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‘High-end and homelike’

Dining experience serious business at Seabrook

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September 20th, 2011

More salt, less salt. More seasoning, less seasoning. More sugar, less sugar. When it comes to dining, We want food that s satisfying and nourishing, says Peter Lumia, who lives at Seabrook, an Erickson Living community in Tinton Falls, N.J. As the community s Resident Advisory Council food and dining committee co-chair, Peter bridges the gap between his neighbors wants and needs and the community s dining department, which services two on-site restaurants and a cafe. He talks frequently with Director of Dining Services Chris Stewart and takes suggestions and comments from his fellow neighbors.

Distinctive dining

The dining experience is one of the top two reasons why people live here, Stewart says, noting the other reason is the top-quality health care on campus. It makes life enjoyable not only with the food but also with the social aspect. With that in mind, Stewart says his team strives to make the dining experience as high-end and homelike as possible, while marrying the two. To accomplish that goal, dining services creates a distinctive dining experience in each Seabrook restaurant the Fireside and the Princeton. Even though the menus rotate on a five-week cycle, we modify menus based on the feedback from residents in each restaurant, Stewart says. For example, the Fireside instituted a staple menu of five entrees, with three entrees changing daily and one changing weekly. Additionally, Stewart says, if a menu item is popular in one restaurant but not the other, his team modifies the menu to satisfy its patrons. Each of the two clubhouses at Seabrook houses a restaurant. The Fireside resides in Village Center, while the Princeton is in Town Square. People who live in the residence buildings connected to each clubhouse typically dine at the restaurant there; however, they can choose to dine at either restaurant as their monthly service package includes one meal a day at any restaurant on campus.

Nutritional choices

To create that distinctive dining experience, Stewart takes suggestions from community members seriously. In the past two years, the entire Resident Advisory Council has met with the dining team and Seabrook s executive director on three occasions. We work with the Resident Advisory Council so they can help the community understand why dining services does what it does, Stewart says. They really help drive the process. Peter says these meetings have also helped improve the dining experience for those who live at Seabrook. Improvements include better-trained wait staff, healthier dining options, and the addition of a coffee cart and revised coffee service. Healthier choices include a vegetarian dish, low-sodium options, and a variety of side dishes that represent all food groups. Additionally, the dining team has made lighter options available. People don t always want a full, heavy meal. Sometimes they want something light, Peter says. No matter how big or small their concern, Stewart says, if it s important to the residents, we find a way to implement a change or make something better.

Feeding into the new dietary guidelines

The newest dietary guidelines since 2005, released January 31 of this year, urge Americans to eat more fruits, veggies, and grains; less sodium; and smaller portions. Nothing new, but this time around based on science, says Lona Sandon, M.Ed., R.D., spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. She says the ideas of smaller portions, lower calorie intake, and more physical activity have been expressed by experts for years, but now the guidelines aim to rise above fad diets and speak to all ages. Specifically for adults 51 and older, the guidelines recommend less than 1,500 mg of sodium a day.

Top ways to find flavor and cut calories

1. Use fresh herbs and spices. Grow your own herbs or buy small containers of dried varieties. Refresh frequently for heightened flavor. 2.

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