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February 12, 2024

Wholesome Dining: Nurturing Lives at Vitalia Westlake

Category: Culinary

Author: Jason Glessner, Culinary Director

When it comes to senior living, there are a few factors to consider always. One of the main considerations should be food and the overall dining experience. This delicate balance involves the interplay of culinary creativity and nutritional precision, a nuanced dance that unfolds within our dining rooms. At Vitalia Westlake, our commitment lies in promoting the vitality, happiness, and longevity of those we serve. Join us where the aroma of carefully prepared dishes mingles with the laughter of shared stories. We explore the significance of nutrition while unveiling some of the secrets behind our thoughtfully curated menus. 

I always exercise caution with the amount of salt I use in my dishes. I’ve discovered that flavor can be enhanced by incorporating a variety of fresh herbs, spices, and juices, creating a welcoming flavor profile in our dishes. One thing I always keep in mind when cooking for my residents is our diverse population and how everyone is different. Everyone’s tastes and needs are different, and health is different. Although challenging at times, we are the ones who have the privilege of providing what is needed. At the end of the day, that makes our jobs incredibly rewarding.

Health-Conscious Suggestion

If a health-conscious resident were to ask me to suggest an entrée, it would be a grilled salmon dish with couscous and fresh vegetables. The salmon is an excellent vessel for taking on the fresh flavors of herbs, and lemon provides a great flavor along with the nutrients, vitamins A, D, and B12. It also can help protect against heart disease by increasing good fats and decreasing bad ones. The couscous adds a healthy grain element to the dish, and the fresh vegetables contain some of the same nutrients.

Many of our added menu items have a “nutrition-forward” focus. Some of these include the different salads we offer in our bistro and rotating on our menu. Along with lighter basic fare such as our catch of the week and grilled chicken breast. For residents needing to gain weight, I suggest foods higher in starch and fat content, like French fries, burgers, and hot dogs.

When dining out, I am about 50/50 when thinking about my nutrition. Over the years, I have developed a strong knowledge from working in the culinary field about the importance of a well-balanced diet, but when dining out, it’s a time for me to throw nutrition out the window. Healthy snacking is essential. A healthy snack option is hummus. It provides a great source of nutrients from simple ingredients and checks many boxes I’m looking for while providing a healthy alternative to chips and dip. My one guilty pleasure snack is chocolate mousse cake.

What we’ve uncovered is more than a celebration of diverse flavors and textures.

It’s a testament to the commitment to prioritize the nutritional well-being of our residents. The kitchen remains the heart of our senior living experiences. We hope the flavors shared resonate and linger in your thoughts. The creative spark in our kitchen isn’t just about pushing culinary boundaries. It’s about crafting delicious meals and a source of nourishment for our residents. I hope this inspires continued conversations about the importance of nutrition, creativity in culinary arts, and the everlasting impact they have on the lives of our older adults. 

VITALIA® Westlake in Westlake, OH offers independent living +, assisted living, and memory care with a variety of services and a range of floor plan options. Amenities include restaurant dining, 24-hour bistro, concierge service, housekeeping, events and entertainment, personal care, transportation services, and more. Centrally located near UH St. John Medical Center and Cleveland Clinic Avon with convenient access to major shopping centers and attractions, including Meadowood Golf Course, Crocker Park, Clague Playhouse, Porter Library, Westlake Rec Center, Sibling Revelry Brewery, Bradley Woods Reservation, Huntington Reservation, and White Oaks Restaurant.

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