Community Healthcare Network

May is National Menstrual Health Awareness Month. It’s all about spreading the word for easy access to menstrual products, learning more about periods, and breaking the silence around menstruation and menstrual hygiene.

Q: What are normal symptoms during a menstrual cycle?
A: It is normal to feel breast tenderness, fatigue, acne, headache, cramps, food cravings, mood changes, and crying spells.

Q: When should someone reach out to a Healthcare Provider?
A: Reach out to your provider when you feel heavy or painful periods, missed periods or really painful cramps. Minor stress and sadness are normal during your cycle but talk to your provider if symptoms remain or get worse.

Q: What are some other concerns?
Body image: Changes in body shape and weight and menstrual-related bloating are normal but can change the way you feel about your body. Seeing certain images on social media can worsen those feelings. Try not to compare yourself to anyone you see online. Take a break from social media when it stirs these feelings.

Embarrassment or discomfort: Some may feel shame talking about menstrual issues with parents, peers, or providers. This discomfort can lead to delays to get help. That’s why it is important to connect with a health educator.

Health educators can educate you and patients about:

  • best genital hygiene practices during menstrual cycles.
  • how to use different menstrual products.
  • building comfort around talking about menstruation in a healthy, shame-free way.

Reach out to your health educator about menstruation or refer someone who could use the support!


DIY: Warm Compress Sock Recipe

Turning a lonely sock into a warm compress is a creative and eco-friendly idea! This simple DIY project not only gives a new purpose to an otherwise thrown out item but also offers a safe way to manage pain at home. It’s a great example of how we can re-use everyday items for our well-being.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 Sock
  • 1.5 cups of any kind of uncooked rice
  • Dried lavender or chamomile for scent (optional)
  • Microwave

How to make:

  • Use a clean, thick sock for better heat retention. Make sure there are no holes.
  • Fill the sock with uncooked rice. Rice retains heat well and conforms to your body.
  • For added benefits, mix in dried lavender or chamomile for a soothing scent.
  • Tie the open end of the sock with a knot or a string.
  • Microwave the sock for about 1 minute. Do not overheat as it can burn the skin. If it’s too hot, just wait a few minutes to let it cool down before using.
  • Place the warm sock on the painful area—like your neck, shoulders, or abdomen. It’s perfect for easing muscles, menstrual cramps, or simply warming up.

Tips to maximize benefits:

  • Keep the compress on for about 15-20 minutes. The heat helps increase blood flow and relax muscles.
  • The sock compress can be reused multiple times. Clean and dry it before each use.
  • Never use a hot compress on an open wound or swollen areas.
  • You can add essential oils to the rice for aromatherapy benefits. A few drops of lavender, peppermint, or eucalyptus oil can enhance relaxation and pain relief.

Do you ever feel annoyed that a long day is over, but you still haven’t had one minute just for you? So then you decide to stay up a little later to spend some “me-time” mindlessly scrolling your phone, but before you know it, it’s way past your bedtime and then you wake up exhausted the next day? If this sounds familiar, you may be a “revenge bedtime procrastinator,” delaying sleep to carve out time for yourself.

To help break this cycle, ask yourself what would make you feel more fulfilled during the day – whether it’s exercising, sitting with a book, or just zoning out for a bit. Also, are there any obligations you can outsource, share, or ditch? Think of going to bed on time not as a punishment but as a treat for Future You.

Bedtime procrastination is also heavily associated with smartphone use. But your phone isn’t the problem – it’s the content that is designed to keep you engaged, even addicted. If you can’t bear to put your phone down, try setting your phone to grey mode at the time you want to go to bed. Or choose a different kind of media that is “portion-controlled” – indulge in one show, listen to one podcast, or read a chapter of a book or magazine article (but no binge-watching or multitasking, ie. TV and scrolling at the same time).

Additionally, try adding more self-care to your day to not cram it all before bed:

  • Keep a consistent wake and sleep time: Waking and going to bed within the same 1-hour window each day is super important. As soon as you wake, seek natural light which helps your body regulate its sleep/wake cycles. Occasionally you may want to stay up late. If you do, get up the next morning at your usual time or within 2 hours of it (especially on the weekend). It’s better to be a little sleep-deprived than to be wired Sunday night which can keep you up and throw off your Monday morning and the rest of the week.
  • Use your lunch break for “me-time”: Pick a destination to walk to, like a park to sit in the sun, a local shop for a cup of tea, the library to find your next book or a bookstore to browse the shelves.
  • Choose evening beverages wisely: Limit to one alcoholic drink no later than 3 hours before bed, and stay away from caffeine close to bedtime – both of these contribute to waking up during the night. Opt for herbal teas instead, which are coffeine-free and can promote relaxation.
  • Eat dinner at least 2 hours before bed:  If you are hungry before bed, try snacking on something with fiber and protein like nuts, yogurt, or hummus with crackers and drink a full glass of water.
  • Adapt your daytime routine to what works for you: Some people operate best in the morning, some between 9am-5pm, and others are night owls. Depending on where you fall, you can try moving your morning workout to the evening when you need a boost.  Or if you get grumpy in the afternoon, try a quick walk/deep breathing break. If you need more time to ease awake in the AM, consider moving your shower time to the evening.

    Remember, you deserve “me-time”…. and you deserve a good night’s rest too!

Here’s a question: How old is your heart? That seems like an easy question to answer: It’s as old as you are!  But when it comes to the health of your heart, the answer might not be so simple.

Risk factors for heart disease may take a toll on your heart over time — making it “older” than you are. Making hearthealthy changes now may help undo some of that damage — and help turn back the clock on your heart health.

1. If you smoke or use tobacco, quit. This is a tough one. But it’s doable! And it’s one of the best ways to lower your risk for heart disease. Make an appointment with your primary care physician (PCP). Ask about medicines and other strategies that may help you quit.

2. Enjoy hearthealthy foods. Fill your plate with fruits, veggies, and fiber-rich whole grains. Foods like fish, nuts, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry, and lean meats may also be on the menu. Cut back on foods that are high in sodium, saturated fat, and trans fats. Make a meal plan for this week. It’s easier to make better choices when you have hearthealthy ingredients on hand — and a plan to use them.

3. Keep moving. Regular exercise boosts your heart’s fitness and health. Most healthy adults should aim for at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week. Add strength exercises on two or more days a week. Does that sound like too much for your busy schedule? Think of short sessions. Break it up into blocks of at least 10 minutes — and squeeze them in when you can. Make an exercise appointment on your calendar or set a reminder on your smartphone. Then treat it like you would any other important meeting.

4. Manage high-risk conditions. Do you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes? If so, work with your doctor on a treatment plan. Make sure you take your medications as directed — and get the checkups recommended for you. If you sometimes forget your meds, try setting a daily alarm on your watch or smartphone. Or try a “days of the week” pillbox to help you remember.

5. Rethink your drink. Too much alcohol may raise blood pressure. So moderation is key.

6. Tame your tension. Long-term stress may damage your blood vessels. Stress may also affect your risk for heart disease and stroke by triggering unhealthy coping strategies.  Write out a list of healthy coping strategies (ie. call someone you trust to vent, take a walk, do a yoga video, etc) and turn to it for coping ideas when you are feeling stressed.

7. Catch some ZZZ’s. Too little sleep may be tough on your ticker. Most adults should get seven to eight hours a night. Some people may need more. Trouble drifting off? Put away your digital devices well before you turn in. And do something relaxing instead — such as reading a book or taking a bath.

If making the hearthealthy lifestyle changes above seems overwhelming, keep this in mind: even minutes matter. So pick one change at a time — and start small. Over time, you can build on your success.

Did you know that your skin is the largest organ in your body? Our body’s natural shield has many uses and is always working. Your skin:

  • Acts as your body’s first line of defense against harmful germs and UV light.
  • Has its own microbiome, a tiny army devoted to keeping you safe.
  • Sheds 30,000 skin cells each minute! With that kind of turnover, we want to support our skin with a healthy diet.

Below is a list of nutrients that are essential to healthy skin at every age:

Nutrient: Found in: Why is it important?
Vitamin A Cheese, eggs, liver, carrots, spinach, peppers and papaya Helps your skin cycle, keeping it looking healthy
Omega-3 Fatty fish such as salmon, walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseed Controls your body’s oil
Helps acne breakouts
Reduces swelling
Zinc Pumpkin seeds, oysters, beef, chickpeas and oats Helps your skin to heal from cuts or breakage
Vitamin C Peppers, oranges, broccoli, kale and papaya Helps repair from sun damage
Protects you from getting sick
Vitamin E Asparagus, peppers, sunflower seeds, collard greens Helps repair from sun damage <br>Keeps your bones strong

Easy Salmon Salad


  • 1-2 medium salmon fillets
  • 1 teaspoon of salmon and 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups romaine lettuce chopped
  • 1/2 cup sliced red bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup sliced cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 sliced and pitted avocado
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Use 1 teaspoon of olive oil to coat the salmon. Season salmon with salt and pepper on both sides. Place fillets, skin side up, in the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until flaky.
  • While salmon is baking, bring together lettuce, peppers, cucumbers, red onion and avocado in a large bowl. Set aside.
  • In a small jar, mix garlic powder, onion powder, lemon juice, the remaining olive oil, salt, and pepper. Cover the jar and shake well.
  • Remove salmon from oven. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Dress the salad and serve with the salmon. Enjoy!

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Pre-made spice blends at the grocery store make cooking easier but they tend to be pricey. Did you know you can mix up your own taco seasonings for pennies on the dollar compared with the cost of a pre-made packet? Plus, you can control the spiciness or salt to what you like.

Use dry herbs and spices that you’ve bought recently. Dried herbs and spices don’t go bad, but they do lose their flavor over time. Before creating a blend, make sure your ingredients are still fragrant and vibrant in color. If you’re using whole spices and herbs, grind them in a clean coffee grinder for maximum flavor. Store leftover spice blends in a tightly sealed container and label it. Once it’s gone restock and keep cooking! Feel free to tinker with blends based on your taste – the possibilities are endless. Save this guide and add a tablespoon or two the next time you need a spice blend for a dish.

Taco Seasoning

Try it in chili, tacos, burgers, or a steak marinade.


  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 ½ tsp. chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • ¾ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¾ tsp. sweet paprika
  • ¼ tsp. oregano

Everything Bagel Seasoning

This works on everything! Try with eggs or avocado toast.


  • 1 tbsp. poppy seeds
  • 1 tbsp. dried minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. dried minced onion
  • 1 tbsp. toasted white sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp. flaky sea salt


Cajun Spice Mix

This is often used in jambalaya and gumbo or rubbed on a protein before grilling or over oven-baked fries.


  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. sweet or smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 2 ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 heaping tsp. of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder

Italian Bread

Add to sauces, meatballs, or rub on a protein.


  • 1 tbsp. dried basil
  • 1 tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp. dried minced lemon peel (optional for brightness)
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper

Shawarma Seasoning

Traditionally “shawarma” refers to a style of cooking meat on a split. This take on the blend is warm and savory for the meat.


  • 2 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 ¼ tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground cloves

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Did you know every message you text, every email you send, every Google file you create makes a digital record that then requires energy to maintain on a server somewhere?

“Somewhere” in most cases means “the cloud,” which in actuality is a series of large warehouses full of servers and air conditioning equipment that produces more than 900 million tons of CO2 each year. A lot of us don’t think about the “digital detritus” that follows us around, but it’s really there – for example: the google doc of your teen’s class contact list from back in pre-K, the multiple selfie photos when you only like one of them, all the thumbs up in your WhatsApp group thread – and it’s all taking energy to keep that available for us to look back at whenever we want.

With the WHO stating, “Climate change is the single biggest health threat facing humanity,” deleting files you don’t need to minimize your online footprint is a helpful step you can take, and as CHN’s AVP of Technology, Gerry Anzano, states “Just like cleaning your refrigerator – it’s important to do this regularly”. To do your part in using energy resources wisely for the health of our planet, we invite you to take part in Digital Cleanup Day. Spending just 15 minutes to delete your “dead data” will not only free up a lot of memory space on your devices, it will also make a tremendous difference in reducing your environmental footprint – let’s see How Many Gigabytes of unnecessary files we can delete and How Much Energy that saves in a year.

Easy Digital Cleanup To-Do’s on your Smartphone:

1. Check how many Gigabytes of storage you have first.

2. Delete apps you no longer use.

3. Delete unwanted photos, especially duplicates.

4. Delete old files, like e-books and podcasts you are finished reading/listening to.

5. Delete old Whatsapp discussions.

6. Go back to see how much Gigabytes storage you have now and do the math to see how many GBs you deleted.

Easy Digital Cleanup To-Do’s on your Computer:

1. Check the current size of your email box. Go to Outlook > File > Mailbox settings > Write down the number of free GB in your mailbox.

2. Delete unnecessary old emails, starting with the oldest one you have.

3. Unsubscribe from newsletters that you don’t read.

4. Clean up re-occurring appointments on your online calendar that are no longer accurate.

7. Also review your Google Doc files that are over 1 year old and delete any that are unnecessary.

8. Go back to your mailbox settings to see how many free GB you have now.

Congratulations & Well Done!

Why are supplements and nutrients important during pregnancy?

Nutrition is very important during pregnancy. It’s a time when we need extra nutrients to keep women and babies healthy. In this blog post, CHN would like to share ways to increase the vitamins and minerals needed to support a healthy pregnancy through both food and supplements like prenatal vitamins.

Five Important Nutrients:

  • Iron. Iron helps give oxygen to the baby. It can be found in lean red meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas, iron-rich cereal, and prune juice.
  • Omega-3. Omega-3 helps with baby’s brain development. It’s recommended to eat 8-12 oz of fatty fish per week, like salmon, cod, light tuna, shrimp, eggs, and milk.
  • Folic Acid. Folic Acid helps with birth defects and helps support your baby and your placenta. Folic acid can be found in cereal, bread and pasta, peanuts, dark green leafy veggies, oranges, and beans.
  • Calcium. Calcium helps your baby build strong bones and teeth and helps them develop a healthy heart, nerves, and muscles.

Tips for Prenatal Vitamins (PNV):

  1. Start taking a daily PNV before you get pregnant or as soon as you find out you are pregnant.
  2. If your PNV makes you dizzy, try taking it at night.
  3. Find a brand that is within your budget. It is more important that you take a PNV daily in addition to a healthy diet, than taking a certain brand.
  4. Keep your eye on these nutrients:
    – Methylfolate
    – Vitamin D
    – Choline
    – Iodine
    – DHA (Omega-3)

! Prenatal vitamins are not checked by the FDA. Choose a PNV that is third-party tested with a seal of certification. These ensure the safety of the vitamins.


Creamy Tuscan-Inspired Salmon with White Beans

This is the perfect dinner to support a healthy pregnancy because it is packed with omega-3s from the salmon and minerals from the beans and spinach. If you are pregnant, only eat salmon and other low-mercury seafood 2-3 times a week.


  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup cream or coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup white beans
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley for garnish


  1. Bake or pan-fry salmon fillets until cooked through. Set aside.
  2. In a heavy bottom pan, sauté onion in olive oil until clear.
  3. Add garlic and cherry tomatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add cream or coconut milk, broth, and white beans. Simmer for 5 min.
  5. Add spinach, parmesan, salt, and pepper. Stir until spinach is wilted.
  6. Add salmon to pan and cover with sauce.
  7. Top with fresh parsley and serve.

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Did you know that Loneliness is harmful to your health?  The World Health Organization recently declared loneliness to be a global health concern.  Loneliness is a feeling of sadness and low mood due to a lack of companionship, close relationships, or feeling excluded. Loneliness doesn’t mean being alone. You can be alone and not feel lonely, and you can feel lonely while not alone. Rather, loneliness is the perception of being alone. People have feelings of loneliness occasionally as a natural part of life, but persistent feelings of loneliness can pave the way for health challenges.

As human beings, we know that social connection, community, and face-to-face interactions is one of the more powerful medicines we have to elevate our mood and to improve our health. 

  • Take yourself on outings each day to get some sun and say hello to a neighbor you pass on the street even if you’re working from home.

  • Commit to spending time with loved ones. Make your time together count by reducing distractions—do not check email, scroll, or sort through papers. One of the greatest gifts that we can give others is the gift of your full attention.

  • Embrace incidental interactions. These are the types that have been substituted with 2-day shipping and grocery delivery, so be intentional to talk a bit with the people in your community: bodega clerks, grocery store cashiers, laundromat staff, coffee shop baristas, security guards, and mail/package delivery workers.

  • Look for opportunities to help others reaffirm that you have value to add to the world – Hold the door for a parent with a stroller, help someone blind cross a crowded street/subway platform, or help a neighbor carry their grocery bags. Imagine a positive ripple effect of caring actions that might inspire them to pay forward to others later!

  • Reach out to people you care about to say Hi if you haven’t spoken in a while, just to let them know you are thinking of them.

  • Try a new hobby class – it will introduce you to a new community with similar interests, stimulate your routine, and improve your overall feelings of self-efficacy.  

  • See a therapist, counselor, or support group to help give you resources to cope with loneliness, improve your social connections and communication, and give you a safe space for your feelings.

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.