Comfort Food for Cold Winter Days

December 18, 2013

Classic Chicken Pot Pie

Here’s a great “winter” recipe, and very easy to make.

Chicken Pot Pie! You can add whatever veggies you like.





Check out this budget-friendly take on the classic recipe complete with chicken, mixed vegetables, a rich homemade white sauce and a flaky pie crust.

  • prep time 25 min
  • total time 1 hr 5 min
  • ingredients 10
  • servings 6



1          box refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box


1/3       cup butter or margarine

1/3       cup chopped onion

1/3       cup all-purpose flour

1/2       teaspoon salt

1/4       teaspoon pepper

1 3/4    cups chicken broth

1/2       cup milk

2 1/2    cups shredded cooked chicken or turkey

2          cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed


1          Heat oven to 425°F. Make pie crusts as directed on box for Two-Crust Pie using 9-inch glass pie pan.

2          In 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until well blended. Gradually stir in broth and milk, cooking and stirring until bubbly and thickened.

3          Stir in chicken and mixed vegetables. Remove from heat. Spoon chicken mixture into crust-lined pan. Top with second crust; seal edge and flute. Cut slits in several places in top crust.

4          Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. During last 15 to 20 minutes of baking, cover crust edge with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


Holiday Gift Ideas for People with Alzheimer’s and their Caregivers from Caregiver.Com and Alz.Org

December 14, 2013


According to the 2007 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, one out of eight people age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s and nearly one out of every two over age 85 has it.  There are currently more than 5 million people in the United States living with Alzheimer’s and almost 10 million caring for someone with the disease.  Therefore chances are pretty high that this holiday season, you’ll be buying a present for parents, grandparents, relatives or friends who have been touched by the disease.



Holiday Gifts for Caregivers

Nearly one in four caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias provide 40 hours a week or more of care.  Seventy-one percent sustain this commitment for more than a year, and 32 percent do so for five years or more.  One of the best gifts you can give someone caring for Alzheimer’s is something that relieves the stress or provides a bit of respite for the caregiver.


The Gift of time:  Cost-effective and truly meaningful gifts are self-made coupons for cleaning the house, preparing a meal, moving lawn/shoveling driveway, respite times that allow the caregiver time off to focus on what he/she needs.

Gift Certificates: Give gift certificates for restaurants and laundry/dry cleaning services, especially those that deliver; lawn care services; computer/technology support; maid services; personal pampering services such as messages, facials, manicures/pedicures.

Books: In addition to fictional and non-fictional books that a caregiver might enjoy, there are a number of books created to assist caregivers such as “The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for Persons with Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementing illnesses, and Memory Loss in Later Life,” by N.L.Mace and P.V. Rabins; “A Dignified Life: The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer’s Care: A Guide for Family Caregivers,” by V. Bell and D. Troxel; and “Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Guide and Sourcebook,” by H. Gruetzner.

Digital Video Recorder (DVR)/DVDs/CDs:  Purchase DVR/TiVo and years worth of services that will enable a caregiver to record favorite shows he/she may not be able watch,  purchase his/her favorite movies or music CDs for the caregiver to enjoy on their down time.



Holiday Gifts for People Living with Alzheimer’s

Early Stage:  Approximately 2.5 million people currently living with Alzheimer’s are in the Early Stage of the disease, a period when they can live active, healthy lives, but may begin to notice subtle changes.  Here are some gift ideas for people living in the early stages of the disease.

Items to help remember things such as magnetic reminder refrigerator pads, Post-It notes, baskets or trays that can be labeled within cabinets or drawers, a small pocket-sized diary or notebook, erasable white boards for key rooms in the house, a memorable calendar featuring family photos – write special family occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries.

Items that may help with daily activities such as a memory phone that can store up to eight pictures with the names and contact information of family and friends, automatic medication dispenser that can help the person living with Alzheimer’s remember to take his/her medicine, nightlights that come on automatically when it gets dark, and clock with the date and time in large type.


Entertainment:  Plan an outing to a movie, play or concert, sporting event, museum or possibly an organized holiday shopping outing with friends and family, favorite musical CDs or CD with compilation of favorite tunes, VHS/DVD collection of favorite movies.  Also activities such as scrapbooking or other craft projects that are social in nature.

You might want to think twice before buying some gifts: Giving electronics may seem like a good idea to make life easier for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, but that isn’t always the case.  If you decide to give someone with the disease a new piece of electronic equipment, remember to review the operating instructions with them slowly and more than once.  Make a copy of the instructions for the person with the disease and  for yourself, so you can talk them through the process on the phone if you need to.

Moderate/Late Stage:  People in the later stages of Alzheimer’s generally need assistance with day-to-day activities as their memory problems continue to worsen.  Here are some gift ideas for people living in the later stages of the disease.

Items that provide sensory stimulation:  In the later stages of the disease sensory stimulation may bring back pleasant memories, so gift ideas include scented lotions, a fluffy bathrobe in his/her favorite color, a soft blanket or afghan to keep the person warm.

Clothes: Comfortable, easy to remove, easily washable clothes such as sweat suits, knits, large banded socks, shoes with Velcro ties, wrinkle free nightgowns, nightshirts and robes.

Music: Research shows that music has a positive impact on individuals with Alzheimer’s, bringing them back to good times, increasing stimulation and providing an opportunity to interact with family members.  So buy favorite CDs or burn a CD full of musical favorites.


Framed Photographs/Photo Collage: Copy photos of family members and friends at photo centers, insert the names of the people in the photo and put in frames or in a photo album created specifically for that person.

Safe Return: Enroll the person in the later stages of Alzheimer’s in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return, a nationwide identification program that provides assistance when a person with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia wanders and becomes lost locally or far from home.




The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.  Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. For more information please visit

Alzheimer’s/Dementia Support Group Meeting

December 10, 2013

Please come out and join us for our next Alzheimer’s/Dementia support group meeting. The meeting will be Wednesday, January 8th at 7:00pm.

We will be in the Community Room at Willow Valley Medical Center, 212 Willow Valley Dr. Willow Street, PA 17584. 


This month we will be discussing Coping with Depressed Mood and Seasonal Affective Disorder for both Caregivers and those they Care For! There will be an opportunity for group discussion. We hope to see you there!

Join PA Home Care of Lancaster and the Alzheimer’s Association for our monthly community education group. We meet at 7 pm and continue until 8:15 pm.

Each month, Elaine Potts facilitates with the help of volunteer, Megan Lamison, and presents various guest speakers, topics of interest, coping mechanisms, and group support. This educational group is open to the community and free of charge. Our hope is to connect like-minded people who want to learn about Alzheimers and other dementias as well as caregiving topics for the same. We plan on these connections with others to be of immense help to all.

For more information on this group, please call PA HOME CARE of Lancaster at 717-464-2006, or toll-free at 1-866-205-0348. Or, contact the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-272-3900. Or visit, and/or

Soup Making 101 by: Jacqui Zimmerman, RD, as published by

December 4, 2013

Jacqui Zimmerman, RD


Soup is one of the ultimate comfort foods! It can be a tasty way to get more vegetables into your diet and, when eaten before a meal, may help fill you up on fewer calories due to its water and fiber content. Unfortunately, most of the soups available in the canned foods aisle are loaded with sodium. But it’s not hard to make your own—once you know the basics.

Soup, in my opinion, is one of the ultimate comfort foods! It can be a tasty way to get more vegetables into your diet and, when eaten before a meal, may help fill you up on fewer calories due to its water and fiber content.

Unfortunately, most of the soups available in the canned foods aisle are loaded with sodium. Once you know the basics of making soup, you can create a variety of different combinations. Read on for some tips on making your own healthy soup.

  • Most soups start by sautéing the “aromatic” vegetables like onion, garlic, celery, and carrots. Use up to a tablespoon of oil to sauté your vegetables.
  • Using herbs is a great way to add more flavor to a lower sodium soup. Add dried herbs at the beginning of cooking and fresh herbs at the end.
  • Add leafy greens toward the end of cooking, since they don’t need to cook for very long and it will help to keep them a bright green color. Frozen vegetables can also be added later in the cooking process then fresh, firm vegetables since they’re already partially cooked.
  • When choosing your base liquid, be sure to choose “low sodium” stock or broth since traditional varieties can be really high in sodium. Better yet, make your own stock with one of thesedelicious recipes.
  • You can also make really good stock by cooking a whole chicken in your slow cooker. Season the outside of the chicken lightly and add large pieces of carrots and onions and cook on low for about 8 hours. When the chicken is done, you’ll end up with delicious, concentrated stock. Strain and refrigerate it and the fat will rise to the top. Skim the fat and freeze your stock for the next time you want to make soup.
  • Soup is a great place to use up those last bits of fresh vegetables or leftovers. Combine leftover cooked grains (brown rice, whole wheat pasta), canned beans, and/or leftover cooked meat with stock or low-sodium tomato juice or low-sodium V-8 juice for an easy lunch or dinner for another day.
  • Fresh, great tasting vegetables make great soup. This spring and summer, stock up on fresh vegetables from your local farmer’s market or from your own garden and freeze them. These vegetables will make delicious soup and will give you that taste of summer in the middle of the winter.
  • Experiment! The beauty of making soup is that it’s nearly impossible to mess up. You can easily throw some ingredients together and taste and adjust seasonings until it tastes good to you.

Not the adventuresome type?  Try this fool-proof soup that I like to make. It’s a great base recipe that you can add to with whatever you have on hand. Enjoy!

Italian White Bean and Spinach Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cans Italian diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup dry whole wheat or multigrain pasta
½ bag spinach (chopped, unless using baby spinach)
Pepper to taste

  1. Heat large soup pot over medium heat. Add oil and sauté chopped onions until softened. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute more.
  2. Add 2 cans of tomatoes (liquid and all), cannellini beans, and stock. Bring to a boil. Add pasta and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until pasta is tender.
  3. Stir in spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes until spinach is wilted.

Additional notes:
You can add other vegetables like chopped fresh zucchini or yellow squash. Just sauté with the onions. Frozen vegetables can also be added along with the stock in step 2.

  • Swap the spinach in this recipe for kale, Swiss chard, or whatever leafy green that you like. Heartier greens, like kale, may just need to cook a little longer depending on your preference.
  • Add 1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste if you have it on hand for richer flavor.

Jacqui Zimmerman, RD, LDN, is a registered dietitian at Lancaster General Health’s Wellness Center. She has been instrumental in the development of a series of three healthy cookbooks, a variety of cooking demonstrations, healthy shopping tours, and numerous presentations for a range of audiences. She is actively involved in the Education and Schools Action Team of the Lighten Up Lancaster County Coalition. Her experience includes working with people of all ages, from kids and teens to the elderly.

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