There are many ways to think about this year's resolutions. We all want to be healthy, slim, happy, fit and better off financially than we were the previous year. We start the New Year with the best intentions, to start diets and exercise programs and steer clear of burgers and fries, sweets, white flour -- the usual culinary culprits.
For those of us who are food obsessed, even the thought of dieting triggers anxiety and an immediate sense of self-deprivation, so don't diet just to make tasty resolutions that are healthy and satisfying. If something tastes good then we are more easily satisfied than if we eat something we find offensive just because it's supposedly good for us. So put down that box of extra sawdust-y bran cereal (unless of course you like that sort of thing) and pick up a bag of quinoa instead which is super easy to make, either sweet or savory, and is pure protein. Invest in a juicer; my life has changed since purchasing a Vitamix. Lay low on the red meat and forget you ever heard about cheese or dairy from a cow... for a while.
I'm still struggling to get my children to embrace vegetables. My secret weapon is hearty vegetable potage; I ate it as a kid in France and have always loved it. It's very easy to make and even easier to drink right up and the secret is that since all the vegetables are blended my children have no idea how many vegetables are in there. You can make whatever combination you like. I always start with sautéing sweet onions and garlic with EVO and Herbes de Provence or fresh thyme, and then I add zucchini, carrots, leeks, spinach or broccoli, a Yukon gold potato, kale or asparagus -- whatever I have on hand. I simmer them for about 15 minutes in chicken or vegetable broth. Lastly the colorful ensemble goes in the blender to make a silky smooth, flavor-packed, and healthy meal. To serve, I usually pour it in a cup for my kids, add a bit of sweet French butter (all good things in moderation) and a pinch of Kosher salt and they gobble it up! Needless to say this is a much better snack or lunch than pizza and burgers and that goes for my husband and me too.
Fresh soups (not canned) are extremely healthy, sans cream of course, and are a brilliant way to get you and your children a generous dose of vegetables, vitamins and warm you up inside. There are other benefits which include increased energy (as soup is easy for the body to digest), weight loss and improved health overall. When dining out it is just as easy to start with a soup, followed by fish or a salad, as it is to order something that will weigh you down, make you sleepy and stick to your hips like charcuterie, foie gras or fried calamari.
At the new Chelsea restaurant La Promenade des Anglais, the chef owner Alain Allegretti offers up his signature Soupe de Poissons which screams the South of France and instantly transports you to that privileged part of the world -- privileged with tasty and delicious food of course. The aromatic fish soup is satisfyingly seasoned with saffron and served with the traditional and expertly prepared rouille and croutons. Order it once and I guarantee you'll be hooked.
Keeping it healthy and always stylish, Armani Ristorante on Fifth Avenue's Chef Roberto Deiaco offers a hearty and healthy chickpea soup brimming with fresh vegetables and nutty spelt from the charming Tuscan town of Garfagnano. The flavors will have you daydreaming of the warm Tuscan sun and if you stick to eating it regularly you'll be able to fit in the luscious Armani fashions sold just below.
La Silhouette's Executive Chef Matthew Tropeano who heralds from La Grenouille, where he received a glowing three-star review, creates an unforgettable sweet split pea soup with hearty bits of savory pork (again, all good things in moderation) as well as a delightful butternut squash and roasted apple soup that really hits the spot when dashed with rich sage oil and topped with the perfect crispy pumpernickel croutons. Not only is butternut squash delicious but it's also filled with antioxidants!
So soup to nuts making tasty resolutions is much easier and more realistic for long term commitment than dieting. That is, of course, unless you are one of the believers of the Mayan Calendar which ends with 2012, predicting the end of the world. Without that apocalyptic certainty, and not being much of a gambler, I will choose to remain positive and tell myself that the Mayan calendar maker simply retired with no one to fill his position and get back to my tasty resolutions.