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At East Ridge at Cutler Bay, the culinary team— under the direction of Robert Ibgui CEC, CDM, the director of food and beverage and executive chef Ron Smalls—manages the dining services for independent living as well as Three Palms assisted living, memory support and skilled nursing. Each day the dining rooms accommodate residents by serving three meals a day.

Especially important is pleasing the pallets of this diverse group of residents while focusing on their health and wellness by incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables.

Residents want comfort foods and their familiar favorites as well as an opportunity to enjoy something they may not have tried before.

“We take the recipes and adapt them to healthier versions,” Ibgui explains. “We are trying to encourage residents to enjoy more fruits and vegetables and our menus reflect a variety of healthy options.”

Since June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month some of the Chef’s tips include:

  • Soups offer great way to incorporate vegetables. The East Ridge menu always has homemade soups. Favorites are vegetable broccoli, black bean, white onion and cream of asparagus. The American Heart Association recommends adults consume eight or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day. That’s 4 ½ cups. Soups can contribute to this total. Almost any vegetable lends itself to use in soup, from creamy squash or tomato bisques to vegetable beef or chicken vegetable soup. Add fresh or frozen vegetables to canned soups to increase the servings of vegetables and add flavor.
  • Salads don’t necessary need to be lettuce based. We offer a variety on the East Ridge menu. You may find tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, carrot and pineapple, Waldorf salad with apples and tabbouleh with fresh mint. Home cooks can easily prepare these as salad options.
  • There are a wide variety greens that can find their way into salads. Kale, spinach, watercress and arugula offer a host of powerful antioxidants, Vitamin C and E and folic acid. Antioxidants are substances that help protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals.
  • More antioxidants can be found in beans and peas, string beans, peppers, tomatoes and all are excellent choices offering the benefits of antioxidants. Rather than serve plain vegetables, the East Ridge menu may offer combinations of vegetables along with a variety of herbs for flavor. Tarragon peas and carrots or a summer ratatouille with eggplant, peppers, zucchini and tomatoes may be menu options.
  • Dessert can incorporate seasonal fresh fruit. We make fresh fruit available and residents sometimes enjoy taking a piece of fruit to go for a snack later. Often we’ll serve a dessert that is fruit-based such as lychee and strawberries or incorporate fruit with a sweet such a pound cake with fresh strawberries.

“Encouraging people to make better food choices starts by making these choices available”, he adds. “At East Ridge not only are residents exposed to better options in the dining rooms, there is continuing education at the Lifestyle Center as well as the Fitness Center.”

To sample dining at East Ridge, please call 305-256-3564 and the Marketing Department will be happy to provide a tour.