Jeanette Chen loves to cook healthy food and has a special fondness for soups.
When some of her friends at were battling cancer and recovering from their treatments, she brought them her freshly made soups which they found very satisfying.
Chen's website Jeanette's Healthy Living is full of diet tips, anti-cancer foods, and recipes. She regularly updates her blog and tweets current and breaking health news.
Last summer, Chen read an article, "The Kids Are All Right, But What About The Elderly," that said that as people age, even if they were once good cooks, they often stop cooking and turn to convenience foods -- usually processed or canned. This change may happen because they're living alone and not motivated to cook any longer, or because they aren't well enough to cook.
"With all the attention on raising healthier children, why isn't more attention being directed towards our seniors?" Chen asked.
Chen, who has lived in New Canaan for 18 years, and has four sons ages 8 to 18, believed making homemade soup could create a life-affirming culinary bond to seniors who no longer cook from scratch as they once did.
Her own parents, both in their 80's and once-stellar cooks, struggle to put a healthy meal on the table every night.
"They used to whip up Chinese banquet style meals!" Chen said. "What used to be fun has become a chore."
Chen forwarded the article to the and they asked her to teach a series of soup classes there.
"I am so grateful for this wonderful opportunity to give back to the seniors in our community." Chen told About Town.
At their final class on Monday Feb. 28, ten women watched Chen prepare her Easy Minestrone Soup in the center's professionally equiped kitchen. Then they enjoyed a lunch of soup with a salad of baby spinach, arugula, chopped tomatoes and marinated artichokes hearts tossed with a pesto vinaigrette.
The women each paid $5.00 a class but Chen said she made it work, by asking stores for donations. Stew Leonard's helped out and for the final class, donated all the salad ingredients and the whole grain bread.
The ladies said that in addition to learning how to make soup the class allowed them to share ideas and tips about the best places to shop — TraderJoe's is a favorite.
Anne Stein, a New Canaan resident since she was seven-years-old, said, "Jeanette made our January and February through the horrible weather exciting and gave us something to look forward to. And she's so cheerful!"
Ruth Kelly, another lifelong New Canaan resident, said of Lapham Center, "The demonstration kitchen is a wonderful, professional facility. It's been a great diversion -- and you get to take some soup home."
Norma Burkhart agrees, "It's been just fabulous. It makes you want to cook more soup and there's been good shopping ideas!"
Debbie Rose said she also loved meeting all the new people and learning how to put healthy soups together.
"We all look forward to a summer soup class." she said.
Ultimately, the ladies at Lapham were taught much more from Jeanette Chen's classes then how to just cook soup.
Together, they fed their hearts and warmed their souls through a very cold and not so lonely winter.