COVID – 19 UPDATES

Find agency updates, helpful blogs & articles, and other resources HERE

An Introduction to Meditation

Meditation has gained a lot of attention as we all continue to see methods of relaxation and self care in the midst of these challenging times. Linda Kanner, one of our licensed clinical social workers, takes us through an Introduction to Meditation and the most common methods of meditation including Mindfulness Meditation, Movement Meditation, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Visualization Meditation and Guided Meditation. Also included are tips and resources for how to get started.

Spotlight on Volunteers: Father-Son Dynamic Duo Delivers During Pandemic

Our new monthly feature – Volunteer Spotlight – will share testimonials direct from our incredible volunteers. JFCS Volunteers are critical to our delivery of core programs and services, providing everything from delivery of Kosher Meals on Wheels, to helping at Mobile Food Pantry distributions, and making friendly calls to isolated seniors.

Les & Ben Seifer

My son, Ben, and I form the perfect “dynamic duo” as we travel about Mercer County delivering meals to a wide assortment of JFCS clients. He drives and I navigate (with help from Waze). We have both been blessed in many ways and are happy to do our little bit to help the elderly and others who, even without a pandemic, find it hard to get out and about. We truly believe that though we cannot save the world, we can help save a little piece of it here in New Jersey. Plus, everyone at JFCS is extraordinarily cheerful and dedicated which makes the volunteer experience something we look forward to each week.

Ben, who also volunteers at the Plainsboro Public Library, learned about JFCS from me. I learned about the agency while volunteering at Cornerstone Community Kitchen at the United Methodist Church in Princeton. Every Wednesday at that church (pre-pandemic), a hot meal is served to about one hundred people. There is also a food pantry where attendees can “shop” for various donated foods. One Wednesday, JFCS came by and contributed a huge amount of groceries and that’s where I learned about their services. During the pandemic we have limited ourselves to just handing out hot meals and bags of groceries and produce, and JFCS has been there every week without fail with first-rate fruits and other healthy items.

The clients we support always greet us cheerfully when we make our deliveries.  On a recent miserable cold rainy day, I handed an elderly woman her meals and she said, “Wait… I have a little something for you.” Thinking she was going to try and give me a tip, or perhaps some cookies, I told her it was not at all necessary. She then handed me a plastic bag of garbage and asked me if I could drop it in the dumpster since she was unable to get out. Did I take it? Of course! We are making a difference each day, and providing that vitual social interaction and simply “check-in” on seniors who are feeling exceptionally isolated.

In a time when it can feel many people act only in service of themselves, it is rewarding to both Ben and I to see such generosity and compassion. We look forward to continuing to play a part.

Are you feeling quarantine depression? How to combat fatigue, stress, and other signs of depression

Quarantine depression is part of our new daily vocabulary along with masks, social distancing, and hand sanitizer. This quarantine depression and fatigue is different from clinical depression because the feelings are brought on by the circumstances of the pandemic, whereas clinical depression can happen for a variety of reasons and does not have an external cause, can be chronic and persistent. 

What can quarantine depression look like?

  • Feeling fatigued even when you haven’t engaged in physical activity or upon waking
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Changes in appetite
  • Significant weight gain or loss
  • Feeling “on edge” or having difficulty dealing with normal life stressors
  • Lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Lack of interest in maintaining relationships, even over virtual methods, such as text, email, and video calling

Tips and Strategies to Manage Quarantine Depression:

  • Do something each day, it doesn’t have to be a lofty goal, anything is better than nothing and you will find pleasure in checking something off your list.
  • Exercise. Go outdoors for a walk, ride your bike, or sit on the porch; the benefits of the fresh air and Vitamin D from the sun can help to boost your mood.
  • Meditation. The psychological benefits of meditation are wide ranging: heightened creativity, decreased stress and anxiety, decreased irritability, improved memory and even increased happiness and emotional stability.
  • Listen to music. It has been proven scientifically that listening to your favorite music improves your mood. 
  • Practice self-compassion. Turn off that critical dialogue, what we say to ourselves influences everything; start using supportive, encouraging words.
  • Focus on what you can do and accept the things you cannot change.
  • Keep a daily gratitude journal; this will help you appreciate the positives which can help reduce stress.
  • Stay connected. Even though we cannot be physically together, make that phone call, write an email or letter, send a text to check in with your friends and family.

A licensed therapist can help you identify the causes of your depression and provide the necessary support to help improve your quality of life. Reach out to JFCS

  • During our Drop-in Hours (Mon, Wed, Fri 10 AM – 12 PM or Tues, Thurs 5 – 7 PM) call 609-987-8100 Dial 0
  • Connect with our intake coordinator for ongoing counseling at 609-987-8100 Ext 102, we are currently providing therapy via phone and video calls

Shirley Bellardo, LCSW, LCADC (Director of Clinical Services)

Hands-On Education: Impact Through Internship in a Pandemic

We are so pleased to welcome Emmanuelle Farrell, Rutgers MSW student, to the agency for her first internship. She works with clients in Senior Services, Case Management and the Food Pantry and offers to help staff in any way she can. Despite these challenging times, she has already hit the ground running in the few months that she has been here. 

Beverly Mishkin, LCSW, Director of Case Management & Senior Services

Meet Emmanuelle!

My name is Emmanuelle Farrell, and I am interning at JFCS this year as part of my Master of Social Work program at Rutgers University. As a first-year graduate student, working at JFCS has offered me crucial experience with older adults and food insecure residents of Mercer County. As the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented many of my classmates from interning in person, I feel very grateful to be able to complete my internship in the JFCS office, where the few staff members working in-person wear masks and remain socially distant at all times. This direct approach has allowed me to see firsthand the significant impacts of the pandemic on the communities that JFCS serves.

The needs I have observed among the populations that JFCS provides services to appear to be exacerbated by financial, social, and health-related repercussions of the current pandemic. As I work primarily within the Senior Services department, I have noticed that older adults are in need of more than just basic necessities, like food and home health care. In making weekly check-in calls to Holocaust survivors and collecting seniors’ responses to program surveys, I have realized that many older adults are in dire need of companionship. This desire for social interaction has increased dramatically as the danger of contracting COVID-19 has stopped seniors from seeing family members and caregivers as frequently, if at all.

I also work with community members who reach out for assistance and help them get connected with our food pantry as a means of support.

I have also heard from other staff members that the demand for hunger prevention services has heightened significantly due to the widespread unemployment and subsequent economic difficulty associated with the pandemic. In general, the coronavirus pandemic has intensified the financial and interpersonal needs of vulnerable groups, increasing participation in JFCS’ programs and creating a unique learning environment for me as an intern.

There have been many connections between the content of my Master of Social Work courses and my experiences at JFCS. Primarily, I have been able to apply the communication skills I have learned in class to my interactions with clients, including empathetic listening and the use of furthering responses to encourage individuals to share. In addition, my work with the Holocaust survivors at JFCS has allowed me to implement a trauma-informed perspective, which I have learned about in my practice-focused classes. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to unite my academic setting with my fieldwork placement at JFCS.

Following the completion of my Master of Social Work degree, I hope to become a clinical social worker and administer therapy. Although I am interested in working with various populations, I intend to focus on serving trauma survivors through play therapy with children or cognitive behavioral therapy with adults. After becoming involved with JFCS, I have also gained an interest in working with older adults, particularly those who have endured trauma, such as survivors of the Holocaust. I plan to utilize many capabilities that I have developed as a JFCS intern in my future career, including performing intake procedures, researching program outcomes, and engaging compassionately with clients.

Although I have gathered many crucial sights throughout my time at JFCS, the most inspirational aspect of my internship has been the tangible difference that the organization makes in people’s daily lives. Every time I make a check-in call to an older adult, refer a new client to our food pantry, or assist with a distribution through the Mobile Food Pantry, I know I am making a meaningful change for an individual or family in need. I look forward to continuing my internship and furthering the agency’s incredible mission to empower individuals to care for themselves and others.

Emmanuelle Farrell, MSW Intern

End of Year Giving Options, Making an Impact with Your Gift

In Mercer County there is a clear dedication to supporting charitable efforts both locally and more broadly. At JFCS, we are humbled by the support we receive year after year from our donors.

In recent years, changes to tax law have impacted individual giving and caused some confusion for donors as to how to make the most significant impact with their valued contributions.

Our partners Lear & Pannepacker LLP spoke with us to help clarify the changes in tax law and alternative giving options including:

Donate Appreciated Securities: By donating appreciated stocks, bonds or other appreciated investments directly to a charity, the donor can avoid capital gains tax.

Set Up & Gift through a Donor Advised Fund:  A donor can make a larger gift up front to a donor advised fund, receive an immediate tax deduction, and then advise on annual grants to charities year after year. Donor advised funds can be set up at local organizations such as Princeton Area Community Foundation or Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer as well as through your bank or financial advisor.

Make a Qualified Charitable Distribution from IRA: Make a transfer of funds directly from your IRA to a charity. These transfers count towards your required minimum distribution each year but are not reported to you as taxable income.

See our full conversation with Lear & Pannepacker LLP for even more information:

A Holiday Message from JFCS: Sharing Thanks, Giving Support

In honor of the holiday, JFCS wants to share our thanks…

To our staff, thank you for giving your compassion, your care, your creativity in the face of unprecedented challenges.

To our Board, thank you for giving your commitment and guidance to keep the agency on a steady course.

To our volunteers, thank you for giving your goodwill and your time. We have multiple programs entirely dependent on our corps of volunteer who have been unwavering in their service through this difficult time.

To our collaborators in the community, thank you for giving us your partnership and proving that we can accomplish more together and support our community through a strong network of resources.

To our clients, thank you for giving your trust to our team to provide you with counsel, with resources, with support in the face of many challenges this year.

To our donors, thank you for giving your support. From the start of the pandemic, you, our supporters, never hesitated in reaching out to see how you could contribute, which programs needed help, always asking “how can we help?”

…And give support.

We want to share a few notes of advice on how to manage the anxiety and stress that accompanies holidays “in the time of COVID-19.”

  • Try to be realistic, the holiday does not have to be perfect. Choose a few traditions to hold on to and be open about creating new ones. This could mean that you have a virtual get together, or, weather permitting, dinner could be held outdoors.
  • Practice self-care: taking 5 to 10 minutes out of your day to go for a walk outside, listening to calming music, lighting a scented candle, doing breathing exercises, and drinking water.
  • Focus on what you are grateful for. Sometimes we need be thankful for what happens to us, sometimes we need be thankful for what does not.

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy and peaceful Thanksgiving.

Tips, Resources & Support for Holiday Season During COVID-19

This time of year is usually full of eager anticipation, cheerful gatherings, acts of kindness and charitable giving. Like so many aspects of life, this year the holiday season will look different than ones that came before. While we will all have to continue to be creative in how and where we gather with family and friends, observe holiday traditions, and participate in the season, we can still make this year meaningful and special.

Coping with Separation & Loss During Celebrations

Do you or your families need a refresher on Zoom? Don’t let anyone feel left out of the virtual celebration, share our step by step Zoom Guide.

Consider a drive-by potluck dinner. If you can’t bring yourself to reduce the recipe of your favorite holiday dish, coordinate with loved ones who may be within driving distance and organize a drop-off potluck. Make the full holiday serving size, divvy up into individual portions, and make a no-contact delivery to loved ones who are close by. OR, if you are far apart from loved ones, especially elderly family members, consider ordering them a prepared meal to be delivered.

Find more tips like this in…

Remember, this year, safety is most important to ensure future holidays celebrations can be shared together in person. Review the CDC Guidelines and Recommendations for Thanksgiving & upcoming holidays.

If you are a caregiver, this holiday can be extra difficult managing the stress of your role in the midst of the pandemic, and without the extra family support during this season. We are here for caregivers.

If you have experienced loss this year, this difficult and distanced holiday time can feel especially challenging to navigate.

  • For those of the Jewish faith, join us on December 9 for a special program “Light in the Midst of Darkness: Chanukah in the time of COVID for the Bereaved” Register in advance (fee $10)

Additional resources for the bereaved:

Time for Traditions

Practice gratitude. Here are a number of resources for nurturing gratitude for Thanksgiving and beyond.

Find comfort in the familiar of tradition. Put out the special tableware, the traditional recipes, and find religious services streaming online.

Embrace the nostalgia of the hand-written card. When we are all missing family and friends more than ever, a hand-written (or even hand-made if you want to avoid the stores) card can mean so much to the recipient.

Dress up! Even if you are hosting a smaller gathering than usual, or celebrating solo, dress up in your formal holiday attire. Wearing your holiday best can bring about the celebratory spirit!

Missing out on the cookie baking marathon with your loved ones? Set up a video call and bake “together.” This can be a special opportunity to record your family members passing down beloved family recipes which can be cherished for generations.

Find more tips like this in…

Community Event: Interfaith Thanksgiving Service dedicated in memory of Rabbi Feldman

Thurs, November 26 @ 11:00 AM

Join for a special interfaith service for the holiday. STREAM LIVE

Make this time Special with Service

This has been a challenging year for many – job loss, food insecurity, seniors feeling especially isolated. In this season of giving, find ways to make a difference in your community…

Participate or lead a Thanksgiving/Holiday Food Drive. Check with local pantries if they are collecting specific items for the upcoming holidays or if they are in need of pantry staples.

Want to get out into the community? Food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens continue to see rising demand. Reach out to organizations in your area and inquire about volunteer opportunities. Many organizations are relying on volunteers to facilitate large-scale grab and go meal distributions.

  • Help at JFCS! We welcome volunteers to help pack prepared bags of food for our on-site and mobile food pantries. Contact us: BethE@jfcsonline.org / 609-987-8100 Ext 126.

Share a smile with a senior. The restrictions of current quarantine orders dramatically impact older adults. Consider making holiday cards to be shared with isolated seniors. Reach out to local senior care facilities or organizations to inquire about how to best distribute holiday greeting cards to their residents/clients.

  • JFCS is collecting cards for our senior clients which will be distributed to those who receive delivered meals and food. Contact Eden Aaronson to learn more: EdenA@jfcsonline.org / 609-987-8100 Ext 113.

Make a donation. Find an organization close to your heart and make a gift that is meaningful to you to support them. Share with family and friends why this cause is important and encourage them to do the same.

  • You can help make the holidays special for JFCS clients by donating gift cards to our L.I.G.H.T.S (Love is Getting Holidays Gifts to Share) program. Learn more here.
  • By making a general monetary donation to JFCS, you are enabled us to continue our vital support to the community through our food pantries, senior support and mental health care. Make a donation today.
Embrace the Opportunity for NEW Traditions

Never had time to make a Turkey Trot before now? Most charity walks/races have gone virtual and can be completed from anywhere! Make a team with family and friends no matter how distanced you are, and embrace the chance to create a new tradition with them.

  • You can participate in the Mercer County Turkey Trot Nov 21 – 28! Proceeds help support Mercer County food pantries including JFCS. Sign up today!

Create a Secret “Snowflake” gift exchange through the magic of Amazon Prime (or any online store). Organize a gift exchange through a broad network using social media or keep it to a close-knit group with whom you may not be able to gather in person with this year.

Seek out virtual holiday concert or performances, coordinate virtual “watch parties” of your favorite holiday movies with your loved ones, enjoy outdoor, socially distanced opportunities like drive-through or walk-through light displays, and explore local opportunities like Palmer Square holiday weekends or Morven Museum & Garden Festival of Trees.

This Thanksgiving, enjoy an Interfaith Service, dedicated to the memory of Rabbi Adam Feldman. Stream the program liveThursday, November 26 at 11 AM.

Festive Foods

See a guided video by our very own Andrea Gaynor to make your own Sufganiyot (Jelly Doughnuts) for Hanukkah!

Our registered dietitan has shared tips and recipes for budget-friendly and time-conscious Thanksgiving dishes.

Check out additional family friendly recipes:

Games & Crafts

Get crafty and creative this holiday season with these activities fun for all ages!

Do What Works Best for YOU and Your Mental Health

It has been said that during the pandemic, sometimes it takes more effort to accomplish less. The emotional and mental toll of the past months may leave many feeling exceptionally fatigued by the holidays before they have even arrived.

If you need to keep things simple to protect your mental health, then take the time for self-care. If you’re feeling over-Zoomed before weeks of virtual holiday drinks, be honest with your family and friends and let them know you cannot join all of the engagements.

Find information & tips in our blogs:

And, if you need to talk to someone, reach out to JFCS

  • During our Drop-in Hours (Mon, Wed, Fri 10 AM – 12 PM or Tues, Thurs 5 – 7 PM) call 609-987-8100 Dial 0
  • Connect with our intake coordinator for ongoing counseling at 609-987-8100 Ext 102

Caregiving, COVID-19 and the Holidays

To all Caregivers…

In these difficult times of COVID-19, we all look to support each other and, particularly, to give extra attention to you who are taking care of your loved ones. Here is a helpful articles on how to have a Safe, Fun and Festive Holiday.  

Looking for support?

Are you a caregiver for your loved one with Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s or another chronic disease or illness? Our non-sectarian group provides tips, techniques and resources to help you live your life while supporting your loved one.

Caregiver Support Group

Tuesdays (6 Sessions) Beginning Jan 5, 2021 at 2:30 PM

Fee: $50, 6 sessions every other week

REGISTER NOW

A Special Prayer

CARETAKER’S PRAYER

Dear G-d, give me the strength to face this day,

To deal with the tension, anxiety and dizzying confusion of my life.

Teach me to focus, to prioritize, to see with clarity.

G-d of patience, teach me to be patient.

Forgiving G-d, teach me to forgive.

Bless me with the courage to face my loved one’s illness and pain, amidst my own fears.

Touch me with your spiritual light, your love, your wisdom

So that I can continue my task tomorrow, knowing that You are by my side.

Based on the writing of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, appearing in The Gentle Weapon: Prayers for Everyday and Not-So-Everyday Moments (Jewish Lights)

 

Beverly Rubman, Chaplain & Support Group Facilitator

Budget-Friendly and Time-Conscious Thanksgiving Tips & Recipes

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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.