Community Healthcare Network

Rasam is a spicy lentil soup eaten with rice. It is thought to help with digestion and to treat colds and flus. It’s a go-to dish when funds are low. It can feed the whole family and can be eaten for several meals a day. The British call it Mulligatawny. The name comes from the Tamil words milagu, and tanni literally meaning “pepper-water.”

History of Rasam: The story goes that the King’s son had taken ill and would barely eat anything, so the King declared a prize for anyone who could come up with a dish that the son would eat. A chef in Madurai in Tamil Nadu, named Karuna is believed to have made Rasam for the son and it healed his illness! This is why Rasam is thought to be a healing dish to this day.

Ingredients you’ll need*:

Rasam Seasoning:

  • 2-3 dry Kashmiri or any dried red chilies
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds

Rasam Ingredients:

  • 3 whole garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • 1 small diced tomato
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried lentils (toor dal)
  • 1 key lime-sized ball of sour tamarind, soaked in water
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 pinch of hing or asafetida
  • 4 sprigs of fresh cilantro
  • Kosher or rock salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Tempering Spices:

  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • 2 dry red Kashmiri chilies, broken in half width-wise
  • 1/2 teaspoon urad dal
  • 1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of ghee (clarified butter)

*Visit your local Indian or South Asian grocer to find some of these specialty ingredients.

How to make:

  1. Soak dal (lentils) in 2 cups of water for at least 1 hour.
  2. Soak tamarind in warm water for at least 45 minutes
  3. Cook dal (lentils) with the turmeric, hing, and 2.5 cups of water. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until tender. Once the dal is done, blend until smooth. Set aside.
  4. In a separate pan, dry roast the rasam seasoning ingredients on medium-low heat for no more than 2 minutes.
  5. Once roasted, add the rasam seasoning ingredients to a coffee or spice grinder. Grind them until fine.
  6. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a pan. Fry the cumin seeds for 30 to 60 seconds.
  7. Add garlic and tomato. Sauté for 2 minutes.
  8. Use your finger to crush the tamarind in the water it’s been soaking in to get as much tamarind juice out as possible.
  9. Pour tamarind juice through a fine mesh strainer into the pan with the cumin, garlic and tomato.
  10. Add in blended dal, salt, and freshly ground rasam seasoning.
  11. Let it all come to a boil. If needed, add water to get the consistency you want. Rasam should be a thin, watery, but deeply flavorful soup.
  12. In a small sauce pan, heat the ghee on medium heat.
  13. When hot, add in tempering spices. Lower the heat, and swirl the pan until you can smell the toasted spices, about 30 seconds.
  14. Add the ghee and tempering spices into the rasam.
  15. Turn off heat. Garnish with cilantro and freshly ground black pepper. Add more salt if needed.

What is Haitian Independence Day?

January 1st marks Haitian Independence Day when revolutionary, Jean-Jacques Dessalines “the father of Haiti,” pronounced that Haitian-born slaves were free and independent from colonial French rule. General Dessalines and an army of “les gens de couleur libres” (free people of color) defeated the French military and declared Haiti a free republic. On January 1,1804 Haiti became the first black free independent republic nation in the Western Hemisphere.

Joumou Soup

Before emancipation, Haitian slaves were forbidden to eat joumou soup or squash soup, a delicacy reserved for white French slave masters. After winning the war, to commemorate Haitian freedom, the newly-emancipated Haitians celebrated by preparing squash soup. This act symbolized freedom, independence, and pride.

In keeping with this traditional ritual, many Haitian families in Haiti and throughout the diaspora prepare the soup every year to remember the freedom that their ancestors fought for. Usually, the matriarch in the family will prepare the ingredients the night before and actual cooking takes place on the morning of the 1st. It is believed that eating joumou soup on January 1st serves as a blessing for a prosperous and healthy new year.

Joumou is not only served on New Year’s Day but is reserved for important milestones and events in Haitian life. Usually served on Sundays when the family gets together or at a funeral reception, the soup is believed to help restore and revitalize the body, a symbol of fortification and strength.

Joumou Soup Recipe

Adapted from A Taste of Haiti Expanded Edition (Serves 8-10 people)

  • 2 pounds pumpkin/squash peeled, cut into large chunks
  • 2 pounds beef neck bones
  • 1 lime, cut in half
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed and mined
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons Haitian pikliz
  • 4 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 10 cabbage leaves, cut into 4 pieces each
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 to 6 whole cloves
  • ½ cup penne pasta or macaroni
  • 2 potatoes, peeled, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 large turnip, peeled, cut into pieces
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper
  • Salt, pepper, and more herbs to taste

To prepare:

  1. Cook pumpkin over medium heat in 6 cups of water for 30 minutes.
  2. Clean meat with lime juice. Marinate meat with scallions, onion, garlic, shallots, green pepper, pikliz, salt and black pepper.
  3. In stockpot, add the meat with 1 cup of water and cook covered, over medium heat for 40 minutes.
  4. Add 3 cups of water and pureed pumpkin and bring to a boil for 40 minutes.
  5. Add celery, cabbage, carrots, and whole cloves. Cook, uncovered for 20 minutes.
  6. Add remaining ingredients. Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and more herbs to taste.

Mindful eating can help us to make more intentional food choices and be aware of our feelings related to eating. Try these tips to help practice mindful eating during the holiday season:

  • Don’t skip meals. “Saving calories” for a big holiday meal can lead to low blood sugar, more food cravings and overeating. Listen to your hunger cues. Allow yourself to have balanced meals and snacks like you would on any other day.
  • Enjoy. Many holiday foods hold special memories or cultural relevance. Avoiding them may lead to cravings or feeling unsatisfied. Allow yourself to enjoy these foods in moderation.
  • Reflect. Try to identify your emotions before you start your meal. Are you truly hungry? Are you feeling stressed? Sad? Lonely? Bored?
  • Practice self-care. As you notice your emotions, find ways to address them like taking walks, meditating, resting, and embracing social support from loved ones or professionals.
  • Tune in. Chew your food slowly. Notice the colors, tastes, textures, smells of your foods and how eating them make you feel. Check in during the meal and notice how the feelings of hunger and fullness change.

Brussels Sprout Slaw

Ingredients: (Serves 8)

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 diced apple
  • 1/3 cup toasted and chopped pecans

How to prepare?

  1. Make the dressing by mixing olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  2. In a large bowl combine the sliced Brussels sprouts diced apples, toasted pecans and dressing and toss to coat.

Soybeans and soy products contain high-quality protein and are filled with many essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. The amount of soy-based foods we eat is a controversial topic when it comes to breast cancer, hormones in men, thyroid function, and pediatric growth and development. Check out the facts:

  • Soy and breast cancer: Isoflavones are plant compounds in soy that have a similar structure to the human hormone estrogen, but are much weaker and do not act like estrogen in our bodies. They actually have antiestrogen, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties and may help to reduce cancer growth.
  • Soy and hormones in men: Soy does not have a feminizing effect. It does not affect sperm/semen, decrease testosterone levels, increase estrogen, or cause increased breast tissue growth.
  • Soy and thyroid function: Adults with hypothyroidism can eat soy foods without any harmful effects. When using synthetic thyroid medicine, it is important to eat all foods, including soy-based foods, at least 3 hours before or 1 hour after taking the medicine for it to work best.
  • Soy-based infant formula and pediatric growth and reproductive development: There is no convincing research that shows that healthy infants fed soy-based formula are at greater risk for harmful effects than those fed cow’s milk-based formula.

Types of soy protein and soy-based foods to enjoy:

  • Edamame
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Miso
  • Soy fiber
  • Soy nut butter
  • Textured soy protein
  • Soy protein powders
  • Whole soybeans
  • Soy flour

How to Make Sweet & Spicy Tofu Burgers

(Makes 4 burgers)

  • 1 pound extra firm tofu, drained
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 whole wheat buns

To prepare:

  1. Cut tofu into 4 pieces
  2. Combine oil, soy sauce, sriracha, lime juice, honey, and black pepper.
  3. Marinate tofu in the mixture and leave in fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. Place tofu on nonstick skillet or on grill over medium high heat for 10 minutes. Turn and cook until evenly browned.
  5. Serve on buns with desired toppings.
  6. Enjoy!

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

It’s officially harvest season in New York and our city’s farmers markets provide a great variety of fresh, culturally diverse, and accessible fruits and vegetables!

There are many ways to save money at local farmers markets:

  • For every $2 in EBT/SNAP spent at an NYC farmers market, you can get a $2 Health Buck coupon to spend on fruits and vegetables, up to $10 per day.
  • The Farmers Market Nutrition Program provides free $4 coupons to families receiving WIC benefits and to seniors through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).
  • Stellar Farmers Market program gives live nutrition & cooking demos at many city markets—if you participate you get a $2 Health Buck.
  • CHN Nutritionists have Health Bucks they can share with patients and families experiencing food insecurity. Please do a warm hand off or make a referral.

Find farmers markets closest to your location using this link.

How to Make Fresh Corn Salsa

(Makes 4 cups)

  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels, sliced from the cob
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 diced bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped  cilantro
  • 1/2 finely chopped jalapeño
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1-2 limes, juiced
  • Salt & pepper to taste

To prepare:

  1. Cut raw corn kernels off the cob.
  2. Mix with tomatoes, bell pepper, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, onion, and lime juice.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Optional: Add cooked black beans for extra protein and fiber.
  5. Serve with chips for a snack/appetizer or add to chicken or fish for an entrée.

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

Lower your sodium intake using homemade seasonings

Did you know?

  • Sodium is a part of salt. It is a nutrient used for preserving foods. Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure.
  • Sometimes foods that don’t taste salty can be surprisingly high in sodium, like bread or bagels.
  • Ready-made, packaged seasonings can be very high in sodium.
  • 1 Tablespoon of Maggi seasoning has almost the entire amount of sodium recommended for Americans to eat for the whole day.
  • The serving size of Goya Adobo is 1/4 of a teaspoon, which is about the size of a nickel.
  • Check the Nutrition Facts Label for sodium and the serving size.

Try these easy seasoning swaps instead:

  • Blend herbs, garlic, lemon and olive oil for a flavorful dressing or marinade.
  • Check the ingredient list of your favorite, store-bought seasonings. Try making a low-salt version at home.
  • Try adding chicken, beef, or vegetable stock as a tasty addition that can add depth to many recipes.
  • Add spice and heat to a dish to increase flavor of low sodium recipes – just be sure to measure!
  • Measure portion sizes of seasonings. It’s good to practice with a measuring spoon first so you can learn how to eyeball a serving.

How to Make Homemade Adobo

(Makes 1 small jar)

  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coriander

To prepare:

  1. Pour all seasonings into a mixing bowl.
  2. Mix ingredients well.
  3. Pour into a small jar. Use it for marinades, soups and any of your favorite dishes!

Water makes up most of your body. It helps your brain function, boosts your energy, protects your organs, and keeps your immune system strong.

The average person should aim to drink at least eight 8-ounce cups of water a day. Check out our tips for drinking more water throughout your day.


  • Choose water (tap, bottled, or sparkling) over sugary drinks. Use a colorful, reusable water bottle that won’t leak. This way, you can bring it anywhere!
  • Need more flavor? Add fruits or herbs! Infuse your water with lemons, limes, cucumber, mint, or even a combination of these. This helps improve the taste and helps you drink more.
  • Missing fizzy drinks? Add a small splash of 100% juice to plain sparkling water for a refreshing, low-calorie drink.
  • Need help breaking the habit? Don’t keep sugary drinks in your home. Keep a jug or bottles of cold water in your fridge.
  • Read nutrition labels while shopping. You’d be surprised at the amount of added sugars in some drinks.
  • At the coffee shop? Coffee is dehydrating, drink an extra cup of water for each cup of coffee you drink. Skip flavored syrups or whipped cream. Ask for a drink with low-fat or fat-free milk or unsweetened milk alternative or get back to basics with black coffee.
  • Make habits around drinking water. Set aside a specific time each day to drink water. Drink a cup of water between patient visits or each time you use the restroom.
  • Check the color of your pee to make sure you’re getting enough water. Your pee should be light yellow, almost clear.

Watermelon Rosemary Water
Makes 6 servings

You’ll Need:

  • 1 Sprig of Rosemary
  • 2 Cups Cubed Watermelon
  • 6 Cups of Water
  • Ice Cubes

To make:

  1. Cut watermelon into cubes. Discard the white and green part.
  2. Add watermelon cubes and sprig of rosemary to a pitcher of water.
  3. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  4. Serve over ice.