Happy New Year! It’s resolution time and, as a food guy, it’s hard to get through the start of January without an article, a blog post or a TV appearance or two without talking about healthy eating. However, I’ve become cautious over the years about doling out advice when it comes to changing habits.
See, I quit smoking almost 9 years ago. This fall I made some changes that have lost me about 45 pounds. Over the years I’ve learned a thing or two about receiving advice on how to change habits. So, before you start giving your friends some helpful support this season, I’ve got a couple of thoughts to share with you.
First, your friends don’t need more information. Imagine you’re a smoker and I say, “did you know that smoking could take 10 years off your life? You should quit.” Is your first thought, “Why yes, I did know that. What rock do you think I’ve been living under?”
Secondly, your friends don’t need advice. Let’s say you’re trying to shed a few pounds and, while sharing dinner together in a restaurant, I say, “you know, you can’t lose weight if you eat after 8pm.” Is your first thought, “what?! Wait, that’swhy I’ve struggled to lose weight for the past 20 years?”
I made you laugh, right? The reality is that these changes are simple, you just need to change some habits: stop smoking or change your diet. But they’re not easy. Change is hard. So this new year, think about skipping the advice for a little support. Offer to skip the bar and hang out at home together to watch a movie – without the cocktails. Or go for a walk around the block with your coworker when they’re really jonesing for a cigarette. And who knows? You may just find that you’re changing a few habits yourself.
Bright Light Ginger Sausage Soup
This is a great soup to start the new year! The light, bright flavors are exactly what I’m craving after weeks of hearty holiday meals. It looks like a lot of ingredients, but read the directions – it’s not much work.
- 7 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 bunch cilantro (apx. 12 stems)
- 1 tbs Szechuan or black peppercorns
- 1” ginger root, peeled and sliced
- 4 chicken sausages
- 1 tbs peanut or vegetable oil
- 1/4 pound snow peas
- 2 cups mung bean sprouts
- 4-6 shitake mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
- 2 baby bok choi, quartered
- 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 tbs soy sauce
- Place stock in a 3-4 quart saucepan along with 2 stems cilantro, peppercorns and ginger. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer and cook partially covered for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, warm peanut or vegetable oil in a 10” skillet over medium heat. Add sausages and cook until lightly browned, about 6-8 minutes. Remove and slice.
- Divide snow peas, mung bean sprouts and mushrooms, bok choi and sausage between 4 bowls. Top each bowl with 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil and 1/2 tbs tamari soy.
- Season simmering stock to taste with salt and pepper. Return stock to a boil.
- Pour 1 1/2 cups boiling stock over each bowl. Let soup rest for 3-5 minutes before serving so vegetables are tender.
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Photo of Jonathan by Martha Fitzsimon