With COVID vaccinations rates rising and the country beginning to open back up, Five Star Senior Living has been busy working on making the reopening of our communities safe and vibrant for our residents. And one of the places where we’ve been busiest is the dining room.
From signature dishes to local flavors to our residents’ favorite comfort foods, Five Star dining has always been about good eating and good nutrition. Now, as our community dining rooms begin to reopen as guidelines allow, we’re adding another focus: good science in the form of new menu items bursting not only with flavor but immunity-boosting nutrients.
It’s a focus that can help our residents become more resistant and resilient when it comes to COVID and other illnesses. Vitamin C and B12, polyphenols and flavonoids, proteins and minerals like iron and zinc—all these and more are found in our new featured dishes that do much more than please the palate. They also boost immunity, helping to protect against infections such as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. They include such “superfoods” as leafy greens, nuts and olive oil. These and other ingredients contain nutrients that scientific research has shown protect the heart, kidneys, eyes and skin. They can also help manage weight and protect against obesity, which nutritionists consider another “pandemic,” especially in the United States.
New immunity-boosting menu items: from stir fry to smoothies
“Although you may not be able to fully prevent an illness this season, a healthy immune system is one way to give your body extra protection,” says Ronda Watson, RD, Five Star’s National Director of Dining Services. “Focusing on nutrient-rich foods and healthy lifestyle behaviors can help you and your family stay a step ahead.” To help residents do just that, Dining Services is introducing four new, immunity-boosting menu items for the spring season—three entrees and one irresistible smoothie. (See below to download our recipe for Spinach Salad with Strawberries, Almonds and Grilled Salmon.) These delicious restaurant-quality selections are each designed for maximum flavor and nutrition with a minimum of calories.
But Dining Services is going beyond introducing new foods for residents to explore and enjoy as our dining rooms reopen. “We’re teaming up with community program directors and our Ageility rehab and fitness training partners to offer residents a holistic approach to wellness,” Ronda says. “That approach includes a new dining experience.”
For example, recipe cards have been developed so home chefs can prepare the new healthy dishes in their own kitchens. The recipes also list information on how specific ingredients boost immunity, protect against heart disease and provide many other health benefits.
Another new feature is Chef Chats—live cooking demonstrations from local Five Star community chefs introducing the new menu items. It’s a chance for residents to learn more about healthy eating, from how to select fresh ingredients to healthy food prep techniques. Chef Chats are part of Five Star’s new Wellness Wednesdays, which will also include exercise sessions led by Ageility physical therapists and fitness trainers that are designed to help residents recondition after months of reduced physical activity due to the pandemic
Good eating meets good science
Five Star residents often praise the quality of our meals, which are carefully designed for good, nutritious eating. We believe good eating starts with being simply nutritious: good for your body and your mind without having to work at it, making every calorie count. Good eating should taste great, too, but we believe it should appeal to all your senses—mouthwatering aromas; the clink of wine glasses; the gentle scrape of silverware grazing glazed stoneware … and for the eyes, fruits and vegetables of vibrant reds, greens and all the colors of the rainbow that tell you your food is as fresh as the day. Good eating is an experience that enhances life and makes it more meaningful. As we often say at Five Star, food is love.
Now, thanks to the new menu items being rolled out in Five Star dining rooms around the country this spring, good eating also helps repair and protect the incredible machine that is the human body. Bon appétit!
From our table to yours: Try one of our new recipes
Our newest menu items are loaded with immune-boosting vitamins and minerals as well as fiber and other heart-healthy ingredients. They’re also high in nutrients that benefit the rest of your body, too, including healthy skin—so you can look as good as you feel! Download our latest recipe card to learn more.