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Springtime Nutrition: Recipes for Creating Connections through Food

Springtime Nutrition: Recipes for Creating Connections through Food

Health & Aging  |  Miscellaneous

For seniors, spring offers a wonderful opportunity not only to nourish the body with wholesome ingredients but to foster connections through communal dining experiences. Paul Sprowls, Director of Dining Services at Westminster Woods, is helping Presbyterian Senior Living residents do just that.

The heart of dining

At Westminster Woods, the dining experience extends well beyond meals; it’s a celebration of community and connection. Paul and his team have established The Wellness Kitchen, where residents come together to learn, create, and bond through culinary exploration. These monthly gatherings not only empower residents to develop their culinary skills but serve as a platform for social interaction and engagement.

Wellness Kitchen 1“Food is what brings people together,” Paul says. “Once they’re together, I’m always looking for ways for them to interact. I want to create a space that facilitates conversation.”

Residents gather at The Wellness Kitchen and learn to incorporate fresh fish, crispy greens, seasonal fruits, and colorful vegetables into a healthy salad, or aromatic lavender flowers into a summer-inspired lemonade. Each resident takes home a recipe card, and the recipes that prove popular become part of the dining services menu.

5 tips to capture the flavors of spring

Outside of Presbyterian Senior Living’s dining services, residents can make the most of the season by following these five tips when planning their meals:

  1. Embrace seasonal produce: Take advantage of the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables available during the spring and summer months. Whether from a farmers market or the grocery store, seasonal ingredients not only add vibrant colors and flavors to dishes but pack a nutritional punch, providing essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  2. Prioritize variety: Include a range of healthy ingredients in meals to ensure a well-rounded nutritional profile. Strive for a mix of lean proteins, whole grains, colorful vegetables, and healthy fats in each meal to provide essential nutrients and promote overall health and well-being.
  3. Experiment with herbs and spices: Elevate the flavor profile of dishes using herbs, spices, and even edible flowers instead of relying on excessive salt or unhealthy condiments. Fresh herbs such as basil, cilantro, and mint, along with spices such as turmeric, cumin, and paprika, and flowers such as lavender or nasturtium not only enhance taste but offer potential health benefits.
  4. Opt for lean protein sources: Choose lean proteins such as poultry, fish, tofu, beans, and legumes to reduce saturated fat intake and promote heart health. Including a variety of protein-rich foods in meals ensures adequate protein intake while supporting muscle health and satiety.
  5. Focus on whole foods: Prioritize whole, minimally processed ingredients over highly processed and refined foods. Whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds provide essential nutrients and fiber while minimizing added sugars, unhealthy fats, and artificial additives.

By following these tips, individuals can create delicious and nutritious meals that promote health and well-being.

Nourishing body, mind, and soul

Salmon SaladThe use of fresh, seasonal ingredients in recipes has been a lifelong endeavor for Paul. He entered the culinary world decades ago and served as the Executive Chef of Westminster Woods when it opened in 1996. After a career that took him to numerous resorts, restaurants, and hotels, he returned to Presbyterian Senior Living’s Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, community in 2012 as Director of Dining Services.

Paul brought with him a desire to expand the dining landscape for seniors. His culinary expertise, combined with the aim to enhance residents’ lives, has made him a driving force behind the vibrant dining culture at Westminster Woods.

As spring unfolds, Paul encourages residents to incorporate seasonal ingredients into their meals. It isn’t rocket science, he says. If you go to the farmers market and purchase fresh produce, you can substitute the berry or protein or green from any salad to fit your taste.

Beyond nourishing the body, food has the remarkable ability to evoke cherished memories and forge connections. Communal dining experiences foster a sense of belonging and camaraderie among residents. Whether through potluck gatherings, family style dinners, or just meeting a friend for a meal on your patio, these occasions provide avenues for creating lasting memories and combating feelings of loneliness.

Embrace the nourishing gifts spring offers. From mouth-watering recipes to shared dining experiences, food is the thread that weaves together a community. Savor the flavors of spring and cultivate connections that nourish the body, mind, and soul.

Paul’s recipes for savoring spring

Berry Salad with Lavender and Lemon Vinaigrette


¼ cup virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 minced garlic clove
1 tsp honey
¼ tsp dry ground lavender buds
¼ tsp salt

  • Whisk ingredients, set aside.


Large handful of mixed greens
1 cup of your favorite berries
½ cup almonds
¼ cup crumbled goat cheese
½ cup sliced avocado

  • In a large bowl, toss salad and vinaigrette.

Nutrition per serving:
Calories: 333 | Carbohydrates: 13.5g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 29.1g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 232mg | Fiber: 5g

Healthy Salmon Salad


4 oz salmon filet
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil


1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
½ cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 oz black pitted olives
Sliced red onion to taste
Chopped green bell pepper to taste

Honey lemon dressing:

¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp honey
¼ cup dill
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Season salmon filet with paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper to taste.
  2. Preheat the oil and pan-fry the salmon for 5 to 6 minutes, turning at halfway point. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Combine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, black olives, onions, and green bell pepper in a large bowl.
  4. Combine olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, honey, dill, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and blend well.
  5. Pour the dressing over the salad and salmon. You can break the salmon into large flakes and serve over the salad if you so choose.

Nutrition per serving:
Calories: 489 | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 80g | Saturated fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 105mg | Sodium: 410mg | Potassium: 521mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 38g | Vitamin A: 4,932IU | Vitamin C: 150mg | Calcium: 137mg | Iron: 10mg

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About Presbyterian Senior Living

PSL is a mission-driven organization that lives our values of integrity, mutual respect, creative curiosity, and connectedness. Building on a legacy of 96 years, we provide residential and care services to more than 6,000 seniors in 27 locations across the mid-Atlantic region of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and Delaware.