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Fresh, fit and flavorful

Beverwyck program showcases new, healthy menu items

Chef Cary Neff has long known of his culinary calling, but he didn't truly find an outlet for it until he visited his grandmother in a retirement home.

She would tell me everything that was wrong with the food, he said. "Honestly, the food wasn't bad, but it could have been a lot better...it was basic, it could have been more innovative."

Chef Neff is the brains behind new food offerings from Morrison Senior Living, the company that supplies food for the Beverwyck retirement community in North Bethlehem and about 500 other senior living communities across the nation. Beverwyck will be one of the first markets to taste Neff's Flavors 450 meals, designed to clock in under 450 calories.

Neff (the vice president of culinary for Morrison), accomplishes this not only by using smaller portions, but by using more fresh ingredients and fewer preservatives; less or no butter, cream and salt; and sensible, well-presented meals that seniors will take a liking to.

He showed off some of his menu items at a demonstration for Beverwyck residents on Thursday, June 2, and if the audience reaction was any indicator, his meals will be a hit. He even met up with a few residents afterward to compare recipes and canning techniques.

In all the new dishes, the emphasis will be placed on using in-season and, if possible, locally-produced ingredients. These are healthier and more flavorful, and because the portions are a bit smaller on these dishes the company basically breaks even while using a higher quality ingredient. Chefs will use vegetable stocks in a lot of the dishes, which will be produced in-kitchen daily.

"This generation understands and is used to what happens in the garden," Neff said. "They know that they need better ingredients that don't promote having illness."

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