2. Milk and Other Dairy Products
The official federal dietary guidelines recommend three cups of low-fat dairy products a day for adults. Children 2 to 8 years should have 2 cups a day if they don't have a dairy allergy or lactose intolerance. The calcium in dairy products helps build strong bones in children and preserves bone strength in older people. Milk is an easy choice. For snacks, low-fat string cheese is nutritious and fun for younger kids. When the grandkids are clamoring for a sweet treat, whip up a low-sugar-yogurt smoothie with fresh fruit.
Coste says that both younger and older people tend to have a sweet tooth, and family members can take advantage of this by making healthy, tasty desserts for them. For example, make a pudding by substituting low-sugar yogurt for part of the water in strawberry Jell-O. Bring it over to Mom or Dad's with some ice cream cones. "Then the grandparent and grandchildren can eat the pudding out of ice cream cones," she says. "It's great fun and isn't that 'icy cold' if you have dental or denture issues."
Another healthy twist: Make a sandwich cookie by spreading cream cheese between two gingersnap cookies. "Nothing is going to make an older person lose the desire to eat like not getting to eat a treat once in a while," Coste says.
3. Whole-Grain Breakfast Cereal
Skip the sugary flakes and choose a breakfast cereal made with whole grains -- and only small amounts of added sugar. The first ingredient should be a whole grain. On a cold winter day, steel-cut hot oatmeal is a great choice. By adding a few raisins or fresh fruit, you can make cereal sweeter without piling on sugar. "Pour low-fat milk on top and you’ve got a well-balanced meal," says Zelman.
Nuts, like eggs, have been welcomed back into a healthy kitchen. Sure, they are high in fat. "But the oil in nuts is mostly unsaturated, so it won’t raise heart disease risk," says Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University. Studies show that people who snack on nuts have healthier hearts and are less likely to be overweight. If your grandkids aren't keen on nuts, make up your own trail mix by adding raisins, dark chocolate chips, or pieces of dried coconut to a package of mixed nuts. Another great choice: peanut butter. "Kids love it, and you can smear it on toast for breakfast or a sandwich at lunch. Peanut butter on celery sticks also makes a great snack," says Zelman.