Posts By: The Bristal

Chef’s Table: The Bristal at East Meadow’s Joseph Albert Shares His Spaghetti Squash Recipe

Posted by: The Bristal

Halved cooked spaghetti squash and fork on wooden cutting board

Some people are lucky: They’ve always known where they want to work. Joseph Albert, Food Service Director at The Bristal at East Meadow, is one of those people.

“I’ve been working in assisted living practically since my career started,” he said. “I’ve always loved the feeling of the back of the kitchen.”

And during those years, he’s come to embrace every aspect of his job there.

“I love the hours, I love the people, I love the residents,” he said. “I love being able to have conversations with people who’ve seen things that I couldn’t and been through so much through the years.”

A Day in the Life of a Chef at The Bristal

Joseph’s daily routine is busy, but never dull.

When he arrives at work, some residents are still enjoying breakfast. He takes a few minutes to chat with them, pour coffee, and get ready for the lunch rush.

In the kitchen, he said, “I make sure everyone is working and doing good.”

After lunch, it’s already time to start preparing dinner. And it’s no wonder it might take a while, with dishes like slow-roasted beef short ribs in red wine sauce and sautéed trout almondine, cauliflower polonaise, and zucchini provencal on the menu.

For Joseph, originally from Old Bethpage, cooking isn’t just something he does at work; it’s a way of life.

“Outside of work, I cook everything,” he said. “I love to cook smoked food. I cook brisket at home for 14-15 hours; same thing with ribs, and I make my own barbeque sauce.”

And at work, there’s one dish, in particular, he enjoys making for the residents: spaghetti squash with sautéed chicken, grape tomatoes, and fresh baby spinach.

It’s clear that after a lifelong career cooking for assisted living residents, Joseph is smitten with his job.

“I love being able to prepare good food and good stuff for the residents, and see them enjoy it,” he said.

Get Chef Joseph Albert’s Spaghetti Squash Recipe

With fresh vegetables, chicken, and squash replacing pasta, this dish is as healthy as it is delicious.

Ingredients

1 medium spaghetti squash

2 cups chicken broth

1 lb. chicken tenders, cut into cubes

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

10 oz. baby spinach

2 cloves garlic, chopped

½ Spanish onion, diced

2 oz. butter (½ stick), softened

½ cup white wine

Italian seasonings to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Shredded parmesan cheese, for garnish

Preparation

1)      Split the squash in half; top with Italian seasonings and the 2 oz. of butter.

2)      Roast the squash for 50 minutes at 350 degrees or until tender.

3)      In a sauté pan, brown the garlic and onions. Add chicken and cook until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

4)      Deglaze the pan with white wine. Add chicken broth; bring to a boil and reduce by half. Season with salt and pepper.

5)      Once the squash has cooled enough to handle, scrape out some the squash onto the plate with a fork. Make a nest with the spaghetti squash.

6)      Add spinach and tomatoes to the chicken mixture. Cook until the spinach is wilted and the tomatoes have softened. Top squash with chicken-vegetable mixture and sauce. Garnish with the parmesan cheese.

Want More Food Stories and Recipes?

At The Bristal, we pride ourselves on delicious and varied culinary offerings at every community. Read more of our past featured recipes, or sign up to receive future ones through our TopStories newsletter.

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Posted in: Food & Dining
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Safety, Security, and Peace of Mind at Reflections

Posted by: The Bristal

Man with alzheimer’s disease takes a walk

When your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, keeping them safe is often your top priority. And according to the Alzheimer’s Association, keeping loved ones with dementia safe not only helps to prevent injuries, but helps them feel relaxed, not as overwhelmed, and able to stay independent longer.

At Reflections at The Bristal, we’re serious about our residents’ safety, security, and comfort. Kate Schneider, MS CTRS CADDCT and Programming Specialist for Reflections, explains some of the ways The Bristal ensures residents experience consistent and safe surroundings.

  • Residents wear WanderGuard bracelets, which allow them access to specific areas of the community.
  • Pull cords in all bathrooms, bedrooms, and showers can immediately alert staff members if pulled.
  • Bright, natural lighting and consistent floor coverings help residents find their way.
  • Individual care plans for each resident make sure staff members get to know them closely and help them adjust to Reflections.

In addition, staff members in our Reflections areas are trained in dementia care and participate in our Hands-On & Hearts-In® training program. This approach shows them the cognitive and physical challenges people with dementia face, which in turns helps them provide better care to residents.

Related: When should I look for memory care for my loved one? >>

Daily Life at Reflections

Reflections residents participate in a variety of activities each day, from group games which encourage cognitive stimulation to special events like movies, bingo, dances, comedy nights, and more. These recreational opportunities help encourage residents to remain active, engaged, and involved in the world around them.

Dining rooms in Reflections offer comfortable seating in four tops, which helps encourage socialization. Different types of therapeutic music are played at each meal. And staff can provide assistance with food choice and eating, although we always try to promote independence.

Residents can also enjoy quiet rooms with water features, gliders, aromatherapy, music, and other soothing activities. Enclosed courtyards allow residents to safely enjoy the outdoors whenever they’d like.

Residents also have the opportunity to attend supervised outings. Trips are planned to carefully selected venues to help ensure the comfort of those who wish to join. Reflections staff members always accompany the residents, bring along necessary supplies like boxed lunches and drinks, and are present throughout the outings.

Residents who don’t wish to exit the bus also have the option to take part in scenic rides around the local areas. The Director of Recreation regularly plans these types of trips to see local beaches, parks and preserves, historic homes, light displays during the holidays, and so much more.  

Related: See more of the dementia therapies we use at Reflections >>

Visitation and Guest Policies

At The Bristal, care is a whole-person approach. That’s why we keep family members informed of their loved ones’ health and activities, and we welcome them – and encourage them – to visit as often as they’d like.

Family members may visit Reflections at any time, without announcement, day or night. Living at The Bristal is just like living at home. There are no rules about when family can stop by for a visit with their loved one.

“There are many beautiful public and private common areas for the families to visit,” said Schneider. “Residents can host visitors in their apartment, or enjoy any one of the common areas. Parties can be arranged in the private dining room or country kitchens with a prior reservation.”

With recreational activities going on, family can either take part privately in an activity with their loved one, or join with the group.

And just as they would at home, Reflections residents are free to leave the community with their families, maybe for a special meal out, a shopping trip, a family celebration, or a holiday. All residents are asked to sign out at the reception desk with an expected time of return so staff members are aware of who is in the building.

Related: How games can help people with dementia >>

Learn More About Reflections

Does Reflections memory care sound like a good fit for your loved one? Explore one of The Bristal’s communities that offer memory care and learn more about the person-centered care you’ll find here.

Find a community near me >>

Posted in: Alzheimer’s & Memory Care
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Sleep Better Tonight When You Try These 6 Foods

Posted by: The Bristal

Senior woman has trouble falling asleep

Haven’t been sleeping well? Contrary to popular belief, getting a poor night of sleep isn’t a normal part of aging.

While some disorders or medications might make it harder to get rest, there are lifestyle changes you can make that could help you get to sleep faster and enjoy better-quality sleep. One that’s simple to make? Rethinking some of your eating habits.

Eating Tips for Better Sleep

Before you know what to eat, know how to eat before bed to give yourself the best chance at sleeping well.

  1. Stay away from heavy meals for a few hours before bed…
  2. …But, a small snack (see the section below) can keep you from going to bed hungry.
  3. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and excessive sugar before you go to sleep.

Depending on your specific needs and any medical conditions you have, the list might look different. For example, if you have acid reflux, you already know that eating something greasy or spicy can spell trouble for getting sleep.

Similarly, because everyone is different, you might find that other foods not specifically mentioned here can have a negative impact on your sleep. You might try keeping a journal of what you eat during the day to help pinpoint anything that causes trouble and limit it in the hours before bed.

Related: Improve your memory with these 6 brain foods >>

Foods That Promote Sleep

Now that you know the eating patterns to help you sleep better, what are some specific foods that can help you nod off? Science says:

  • Nuts like almonds and walnuts. These contain healthy fats and high levels of melatonin, a hormone that promotes a more regular sleep cycle.
  • Cottage cheese contains lean protein and can help to increase levels of serotonin. Low levels of serotonin may contribute to insomnia.
  • Herbal tea is a good way to relax before bed. Choose a variety without caffeine, like chamomile or peppermint.
  • Kiwi fruit has been shown to improve the amount of sleep people with insomnia get, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
  • Tart cherry juice also contains high levels of melatonin, so pucker up and have a glass before bed.

You may also like: Smart shopping tips for healthy eating >>

More Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

Eating well can help you get a better night’s sleep, but it’s just part of the whole picture. And because habits that help you sleep are also things that promote your overall health, you’ll likely see even more benefits if you incorporate them into your daily routine.

  1. Exercise regularly. Exercise can improve your mood and stimulate your metabolism. And to speak in layman’s terms, exercise makes you tired and helps you fall asleep quickly! Try to exercise earlier in the day; intense exercise a few hours before bed can keep you up. Just remember to check with a doctor before starting or modifying your exercise routine.
  2. Reduce stress. Lying awake at night and worrying doesn’t help anyone sleep. During the day, take care of yourself mentally by taking breaks, doing activities you enjoy, and spending time with loved ones. 
  3. Keep your bedroom a few degrees cooler at night.A temperature between 65-75 degrees is optimal for getting to sleep. 
  4. Avoid too much screen time before bed. Staring at a smartphone or TV screen that emits bright light tells your body that it’s time to be awake, not go to sleep. 
  5. Make sure your bed is comfortable. It sounds simple, but having the right number of blankets on the bed, as well as a supportive pillow, can make a big difference.

More Lifestyle Tips from The Bristal

Did you find these tips from The Bristal Assisted Living helpful? If so, consider subscribing to our TopStories newsletter. You’ll get tips on caregiving, read fun spotlights on our communities, and more.

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McKnight’s Senior Living: Winsome Bent Among McKnight’s 2019 Women of Distinction Winners

Posted by: The Bristal

McKnight's Women of Distinction

Article courtesy of McKnight’s Senior Living

The Bristal is proud to announce that Regional Director, Winsome Bent has been recognized as a top leader in the field of long-term care and senior care. Winsome was named to the Hall of Honor in the nationwide 2019 McKnight’s Women of Distinction awards.

The program is overseen by independent trade publications, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Senior Living, which received hundreds of nominations in this, the program’s inaugural year. An independent panel of judges comprising industry professionals and McKnight’s editors selected the winners, who were announced March 13 and March 14.

In her two-decade association with The Bristal, Winsome has not only risen through the ranks but her hard work, her kind demeanor, her support of her colleagues and her dedication to our residents and their families, have helped to mold and create an environment that has allowed The Bristal to become and remain the finest in the assisted living industry.

Collectively, McKnight’s Women of Distinction have helped their organizations achieve major patient care and financial performance milestones. Winners include direct care providers, as well as association and academic professionals. They have served as mentors or inspiration to their colleagues and in many cases pushed through personal hardship as well.

“The caliber of talent among nominees blew us all away,” said McKnight’s Vice President and Editorial Director John O’Connor. “It was humbling to see so many detailed and personalized nominations for hundreds of women in the field. We are excited to be the industry leader in acknowledging the contributions this group has made, and many are only getting started.”

McKnight’s will announce the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award winner in late March.

All of the winners will be honored May 16 in Chicago. Profiles of each will be featured both online and in print editions of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Senior Living.

 

Posted in: Events, News & Press
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Dementia Care: Six Tips for Coping with Delusions

Posted by: The Bristal

Senior woman with dementia looks out the window
You’ve been helping Dad with his bills and investments for years — and now he’s suddenly convinced you’re trying to steal his money.

Or you’ve shared a happy marriage for decades with your beloved wife, but now, out of the blue, she’s accusing you of having an affair.

These are disturbing and, unfortunately, familiar scenarios for many who care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. It’s not uncommon for people with dementia to exhibit paranoid or delusional thinking or, in some cases, to experience hallucinations.
Approximately 30 percent of people with dementia may develop delusions at some stage of the disease. The incidence may be even higher among certain groups.

When paranoia, delusions, or hallucinations occur, it can be traumatic for caregivers. These behaviors are not only difficult to handle at a practical level, but they can be very hurtful at an emotional level.

Your best weapons? Knowledge — and some coping strategies.

The Differences Among Delusions, Hallucinations, and Paranoia

Delusions

Delusions are firmly held beliefs that are not real. Dementia can trigger also paranoid delusions—Mom may believe that someone is poisoning her food, or Dad may think someone is stealing his money. No amount of arguing or reasoning helps.

Hallucinations

A hallucination is different from a delusion. Delusions involve false beliefs, but hallucinations involve false perceptions of objects or events. When someone has a hallucination, they may hear, see, smell, taste, or even feel something that isn’t really there. Hallucinations are less common but can affect people with some types of dementia.

Paranoia

Paranoia is an unrealistic concern that others are “out to get” the person or will harm them. The person with dementia, for example, may become convinced that he’s being followed by the police.

Related: Memory loss: What’s normal and what’s not? >>

Paranoia, delusions, and occasionally hallucinations tend to occur in mid- to late-stage dementia. Confusion and memory loss can contribute to these problems as the person struggles to make sense of their world.

For example, if Mom can’t remember leaving her purse in the closet, she may accuse a family member or caregiver of stealing it. If your husband doesn’t recognize a common caregiver or visitor, he may believe there’s a dangerous stranger in the house.

While these accusations can be hurtful, remember that the dementia is causing these behaviors. Try not to take it personally. It’s the disease talking, not your loved one. Keep in mind, too, that for the person with dementia, these situations seem very real, even though they aren’t grounded in reality.

When to Ask the Doctor

In rare cases, paranoia, delusions, or hallucinations may have a cause that is reversible or treatable. Consider the possibility that the person may be experiencing delirium — a sudden change in thinking caused by infection, surgery, or other illness.

Some medications can cause delusions or hallucinations as well. Drug interactions — or too much or too little of certain medications — can also affect a person’s mental and emotional stability.

If your loved one’s paranoia, delusions, or hallucinations are new or came up suddenly, discuss these possibilities with your loved one’s doctor.

Ditto if you believe that delusions could lead your loved one to harm themselves or a caregiver. While the first line of treatment is typically through nondrug approaches, medications may be appropriate in severe cases.

Related: Delirium isn’t always related to dementia. Here’s why >>

Tips for Coping with Delusions

First, try not to let your loved one’s suspicions get under your skin. And be sure to explain what’s happening to family, friends, and caregivers. Help them understand that suspicions and false accusations are not a reflection of them.

Second, try to maintain your loved one’s daily routine as much as possible. A predictable, consistent schedule will reassure the person and may help reduce anxiety.

Other tips for caregivers

1. Don’t argue or try to convince. Allow the person to express their ideas, and acknowledge opinions. Offer reassurance and a gentle touch. Remain calm.

2. Turn off the TV. What may seem like innocent “background noise” to you may provoke fear or confusion for your loved one. Remember that the line between reality and fantasy is often blurred in people with dementia.

3. Offer a simple answer. Don’t try to persuade the person with lengthy explanations.

4. Look for patterns. Does the behavior tend to occur at a certain time of day? Keep a log of the person’s activities, and look for ways to avoid situations that may trigger paranoia or delusions.

5. Distract and redirect. Try to switch the person’s focus to another activity. Ask them to help you with a chore, or point out something of interest.

6. Keep extras on hand. If the person tends to repeatedly lose and search for a particular item, consider keeping several available. For example, if Dad loses his wallet and thinks it’s stolen, buy two or more of the same wallet, and offer the extra one should he lose his wallet.

Related: Tips for Alzheimer’s caregivers >>

Get Help with Caregiving

Understand that coping with delusions, paranoia, or hallucinations can be quite trying and difficult. Don’t go it alone. Join a support group or find an online forum where you can share and discuss your experiences with others who are going through the same thing.

If you’re looking for a memory care community where your loved one will experience the care, compassion, and attention they deserve, explore Reflections at The Bristal. These communities provide specialized care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Learn more about Reflections >>

Posted in: Alzheimer’s & Memory Care
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Stay Safe and Healthy This Winter With These Top Tips

Posted by: The Bristal

Senior woman staying warm and healthy during the winter months

With a chill in the air and snow blanketing the ground, you can be sure that it’s finally winter. While winter can pose its own challenges, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy the season safely, healthily, and enjoyably.

Cold Weather Safety Tips for Seniors

Cold temperatures can be uncomfortable for most people, but dangerous for older adults. Because their bodies may have less fat and lose heat faster than a younger person, it’s important for seniors to keep themselves warm during the winter.

What is hypothermia?

First, know the symptoms of hypothermia, a condition that can occur when a person’s body temperature dips below 95 degrees. It can lead to serious problems like a heart attack, kidney damage, and more. Be on the lookout for:

  • Cold feet and hands
  • Puffy or swollen face
  • Pale skin or lips
  • Shivering (although this does not always occur)
  • Acting unusually sleepy, angry, or confused

Later signs of hypothermia include trouble walking, a slow heartbeat, shallow breathing, or losing consciousness.

If you or a loved one exhibit these symptoms, call 911 right away.

How to prevent hypothermia

The best way to avoid hypothermia is by being prepared. Whether indoors or out, dress in layers to keep warm, and wear a hat, gloves, and heavy socks to keep extremities from getting cold.

Inside, keep your home’s temperature between 68-70 degrees. Setting the temperature at even 65 degrees or cooler can set the stage for hypothermia.

If you do go outdoors, be prepared. Limit your exposure, and again, dress in plenty of layers. Tell a friend or family member where you’re going, and carry a cell phone or other device so you can call for help if you need it.

Finally, if you know a loved one is alone during the winter, check in with them at least daily. Make sure their home is at a warm temperature and that they have plenty of supplies.

Related: Outdoor walking tips for seniors >>

How to Stay Healthy During the Winter

Staying safe is one thing, but how do you stay healthy when it’s too cold to go outside and too snowy to get exercise? Not to worry; there are plenty of ways to stay feeling your best during these months.

Getting exercise during the winter

Although you might not be feeling motivated to get exercise when it’s cold outside and gets dark earlier, there are plenty of reasons to continue. Exercise can boost your energy, mood, and metabolism – and depending on what you do, it can be a great opportunity to socialize.

Just remember – always check with your doctor before trying a new exercise. They can help you choose a fitness routine that works for you.

  • If it’s a warmer day and there’s no snow or ice on the ground, bundle up in at least three layers, choose shoes with plenty of traction, and take a walk around the block.
  • If you usually go to the gym, keep up the good work! Invite a friend to work out with you and enjoy catching up at the same time.
  • If you don’t usually go to a gym or the weather prohibits it, try working out at home. Simple exercises or workout videos, combined with your favorite music, make getting physical activity easy and fun.

Healthy foods to try this winter
If you indulged a little over the holidays, you’re not alone. Winter can be a great time to reset your eating habits, because contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of delicious and healthful fruits and vegetables available during this season. Try out one of the following foods and enjoy health benefits in addition to a delicious taste.

  • Citrus fruit – For a boost of vitamin C, try some of the sunny citrus that’s at its peak in the winter (like oranges, clementines, and grapefruit).
  • Winter squash – Explore varieties like acorn, butternut, or delicata for a boost of vitamin A.
  • Leafy greens Brussels sprouts, collard greens, and kale all provide fiber and folate.

Finally, remember to stay hydrated this season. Drink plenty of water, and choose foods with high water content (like some of those mentioned above) to keep yourself feeling your best.

You may also like: The best wellness apps for your smartphone >>

Mental wellness for the winter

After the joy and family time of the holidays, the rest of winter can seem to drag on. And if you live in a cold climate with little sunlight, you might be feeling the effects of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

First, know that feeling down during the winter is very common. You certainly aren’t alone in these feelings, and it’s important to check with your doctor if you think you might be experiencing SAD. They can prescribe medication as well as suggest lifestyle changes that could help.

Even if you aren’t diagnosed with SAD, following similar tips to keep yourself mentally well during this season can go a long way in making you feel your best.

      • Get plenty of exercise. We’ve already mentioned this above – and that’s because it works. Physical activity can help alleviate stress and make you feel good about yourself.
      • Soak up the sun. Low vitamin D levels can lead to feelings of sluggishness in the winter. Sit near a sunny window, take a walk, or talk to your doctor about other ways to get more vitamin D.
      • Schedule time with family and friends. You don’t have to go through the season in isolation, and chances are others are looking for time to socialize as well. Make a date to get coffee or lunch, or just meet up to chat.
      • Embrace the season for what it is. The Danish concept of hygge – enjoying the season in cozy comfort with loved ones – has become wildly popular in recent years. Take a cue from our European friends and try some of their ideas.

Want More Lifestyle Tips From The Bristal Assisted Living?

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5 Fun Day Trip Destinations: Suffolk County

Posted by: The Bristal

The lighthouse at Fire Island National Park in Suffolk County on Long Island

There’s so much to see and do in the idyllic landscape of Suffolk County, located on the eastern half of Long Island. Accessible within a few hours’ drive or an even shorter train ride from New York City, this place of wide-open spaces and pristine seashores can seem a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

History of Suffolk County, New York

Suffolk County was one of the original counties of New York State and was founded in the mid-1600s. At that time, thick forests covered the island, and it was populated by the Montauk Native American people. Early European settlers farmed, fished, and depended on lumber from the abundant trees. During the Revolutionary War, the island was occupied by the British.

Whaling was a main source of industry on the island until the mid-1800s. In 1844, a railroad to Greenport enabled Long Island to grow and develop economically. And in the early 1900s, the island gained popularity as a retreat for the rich and famous, spawning the mansions that inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

Today, the island is an eclectic mix of old and new. Tourism is still highly popular, and while agriculture is no longer the main industry, it’s making a comeback with the east end’s vineyards and farmers’ markets.

From the more urban areas of Queens, Brooklyn, and Nassau County on the western half of the island, to the more spread-out spaces of Suffolk County to the east, Long Island offers something for everyone.

Where to Go in Suffolk County

If you’re looking for a list of some fun destinations to visit in Suffolk County, see below – and pick a place that’s right for you!

For a classic Colonial beach experience:
Baron’s Cove Sag Harbor is a classic beachfront resort offering guests airy, bright rooms, many with water views or direct pool access. Take the complimentary shuttle to one of the nearby beaches, relax in the on-site spa, or enjoy fresh-caught seafood in the dining room.

For the wine connoisseur:
The Sannino Vineyard offers a retreat in the midst of Suffolk County vineyards. Visit their tasting room to sample the made-on-site syrah, rosè, Merlot, and more. Or, take a tour of the property to explore the wine-making process from grape to bottle.

For the Roaring ’20s romantic:
Experience a little of the Gilded Age for yourself at the Oheka Castle Hotel & Estate. A AAA Four Diamond-rated property, the Castle has been featured in a host of movies, television shows, and ad shoots — most notably in the opening scenes of 1941 film Citizen Kane. Enjoy the grounds, the exquisite rooms, or the chef-prepared delicacies in the dining room

For the artist:
Parrish Art Museum is filled with the paintings, sculptures, and photographs of artists from Long Island, past and present. View more than 3,000 works inside, purchase an original piece to take home, or look to join a class.

For the ultimate escape from city life:

Visit Fire Island, a popular summertime destination that’s easily accessible – some parts by car, other parts by ferry. If you travel to one of the car-free areas by ferry, you can head to some of the most popular restaurants and hangouts – or to the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness — New York State’s only federally designated wilderness area.

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How Essential Oils Can Help People With Dementia Sleep Better

Posted by: The Bristal

Lavender flowers on table near brown essential oil bottles

Is there a certain smell that reminds you of home? Is it fresh-baked cookies right out of the oven? Maybe the smell of Chanel No. 5 evokes memories of watching your mom get ready for a big night out.

Scents have been proven to connect with a person’s memory, and aromatherapy, or the use of essential oils, has been increasing in popularity when it comes to its effects on those living with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.

Read on to learn more about how incorporating aromatherapy into caregiving may help when it comes to your loved one’s nighttime routine.

What is Aromatherapy?

The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy defines aromatherapy as “the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize, and promote the health of body, mind, and spirit.”

While essential oils have been in use for decades, interest in aromatherapy and its effects on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia has increased over the last 30 years.

Effects of Essential Oils on Alzheimer’s and Dementia

To date, there is limited research on aromatherapy and its effects on people with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. However, some studies on aromatherapy and its effects on dementia have shown aromatherapy can help lessen related symptoms.

Learn More About Sleep Services in Dementia Care at The Bristal

Aromatherapy and Sleep

Aromatherapy may be beneficial for those who have been diagnosed with sundowning, a state of late-day and nighttime confusion, which commonly affects people with dementia.

Using the same scent routinely to create a ritual can help your loved one relax as he or she prepares for sleep and help lessen the symptoms of sundowning.

Some essential oils that have been associated with promoting a better sleep environment include:

  • Jasmine
  • Lavender
  • Marjoram
  • Sandalwood

Related Read: Tips for Preventing, Coping with Symptoms of Sundowning

Essential Oil Application Methods and Safety

Essential oils can be used in many ways, such as with a diffuser, inhaled, topically (like through massage), and taken through a person’s diet.

However, The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate essential oils, so talk with your doctor before using any to make sure they will not have a negative interaction with medication.

If you’re looking for additional resources about dementia and other cognitive issues, our TopStories newsletter is a great source to find more information on Alzheimer’s disease and memory care.

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Posted in: Alzheimer’s & Memory Care
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Chef’s Table: The Bristal at Holtsville’s Josef Mujanovic Shares His Recipe for Cheese Tortellini Francese

Posted by: The Bristal

cheese tortellini francese

Sometimes, a love of cooking is in our blood. And for Josef Mujanovic, that’s exactly what got him into the kitchen at a young age.

“Growing up, I remember sitting on bags of flour watching my dad cook,” said Mujanovic, food service director at The Bristal at Holtsville. “A lot of my passion for cooking comes from my mom and dad, and their culinary backgrounds have played a significant impact on my success and growth as a chef.”

Mujanovic’s parents owned several restaurants while he was growing up, which spurred him to make his own career move into cooking. He attended SUNY Delhi for hospitality and restaurant management, moving on to work in catering, hotels, and more restaurants. Along the way, he said, he found his passion.

Get The Bristal’s chef Amanda Ciniglio’s blueberry carrot cake recipe >>

The Dining Experience at The Bristal at Holtsville

Mujanovic didn’t intend to end up working in the senior living industry, but while at another job, he learned of an opening at The Bristal from another employee and applied.

“It’s rewarding to be able to help these residents,” he said. “We see them every day, three meals a day. It’s not always easy to make everyone happy, but when you do, it’s rewarding.”

Cooking itself is just one part of the job he enjoys. Mentoring other chefs at The Bristal is another, as well as keeping up with new developments in the industry.

Even though he’s not cooking for a traditional restaurant, Mujanovic works as if he does.

“I feel and I treat my kitchen as if it was my own restaurant. And I look at the food I put out as restaurant quality — the style, the garnish… I put my own twist on it every day,” he said.

Finding a Passion for Cooking

Outside of work, Mujanovic enjoys — what else? — cooking for loved ones. Besides the influence of his family, Mujanovic credits his wife, coworkers, and friends with the support they’ve given him along the way.

Through the years, I have always taken knowledge from every experience during this ride to be where I am now in my career with The Bristal,” he said.

Get The Bristal’s chef Mick Gehnrich’s butternut squash soup recipe >>

Handmade Cheese Tortellini Francese with Amaretto-glazed Mushrooms

Mujanovic’s experiences – from his Yugoslavian heritage to his Italian culinary background – mean some of his favorite foods to make are homemade pizza dough, stromboli, and fresh pasta. Here, he shares his recipe for a rich, from-scratch cheese tortellini in Francese sauce.

josef mujanovic cheese tortellini francese

For the pasta dough

  • 3 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

 

Preparation

Mix eggs, flour, oil, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with your hands until a shaggy dough forms. Knead with dough hook until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes.

Cut and roll as desired.

Do ahead: Dough can be made 1 day ahead; wrap tightly and chill.

For the tortellini filling

  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons food-processed candied pecans
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • Fresh pasta (recipe above)
  • 1 egg mixed with 1/2 teaspoon water for egg wash

 

Preparation

Using the fresh pasta recipe, roll out your dough either by hand or machine. Cut into 3- or 4- inch rounds with a round cookie cutter. Place 1/4 teaspoon into the center of each round. Brush egg wash on the bottom half of the round and fold over to seal. Fold back around your finger and turn down the edge to form the tortellini.

In half a gallon of rapidly boiling salted water, add the tortellini in batches. Cook for three to five minutes, or until they float to the surface. Remove to a strainer to drain.

While tortellini is cooking, begin Francese sauce and glazed mushrooms.

 

Francese sauce and amaretto-glazed mushrooms

  • 1  stick of butter, melted
  • 2 ½ cups white wine
  • Juice of 2 lemons (approx. 1 cup)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup heavy cream (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch OR 1 packet dry chicken gravy mix, to thicken
  • 4 cups sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon amaretto honey
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste, lemon pepper, granulated onion, and garlic to taste

 

Preparation

In a pan over low heat, combine melted butter and wine. Add in lemon juice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Thicken sauce with chicken gravy mix; or, blend together cornstarch and a few tablespoons water, whisking into the sauce slowly until desired thickness is achieved. An immersion blender may also be used to combine.

Adjust seasoning to taste with salt, pepper, lemon pepper, granulated onion, and garlic. If desired, add ½ cup heavy cream for a richer sauce.

Next, in a separate pan, sautée sliced mushrooms in olive oil and amaretto honey, adding fresh rosemary throughout the process. Mix your finished tortellini with the hot Francese sauce in a sauté pan on medium flame until desired temperature (approx. four minutes).

To plate, set a bed of pea microgreens, add the tortellini Francese, and top with amaretto-glazed mushrooms. Finally, garnish with rainbow microgreens or your preferred herbs and serve with Italian herb-crusted crostini.

 

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5 Fun Day Trip Destinations: Nassau County

Posted by: The Bristal

Long Island is a place of intriguing opposites — rolling green hills and white sand beaches; colonial charm and modern sensibilities; a world away from it all that’s less than two hours from the biggest city in the U.S.

Long Island isn’t just a retreat for the rich and famous (although it is home to the mansions that collectively inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”), but it has become a destination for those seeking an elegant seaside getaway, cultural events, historic places, and so much more.

If you’re planning an excursion to Nassau County on Long Island, we’ve put together a list of some fun day trip destinations for you to explore.

How to Get Around Long Island

Nassau County, New York, includes much of the western part of the island and borders Queens to the west and Suffolk County to the east.

If you’re driving, several bridges and tunnels connect New York City to the rest of Long Island. And once you’re there, rail service, taxis, and buses are available to help you navigate. Learn more and find maps on the official Long Island tourism website.

What to do in Nassau County

1. Old Westbury Gardens

old westbury gardens in nassau county, ny

Experience one of Long Island’s opulent mansions for yourself at Old Westbury Gardens. John S. Phipps built this home for his fiancée in 1906, modeled on architecture from the English Caroline era. This sprawling estate is now open to the public and features manicured grounds, forests and ponds, and a home full of fascinating antiques.

2. Old Bethpage Village Restoration

old bethpage village restoration nassau county, ny

Get a look at what life on Long Island in the 1800s. A collection of homes and buildings originally from around the island now form Old Bethpage Village Restoration. Visit and learn about the school, blacksmith shop, doctor’s office, church, and more. During some weekends, you might even catch special events like an old-fashioned baseball game or Halloween celebrations.

3. Americana Manhasset

americana manhasset in nassau county, ny

For a swanky shopping experience, venture to Americana Manhasset for boutiques and designer wares of all kinds. You’ll find Prada, Tiffany & Co., Hermès, and more, as well as plenty of restaurants. Window-shopping or splurging are both great ways to pass the time here.

4. Museum Row

An educational experience awaits when you visit one of the three museums here: There’s the Long Island Children’s Museum, the Nassau County Firefighter’s Museum, and the Cradle of Aviation Museum. Nearby is also the restored Nunley’s Carousel, originally constructed in 1912, for fans of old amusement rides.

5. Sagamore Hill National Historic Site

sagamore hill national historic site in nassau county, ny

This former home of President Theodore Roosevelt is now a part of the National Park Service. Explore its 83 acres, which include forests, a beach, and an Audubon Center. Access to the grounds is free for everyone, and you can tour the home for a small fee.

How To Find More Information About Nassau County

No matter your interests, there’s something to do and see for everyone in Nassau County. Learn more about planning your trip by exploring the official Long Island travel guide.

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Chef’s Table: The Bristal at Lake Grove’s Mark Hain Shares His Recipe For Lobster Risotto

Posted by: The Bristal

Lobster risotto recipe from The Bristal at Lake Grove

From working at a country club as a teen, then training under renowned chef Ming Tsai, to his current job at The Bristal at Lake Grove, Mark Hain’s cooking career is as varied as it is impressive.

“My father always said if you want money, you have to go out and make it,” Hain, a Rockville Centre native, said. “I started out in the country club washing dishes. One day the chef called (for help)…I just jumped onto the line and went from there.”

But even before that first job, Hain’s father instilled a love of cooking that went far beyond money.

“He was all about waking up on a Sunday morning and cooking. He really had no experience, he just loved to cook for the family on Sundays,” said Hain.

Related: Get Chef Mick Gehnrich’s Thai butternut squash soup recipe >>

Working as a Chef at The Bristal at Lake Grove

Hain went on to study at The Culinary Institute of America before working with Tsai, his mentor, and a number of other top chefs. Although he loved the work, the long hours were grueling.

“I would start at six in the morning and get home at 11, 12 at night,” he said.

After overhearing another chef talking about an open position at The Bristal, Hain applied and fell in love with the job.

Besides the much more palatable hours, Hain enjoys teaching the other staff members and residents about the food and techniques he uses.

Outside of work, Hain participates in a variety of cooking-related community activities. There’s Taste of Long Island, a yearly festival benefiting veterans in the area, and he is active in events at The Morgan Center, a preschool for children battling cancer.

Related: Get Chef Amanda Ciniglio’s blueberry carrot cake recipe >>

Holiday Dishes at The Bristal

At The Bristal at Lake Grove, Hain says he prepares a risotto dish each year for the holidays. He also includes action stations, where residents can move around the room and choose from different options for themselves.

After all, he asks, “Who doesn’t love a good risotto?”

Lobster Risotto

Yields 6-8 portions

INGREDIENTS


PREP TIME: 15 MINUTES
6 Tb. unsalted butter
3 large shallots, finely chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
8 cups chicken broth
¼ cup white wine
¼ cup Pernod (absinthe)
2 cups cooked lobster meat, diced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup heavy cream
2 Tb. truffle oil

INSTRUCTIONS
Cook time: 20 to 30 minutes

1) Warm your stock so it is ready to add to the rice (the key to a great rice is using warm liquids).
2) In a separate pan, add butter and sweat shallots on medium heat until translucent.

3) Add rice and slowly toast over medium heat, about two minutes, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. Do not brown the rice; only cook until the aroma of the rice starts to come out.

4) Once rice is toasted lightly, add Pernod and deglaze your pan. Be careful as the Pernod will ignite if close to an open flame.

5) Once the rice has absorbed the Pernod, add the white wine and allow the rice to absorb the wine, again, taking caution of the open flame.

6) When the wine is almost completely absorbed, slowly stir in the stock a little at a time, stirring constantly to bring out the starch in the rice. Do not rush, as this is a key step to the risotto.

7) The risotto is ready in about 20 to 30 minutes and should have a consistency of a creamy oatmeal with a slight crunch.

8) Add cooked lobster meat.

9) Once the risotto is complete, turn off the heat, and slowly add heavy cream, folding in the cream with the rubber spatula.

10) Fold the cheese into the rice.


11) Drizzle the truffle oil on top of the rice and serve.

 

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Alzheimer’s and Mealtime: Tips for Success

Posted by: Jenny

Elderly woman with dementia struggling to eat a meal

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease can present many challenges for a family caregiver. Making mealtime go smoothly might be one of them. It’s important to identify what your family member’s struggles are and develop strategies to work around them.

Why Do Loved Ones With Dementia Sometimes Refuse to Eat?

A few mealtime challenges that are common for people with Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia include:

Diminished appetite

Your loved one may no longer recognize their body’s hunger triggers, or they may be taking a medication that decreases their appetite. A loss of smell or taste can further exacerbate these problems. All of this may make an older adult with dementia less interested in food at mealtime.

Oral health problems

It isn’t uncommon for someone with Alzheimer’s to experience weight loss. If it’s a significant amount, it may lead to a problem with their dentures fitting properly. Caregivers may also struggle to convince a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease to cooperate with dental care. Lack of good oral hygiene may result in an underlying oral health problem that can make it painful for them to chew.

Difficulty with coordination

For most people with Alzheimer’s disease, hand-to-eye coordination eventually becomes an issue that may make mealtime physically and emotionally difficult. The frustration of trying to use silverware and being unsuccessful can lead to a loss of dignity and lower self-esteem.

Anxiety and agitation

One of the more common struggles for both the person living with Alzheimer’s as well as their family members is managing agitation. It can make sitting still long enough to eat difficult or even impossible to do.

The Family Caregiver Alliance is a helpful resource with tips and facts about mealtime for people with dementia.


Related: Using nonverbal cues to communicate with someone who has dementia >>


Feeding Strategies and Nutrition for Dementia

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to adapt your family member’s environment and modify mealtime activities, allowing a loved one who has dementia to feel successful. Here are a few to consider:

1. Eliminate distractions:

Turn off the television, cellphone, and radio. Try to create a corner where you can sit down quietly for each meal with your loved one. If your older family member responds well to music, turn on the radio. By providing a calm, consistent environment for meals, you can help decrease agitation and encourage eating.

2. Pay attention to visuals:

Use a brightly colored placemat with a different colored plate to create contrast. This approach will allow them to distinguish the plate from the table, as well as identify the food on the plate. Avoid linens and dishes with busy patterns. Studies have found when people with Alzheimer’s are served meals on red plates, they eat 25 percent more than those who eat from white plates. Researchers believe the issue stems from the loss of depth perception people with Alzheimer’s experience.

3. Give one item at a time:

Serve one part of the meal at a time. Once they have finished one part, add the next one to their plate. Try serving nutrient-rich foods first in case you are unable to keep their interest long enough to finish an entire meal.

4. Adapt your serving pieces and utensils:

Serve food in a bowl and use a larger spoon to help reduce frustration. If your loved one is still unable to eat independently, finger foods can be another option. Cut food into bite-sized pieces and avoid nuts, hot dogs, sausage, celery, raw carrots, and popcorn to help avoid choking.

5. Model eating behavior:

If you can, sit down to eat with senior loved one at mealtime. You can model the behavior you want them to follow, such as drinking a protein shake or eating a hamburger. It will also allow you to gently assist them if necessary.

One final tip for making mealtime go more smoothly is to create menus that contain their favorite foods. They will be more likely to eat if the meal contains foods they have always enjoyed.

Finding the right mealtime strategy for you and your loved one might take time, so try to be patient and flexible.


Related: Daily living tips to help your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease >>


What Does Dementia Feel Like?

It’s sometimes hard to understand what living with dementia is like, but the Virtual Dementia Tour® is helping to change that. See how staff members at The Bristal are taking a walk in someone else’s shoes – and how it’s changing how we think about caring for people with dementia.

Learn more >>

Posted in: Senior Care
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Westchester County Business Journal: Marking Veterans Day in Armonk

Posted by: The Bristal

Westchester County Business Journal: Veterans Day in Armonk

Article courtesy of Westchester County Business Journal

This Veterans Day in Armonk, we were proud to honor 14 residents of The Bristal for their military service. Among those who came out to show their support were North Castle Supervisor Michael Schiliro, North Castle Council members Barbara DiGiacino, Steve D’Angelo and Jose Berra, Assemblyman David Buchwald, and Westchester County Legislator Margaret Cunzio. Thank you to everyone who came to the ceremony to help us properly honor our Veterans.

Posted in: Events, News & Press
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Memory Loss: What’s Normal; What’s Not?

Posted by: The Bristal

Woman talking and walking outside with an older elderly woman about memory loss and dementia

With dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other memory-related cognitive disorders so top-of-mind today, it might cause you to pause and wonder:

Is My Age-Related Memory Loss Normal?

According to studies, almost 40 percent of people over the age of 65 experience some form of memory loss. When there is no medical issue behind it, it’s referred to as “age-associated memory impairment,” a normal result of aging.

On the other hand, brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia are something quite different.


 Related: Understanding the common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. >>


Age-Related Memory Loss Versus Dementia

While forgetfulness may be unsettling or frustrating, it isn’t necessarily a sign of dementia. A key difference between normal age-related memory loss and dementia is the severity and frequency of the symptoms, as in the examples below.

 

Normal aging is not being able to remember details of a conversation or event that took place a year ago.

Dementia may be not being able to recall details of recent events or conversations.

 

Normal aging is not being able to remember the name of an acquaintance.

Dementia is not recognizing or knowing the names of family members.

 

Normal aging means occasionally having trouble finding words.

Dementia can mean frequent pauses and substitutions when finding words.

 

Normal aging is being worried about your memory, but your relatives are not.

Dementia is when your relatives are worried about your memory, but you are not aware of any problems.

 

So, if you’ve been struggling a bit to remember simple things, don’t jump to conclusions. Your concerns may just be a normal part of aging. Any true diagnosis can only be made by a physician.


Related: How to spot the signs of Alzheimer’s that aren’t related to memory.>>


Tips to Help Keep Your Brain Sharp

Here are some tips from the Mayo Clinic that may help improve your memory:

Stay organized.

Keep activities, events, to-dos and reminders in a planner or on your phone. If you know you’ll need to do or remember something later, write it down right away – it’s easier to look back at your notes than try to recall what it was.

Try new experiences.

Your brain likes to be challenged and soak in new things. Research shows it can even help your brain repair itself and build new connections at any age. To that end, don’t be afraid to shake up your routine a bit.

Spend quality time with others.

Staying social is good for both your emotional and mental health. Having dinner with family or friends, joining a book club or choir group, or just talking on the phone can all help.

Get a full night’s sleep.

Getting quality sleep is critical for all aspects of your well-being, even memory (as anyone who’s gone to work after a sleepless night can attest). Setting a regular bedtime, limiting distractions and bright lights, and keeping your room cool can help you drift off more easily.

Stay physically active.

Research shows that exercise changes the brain in a good way, and challenging your body also challenges your mind. Taking walks, stretching, or joining a fitness group are good ways to keep moving. As with any fitness routine, talk to your doctor before beginning.

Eat a healthy diet.

There’s a reason people call some foods “brain food” – they’ve been linked to a healthier mind in addition to being good for your body. Leafy greens like spinach, oily fish like salmon, and antioxidant-rich fruits like blueberries can all be healthy (and delicious) additions to your diet.


Related: Improve your memory with these six ‘brain foods.’


More Information About Dementia

If you’re truly concerned about memory loss, you should always consult a physician. But just remember: It’s perfectly normal for everyone’s memory to slip a bit as we age.

Still curious about other signs of memory loss?

Learn more about the types of dementia and their causes.

>> Learn More <<

Posted in: Alzheimer’s & Memory Care
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Chef’s Table: The Bristal at Garden City’s Mick Gehnrich Shares His Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

Posted by: The Bristal

Chefs have many reasons they like to cook: they were inspired by a certain dish, they find it challenging and artistic, they connect cooking with fond memories or people from the past, and so on. All good reasons, but for chef Mick Gehnrich at The Bristal at Garden City, he keeps it simple.

“I love to eat,” he says. “My number one reason why I like to cook is not because I like to cook, but because I like to eat.”

Besides his love of food, his interest in cooking grew from two main childhood memories. One was his parents, who both worked. If Mick wanted to eat breakfast in the mornings, he says, it was up to him to make something.

Second, Mick’s father belonged to a hunting and fishing club, which hosted a wild game dinner each year.

“I’m still helping out with that wild game dinner,” he says. “My dad’s no longer around, but I’ve taken up the reins on that.”

The Dining Experience at The Bristal at Garden City

Mick’s culinary background evolved from there, eventually landing him a job at The Bristal. He then took an offer to head up the kitchen at their new community in Garden City when it opened in June 2018. He says working at The Bristal is an atmosphere that’s both challenging and rewarding.

“It’s definitely wearing a lot of different hats, and satisfying the residents is a big part of it,” he says. “Going out and talking to them, listening to their stories … we’re getting a (resident) food council right now, and the four people on it are so excited.”

Passing his own love of food on to the residents and other employees at The Bristal is another aspect of the job that Mick enjoys.

“I love the fact that I’m able to teach people how to cook and enjoy eating,” he says. “That’s one of my biggest passions, explaining the dish to the residents and taking that extra minute to talk to the residents about the food.”


Get The Bristal’s chef Amanda Ciniglio’s blueberry carrot cake recipe >>


Learning to Like New Foods

Of course, there’s bound to be a dish on the menu that some residents might not care for. But Mick says that’s yet another aspect of the job he enjoys: showing someone that something they thought they didn’t like is actually delicious.

“Usually 60 percent of the time people try it, and they’re like, ‘I thought I didn’t like it, but I’ll have another bowl,’” he says.

Next up on the menu at The Bristal at Garden City? Mick plans to use his favorite fall vegetable and whip up butternut squash soup with a Thai twist. While squash isn’t always people’s favorite, he’s hoping to change that perception. Try it for yourself at home by following his recipe.

Thai-style Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

Servings: 8

Prep time: 20 min.

Cook time: 30 min.

Total time: 50 min.

Ingredients

For the soup:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, very roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh ginger, from a 2-inch knob
  • 2 ½ pounds pre-cut butternut squash (or one 3-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed)
  • 3 large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 cups quality chicken broth
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk (full fat adds to the creaminess, but can be made using low fat)
  • Juice of half a lime, plus more limes for serving
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Optional garnishes:

  • Sriracha sauce, for drizzling
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation

  1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Do not brown; reduce heat if necessary.
  2. Add the squash, carrots, broth, fish sauce, sugar, and curry paste. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Using a hand-held immersion blender, purée the soup until silky smooth. (Alternatively, cool the soup slightly, then purée in a blender in batches, making sure to leave the hole in the lid open to allow the steam to escape). Stir in the coconut milk, lime juice, and salt (if the coconut milk is solidified, use the immersion blender to mix it in). Bring to a simmer, then taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. Ladle the soup into bowls. Drizzle with the Sriracha and garnish with the scallions, peanuts, and cilantro, if using.

Enjoy!

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