Community Healthcare Network

Josie Thiele, CHN Nutritionist: “Shepherd’s Pie was a classic comfort food in my home growing up. Every Christmas Eve we would prepare a Shepherd’s Pie for dinner, freezing portions to reheat during the winter months.”

  • Shepherd’s Pie is an Irish dish made of ground meat cooked in gravy with mixed veggies topped with a mashed potato crust.
  • Shepherd’s pie has been a staple in Ireland since the 1700s. It is a great way to use meat and vegetables before they go bad. Back then lamb was more on hand for Irish shepherds and used for this meal.
  • In Britain, they changed it to make “cottage pie”, which used beef, a more costly and pleasing cut of meat at the time.

Try using other meat or veggies you have on hand. Instead of lamb, try beef, lentils, or meat alternatives (like Beyond Meat).



For the Potatoes:

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2 inch pieces
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 2 tbsp greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp of pepper

For the Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil
  • 1 pound of ground lamb/protein*
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp thyme, chopped
  • 1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups low sodium broth (beef or vegetable)
  • 2 cups frozen peas and carrots
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn


For the Potatoes:

  • Add the potatoes to a medium sized sauce pan and cover with water.
  • Boil potatoes for ~8-10 minutes until they are fork tender.
  • Drain and return to sauce pan.
  • Add butter, greek yogurt, milk, salt and pepper to the potatoes.
  • Mash until smooth.

For the Filling:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Heat oil, ground meat, salt, and pepper in a large skillet over high heat.
  • Once the meat has browned, add in onion, garlic, and mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
  • Stir in thyme, rosemary and tomato paste and cook for ~ 1 minute.
  • Add in flour and cook for another minute, keep stirring.
  • Add the broth, allowing to a simmer for 3 minutes until liquid is reduced.
  • Stir in frozen peas, carrots, and corn and remove from heat.
  • Spread filling onto a baking dish.
  • Spread the mashed potatoes on top of the filling.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the filling is bubbling out on the edges.

May Lemon, CHN Nutritionist: “In the fall, I look forward to hot teas and nourishing soups to build my immune system and keep the flu at bay. Growing up, my Grandmother would always make Coix Seed Soup when the weather changed from Summer to Fall to boost our immune systems. She said it removes dampness and prevents phlegm and it is easy for adults and children to drink. In my family we use Coix seed in our desserts and meat soups. It is our medicine in our everyday foods.”

Coix seed (Yi Mi) is a round white seed with a bland and mildly sweet taste and a slightly chewy texture. Since it is a seed, it is a complete protein and a good source of fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Coix seed is very common in Chinese supermarkets and herbal stores.




  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 cups of coix seed
  • 3 to 5 honey dates


  1. Place coix seed and honey dates in your pot and rinse with cold water until water runs clear. Drain the water.
  2. Add 6 cups of water to the pot.
  3. Cook on medium heat for 1.5 hours or until the seeds are soft and the dates have softened and fallen apart.
  4. Cover with the lid and let sit for 30 minutes to steam the soup.
  5. Spoon out the soup and coix seed into small bowls and serve.

TIP: For faster cooking, you can use a pressure cooker on high for 20 mins.

What is Nigerian Joloff Rice?

Did you know “World Jollof Day” has been celebrated since 2015 every August 22nd? Jollof or jollof rice, is a dish from West Africa. The dish traditionally consists of rice, cooking oil, and vegetables such as tomato, onion, red pepper, garlic, ginger and Scotch bonnet chili peppers. To enhance the color of the dish, tomato paste (purée) is added. As seasoning, spices, salt, stock cubes, curry powder and dried thyme are used. Chicken, turkey, beef or fish are often served with the dish.

Sulaimon Yusuff, CHN’s Lab Director, says, “My memories about Joloff Rice growing up in Africa is that whenever you are served Jollof, it always means it’s a special occasion – Birthdays, Weddings, special holidays and family events all include Joloff on the menu!”


Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 75 mins
Total: 90 mins
Makes 4 to 6 servings


For the Stew Base:

  • 1 pound plum tomatoes (about 3 medium), cored and roughly chopped
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 of a Scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 1/2 cups stock

For the Jollof Rice:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced, divided
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, divided into 3 teaspoon-size pats
  • 1 1/2 cups stock
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 plum tomato, halved then sliced thinly crosswise into half-moons


For the Stew Base:

  • In a blender jar, combine tomatoes, red pepper, onion, Scotch bonnet or habanero, and stock. Blend until a smooth puree forms, about 2 minutes.
  • Transfer the stew base to a large saucepan, cover partially with a lid, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the Jollof Rice:

  • In a 4-quart pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add half the sliced onion along with the bay leaves, curry powder, dried thyme, a large pinch of salt, and a large pinch of pepper. Cook, stirring, until the onions soften slightly, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in tomato paste and 2 teaspoons butter. Cook, stirring continuously, until the tomato paste darkens, about 3 minutes. Stir in reserved stew base, cover partially with lid, and cook at a gentle simmer over medium-low heat until reduced by half, about 15 minutes.
  • Stir in stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Stir in rice until evenly coated in sauce. Cover the pot with a double piece of foil or parchment paper, crimped down around the edges to seal, then top with lid to trap the steam. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible and cook for 20 minutes, then uncover pot and gently stir rice. Cover again and continue to cook until rice is just cooked through, about 15 minutes longer. If rice is undercooked and/or still wet, cover and cook 5 minutes longer.
  • Stir in sliced tomato along with the remaining sliced onion and the remaining 1 teaspoon butter until fully melted.
  • Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes. Serve.

Make-Ahead and Store

The stew base can be prepared in advance and refrigerated for a week in an airtight container, or frozen for up to 3 months.

Jollof rice keeps well—in fact many people love leftover jollof. Thaw leftovers overnight in the fridge, then warm on the stove top over gentle heat, or in the microwave.

What is Chana Masala?

Chana Masala or Indian Chickpea Curry, is one of the most popular vegetarian curries in South Asia. It is seen mainly in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The word “curry” in South Asian food refers to any spicy stir-fried gravy dish with meat or vegetables. This dish is also called Chole masala, Channey or Chholay. This dish can be eaten at any time.

Health benefits of Chickpeas:

  • Great source of protein and fiber. These nutrients helps you to feel fuller for longer.
  • Fiber in chickpeas helps to prevent constipation.
  • Loaded with folate, iron, magnesium, zinc and B vitamins.
  • Promotes heart health. They are naturally cholesterol free.
  • Helps to control blood sugar.

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 green chile, or jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 30 oz chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

How to make:

  1. Heat oil in a large pot on medium heat
  2. Sauté onion until brown
  3. Add garlic, ginger, and green chili, garam masala, turmeric, salt, and black pepper, keep cooking for 1–2 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, and water and stir. As the tomatoes break down, the mixture should get thick like a stew. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
  5. Stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Cook for 1–2 minutes.
  6. Serve over basmati rice or with a side of naan.

To learn more about wellness contact the Wellness Department at Community Healthcare Network at (212)-432-8494 or email [email protected].

“Growing up, whenever my family felt homesick, they would make Filipino food like sinigang to remind them of home. This dish feels like a way to honor my family’s history and the journey it took for them to come here.”
– Josephine Ledda, CHN Nutritionist

Filipino Cuisine

The Philippines was a trade crossroads for many Asian countries, such as China, Japan, and Malaysia. The Spanish colonized the Philippines for over 300 years. In the early 20th century the United States had control over the Philippines until 1946, when it gained independence.

These cultural influences are present in the language and cuisine. There are over 120 languages spoken in the Philippines, but the national language is Tagalog.

What is Sinigang?

Sinigang is a dish native to the Philippines, an archipelago made up of more than 7,000 islands in Southeast Asia. Traditional dishes are often soups or stews that can be simmered for many hours. Because of the warmer temperatures, many souring agents are used as preservatives.

Common ingredients are sour mango, tamarind, vinegar and Calamansi, a variety of lime specific to the Philippines. This recipe relies on tamarind paste, which can be found at Latin and Asian supermarkets.

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • 5 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil
  • 1 inch peeled ginger, sliced
  • 1 small daikon radish, slice
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds of salmon?
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 1 cup of okra, sliced
  • 1 small eggplant, cut into rounds, halved
  • 1 bunch of spinach

How to make:

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. 
  2. Add garlic, onions, and ginger to the pot and sauté until translucent.
  3. Add tomatoes. Cover with a lid and cook for ~ 5 minutes, or until tomatoes are softened.
  4. Add water and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Add in tamarind, radish, eggplant, and okra. Stir occasionally and continue cooking until vegetables are soft.
  6. Add salmon, making sure it is fully immersed in the broth and cook for 2 minutes.
  7. Add in spinach and fish sauce. Simmer for 1 minute then remove from heat.
  8. Serve over rice.

Recipe adapted from Riverten Kitchen

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Habichuelas con Dulce Recipe

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Kelsy Camilo, CHN Nutritionist:
“I love how serious my family takes making Habichuelas con Dulce, each year during Lent. It’s always their first order of business. To them it’s never just about food. It is tradition, respect, love, pride, and harmony. There is always enough to feed a village, don’t ever hesitate to ask for more in a Dominican household!”

What is Habichuelas con Dulce?

In the Dominican Republic, Habichuelas con Dulce, is a traditional sweet dish enjoyed for Lent and Easter. However, it can be eaten throughout the year! Translating to “Sweet Beans”, it should be no surprise that its primary ingredient is red beans. Additional ingredients like batata (Dominican sweet potato) and milk help cultivate its thick and creamy texture. Habichuelas con Dulce is usually topped with milk cookies that have an engraved cross on them. The cross can be seen as an ode to the strong Catholic beliefs in Dominican culture. Habichuelas con Dulce can be eaten as a meal, snack, or dessert. It is usually eaten warm, but can also be cold or frozen-reminiscent to ice cream. Con dulce is typically made in big batches in a caldero (cauldron.) It is customary to offer to family and friends or store in the refrigerator for up to three days.


Ingredients You’ll Need:

  • 5 Bags of Dominican Red Beans
  • 3 batatas, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup Raisins
  • 1 cup of Whole Milk
  • 5 cups of Evaporated Milk
  • 1 can Sweet Condensed Milk
  • 2 cups of Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tbsp each Ground Cloves & Cinnamon
  • 3 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 2 tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tbsp Cloves

How to make Habichuelas con Dulce:

  1. Soften beans in 8 cups water. Once softened, blend with 1 cup of whole milk.
  2. Use a fine-mesh colander to strain beans mixture.
  3. Pour the strained beans into a caldero and then pour evaporated milk, condensed milk, sugar, salt, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir regularly for about 5 minutes
  4. Add the batatas and set your heat to low medium, stirring regularly for about 20-25 minutes
  5. Add the raisins and simmer for 10 minutes
  6. Serve and top portion with as many milk cookies as you’d like!

In Egyptian cuisine it is common to cook legumes (beans, lentils, peas and peanuts) and vegetable dishes. Koshary is the national dish of Egypt. It is made of rice, chickpeas, macaroni, and lentils. Pita bread called eish balad is also a staple. Nuts and honey are commonly added to desserts. One popular dish, Qatayef (also called Arabic pancakes), is a pancake stuffed with nuts and honey added on top. A lot of spices are used in Egyptian cooking, and the most popular spice is Cumin.

Health benefits of Cumin:

  • Cumin helps with digestion.
  • Cumin has a lot of Iron—1 tsp of cumin seed provides 17.5% of the recommended amount of iron for adults for the day.
  • Cumin acts as an antioxidant, which fights inflammation.

Health Benefits of Honey

  • Honey is also rich in antioxidants.
  • Honey is anti-bacterial.
  • Honey can help ease minor coughs.

Note: Do not give honey to children under 12 months old. It can cause an illness called infant botulism and is a choking hazard.

Cumin & Carrot Salad

In Egyptian cuisine, cumin and carrot salad is a tasty and healthy dish. It mixes the flavorful cumin spice with sweet carrots, making it a great side dish for many Egyptian meals.


  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp cumin seed
  • Thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
  • 5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 5 carrots, grated
  • Small bunch of coriander, chopped
  • ½ a small bunch of chopped mint

How to make:
Combine all ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl and serve.

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Habichuelas con Dulce Recipe

How to improve your gut health?

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What are antidepressants?

Antidepressants are a type of medication that can assist individuals with depression. These medicines are specifically designed to provide help and relief to those who are going through this mental health condition.

Will the medicine make me ignore or forget my problems?

Antidepressants don’t cause memory loss or make you forget your problems. However, depression can make you feel tired, lacking the energy to cope with your challenges. The main purpose is to improve your well-being, restoring your energy levels and enabling you to better address your problems. They help you feel better, giving you the necessary strength to handle the difficulties associated with depression.

Will antidepressants change my personality?

Antidepressants are helpful in making you feel more like your usual self. They won’t alter your personality. Occasionally, the pills can cause a decrease in interest or enjoyment in activities. If you experience this, it’s crucial to promptly communicate with your doctor. They can assist you by switching you to a different type of pills that may better suit your needs and address any concerns you may have.

Can I get addicted to antidepressants?

Antidepressants are not addictive, but your body can become accustomed to them over time. If you suddenly stop taking them, you may experience unpleasant symptoms such as headaches, nausea, or dizziness. It’s important to have a conversation with your doctor before you stop taking your antidepressant medication. They can provide guidance and support to help you safely manage any potential withdrawal symptoms.

If I start to take antidepressants, will I have to take them for the rest of my life?

In general, most individuals only need to take antidepressants for a period of 6 to 9 months. Once you start feeling better, you should speak with your doctor to understand if it’s appropriate to stop taking the medication. However, it’s important to note that some people may require a longer duration of treatment beyond the 9-month timeframe. The decision to continue or discontinue the medicine should be made in consultation with your doctor, considering your specific situation and progress.

``I’m worried that taking antidepressants means I’m weak.``

Depression is an illness, similar to conditions like high blood sugar or high blood pressure. Just as it takes strength to address those health concerns, taking antidepressants when necessary is a sign of strength. It shows that you are actively taking care of yourself. By recognizing the need for antidepressants and seeking help, you are taking an important step towards managing your mental health and overall well-being. Remember, seeking support and treatment is a courageous act that demonstrates self-care.

Will antidepressants make me gain weight?

When it comes to weight changes and antidepressants, it can vary from person to person. Some individuals may experience weight gain while taking antidepressants, while others may actually lose weight. If you have concerns about your weight and its connection to your medication, it’s important to have an open discussion with your doctor. They can provide guidance, address your worries, and explore potential strategies to manage any weight-related issues. Your doctor is the best resource to help you navigate this aspect of your treatment and ensure your overall well-being.


Will antidepressants ruin my sex life?

Some antidepressants can make it harder to feel turned on. However, it’s important to note that depression itself can also lead to a decreased desire for sex. Interestingly, many individuals discover that their sex lives actually improve when they start taking antidepressants. If you find that your medication is causing challenges with sexual function, it’s essential to have an open conversation with your doctor. They can provide guidance, explore potential solutions, and adjust your medication if necessary to ensure that your treatment does not negatively affect your sexual well-being.

Do antidepressants raise my risk of suicide?

For people younger than 25 years old, antidepressants may raise your risk of suicide. If you start to have thoughts about hurting yourself or ending your life, talk to your doctor right away.

``I tried one antidepressant and it didn’t work for me.``

It may take 4 to 6 weeks for an antidepressant to start working. Also, lots of people have to try different pills before they find one that works for them.

Learn more about antidepressants when you meet with our mental health professional.

Remember to have your teeth cleaned regularly. Before your appointment, let your dentist know about any medications you take. Even if you don’t have natural teeth, it’s still important to see your dentist.

Why should I get my teeth cleaned?

To keep your teeth and gums healthy, schedule a dentist visit every 3 months for a teeth cleaning. Regular cleanings:

  • Reduce the number of tiny germs (bacteria) in your mouth.
  • Keep your mouth clean and help it fight against germs.
  • Decrease the amount of plaque on your teeth.

What is plaque?

Plaque is a sticky layer of film that collects on your teeth. Plaque comes from:

  • Food
  • Drinks
  • Other things you may put in your mouth like cigarettes or smokeless tobacco. Smoking and using tobacco may make your mouth feel dry. When your mouth is dry, plaque can build up.

If you don’t clean your teeth often, plaque can build up. This can make your teeth and gums swell and hurt. It can turn into a disease called periodontal disease.

What are other ways I can keep my teeth and gums healthy?

  • Drink lots of water.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. Use a soft toothbrush and brush gently.
  • Floss once a day.
  • Avoid using tobacco products like cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and chewing tobacco. They can harm your teeth and gums.
  • Do not drink more than 1 to 2 alcoholic drinks per day. You are more likely to get oral (mouth) and throat cancer if you drink lots of alcohol (beer, wine).
  • If you’re pregnant or planning to have a baby, make sure to visit your dentist.
  • If you are getting cancer treatments, make sure to see your dentist.

What is periodontal disease?

When your gums and the areas around your teeth get infected, it’s called periodontal disease. It can make you sick and is a serious problem. If someone in your family has it, you might get it too. You might see gaps between your teeth if you have this disease.

Periodontal disease can be painful and may cause tooth loss if not treated properly. If you have any questions about your teeth or gums, remember to call your dentist for help.

How can I schedule a dental check-up?

Current CHN patients can make an appointment through our online scheduler, Healow. Click the button below to find a provider and time that works for you. If you’re a new patient or if you prefer to make an appointment by phone you can call us at (866) 246-8259. Our friendly staff will help you find a time that works for you.

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Community Healthcare Network, a nonprofit provider based in Midtown, signed a 35-year lease to establish an expanded federally qualified health center in the South Bronx, the organization announced last week.

The lease, which was secured by advising company Denham Wolf Real Estate Services, will allow the Community Healthcare Network to build an expanded health facility at the 8,000-square-foot location at 1000 Westchester Ave. The FQHC will be about 50% larger than the existing location, said Robert Hayes, president and CEO of the nonprofit.

The building was leased to the Community Healthcare Network for approximately $45 per square foot, totaling $363,000 for the first year of occupancy, Hayes said. Rent costs will increase by 2% annually, he added.

The South Bronx FQHC will be able to accommodate an estimated 4,000 additional medical visits, totaling 16,000 visits a year, Hayes said. The facility will have the capacity for 2,600 annual dental visits. The opening of the new FQHC will mark the first time dental care is offered at the South Bronx location, Hayes added.

The additional space at the new facility will not add medical exam rooms and dental offices and include space for care navigators to support the social and economic needs of patients. Residents of the South Bronx have higher rates of chronic illnesses, such as asthma, diabetes and cardiovascular disease—all of which should be addressed through direct medical care and by directing resources for housing and economic support, Hayes said.

“Health care in a bubble is not very effective,” Hayes said. “You really need to connect the dots.”

The new building will be across the street from its existing location. Hayes said the new location would not change travel times for patients in the South Bronx, preserving continuity of care for its patients.

Christopher Turner, managing director of transaction services and principal with Denham Wolf, said it’s typically a challenge to find the right piece of real estate for FQHCs because they don’t want to disrupt patient care. The new facility’s location across the street eliminates any chances of disruption, he said.

The company configured the terms of the lease over 35 years so that Community Healthcare Network could apply for a tax waiver from the city through the 420C process. Typically, taxes would cost up to 25% of base rent, but this expense has been taken out of the deal and will help CHN save money, Turner said.

The new building will be delivered to Denham Wolf in September, Turner said. The Community Healthcare Network expects to occupy the building by early 2024, Hayes said.

Community Healthcare Network provides healthcare, dental, nutrition, wellness and other services to New Yorkers. The network consists of 14 federally qualified health centers across Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan, as well as mobile vans that bring care to under-resourced communities.—A.D.