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Smoking Cessation Medications


Written by Michelle Chen

At the Health Center, we see many patients who believe willpower is the key to quitting smoking. However, it often takes more than motivation to quit successfully. When you smoke, your body becomes addicted to nicotine, a substance found in cigarettes and other tobacco products. Nicotine can make you feel good, but leaves you wanting more. You may feel irritable, anxious, or depressed when you do not smoke for a period of time. These withdrawal symptoms make quitting hard.

Fortunately, there are safe and effective medications to help you manage withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is one of them. It gives you a small dose of nicotine without 7,000 of the toxic chemicals that the typical cigarette has. NRT is available as patches, gum, lozenges, an inhaler, and nasal spray. There are also pills (Zyban® and Chantix®) that you can take to fight discomfort and help you quit.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

Method Availability Description
Nicotine Patches Over-the-Counter The nicotine patch is placed on the skin and gives users a small and steady amount of nicotine.
Nicotine Gum Over-the-Counter Nicotine gum is chewed to release nicotine. The user chews the gum until it produces a tingling feeling, and then places it between their gums and cheek.
Nicotine Lozenges Over-the-Counter Nicotine lozenges look like hard candy and are placed in the mouth. The nicotine lozenge releases nicotine as it slowly dissolves in the mouth.
Nicotine Inhaler Prescription A nicotine inhaler is a cartridge attached to a mouthpiece. Inhaling through the mouthpiece gives the user a specific amount of nicotine.
Nicotine Nasal Spray Prescription Nicotine nasal spray is a pump bottle containing nicotine, which is put into the nose and sprayed.

Other Medications

Method Availability Description
Bupropion (Zyban®) Prescription Bupropion helps reduce nicotine withdrawal and the urge to smoke. Bupropion can be used safely in combination with NRT.
Varenicline (Chantix®) Prescription Varenicline helps to reduce nicotine withdrawal and the urge to smoke. It also blocks the effects of nicotine from cigarettes.

Speak to your doctor to learn if smoking cessation medication is right for you. Some smokers may need to use smoking cessation medication for 3 to 6 months before their withdrawal symptoms end. Most insurance companies will cover the cost of prescription drugs.

We know quitting can be hard, but your health improves the moment you stop. Just one day without smoking can lower your blood pressure and your risk for heart attack. Your loved ones will be thankful for it, too. Are you ready to take the next steps, but don’t know where to begin? Check out our posts for reasons to quit and more ways to handle cravings, and learn about secondhand smoke.

At the Health Center, we can help patients quit or cut back on smoking.

You can also get free patches and help from:

This article is made possible with funding from the RCHN Community Health Foundation. Medication information is from CDC.

Michelle Chen is a Health Educator at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has a B.A. in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies from Barnard College. She is interested in the intersection of public health and Asian American activism.


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Healthy Recipe Round-up

We round up our favorite healthy recipes again in honor of National Nutrition Month!  Feel free to download these recipes for your family. All recipe cards have full nutrition facts.

Japanese-Style Beef and Noodle Soup

Udon beef noodles

Ingredients for broth

  • 4 oz shiitake mushroom stems, rinsed (remove caps and set aside) (or substitute dried shiitake mushrooms)
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced (about 2–3 cloves)
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, crushed (or the zest from 1 lemon: Use a peeler to grate a thin layer of skin off a lemon)
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 4 C low-sodium beef broth

Ingredients for meat and vegetables

  • 1 bag (12 oz) frozen vegetable stir-fry
  • 4 oz shiitake mushrooms caps, rinsed and quartered
  • 8 oz udon or soba noodles (or substitute angel hair pasta), cooked
  • 1 lb lean beef top sirloin, sliced very thin
  • 4 oz firm silken tofu, diced
  • ¼ C scallions (green onions), rinsed and sliced thin


Thaw frozen vegetables in the microwave (or place entire bag in a bowl of hot water for about 10 minutes). Set aside. Combine all ingredients for broth, except soy sauce, in a medium-sized pot or saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the broth through a fine wire colander, and discard the solid parts. Season to taste with soy sauce.

To finish the soup, bring the broth back to a boil. Add the thawed vegetable stir-fry mix and mushroom caps, and simmer for 1 minute. Add the noodles and continue to simmer for another minute. Add the beef and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes or until the beef is slightly pink to brown (to a minimum internal temperature of 145 ºF).  Add tofu and scallions, and simmer 1–2 minutes until heated through. Serve immediately in 1-cup portions.

Download this Japanese-style beef and noodle soup card!


Asparagus with Lemon Sauce


image source


  • 20 medium asparagus spears, rinsed and trimmed
  • 1 fresh lemon, rinsed (for peel and juice)
  • 2 Tbsp reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/16 tsp salt


Place 1 inch of water in a 4-quart pot with a lid. Place a steamer basket inside the pot, and add asparagus. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for 5–10 minutes, until asparagus is easily pierced with a sharp knife. Do not overcook.  While the asparagus cooks, grate the lemon zest into a small bowl. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Use the back of a spoon to press out extra juice and remove pits. Add mayonnaise, parsley, pepper, and salt. Stir well. Set aside. When the asparagus is tender, remove the pot from the heat. Place asparagus spears in a serving bowl. Drizzle the lemon sauce evenly over the asparagus (about 1½ teaspoons per portion) and serve.

Download this asparagus with lemon sauce card!


Chicken Ratatouille


image source


  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 12 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into thin strips
  • 2 zucchini, about 7 inches long, unpeeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, rinsed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ lb fresh mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
  • 1 can (14½ oz) whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ Tbsp garlic, minced (about 1 clove)
  • 1½ tsp dried basil, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, rinsed, dried, and minced
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper


Heat oil in a large nonstick pan. Add chicken, and sauté for about 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Add zucchini, eggplant, onion, green pepper, and mushrooms. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add tomatoes, garlic, basil, parsley, and black pepper. Stir and continue to cook for about 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Download this chicken ratatouille card!


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Eight Lucky Dishes to Enjoy for Lunar New Year

Original Table

For many Chinese and ethnic families, February marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year.  Celebrated over 15 days, it is one of the most eventful times of the year. In the Chinese community, the biggest festivity starts on New Year’s Eve, when loved ones come together for a banquet. We would like to share healthy versions of these lucky dishes.

Whole Fish


One of the most important dishes to eat during Lunar New Year is a whole fish. Serving a fish from head to tail is associated with starting and finishing the New Year with good luck. Loved ones bless each other with the saying, “Nian Nian You Yu” or “May each year be plentiful”.

Families enjoy whole fish pan-seared, steamed, or boiled in soup. For a healthy celebration, we recommend going light when cooking with oil and choosing a low-sodium soy sauce when eating the fish. No matter the cooking method, use fresh herbs such as ginger and green onion to bring out the flavor of this dish.



For a year filled with “happy laughter”, families prepare prawn for the New Year feast. Prawn in Cantonese sounds like the laughing sound “ha”, and eating it is believed to bring you plenty of happiness for the New Year.

Prawn is also a suggested source of omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient that is healthy for the brain and helps prevent heart disease. Eating two servings or 8 ounces of omega-3 rich seafood like salmon, tuna and sardines per week will give you the amount of omega-3 fatty acids you need, but enjoy prawn in a small amount to keep bad cholesterol low.

Whole Chicken


Another favorable dish is a whole chicken. Like fish, it is important to plate the chicken whole from head to tail because it resembles “completeness” and “togetherness”. Many Chinese families prepare the chicken by steaming or boiling it without herbs or marinades. While dark meat is delicious, consider eating more white meat without the skin for less fat and fewer calories.

Dried Oysters, Mushrooms and Lettuce

Oyster and mushroom

For many Chinese business owners, this meatless dish may just be their favorite to eat during the New Year. The star of this dish is dried oysters, or “Ho See”. Often added to soups or vegetables, dried oysters bear significance to having “good business” or “good things to come”. Mushrooms complement the rich seafood flavor of the oysters, and lettuce not only adds a vibrant color, but is also symbolic of “growing more fortune”. For a healthy and tasty celebration, be sure to enjoy oysters in moderation to keep cholesterol levels under control.

Buddha’s Delight

Buddha Delight

Many families will eat “Zhai” or Buddha’s Delight on the first day of Lunar New Year to cleanse oneself, show kindness to animals, and bring in good luck. While the ingredients and recipes differ across families and restaurants, this dish has an abundance of heart-healthy vegetables like wood ear mushrooms, Chinese celery, snow peas, and bean curd.

Tangerine, Mandarin and Pomelo


Tangerines, mandarins, and pomelos signify wealth, good luck, and fortune. Mandarin in Cantonese sounds like “gold” while tangerine sounds like “luck”. Eating a pomelo is believed to bring blessings. Families may also decorate their homes with a tangerine tree, as it symbolizes the blessing, “Dai Gut Dai Ley” or “bringing safety to the family and guests”. Kid-friendly and rich in vitamin C, these citrus fruits are great as New Year snacks.

Nian Gao

Nian GaoCake

Many families eat “Nian Gao” to start the year on a positive note. The blessing that comes with the dish translates to, “May you reach higher and higher each year”. For some families, Nian Gao is a savory dish that includes fried rice cakes, Napa cabbage or Chinese mustard greens, minced meat and mushrooms. For other families, “Nian Gao” is a pan-fried dessert that is soft and crispy when coated with a thin layer of egg.  Many love the sweet Nian Gao, as it’s only made once a year. To keep a healthy weight, enjoy these sweet rice cakes in small portions and cook the savory rice cakes with less salt and oil.

Sweet Glutinous Rice Dumplings

Tong Suey and Tray

“Tang Yuan” or sweet glutinous rice dumplings are loved for its tasty fillings, sweet soup and chewy bite. It is popular to eat this dessert during Lunar New Year and Winter Solstice, as the roundness of the dumplings resembles “reunion” and “togetherness”. The dough is traditionally made with rice flour and can be plain or filled with red bean paste, sesame paste, creamy or crunchy peanuts, or sweet mung beans. Served with a sweet gingery soup, this is a warm dessert perfect for the winter. For a healthy new year, enjoy this dessert by lightly sweetening the soup and eating in moderation.

We at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center wish you and your family a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

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Managing Diabetes – Healthy Meal Planning

If you are living with diabetes, you can still enjoy the dishes you like and be healthy. Food affects blood sugar levels differently in people with diabetes, and so you need to pay attention to the foods you choose. Having a plan helps you manage your diabetes since it keeps your blood glucose level in the target range, and can prevent, delay, or treat diabetes-related problems such as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), hyperglycemia(high blood sugar), kidney disease, heart and blood vessel problems and eye and nerve problems.

Make a meal plan that works best for you. We recommend keeping a food diary to help you become more aware of when you eat, and checking your blood sugar before or after meals to help you understand how certain foods affect your glucose level. Be sure to share your food diary and blood sugar records with your healthcare team to better understand how well you control your diabetes.

When you plan your meals, choose healthier food options from each of these groups for a well-balanced diet. Be sure to check food labels to know what you eat, so you can make better food choices.

Grains, beans, and starchy vegetables

  • Eat whole grain or whole wheat products like whole grain bread or crackers, bran cereal, oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat spaghetti, buckwheat noodles.
  • Count starchy vegetables and beans in the same group of grains as they are high in carbohydrates, which will increase your blood sugar level. Substitute the grains with yams, potatoes, corn, taro, dried beans, and chestnuts to add the varieties in your meal.  Learn more about counting carbs here.
  • Limit the amount of packaged instant noodles you eat since they are high in fat and salt.


  • Choose more dark green and deep yellow vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, bok choy, choy sum, and bitter melon.
  • Eat fresh or frozen vegetables plain or lightly salted.
  • Avoid preserved vegetables since they are high in salt.


  • Eat fresh fruit! Eat whole fruits like apples, peaches, and pears with the skin on. Whole fruits have more fiber than fruit juices, which helps keep you full.
  • Eat more fruits rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, and pomelo.
  • If you eat canned fruit, choose fruits packed in juice or water, not syrup.
  • Limit fruits that have highly concentrated sugar, such as lychee, lungan, or canned fruit packed in syrup.

Meat and protein

  • Eat fish and chicken without the skin. Choose lean cuts of beef, lamb, or pork for red meat.
  • Cut away all visible fat from meat.
  • Eat more tofu, a good source of low-fat protein.
  • Try beans, which provide protein and fiber. If you eat lots of beans, cut down the grain portion of your meal plan.

Dairy and foods rich in calcium

  • Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products like fat-free or low-fat milk, plain fat-free or low-fat yogurt, and low-fat cheese.
  • If you can’t drink milk, try fortified, plain soy milk. Limit the flavored kinds like vanilla or chocolate that have more sugar and calories.
  • Try other calcium-rich foods, such as tofu fortified with calcium, bok choy, Chinese broccoli, and kale.

Read our Diabetes Healthy Meal Planning pamphlet for many more tips on managing your diet with foods that you love. If you or someone you know is managing life with diabetes, we have more bilingual resources here.

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Beat the Heat with Healthy Summer Drinks


What better way to beat the heat than a tall, cold summer drink? We should drink about 8-9 cups of fluids every day to stay healthy—especially in the summer. Many bottled and store-bought drinks are packed with lots of sugar. It is hard to cut out sweet drinks completely, and you don’t always have to. Here are some ways to cut down on your sugar intake while still staying hydrated in the heat.

  • When ordering drinks, ask for less or no sugar in your order.
  • Limit the number of sweet drinks you buy each week.
  • Infuse water with fresh fruit or mint.
  • Make your own drinks. You can control how much sugar to put in—the less, the better.
  • Use water or seltzer water to dilute sugary drinks.
  • Learn to read food labels so you can control the amount of sugar in your diet.
  • Remember that water is the best option: it has 0 calories and 0 sugar!

Remember to drink liquids all the time, not just when you feel thirsty! Choosing unsweetened or low sugar drinks will keep you cool and healthy during the summer.

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Healthy Recipe Round-up

For National Nutrition Month, we have round up our favorite healthy recipes that we often share with our patients and community members. Feel free to download these recipes for your family! All recipe cards have full nutrition facts.


Fruity Oatmeal


  • 2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 sliced banana
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh fruit. Try apples, strawberries and blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons of almonds (or other nuts)

In a saucepan, combine the water and milk and bring it to a boil. Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to low. Stir in the oats and let simmer for 5-8 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the oatmeal thickens. Add the banana, fresh fruit, honey, and almonds to oatmeal and serve. Easy!

Download this fruity oatmeal recipe card!


Almond Chicken Salad


  • 4 cups of lettuce
  • 1 medium tomatoes-diced or 6 cherry tomatoes-halved
  • 1 medium red or green pepper-sliced in bite sized strips
  • 1 cup of shredded carrots
  • ½ cup of edamame beans
  • 2 cups chopped, cooked chicken breast meat
  • ½ cup blanched slivered almonds, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ tablespoons white sugar

In a large bowl, mix together the onions, carrot, red pepper, edamame, chicken and almonds. Set this bowl aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, teriyaki sauce and garlic until smooth. Pour over salad mixture and toss until coated. Serve on top of the lettuce.

A few variations:

  • Serve the salad in a whole-wheat pita or tortilla wrap.
  • Use walnuts, pecans, or sesame seeds instead of almonds.
  • Use tofu, a good source of protein, instead chicken for a meatless salad.
  • Add slices of orange or grapefruit.

Download this almond chicken salad recipe card!


Asian Style Steamed Salmon


  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ cup shiitake mushroom caps, rinsed and sliced (or substitute dried shiitake mushrooms)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced (or 2 tsp ground)
  • ¼ cup scallions (green onions), rinsed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoons lite soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoons sesame oil (optional)
  • 12 oz salmon fillet, cut into 4 portions (3 oz each)

Combine the chicken broth, mushroom caps, ginger, scallions, soy sauce, and sesame oil (optional) in a large, shallow sauté pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and simmer for 2–3 minutes.

Add salmon fillets, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook gently over low heat for 4–5 minutes or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork in the thickest part (to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F).

Serve one piece of salmon with ¼ cup of broth.

Download this Asian style salmon recipe card!

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Tray of Togetherness – Healthy Treats for the Lunar New Year

Tray of togetherness banner 1

Written by Bonnie Tse.

For many Chinese families, Lunar New Year is a time to feast on delicious traditional foods, many of which signify health and prosperity. One such food is Chuen-Hop – or Tray of Togetherness – that symbolizes a sweet or happy start to the New Year.


This tray of eight kinds of sweets and snacks is often offered to house guests. Traditionally, this tray was filled with Chinese favorites like melon seeds, peanuts, and dried lotus root. But nowadays, many people buy prepackaged trays that are often filled with candies and other artificially-flavored sweets. Why not celebrate the New Year with fresh foods for a fresh start? Make your own tray with these nutritious treats:

  • Dried fruits such as dates, raisins and apricots are rich in fiber to keep you full and their natural sweetness is sure to satisfy every little kid’s sweet tooth. Choose dried fruits with no added sugar and preservatives.
  • Fresh fruits are a better source of vitamins and fiber. Kumquats, clementines and tangerines are not only Lunar New Year favorites, but they are high in vitamin C, a nutrient that helps boost your immune system.
  • Unsalted nuts such as pistachios, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and almonds have fiber and good fats that can help lower bad cholesterol.
  • Puffed brown rice crackers are good for crunch and good for your heart! The fiber found in these whole grain snacks help move waste out of the body. Eating rice during the New Year is also associated with good fortune.

For a healthy start to the Lunar New Year, make a tray for your guests or as a New Year gift for friends and family. Be a role model for the family by preparing healthier dishes like steamed instead of fried dumplings on New Year’s Eve, and make sure to include vegetable dishes at each meal. Enjoy sweet rice cakes in smaller portions and have more fresh fruit. Spend quality time with your loved ones by taking a brisk walk after dinner, exercising at home or looking for the first full moon together.

From all of us at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, we wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous Lunar New Year!

Written by Bonnie Tse. Bonnie Tse is part of the Health Education Department at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science from Hunter College.