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Enhanced Menus Provides Ethnic Diversity

Meals on Wheels People Introduces New Entrées

Presented by Meals on Wheels October 16, 2017

Yakisoba bvruro

The big trend in food right now is re-invention. How can we take something that is classic or beloved and make it better, leaner, healthier? Whether it’s doing away with canned soup in the holiday green bean casserole or finding a way to lighten up macaroni and cheese, everyone wants to improve what they make in the kitchen. And while you’re at it, be sure it reflects your cultural heritage. That’s not asking too much, is it?

That food movement has made its way into restaurants and to Meals on Wheels. That’s right, the folks at Meals on Wheels People have spent a considerable amount of time working on their daily menu to include more fresh produce as well as to reflect the ethnic diversity of its clientele.

“We feature the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet for all of our diners,” said Meals on Wheels People Executive Director Suzanne Washington. “This menu profile is appropriate for anyone who needs low sodium, low cholesterol or a diabetic diet and it emphasizes more lean protein sources and complex carbohydrates as well as fresh fruit and vegetables.” Developed by a staff dietitian, the six-week menu cycle uses recipes that focus on herbs and spices to create diverse and ethnic flavors without the use of salt.

In 2016, headquarters, central kitchen and center staff and volunteers. They were tasked with creating ethnic menu items that would appeal to participants who were not accustomed to a typical American diet.

Curry tofu with chickpeas axpt8c

 “Our menu did not reflect the diversity of those we serve,” said Suzanne. “Like any business, we want to offer what our customers want. And while our meatloaf is really popular, our clients from Asia and South America and Eastern Europe were looking for something else.”

The menu committee and the dietitian came up with a number of entrées that were created and taste-tested by the senior diners at the centers. Their feedback helped to refine the recipes and, over the course of the last year, a number of new items have been introduced into the menu. Some of these include Taiwanese Beef Stew, Asian BBQ Chicken, Japanese Yakisoba Noodles, Curry Tofu with Chickpeas, Stir Fry Pork, Lemongrass Fish, Chicken Chile Verde, Slavic Cabbage, Fish Tacos, Russian Cream and Somali Chicken. Meals on Wheels People also offers a daily vegetarian choice for all participants.

Fish tacos xy1w8d

“Baby boomers who are turning 60 today do not fit the same demographic as seniors a decade ago,” Suzanne said. “Many are working into their 70s. They are not drawn to the ‘meat and potatoes’ menu that attracted seniors a generation ago. They have a more sophisticated palate and are accustomed to eating foods from around the world. And, because nearly 30 percent of those we serve come from cultures other than America, we want to ensure that our menu appeals to them as well.”

Stir fry pork rniy31

Meals on Wheels People serves and delivers 5,000 meals every weekday throughout the greater Portland-Vancouver metro area at dozens of neighborhood dining rooms and through home delivery. To learn more, to make a donation or to volunteer, visit them at mealsonwheelspeople.org.