2022 JFCS Annual Meeting, What’s Next for JFCS

Last night, JFCS was thrilled to host our 85th Annual Meeting, open to the community. We thank those who joined us in person to reconnect with each other and the agency, while enjoying the lovely grounds of our host, the JCC Princeton Mercer Bucks & Abrams Camp.

As we shared at the meeting, JFCS services are more critical than ever:

Our Neighbors are Hungry… The annual inflation rate is at the highest it’s been in 40 years. The rising costs of basic necessities, including food, are impacting vulnerable families the hardest.

Our Seniors need Help… Home care is becoming increasingly difficult to secure due to rising costs and increasing need amongst an aging population still reeling from the isolation and impact of the pandemic.

Mental Health is in Crisis… The world is a stressful place and demand for mental health services remains high, especially amongst youth.

As JFCS works tirelessly to address these immediate needs in our community, we also see our costs rising…

The average price of pantry staples has risen by 12%, making it even more expensive to keep our shelves stocked while seeing higher demand. Similarly, the impact of rising costs across all facets of day-to-day operations means we’re striving to serve more people on limited resources.

We share these realities not to overwhelm you, but because we know you, our dedicated supporters, always want to know “What can I do? How can I help?”

WHAT YOU CAN DO

MAKE A DONATION TODAY– your gifts help us keep moving forward, together, and serving our community with Help, Hope & Healing.

GIVE THE GIFT OF YOUR TIME– volunteer, organize a food drive, learn how to become involved.

Thank you for being a part of the JFCS family.

2022 COMMUNITY AWARDS

Gemilut Chasadim Award Winners:
Jody & Michael Zelin

Tzedakah Award Winner:
Talia Black

Kehillah Award Winner:
Chesed Squad of the Yavneh Community & OU-JLIC at Princeton

Gil Gordon Leadership and Volunteerism Award:
Holli Elias

2022 ROSE & LOUIS H. LINOWITZ MENSCH AWARD WINNERS

8th Grade Mensch-in-Training:
Phoebe Dickler

12th Grade Mensch Award Winners:
Joshua Leeds

STAFF ANNIVERSARIES & MILESTONES

5 Year Anniversary
Eden Aaronson and Arlene Munoz, LSW

10 Year Anniversary
Val Wilson

15 Year Anniversary
Beth Englezos and Beth Hammer, LCSW

CONGRATS ON RETIREMENT!
Janice Baer, LCSW

Resources in the Aftermath of Tragedy

Resources in Response to the Robb Elementary School Shooting

In response to the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde Texas, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network has developed resources to help children, families, educators, and communities navigate what they are seeing and hearing, acknowledge their feelings, and find ways to cope together. These resources include:

Psychological First Aid

The NCTSN also has resources for responders on Psychological First Aid (PFA; En Español). PFA is an early intervention to support children, adolescents, adults, and families impacted by these types of events. PFA Mobile and the PFA Wallet Card (En Español) provide a quick reminder of the core actions. The PFA online training course is also available on the NCTSN Learning Center.

Additional PFA resources for schools include:

From the National Mass Violence and Victimization Resource Center

 From the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Uniformed Services University

Disaster Helpline

SAMHSA has a Disaster Distress Helpline – call or text 1-800-985-5990 (for Spanish, press “2”) to be connected to a trained counselor 24/7/365.

Additional Resources

For those that are needing technical assistance or additional resources, please don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Melissa Brymer at mbrymer@mednet.ucla.edu.

Celebrating Older Americans Month in May – “Aging Their Way”

May is recognized as Older Americans Month and this year’s theme is “Age My Way” with a focus how seniors can plan to live safely and comfortably in their homes and communities for as long as possible. This is a core belief within the JFCS Senior Service program making us especially excited to share how we help our seniors age their own way. 

What is Older Americans Month? 

The Administration for Community Living leads the national observance of Older Americans Month (OAM). OAM was established by President Gerald Ford in 1976 to recognize the contributions of older adults across the country and raise awareness of the needs specific to the aging demographic. 

The 2022 theme for OAM is “Aging My Way” which provides an opportunity to highlight the many way older adults can safely remain in their communities in their golden years and the value they bring in being involved. 

How does JFCS help seniors age their own way? 

Aging-in-place support is one of the core focus areas of our senior service department. JFCS believes all individuals are entitled to their right to live their golden years as they choose. Our care managers help navigate the maze of senior care and assist seniors in making the best decisions for care, safety and comfort such as how to safely age in their homes, how to make informed decisions about assisted living, in-home care and plan for long-term medical, financial, and legal situations. Our team of geriatric care managers are here to serve as advocates for our clients, ensuring their needs are heard by family, caregivers, friends, doctors and professionals. 

Beyond care management, JFCS even offers specific senior nutrition programs to ensure that older adults have access to nutritious food on a regular basis, further enhancing their quality of life in their later years. 

What our seniors say is “aging their way”…

Making connections to help seniors who feel isolated… 

The JFCS Friendly Caller & Visitor Program matches volunteers and seniors who feel more isolated or vulnerable, whether due to being homebound, living alone, or other circumstances. When COVID-19 forced many more seniors into isolation for their health & safety, JFCS continued this program matching more volunteers with more seniors.  

Two volunteers shared their perspective on what these regular connections have meant to them, and the senior they connect with. 

Volunteer Michael says… 

I’ve fostered a deep, meaningful, and humorous relationship through my friendly, weekly calls with Ms. Jane. Our calls are centered around positivity, compassion, and encouragement, whether it be a new hobby or to explore a new museum. This has greatly abated the fear of isolation and promoted social connection.  

Ms. Jane looks forward to our weekly calls, to the point where the excitement and enthusiasm is palpable; an experience that is beyond rewarding. 

Volunteer Judith says… 

I continue to speak with Ruth weekly. Our conversations have no topic; we speak as two friends about family, books, happenings in our lives, and reminiscences. She picks the topics, sets the tone and pace. I follow her direction. 

I know Ruth feels lonely, and our talks provide relief each week. I can tell that she looks forward to and enjoys our conversations, for she says so repeatedly and thanks me each week. 

*all names changed for confidentiality

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, We’re Together for Mental Health 

Each year, May is designated as Mental Health Awareness Month to shine a light on the importance of mental health care – something we have all recognized over the past two difficult years. This year’s theme is “Together for Mental Health.” 

What does it mean to be together for mental health? 

At JFCS, we are united in the belief that mental health care has a place in all programs and services; and, with counseling being one of our core programs, our agency has a responsibility to promote mental healthcare to the community, provide resources, and join in the push to end the stigma surrounding mental healthcare and mental illness. 

In February, we shared a video that highlighted our specific mental health services – the counseling department as well as support groups. Yet we are tuned into the emotional and psychological needs of all we serve, from the families using our food pantry, to the seniors receiving geriatric care management, to the youth participating in our programs. 

Counseling Department

Is it helpful to have internal resources to refer your client, for more well-rounded mental health support?

Having internal access to agency resources to refer to clients, such as the food pantry, is an invaluable resource to offer to clients due to food insecurity rates that have significantly increased for many families due to the pandemic. Clients have provided great feedback and a sense of gratitude for having the ability to access nutritious foods in a dignified manner that normalizes the community’s need for the use of an agency food pantry.

Furthermore, being a part of agency that offers group workshops and marital counseling allows clients to gain access to these services without having to contact an outside agency and having to experience long waitlists elsewhere. Having accessibility for the aforementioned agency resources, allows me to meet client needs in an effortless manner and reduced time spent on case management services. 

~Arlene Munoz, LSW Bilingual Social Worker

It is helpful because once the client has built trust and rapport with their social worker, they will be comfortable utilizing another reputable JFCS service. Having the ability to access identified resources within the Agency removes barriers when coordinating services. 

~Shirley Bellardo, LCSW, LCADC Director of Clinical Services

  

How important is mental health sensitivity in your program? 

Each client reacts to situations in their own unique way. Our social workers have the required sensitivity and understanding to support a client with diverse interventions that best suit their needs.

~Shirley Bellardo, LCSW, LCADC Director of Clinical Services

Food Programs

How does mental health play a role in your program?

We know that food insecurity = stress and anxiety. Imagine not having enough food for you or your family? The JFCS Mobile Food Pantry truck and our onsite pantry offers a bit of mental health support by providing much needed nourishment – for the body and the soul.

~Beth Englezos, Manager of Hunger Prevention

Senior Services

How important is mental health sensitivity in your program?

Being aware of stressors and validating feelings is critical. Clients need to feel “heard” and not be embarrassed or judged when expressing feelings or describing circumstances that are challenging.

~Beth Hammer, LCSW Geriatric Care Manager

Is it helpful to have internal resources to refer your client, for more well-rounded mental health support?

It is essential to have both internal and external referral sources to give to clients. Knowing there are various agency and community resources available can ensure that individuals receive the appropriate assistance they may require.

~Beverly Mishkin, LCSW Director of Senior Services

Teen Programs

How does mental health play a role in your program?

Gesher LeKesher benefits the Mental Health of our Madrichim in a number of ways. We introduce many useful resources including JFCS and the Crisis Text Line if they or someone they know is struggling with Mental Health. Our teen leaders also lead a unit to the Talmidim on the topic of selfcare. Program participants also roleplay and discuss red flag mental health behaviors and ways to respond when a person you know is struggling with mental health.

~Celeste Albert, LCSW Coordinator of Teen Programs

Volunteering

What role does mental health sensitivity play in your program?

In order to be most effective, agency volunteers need to communicate with clients with an awareness and understanding that the client may be suffering from mental or emotional issues.  

How does your program benefit clients’ mental health?

From delivering food to making check-in phone calls, every service that JFCS volunteers offer serves to improve the mental health of the client. They are also trained to note any changes or issues that may be of concern and immediately report back to the appropriate JFCS team member.

How does your program benefit volunteers’ mental health?

Research has repeatedly shown tremendous benefits to volunteers who spend time helping others. Time after time, JFCS volunteers arrive with positive energy and a willingness to do whatever is needed. Helping others surely proves to help oneself.

~Eden Aaronson, Coordinator of Volunteers & Community Programs

What can you do personally to rally behind the call for “Together for Mental Health”? 

Visit the NAMI Mental Health Awareness Month Resource page to learn more. Help advocate for a better mental health care system, share your story to help inspire others and defeat the stigma around mental health care and mental illness, and learn more about mental health using their education resources. 

Passover Greetings, Celebrating a Festival of Freedom

A Festival of Freedom,

Free from Burdens We Have Carried

Passover is one of the most important observances in the Jewish community as we gather to tell the story of our ancestors’ exodus to freedom.

In a simple form, Passover is a festival of freedom.

This year our celebrations feel liberated, as many of us will have the chance to gather with a full crowd of family and friends for Seder, something that has not been possible in two years. The world does not look the same as it did when we last gathered in this way for Pesach, yet there is a freedom to what we can do. The pandemic may not be fully behind us, but because of our communal dedication to each other – by getting vaccinated, wearing a mask and social distancing when appropriate – we can now enjoy a new level of freedom; free from the burdens of worry, of isolation, and distance which we have carried since early 2020.

As the JFCS family prepares for upcoming celebrations, we reflect on how our services to the community also represents a path to freedom…

We provide seniors the autonomy and support to age how and where they choose.

We provide those fighting mental and emotional turmoil an outlet to unburden themselves of these internal stressors.

We provide families who are struggling financially the freedom found in nourishment and knowing they can put money towards other necessities, without worrying about filling their table.

May your Pesach be free of worries and brightened by togetherness with those you hold dear.

Chag Sameach,

Michelle Napell, Executive Director

What to Expect When Hiring a Home Care Agency

If you are considering hiring an aide, you or a loved one has likely had a recent injury, surgery or illness. You may require assistance with personal care, ambulating or being transported safely in addition to needing help with meals.

Think about the kinds of things you expect from the caregiver:
  • Do you want the person to take initiative in doing chores/tasks or should the caregiver only follow your instructions?
  • Would you prefer someone who enjoys conversation or would you prefer to be left alone?
  • Try to think outside the box with tasks that are not hands-on care (such as dressing, bathing and toileting}. The aide could straighten up the bathroom, change your bed linens and do laundry, help prep or actually prepare a meal for later, pick up groceries at the market, go to the pharmacy, etc.
  • Try to be as specific as possible about the schedule that would work best for you- keep in mind the number of hours in the “block” of time and how many days/week and which days you prefer. Schedules are generally not set in stone.  Health needs are ever-changing and schedules can change with the needs.  Usually, agencies need 24-48 hours’ notice to implement any changes.  Any changes in schedule must go through the office, not the caregiver.  Call the home care agency to report any difficulties you experience in the adjustment to having a caregiver.

When matching an aide to a client, it does help to know as much as possible.  Understand that the caregiver and you may take several days to settle into a routine and that the first day may not be a good reflection on how good the match is.  Agencies will do the best they can to match an aide based on skill set and caregiver availability to meet your needs.  A creative solution, such as slightly different hours, may be offered by the agency if the caregiver they think would be best has availability that slightly differs from your initial request.

Since the pandemic, many agencies now require a minimum of 16-20 hours per week of care due to the high demand for caregivers; many have had to increase their hourly rate from approximately $26 to $30, and many have increased the hourly block from 3 or 4 hours to 6-hour shifts.  The minimum number of days care is given may have also been adjusted due to availability of staff.  If you have a request for a shorter block of time or less frequency, you may have a greater turnover in aides being assigned to your care.  In general, the more hours and days per week, the more consistent the caregiver.  Each agency sets its own policy regarding rates and minimum care.

Not all agencies require their caregivers/staff to be vaccinated.  We advise you to inquire about the status of your caregiver.  Please know that the agencies do provide masks, gloves and sanitizers for their aides to use.

Generally, most agencies do not bring caregivers to your home to be “interviewed” prior to the assignment.  The agency will match the best caregiver to your needs and if the match does not meet your expectations after several days, the agency will do its best to make any necessary changes.  Most aides do not have interviewing experience and may not present his or her best version of oneself in that type of setting.  If you are being discharged from a rehab setting, the agency can, in most cases, bring the aide to the facility for “training” by the PT department regarding any specific needs.

Following a hospitalization or rehabilitation stay, the agency may recommend having “round the clock” care for the first few days.  This means you will be billed the hourly rate x 24, per day.  The benefit of this is that your overnight needs can be evaluated so that you are safe, especially if there is concern about being a fall risk or having impaired sleep and needing care throughout the night.  The agency will generally arrange for (2) 12-hour shifts, or (3) 8 hour shifts of aides.  Once it is determined that you or your loved one is not at risk of falling at night, or is able to sleep through the night, the schedule can be adjusted to your needs.

If you require a caregiver who has his/her own car or has a driver’s license (and can drive your car) to do errands, take you to a doctor appointment, etc., please tell the agency.  Not all aides have a car and/or a driver’s license.

If you need a live-in caregiver, keep in mind the caregiver needs to sleep and cannot work “round the clock”.  Live-in aides are required to have 5 hours of consecutive hours of sleep, with 8 hours total per night, as mandated by labor laws.  If the client needs brief help more than once or twice nightly, additional overnight support may be necessary; either a second aide can be added to remain awake overnight or two twelve hour shifts of care may need to be implemented in lieu of live-in care.

If you have a live-in caregiver, you will need to provide a separate room for him/her for sleeping in addition to providing food.  Any unusual or special dietary requests by the caregiver are not your responsibility to provide.

Most agencies will charge time-and-a-half on holidays.

If you have a pet in the house, you need to inform the home care agency and do not assume that the caregiver will take care of your pet (walk, feed, clean litter box, etc.).

We hope you find this information useful.  If you would like to speak to a geriatric care manager, please contact JFCS at 609-987-8100.

Beth Hammer, LCSW Geriatric Care Manager
Andrea Gaynor, LCSW Geriatric Care Manager
Beverly Mishkin, LCSW Director of Senior Services

Addressing anxiety & fear in the face of threats of violence in schools

Today’s threat on TikTok for potential school violence has spurred widespread concern and anxiety. NJ Gov. Phil Murphy has stated, “While there are no known specific threats against New Jersey schools, the safety of our children is our highest priority and we will work closely with law enforcement to monitor the situation and remain prepared.” However, many of us are still facing feelings of unease and stress whether you are a parent, a student, an educator, a school staff member, a relative of anyone in a school setting, or simply concerned for your community.

Threats or acts of violence that occur in schools can cause a great deal of confusion and fear in our children who start to worry about their own safety and the safety of their friends and family. 

Knowing how to have a conversation with your child or teen about school safety is critical and can play an important role in easing fears and anxieties about their personal safety. How do you address these fears and keep them feeling safe in school and at home? Here are some helpful guidelines:

  • Talk honestly with your child or teen about your own feelings modeling that they are not dealing with their fears alone.
  • Validate your child’s feelings. “Validating” means giving your child or teen that all-important, and seemingly elusive, message that “your feelings make sense.”
  • Empower your child to take action regarding school safety. Encourage them to report incidents such as bullying, threats or talk of suicide. Encourage older children to actively participate in student-run anti-violence programs.
  • Support your child’s efforts to work out scary thoughts and feelings through play, drawing, or other activities

Lastly, watch for warning signs that your child may suffer from anxiety. Some common reactions to anxiety are:  

  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Frequent nightmares or not being able to sleep
  • Changes in eating habits which could include loss of appetite or overeating
  • Lack of focus or ability to pay attention
  • Separation anxiety or unusual clinginess.

If symptoms should persist for more than six weeks or disrupts your child or teen’s daily routine, it is recommended that you seek professional help. JFCS can provide you the necessary support; please call 609-987-8100 Ext 102.

Shirley Bellardo, LCSW, LCADC Director of Clinical Services

JFCS: Moving Forward into 2022 with Help, Hope and Healing

The end of year is always a time to reflect and set goals for the year ahead. JFCS is sharing inspiring stories of how our programs have helped the individuals, families and community we serve move forward after another challenging year for all.

Valerie’s Journey of Healing…

Valerie reached out to JFCS after recognizing the severity of the anxiety and depression she was experiencing. After making the commitment to counseling and putting new skills into action, Valerie felt empowered to address the root of her most severe symptoms – low self-esteem caused by lack of boundaries in challenging relationships. By tackling the causes of her anxiety and depression, Valerie soon felt confident to move forward from therapy.

“My counselor was exceptional and did an excellent job listening without judgment and providing professional support. I am extremely grateful for this experience and am looking forward to moving past my anxiety.”

Helping Arthur and Ruth Move Forward with Confidence…

The JFCS senior service team received a call from Arthur, who lives out of state, and was concerned about his 90 year-old mother who lives alone in the Princeton community. While the son was in town, one of our geriatric care managers scheduled an appointment to meet with both Arthur and his mother, Ruth. The care manager did a thorough assessment including home safety, social supports, meal shopping/preparation and transportation options. A plan of care was developed to address these issues. Arthur left for home feeling like a “weight had been lifted from his shoulders.”

He knew he was no longer alone to deal with the challenges that lie ahead. JFCS receives many calls like this and our expert team of geriatric care managers is available to provide guidance and support to those in similar situations.

Melinda Finds Hope at the Pantry…

Melinda is a grandmother who serves as the primary guardian to both grandsons. She lives on a fixed income and is the full-time caregiver to both children, one of whom has significant physical special needs, requiring in-home therapy and care. It is difficult for Melinda to get out of the house, but thankfully, she is in counseling with one of our JFCS therapists who referred her to the pantry team. Our pantry team was able to identify one of our local mobile food pantry stops where Melinda can easily and conveniently pick up groceries. Melinda was also able to receive gift cards through the LIGHTS program so she could purchase holiday gifts for her grandsons, something out of reach without this support.

“With a resource coming right to my neighborhood, it is a huge relief. I face serious financial challenges as the sole caregiver for my grandsons, and I am so appreciative of any help. Even the smallest gesture makes a big difference in our lives.”

Stories like those of Valerie, Arthur, Ruth and Melinda are just some examples of the impact we have made, together, over the past year. You can read further about how JFCS has served the community this year in our latest Annual Report.

We thank all of those who have supported us, especially in these ongoing, challenging times. We hope you can once again trust JFCS to care for those in need with an end of year gift. Help us move into the new year with help, hope & healing.

Budget-Friendly and Time-Conscious Thanksgiving Tips & Recipes

para español

Thanksgiving is an exciting time to eat some of our favorite holiday foods. We could go on and on about Thanksgiving fare, but the reality is that making too many dishes can be stressful! Check out the following tips to spend less time and money in the kitchen.

  1. Keep it simple by focusing on favorites – choose your favorite 2 vegetable sides & 1-2 starchy side dishes to make and enjoy without going overboard. You can make other dishes any day of the year without the pressure of the big day!
  2. Make only what you will need – Thanksgiving leftovers are great, but buying too much can put you over budget and creates waste.
  3. Basic is best – Often our favorite recipes are the most simple. Choose recipes without extra ingredients. This saves time shopping AND in the kitchen. Making dishes from scratch is often less expensive too.

When it comes to Thanksgiving, thinking ahead can save the day!

Giving ourselves time to decide what’s really important minimizes holiday stress. Prioritizing can keep us focused and on-track to stay within budget and to make healthier choices.

  1. Prioritize only a few of your “Must-Have” favorite dishes and choose recipes in advance. You can make other dishes any day of the year.
  2. Purchase November’s in-season produce while it’s at the lowest price and its peak of freshness (winter squashes, collards, cabbage, sweet potato, kale, carrots, apples, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cranberries etc.)
  3. Make it ahead. Schedule a prep day where you can get some foods done in advance. Many can be stored in the freezer for weeks and just need to be reheated (soup, casseroles, pie, etc.)
  4. Use a slow cooker if you have one. Many recipes can be adapted to be made in a slow cooker. It takes up little space and reduces your active cooking time.
  5. Poultry swap. Turkey is often the most expensive item at Thanksgiving. Cut the cost by:
  • Purchasing store-brand turkey
  • Choosing a smaller bird and focus on the side dishes
  • Substituting chicken and prepare it with the same care you would for a turkey
  • Buying turkey pieces instead of the whole bird
Roasted Turkey Breast

For when you don’t want to cook a whole bird (try it with chicken!)

  • 5 lbs Turkey Breast, bone in & skin on
  • 2 tbsp Butter, softened
  • 2 large Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp Rosemary
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • Black Pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups Water

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, add softened butter, garlic, rosemary, smoked paprika, salt & pepper. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Rub turkey breast with seasoned butter all around, starting from the bottom with bone side.
    Place turkey breast side up on a rack and then put rack inside the baking dish. Pour water into the pan underneath the turkey.
  4. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes on a bottom rack.
  5. Loosely cover with foil and bake for 70-80 minutes more or until internal temperature in the deepest part of meat reaches 150 – 155 degrees F.
Cranberry Sauce

For a more naturally sweetened sauce

  • 12 oz Cranberries, fresh or frozen

  • 1/3 Cup Maple Syrup or Honey

  • 1/4 Cup Orange Juice (use zest of oranges if fresh)

  • 1/8 tsp Vanilla (optional)

  • 1/8 tsp Cinnamon (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Add cranberries, syrup or honey, and orange juice to a pot.
  2. Cover and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to medium and cook for 6 more minutes.
  3. Remove lid and add vanilla & cinnamon (optional). Stir and cook for another 3 minutes or until cranberries are broken down and the sauce has thickened.
Thanksgiving Stuffed Acorn Squash

For a new dish to serve featuring seasonal vegetables.

For the Squash

  • 3 Acorn Squash, small

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil

  • Salt & Pepper, to taste

For the Stuffing

  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 lb Lean Turkey, ground
  • 3 Cups spinach/kale, chopped
  • 2 tsp Dried Rosemary
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Hard Cheese & Parsley for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. (save them to toast later)
  2. Place squash cut side up on a large baking sheet. Brush with 1 tbsp of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, prepare the stuffing. Place a large skillet over medium-low heat.
  4. Add oil onion and garlic and cook until translucent and fragrant. Add turkey and cook for another 7-8 minutes while mixing and breaking up the meat.
  5. Add remaining ingredients. Mix together and cook for another few minutes.
  6. After the squash have roasted for 30 minutes, remove them from the oven. Carefully stuff the centers with the stuffing & sprinkle on cheese (optional).
  7. Return the stuffed squash to the oven and bake another 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the squash can be easily pierced with a fork.
Toasted Acorn Squash Seeds

For a crunchy & salty snack while waiting for dinner.

  • Acorn Squash Seeds

  • Oil of your choosing, enough to lightly coat

  • Salt, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking tray with foil.
  2. Remove squash pulp from seeds as best as possible.
  3. In a bowl, drizzle oil onto the seeds to lightly coat. Add salt and mix.
  4. Spread the seeds on your baking sheet in a single layer and place into the oven.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, tossing the seeds with a spatula once or twice during the cooking time.
  6. Remove once they are golden and fragrant.
Garlic Green Beans

For a deliciously simple vegetable side dish.

  • 1.5 lbs Fresh Green Beans, ends trimmed

  • 3 Tbsp Water

  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil

  • 3-4 Garlic Cloves, minced

  • Salt & Black Pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat large ceramic non-stick skillet on medium heat.
  2. Add green beans and 3 tbsp water. Cover and cook for 4 minutes.
  3. Remove the lid and if there is any water left, cook green beans until water has evaporated.
  4. Push beans to the side. Add olive oil and garlic. Cook for 30 seconds and then stir with green beans. Season with salt & pepper.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts

For a traditional & simple seasonal vegetable side.

  • 2 lbs Brussels Sprouts, fresh

  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil

  • Salt & Black Pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Trim the ends and remove outer leaves from brussels sprouts.
  3. Place brussels sprouts on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Mix with hands to evenly coat with oil and seasonings. Spread into a single layer.
  5. Bake for 40 mins, tossing with a spatula 1-2 times after the 30 minute mark.
Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

For a hassle-free slow cooker recipe (try it with sweet potatoes!)

  • 5 lbs Potatoes, peeled & cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 1/2 Cup of Lowfat or Plant-Based Milk

  • 1/2 Cup Low-Sodium Broth

  • 3 Garlic Cloves, smashed

  • 1/3 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt

  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated

  • Salt & Black Pepper to taste

  • Sliced Green Onions or Chives for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Place potato cubes along with milk, broth, salt, black pepper, and garlic into a slow cooker. Toss to combine.
  2. Cover the crock and cook for about 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.
  3. When the potatoes are tender, mash them directly in the slow cooker to your desired consistency.
  4. Add yogurt and grated parmesan, and season to taste.
  5. Place the lid back on the crock pot and heat through for another 15-20 minutes before serving. Garnish if desired.
Seasonal Squash Soup

For a hearty seasonal soup you can make ahead (try with any winter squash!)

  • 1 Butternut Squash,  peeled, seeded, & cubed (save your seeds to toast later)
  • 2 Tbsp Oil
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 Stalk Celery, chopped
  • 1 Medium Carrot, chopped
  • 32 oz Low-Sodium Broth
  • Salt & Black Pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Add oil to a large soup pot. Add onion, celery, carrot and squash and cook for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  2. Pour in enough of the chicken stock to cover vegetables. Bring to a boil then reduce to low heat and cover. Simmer for 40 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender.
  3. Carefully, transfer the soup to a blender (or use an immersion blender), and blend until smooth.
  4. Mix in any remaining stock to attain desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

If Freezing…

  1. Allow soup to cool, and then pour into a freezer-safe container. Leave space at the top for expansion.
  2. Place in the freezer until ready to use.
  3. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator if desired. Reheat in a pot on the stove.
Baked Apples

For a healthy dessert that highlights beautiful seasonal apples.

  • 4 Large Apples

  • 3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, softened

  • 1/4 Cup of Brown Sugar or Honey

  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

  • 1/8 tsp Ground Nutmeg

  • 1/3 Cup Whole Rolled Oats

  • 2 Tbsp Raisins/Dried Cranberries/Chopped Nuts (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl, mash butter, sugar/honey, oats, cinnamon, and nutmeg together until combined. Add raisins/dried cranberries/nuts, if using. Set aside.
  2. Core the apples: Use an apple corer or a sharp paring knife and a spoon. Cut around the core, about 3/4 down into the apple. Use a spoon to carefully dig out the core.
  3. Place cored apples in a baking pan with sides. Spoon filling into each apple p to the top.
  4. Pour water into the pan around the apples to cover the bottom.
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until apples are to your desired softness.
  6. Remove apples from the oven and allow to rest 5 minutes. Serve warm.
Prep-Ahead Pumpkin Pie

For a traditional dessert you can make in advance

  • 1 Store-Bought Pie Dough

  • 3 Eggs, large

  • 15 oz can 2 cups pumpkin puree (not pie filling)

  • 1/2 cup your choice of milk

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or honey

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

  • 1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice**

  • 1/4 tsp salt

**Make & store your own pumpkin pie spice in a jar by mixing 1/4 cup ground cinnamon, 1 Tbsp ground nutmeg, 1 Tbsp ground ginger and 1 tsp ground cloves

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. In a medium bowl, add eggs and whisk for 30 seconds.
  3. Add pumpkin puree, milk, maple syrup, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, salt and whisk together.
  4. Pour your pie filling into pre-baked crust and bake pie for 55 minutes.

Freeze & Store…

  1. Let the pie cool completely.
  2. Wrap the pie tightly in a few layers of plastic wrap.
  3. Label the pie with the freeze date and place in freezer.
  4. Thaw overnight in refrigerator before serving.