Kitchen Shrink: Hearty, healthy ideas for Father's Day meals

KITCHEN SHRINK:

A stressed-out reader, who's hosting a Father's Day barbecue for her extended family with dads from their 20s to their twilight years, was wondering if she should mix up the menu considering the age range of her guests. While most guys would be thrilled to scarf down a heap of salty snacks accompanied by a beverage that has the ability to make them belch, there are different nutritional requirements to fuel both moving and non-moving parts at different stages of their lives.

Power Tools: Men in their 20s not only need to maintain muscle mass and high energy levels to cope with the stresses of active toddlers, but also boost bone strength to prevent osteoporosis in later life, repair DNA, and increase sperm count during these peak reproductive years. Dense protein sources build brawn, foods rich in potassium and B vitamins give quick energy spurts while providing a dose of calm, calcium and folate improve bone and cellular health, while high-octane minerals jack-up testosterone levels.

Kick off the Father's Day shindig with handcrafted guacamole and hummus accompanied by flaxseed and banana chips. Burgers of lamb, grass-fed beef, or tuna on whole-wheat buns with a warm wilted spinach salad would fill the bill. Of course, oysters, the food of fantasy and legend are a good pick for bumping up romance, fertility and family size, while a pan of bittersweet brownies with 70 percent or higher cocoa content makes them all a little more amorous.

• Sanders and Chisels: Trentagenarians need to focus on calories and magnesium. As a rule of thumb, for every year after 30, guys should trim 10 calories a day to balance a shrinking metabolism. Magnesium-rich foods like nut butters and dark leafy greens are essential to dial up bone health, and maintain steady blood pressure and sugar levels.

Serve these fellows crudités of raw carrots, cauliflower florets, celery sticks and asparagus spears instead of chips, do paleo-style burgers with lettuce or kale wraps, and fresh berries with Greek yoghurt for dessert.

• Miter Saws: In the 40s, the male metabolism continues to decrease, while life's stresses continue to grow. The once invincible brawny body is now susceptible to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and other health risks. So 40-somethings should consume lean protein sources, a load of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with other antioxidant powerhouses, while reducing sodium for optimum balance, stamina and weight control.

For these dads go easy with the salt shaker, but heavy-handed with fresh herbs and spices, including parsley, basil, rosemary, turmeric, cayenne, and ginger. Grilled chicken or deep-sea scallop skewers harpooned with Portobello mushroom, red pepper and sweet onion chunks on a bed of brown rice is a light yet satisfying feast.

• Wrenches, Ratchets, Pliers: As men shuffle into their 50s, the prostate swells while the libido shrinks. To rescue the former, amp up lycopene sources, especially tomatoes, watermelon and guava. Cooking tomatoes makes lycopene more bio-available than in raw ones, and since the protective pigment is also fat-soluble, eat with some healthy fat like olive oil.

To rev up sex drive, good picks include iron-packed spinach, figs, avocados, and the multi-purpose watermelon loaded with citruline that mimics properties of the little blue pill. Quintagenarians should also indulge in lutein-rich leafy greens to ward off cataracts.

Good menu items include zippy gazpacho, Caprese salad, and a pitcher of watermelon agua fresca to cool their heels and heat up their passion.

• Vintage Tools: Gents over 60 should eat optimally to keep the ticker running smoothly, the brain cells and joints well-lubed, the constitution regular, while preserving muscle and bone mass. Start with omega-3 fatty acids, best sourced from cold-water fish, especially wild-caught salmon, herring and sardines along with shellfish and seaweed, fiber in whole-grain form and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried), along with lean protein, especially skinless chicken and turkey breast, beans, legumes, quinoa and nuts.

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Recipe: Alpha-Male Quinoa Salad

Ingredients: 1-cup quinoa, rinsed; 2 avocadoes (diced); 2 Persian cucumbers, diced; 3 Roma tomatoes, diced; 2 carrots, diced; 1 handful fresh Italian parsley, chopped; juice from each Meyer lemon, lime, tangerine; 3 ounces virgin olive oil; 1/3-cup slivered almonds; 1/3-cup currants; 1-teaspoon honey

Method: Boil two cups of water. Add quinoa. Simmer covered until water is absorbed (about 20 minutes). Chill.

In a large mixing bowl, combine vegetables, herbs, currants. Fold in quinoa. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, juices, honey and seasonings. Blend in quinoa salad.

Layer platter with spinach leaves, and scoop quinoa mixture on top. Sprinkle with almonds. (Serves 4)

Catharine Kaufman can be reached at kitchenshrink@san.rr.com

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