A Place for Mom

Sunrise Senior Living Signature Dining Offers a Fresh Perspective

Dana Larsen
By Dana LarsenMay 30, 2013
Sunrise Senior Living Dining

By offering restaurant-style dining with home-cooked meals with local, seasonal ingredients prepared from scratch, Sunrise offers more than a good meal; the senior living provider offers peace of mind for families.

Sunrise Senior Living DiningSunrise is known for the premier dining experience—and after chatting with Caitlin Rogers, National Director of Dining and Nutrition Services—we know why. The tangible excitement Caitlin exuberated about the Sunrise program and her knowledge about senior nutrition was impressive, to say the least.

Caitlin works on all the Sunrise food services training, menu development, recipe testing and writing. And since Sunrise has close to 300 communities—all with regional food differences that require menu adaptations—she has a lot on her plate.

What Makes Sunrise Different?

According to Caitlin, Sunrise is committed to providing residents with flavorful foods they’re excited to eat. But the other side of that is nutrition. Seniors have unique nutritional needs that have to be met. So finding the balance between healthy, tasty food is where Sunrise excels. Each meal has “something for everyone—there’s a lot of variety,” according to Caitlin, as “resident satisfaction” is the most important ingredient.

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So how are meals catered to senior nutrition? Well Sunrise uses fresh produce, whole grains and lean proteins. And all added salts are removed from recipes. Instead chefs season with herbs, citrus and spices, and “no one minds” Caitlin mentions, as there are “increased flavor profiles” introduced through the innovative flavoring. In fact, Sunrise has creamy and very full-flavored dressings that use 1/3 of the sodium. “You’d never be able to tell,” Caitlin notes. Sunrise has actually been complimented on their fresh, good flavors.

Sunrise offers hot and cold entrees every day, to help keep a variety. And menus are supplemented with a “catch of the day,” “chef special selection” or signature or seasonal entree. Examples include the “Sunrise signature burger,” strawberry shortcake and barbecue chicken—a summer favorite—and roasted root vegetables and mushroom soup—a winter specialty.

Appealing to Residents, One at a Time…

Sunrise’s Signature Dining appeals to residents in that Sunrise makes a point to keep meals nutritious, yet tasty. And chefs tailor meals for specific dietary needs and make sure to personalize meals for residents including their religious and cultural preferences, upon request.

Caitlin also mentions the food presentation is very artistic and impressive: “Dining Service Coordinators do a great job with the presentation!”

Here are a few of the therapeutic diets Sunrise offers:

  • Mechanical soft
  • Finger food diet for those with memory loss
  • Pureed diet
  • Consistent carbohydrate/diabetic diet
  • Renal diet
  • No added-salt diet (standard)

Balancing Nutrition With Resident Enjoyment

Mealtime is a central part of everyone’s life. It is part of being human. Enjoyment, socialization—these are all elements that enhance dining and living life to its fullest. Caitlin points out that Sunrise offers healthy choices to balance “treat items” as it’s all about moderation. “Everyone loves chocolate cake,” she notes. “Providing healthy choices and comfort choices and allowing residents to make decisions that are best for themselves helps promote happy and healthy residents.” Each Sunrise community also has a “Resident Dining Council” that meets once a month to give feedback and suggestions to staff. This helps provide a resident voice in meals and dining events.

Catering Meals on a Community Level

Using local vendors for produce who are more in-tune with particular seasons and options in the area also helps with freshness and nutrition. And since meal preferences change by region—some areas prefer fish and grilled vegetables while others prefer meat and potatoes—menus are often tailored by location. And of course each meal is made as healthy as possible by substituting where necessary and enhancing flavor through spices, such as rosemary, thyme, basil and cumin by each community’s in-house culinary team.

The entire Sunrise team is also always looking out for residents’ good health, according to Caitlin.

Offering Signature Dining for Optimal Living

Sunrise Senior LivingCaitlin notes that the Sunrise dining rooms, bistro and communal gathering areas throughout the communities are both “relaxing and pleasant” for residents and are catered to unique resident needs. For example, “for memory care residents, the finger foods, linens and tableware have contrasting colors, there’s a hydration station and we use adaptive equipment, like two-handled soup bowls, to accommodate residents who prefer to walk as they eat,” she comments.

Sunrise’s commitment to champion quality of life for all of their seniors is apparent in their food and dining experience. The reduced-fat, low-calorie, high-fiber and low-sodium choices that have also been tastefully prepared with herbs and spices that appeal to the senior palette make this senior living provider a popular choice for both seniors and their families.

Sunrise Cookbook

Download the exclusive Sunrise Senior Living cookbook to inspire your meals at home. Recipes From the Heart features a collection of recipe favorites from their more than 30 years of preparing fresh and delicious meals for seniors. You can also read Sunrise’s Senior Eats blog for great senior living nutrition information, recipes and more!

About Caitlyn Rogers:Caitlin Rogers is the National Director of Dining & Nutrition Services for Sunrise Senior Living.  Previously, she was the Director of Prepared Foods and Corporate Executive Chef for Balducci’s Food Lovers Market based in Maryland.  She has also cooked professionally at numerous restaurants, most notably the James Beard Award winning Paley’s Place in Portland, Oregon.  She is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Portland, Oregon and Colgate University in Hamilton, New York.

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Dana Larsen
Dana Larsen

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