Special Diets

Are you trying to follow a special diet in order to improve your health or lose weight? If so, you've probably found that one of the hardest things to do is to shop and prepare meals.

At Homemade Today, we've had experience with clients on a variety of dietary requirements and we can certainly find something to meet the needs of your or someone in your family. During our initial consultation, we'll talk about the diet guidelines required. We'll select entrees from our extensive menu and we can include nutritional information to guide you. We're always happy to provide additional choices so we're sure to fit your needs and you'll never get bored by a limited or stagnant selection.

Let us know if you're working with a personal trainer or nutritionist, as we can consult with them as well.

Don't see the diet you're looking for? Give us a call and we can discuss your requirements.

Here's just a partial list of the dietary requirements of our clients:

Mediterranean Diet


This year marks the 15th anniversary since the Mediterranean Diet was officially recognized by Oldways, a nonprofit food-issues think tank in Boston, as one of the world’s healthiest. Based on the age-old dietary traditions of Crete, Greece and southern Italy, this “diet,” or eating pattern, is abundant in fruits, vegetables and olive oil, sparing with meat and anointed daily with red wine.

Now new studies are supporting this way of eating. In July, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study that showed that following a Mediterranean-style, reduced-calorie diet was just as effective as a low-carbohydrate diet. The study tracked 322 Israelis over a two-year period and found the Mediterranean eating pattern helped people lose more weight than a conventional low-fat diet and helped people with diabetes better control their blood glucose levels.

Another recent study by Spanish researchers reports that people who adhered most closely to Mediterranean Diet principles reduced their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 83 percent, compared with those who didn’t. We also know the diet reduces inflammation, a risk factor for heart attack and stroke, and may even ward off depression and lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

There a four basic tenets in the Mediterranean Diet:

1. Stock your pantry and eat at home. Do your best to cook more and use whole, unprocessed ingredients so you can control portion sizes, salt and calories. “We can’t ask people to make everything from scratch,” says Oldways dietitian Nicki Heverling, M.S., R.D. Instead, she suggests stocking your pantry and freezer with Mediterranean-inspired staples like canned tomatoes, olives, whole-wheat pasta and frozen vegetables.

2. Get most of your protein from beans and fish. Swap out some of your meat and get your protein from beans, nuts and other plants. By displacing meat, you’ll lower your saturated-fat intake while adding healthful nutrients, like fiber and antioxidant-rich flavonols. Heverling recommends starting with a few small changes: aim to make a plant-based dinner, like meatless chili once or twice a week. Or make the focus of the meal whole grains and vegetables and think of meat as a flavoring; for example, use a little diced pancetta in a tomato sauce for pasta.

3. Make olive oil your staple fat. Give heart-healthy olive oil as well as other plant-based oils like canola and walnut oil star billing over saturated-fat-laden, LDL-cholesterol-raising butter, lard or shortening—even in baking. Or do as the Greeks do and sauté y our vegetable dishes in olive oil (ladera, or “oily” style) to highlight their flavor. Learn to appreciate extra-virgin olive oils with plenty of flavor, advises Antonia Trichopoulou, M.D., from the University of Athens School of Medicine: “Look for a yellow or green olive oil with a rich smell and taste.” Pale, odorless oils are fine for baking and frying and are still high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, she adds, “but they ar e lacking in the more than 200 microcomponents that have beneficial effects on health.” Microcomponents like oleocanthal, for ­example, which is a potent anti-inflammatory found in extra-virgin olive oils.

4. Enjoy a glass of wine with meals. Enjoy wine in moderation during meals, never drinking alone outside of the meal and never in excess. Drinking wine increases HDL (good) cholesterol, may help regulate blood sugar and can even help you digest your food and absorb its nutrients. Wines, especially reds, also deliver a dose of heart-healthy resveratrol. Take Trichopoulou’s advice and use wine “to enjoy life, not to forget life!”

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A food allergy is an immune system response to a food that the body mistakenly believes is harmful. Once the immune system decides that a particular food is harmful, it creates specific antibodies to it.

The next time the individual eats that food, the immune system releases massive amounts of chemicals, including histamine, in order to protect the body. These chemicals trigger a cascade of allergic symptoms that can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, or cardiovascular system.

Scientists estimate that approximately 11 million Americans suffer from true food allergies. At the present time, there is no cure for food allergy. Avoidance is the only way to prevent an allergic reaction.

Although an individual could be allergic to any food, such as fruits, vegetables, and meats, they are not as common as the following eight foods which account for 90% of all food-allergic reactions:

At Homemade Today, we know how difficult it can be preparing food for those members of your family with specific allergies. To assist you, we'll develop a family-specific list of foods to be avoided and available substitutes, if appropriate. We'll then work with you to select menu items that can be made or modified to fit your dietary needs.

Because we use so many fresh ingredients in our cooking, you don't need to be worried about long lists of food additives. When we occasionally use processed food, such as pasta, you can let us know which brands work best for you. We'll even send you a shopping list prior to your cook date, to make sure that we have not selected inappropriate ingredients.

Please let us know if we can help with your specific needs.

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The Graying Palate for Seniors

Nutrition and the Graying Palate

Seniors are the fastest growing segment of the population in the United States. In 2000, seniors represented 13% of our population and by the year 2030, seniors will represent 20%, or one in five people. Everyday more than 5,500 Americans turn 65 and this rapidly growing aging population is also plagued with health problems.

A recent study done by the National Center for Health Statistics has identified the following chronic conditions in people age 65 or over:

Specific dietary changes can improve many of these ailments, but first we have to get our seniors to eat properly, possibly avoiding these problems to begin with. 67% of people between the ages of 65 and 84 need to improve their diet, according to the Healthy Eating Index.

There are a variety of food challenges, specific to seniors:

Challenge Solution
Seniors need to reduce their caloric intake and increase their nutrition at the same time. Homemade Today chefs concentrate on providing delicious nutrient-dense foods. Including fortified low fat milk, low fat yogurt and low fat cheese increases both Vitamin D and calcium. Adding dark leafy greens, orange and yellow vegetables, fruits, such as berries, apricots, peaches and mangoes in menus increases folic acid and antioxidants. High fiber foods, such as beans and lentils, are vitally important in ensuring proper digestion, and contain nutrients not found in most meat and poultry.
Sense of taste and smell naturally decrease as we age and medications only exacerbate the problem.  Most seniors take an average of 3 medications per day and many of these medications further dull sensory perception. We amplify flavors without adding additional sodium. Flavored vinegars, citrus, fresh herbs and concentrated flavors like fruit preserves, roasted meats and roasted vegetables intensify flavor without adding sodium.
Senior depression is one of the leading causes of loss of appetite. Social isolation, loss of mobility and loss of a spouse are some of the reasons this can occur. Having a chef prepare meals in their home often gives seniors the additional personal contact they crave. We understand that need and spend extra time during our cooking day visiting with  clients.  Often, they'll spends hours in the kitchen or an adjoining room, enjoying lively conversation.  Cooking aromas also stimulate their appetites. A variety of foods will help stop the boredom many seniors feel when they experience depression. Another approach that often works is preparing meals from the senior?s homeland. The memory perception from their childhood often evokes feelings of well-being.

We also find many families sharing our service with aging parents.  Having your Homemade Today chef prepare a few extra portions is a great way to provide meals for senior relatives, friends and neighbors and delivering them is a good excuse to visit!

Loss of mobility is another challenge seniors face. This can impact both their ability to shop for food as well as to prepare food. The meals we prepare will only require a few minutes of heating at mealtime, helping those seniors who have trouble standing for long periods of time.
Loss of teeth, denture problems and mouth sores often make it difficult for seniors to chew. We prepare nutritious soft foods for our seniors who are experiencing these problems.
Decreased saliva can affect the aging palate, which impacts both taste and swallowing capabilities. Hearty soups serve double-duty by both increasing the moisture in the mouth and also by providing necessary fluid intake. Increasing the sauces in recipes also assures more moisture in meals.
There is often confusion about proper nutrition, especially when a doctor has prescribed a special diet with restrictions. When a spouse is trying to care for a partner or has lost the person who had always prepared their meals for them, this can be particularly troublesome. We possesses an in-depth knowledge about nutrition and special diets, however we are not nutritionists. Most of our clients have special dietary needs, and we are skilled at following your specifications. Whenever possible, we prefer to work with the client?s dietician or nutritionist to insure that each individual?s nutritional needs are completely met.

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Weight Watchers


Counting points or following the Core program on Weight Watchers are both great ways to drop a few pounds. Whether you're attending meetings, using Weight Watchers online tools or just tracking on your own, we can provide portion-controlled meals and their associated point values to help keep you on track. Our collection of Weight Watchers cookbooks and subscription to their monthly magazine is sure to keep you inspired with new menu ideas.

Here are just a few samples:

Herb Breaded Chicken with Creamy Mustard Sauce This chicken is dipped in buttermilk, dredged in an herbed breading and baked. The creamy mustard sauce makes a fine contrast of flavor and texture. 6 points.

Cheese-Stuffed Italian Chicken Tender chicken breasts, stuffed with tasty mozzarella. Another low fat favorite. 5 points.

North African Lentil Stew A virtually fat free stew of lentils and vegetables in a flavorful tomato broth. 3 points.

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Low Fat Diet


Are you a fan of the low fat approach? If so, you probably follow the principles espoused by Dr. Dean Ornish is his groundbreaking book, Eat More, Weigh Less.

The diet that Dr. Ornish recommends is a low-fat, plant-based diet that uses fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and soy products in their natural forms. This incorporates moderate quantities of egg whites and nonfat dairy or soy products and small amounts of sugar and white flour. These foods give you a double benefit: They are low in substances that are harmful and are rich in literally hundreds of substances that may be protective against heart disease and many other illnesses.

The food choices are vegetarian, with an eye toward keeping the fat content down. Having a personal chef prepare low fat meals in your home is a great way to follow a low fat plan.

Here are some tasty choices:

Chickpea and Spinach Curry This fiber-rich dish is great with warm pitas or served over basmati rice.

Tortilla Casserole This casserole uses tortillas in the same way as noodles for lasagna. The tofu/bean/tomato layers provide low-fat protein and texture, seasoned with a Mexican flavor.

Vegetable Lasagna To my family and clients, this dish ranks higher on the scale of culinary treats than regular lasagna. And to think it's good for you - low in fat and high in fiber. This lasagna gets its veggie flavor from broccoli and spinach.

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A vegetarian or vegan diet can be an incredibly healthy way to live and offers a wonderful array of culinary adventures. Using legumes, soy products, fruits, vegetables and fresh herbs, Homemade Today is sure to find a variety of meal choices to please your palate.

We've got lots of experience with vegetarian diets and many of our families eat vegetarian meals several times a week, using great ingredients such as tofu, tempeh, black beans and lots of fresh vegetables.

You know that preparing vegetarian fare requires lots of planning - all those vegetables to chop and beans to soak. Let a Personal Chef help with the process!

Here's some great samples:

Cuban Black Beans and Rice A Caribbean classic - black beans gently simmered in a spicy vegetable broth, served over brown rice. Greatly complemented with a garnish of sour cream and scallions.

Stir-Fried Broccoli with Red Peppers and Peanut Sauce A Thai base sauce with four simple flavors of salt, sour, sweet and hot, mellowed with coconut milk and peanut butter. Assault all of your senses in a single meal!

Vegetarian Chili This terrific chili gets it's character from a combination of beans and tempeh, a great soy product. The smokiness of a single chipolte pepper is accented with the sweetness of blackstrap molasses.

Lentils Olé Try this great lentil dish with the Mexican flair. These lentils go well with rice, plain pasta or corn bread. Or, serve them as a taco filling with chopped vegetables and grated cheese.

Tortilla Casserole This casserole uses tortillas in the same way as noodles for lasagna. The tofu/bean/tomato layers provide low-fat protein and texture, seasoned with a Mexican flavor.

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sample menus special diets

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