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.

Our bodies change during menopause. What we eat and our lifestyle choices can help make this change easier:

Hot flashes and insomnia: Lower levels of estrogen and progesterone during menopause can cause hot flashes. Hot flashes can lead to insomnia (trouble falling asleep or staying asleep).

  • To get better sleep: Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks 4-6 hours before bedtime. Avoid drinking alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime. Practice a regular sleep routine. Eat a light evening meal and exercise early in the day or at least 3 hours before bedtime.

Changes in body composition: Your body composition is how much fat, bone, and muscle your body has. Lower estrogen levels can lead to an increase in fat and the loss of lean body mass. These changes can also increase the amount of fat that is stored in the stomach area.

  • Change your exercise goals from 30 minutes to 60 minutes each day.
  • Eating more protein can help during menopause. Aim for about 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram (kg) of body weight or try to include 25-30 grams of lean or plant-based protein at each meal.

Bone Health: Lower reproductive hormones also can lead to a decrease in bone mineral density, causing your bones to get weaker.

  • Make sure you are getting enough calcium, vitamin D, and protein. If you are over 50, it is recommended that you get 1200 milligrams (mg) of calcium each day.
  • Quit smoking and try to exercise each day to help slow bone loss. Include weight-bearing activity and resistance training in your routine.

Heart Health: Your risk for heart disease increases during menopause.

  • Eat more lean and plant-based protein, heart-healthy fats, lots of fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Eat less sodium (salt) to support heart health.

Mushroom Shawarma Pitas
(Pita bread sandwiches filled with various vegetables)
Recipe adapted from NYT Cooking


  • 3/4 pound mushrooms of your choice, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and cut into 1/3 inch wedges
  • 3 tbsp plus 2tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 4 pitas
  • 2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • Cilantro or mint, chopped, for serving

To prepare:

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss mushrooms, red onion, 3 tbsp oil, cumin, coriander, paprika, salt, and pepper. Spread the mixture in an even layer on a rimmed sheet pan.
  2. Roast until tender and browned, about 20 minutes. Add the pita directly to oven rack to warm during last 5 minutes of cooking.
  3. Toss cabbage with 2 tsp oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together yogurt and turmeric.
  5. To serve, add the yogurt to pitas and top with cabbage, mushroom mixture, and herbs.

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!

While we are happy to have longer summer evenings, it can make it hard to get enough sleep so that you feel rested by the time the sun comes up again tomorrow. A bedtime ritual, like stretching, helps to take a little more time for yourself. It helps to reset the stress and thoughts that have built up during your busy day. Stretching before bed can help you fall asleep faster and more deeply. Try these stretches tonight and see the difference it can make for yourself!

Legs Up the Wall:
Helps relax your core to lower back pain and feel calmer

  1. Sit on the floor with the right side of your body against a wall.
  2. Lie on your back as you swing the backs of your legs up against the wall. Your hips can be up against the wall or a few inches away. Choose the distance most comfortable. You can also place a cushion under your hips for a bit of elevation.
  3. Rest your arms in any comfortable position.
  4. Stay in this pose for up to 10 minutes.

Happy Baby
Relieves tension in your spine, groin, and hips.

  1. Lie on your back. Bend your knees in towards your stomach.
  2. Grab the outsides of your feet with your hands. Open your knees slightly wider than your hips, then bring your knees towards your armpits.
  3. Raise your feet so your heels face up towards the ceiling. Flex through your heels and gently push your feet up into your hands for resistance. Slowly rock side-to-side to massage your lower back.

Child’s Pose

  1. On your hands and knees, sit back onto your heels with your knees slightly wider than your hips.
  2. Slowly walk your hands out in front of you to bring your forehead to the floor or until you feel a stretch. Relax your chest into this position. Hold for up to 10 minutes.

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.

During the pandemic, the use of supplements increased dramatically. Now 80% of Americans have started using supplements as a way to improve their health. But, how do you know which supplement may be the right one for you?

Do you need a supplement?

  • Supplements help to fill gaps in our nutrition. If you eat a variety of whole foods, like fruits, veggies, whole grains, protein, and calcium-rich foods, chances are your body is getting all the nutrients you need for good health.
  • Pay attention to your stress. Our gut absorbs most of the nutrients we eat. However, the gut is sensitive to stress. If you are stressed, your gut may not be taking in all the nutrients you are eating, no matter how balanced your diet is.
  • Ask your doctor to test for vitamin deficiencies. These blood tests aren’t usually done at regular check-ups, but can give you helpful information before you have symptoms of deficiencies.

How to choose a good supplement:

  • Choose quality. Supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA. You may be using mislabeled or contaminated supplements. Choose ones that are third party tested with a seal of certification. This guarantees a product follows good manufacturing practices.
  • Find the right product. Gummy supplements are good if you have trouble swallowing pills. However, they have sugars and taste like candy which can lead one to over eat them, increasing the risk of toxicity. Some gummy supplements are made with gelatin which is not good for vegans, so a pill or chewable option may be best.

Common supplements and their benefits:

  • Multivitamin: Gives the daily allowance of under-consumed nutrients
  • Vitamin D: Improves immune system and supports bone development
  • Vitamin C: Helps with iron absorption, skin and eye health, and immune support
  • Omega-3s: Promotes brain health, helps to lower triglycerides and raise good cholesterol

How to Make Baked Feta Pasta

Recipe by: Feel good Foodie
(Makes 6 servings)

  • 8 oz dried pasta
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 8 oz block of feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

To prepare:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. Place the cheese in the middle of the baking dish. Add tomatoes around the cheese.
  3. Pour olive oil over tomatoes and cheese. Add salt and pepper.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes, until tomatoes burst and feta melts.
  5. Cook pasta in a pot according to package instructions.
  6. Add the garlic, basil, and pasta to cooked tomatoes and feta. Toss to combine.

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