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How I’ve Become a Caregiver to My Parents + Healthier Macaroni and Cheese with Butternut Squash Recipe

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There are many ways you can offer assistance and caregiving to aging parents. Today I’m sharing some of the ways my husband and I are doing that with my parents after moving them into our home four years ago.

Four years ago, we made the decision to sell our home and move into a new one. We were motivated by a few different reasons. One being that we wanted our girls to go to a particular school and our current home wasn’t zoned for that district.

And another being that we kept contemplating moving my parents in with us.

Just like the decision to move, there were a few reasons we were considering this huge life change too. While some husbands might not jump at the chance to live with their in-laws, my husband was very much on board and actually the main supporter of this decision because he was raised with grandparents in the home. It’s part of his culture and I have a wonderful relationship with my parents, so we definitely saw the pros of the move.

Some other pros of this life change that we noted were that it would make things much easier on them financially, as they both planned to retire within that year.

We also knew it would personally make a big impact, because as they grew older, they would need more assistance and having them right in our home would make that even easier. Plus, the thought of having live-in babysitters was at the top of my Pro list for sure!

So now, almost 4 years later, I can tell you that it was the absolute best decision for all of us. Even though my parents are still active and healthy and join in on so many of the housekeeping duties, I have assumed a few caregiving roles in the family, with the main one being the chef of the house.

My Mom would admit that as soon as they moved in, they immediately began eating healthier. With the two of them working outside the home, she just couldn’t find the time to prepare healthy meals, so fast food was often the choice for dinner.

But cooking a sit down, healthy meal for my family is something I do almost every single night of the week and it was a great way to get them on board with eating a better-balanced diet.

Now, that didn’t come so easy because habits are hard to break. So, I started treating meals the same way I did with my girls. I made small, easy swaps in meals to make healthier versions.

Some of my favorite swaps are extra virgin olive oil in place of butter or ground turkey instead of ground beef. And I always try to sneak in vegetables when I can – for everyone in the family.

One of our family’s favorites is the Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese recipe you’ll find below. But don’t tell anyone that there’s butternut squash hiding inside!

Making healthy swaps particularly came to light after we all moved in together. I then began to feel personally responsible for the foods my dad ate, and dinner time became even more important for both the meals we were eating and the time we were spending together daily.

Dinner time is such a great time to connect with your family as the rest of the day we’re all hustling around, but the slowdown of meal times makes for great conversation.

There are so many ways that we can give care to our aging parents – making healthy meals like I try to do with favorites like this Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese, giving them a ride to doctor appointments or running daily errands, lending a helping hand around the house, being there to listen to a story from the past, and helping them make the best decisions for their health and finances.

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups butternut squash
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2-3 Tablespoons garlic, minced or chopped
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 3 leaves sage
  • 1 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1/2 cup milk (can use soy milk)
  • 1 cup cheese, grated or chopped
  • 2 cups uncooked macaroni noodles
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F

Cut the butternut squash in half and brush 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the flesh part (not the skin).

Roast the butternut squash for 25-40 minutes, until slightly browned and an inserted skewer goes through the squash with little effort.

Scoop the butternut squash out of the skin and place in a large bowl.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.

Add the garlic, onion and herbs.

Sautee until the onion is translucent, then add 1 1/2 cups of the squash and stir well.

Thin the solution out with broth and allow it to come to a boil.

Meanwhile, cook the macaroni according to package directions.

Use an immersion blender to puree the butternut squash mixture.

Add the milk & cheese and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in the cooked & drained macaroni and stir to coat with the butternut squash-cheese mixture.

Serve hot.

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Picky About Your Produce? Me Too!

Wednesday 28th of August 2019

[…] Hide veggies when you can. There are so many ways you can do this – cauliflower rice, adding in vegetables with smoothies, and even sneaking in some in favorites like macaroni and cheese, like I do in this Butternut Squash Healthier Mac ‘N Cheese. […]

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