may want to add a squeeze more lemon juice or a pinch more salt.

2. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Nutrients per serving ( 2 tablespoons): 144 calories, 2g protein, 3g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 15g fat (2g saturated fat), 0mg cholesterol, 82mg sodium

Roasted Sweet Potatoes With Honey, Thyme and Ginger

Serves 4

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly minced ginger
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, plus 4 thyme sprigs for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.

2. In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, olive oil, ginger, honey and thyme leaves. Toss or turn with a large spoon until the cubes are well coated.

3. Spread the cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet or in a large baking dish. Roast about 40 minutes, stirring a couple of times to keep the cubes from sticking, until they are tender and slightly browned.

4. Serve garnished with the thyme sprigs.

Nutrients per serving: 245 calories, 2g protein, 38g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 10g fat (1g saturated fat), 0mg cholesterol, 35mg sodium

Blueberry-Strawberry Yogurt Parfaits

Serves 4

  • 1 cup hulled and halved strawberries
  • 1 cup Greek-style yogurt
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate shavings
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
  • Coffee

1. Divide the strawberries among four glass tumblers. In each tumbler, add 2 tablespoons yogurt, 1/4 cup blueberries, the remaining yogurt, and 2 tablespoons each of the chocolate and walnuts.

2. Serve with coffee.

Nutrients per serving: 214 calories, 7g protein, 20g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 13g fat (3g saturated fat), 4mg cholesterol, 48mg sodium

This piece is adapted with permission from The Longevity Kitchen by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson (Ten Speed Press, 2013). Additional reporting by Monica Bhide.

You May Also Like

Go to the AARP home page for latest news on food and nutrition

Join the Discussion

0 | Add Yours

Please leave your comment below.

You must be logged in to leave a comment.

AARP Membership

Discounts & Benefits

    Next Article

    Read This