Tips, tonics for healthy new year

Escarole and Bean Soup | Priya Hutner

After indulging in rich foods, snacking on sweets and enjoying a cocktail or three it’s time to clean up the diet and consider healthy eating.

January is often a time for resolutions and renewed commitments to health. Losing weight, getting fit and healthy eating are some top resolutions. Dry January, a month-long respite from alcohol is a popular new year ritual. Taking a break from alcohol helps support the immune system and can reduce weight gain.

Winter is also a time when colds and flu are on the rise. Nothing is worse than waking up with a scratchy throat and feeling achy and fatigued. When we begin to feel run down, it is essential to rest, drink fluids and eat healthy foods to nourish the body. As our body mends, getting outside, taking a gentle walk in the sunshine and breathing in fresh air is important. Regular exercise is critical to maintaining good health.

Healthy diet
Kickstart the year with good nutrition and a healthy diet.

Eliminating processed foods for at least 21 days and up to six weeks is a great way to ease the body into balance. Eat plenty of leafy greens and whole foods. Kale, spinach, Swiss chard and sea vegetables like nori, wakame and kombu are all great additions to maintain a healthy diet. These greens are high in vitamins and minerals.

Salmon is high in protein, Omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins. Staying hydrated is imperative, especially in a dry environment. Drink lots of fluids. I start my day with hot lemon water and end with an evening herbal tea. In between, I drink as much water as possible.

Healing beverages
Homemade tonics and healing beverages help support wellness. I keep Fire Cider and Terrible Tonic on hand throughout the winter. Both have beneficial ingredients, especially when cold symptoms begin to occur.

Fire Cider takes a month to cure if you make it at home, but it can be purchased in most health food stores. Find my recipe for Fire Cider and other tonics at

Terrible Tonic is easy to make, and I swear by it. In a jar, add 1 cup of apple cider vinegar and five cloves of pressed garlic. Dilute one-quarter cup of honey in 1 cup of warm water and mix with vinegar and garlic. Drink a few shots throughout the day.

Adaptogens, like ashwagandha, ginseng and cordyceps added to hot drinks can support the nervous system. Ginger, cayenne and turmeric in food or tonics help reduce inflammation and ease digestive issues.

Soups are excellent to include in the diet especially during the cold winter months. They are easy to make, comforting and nutritious.

Chicken soup is a well-known curative to ease cold and flu symptoms. It is soothing, loaded with vitamins and minerals and supports hydration. I often add a few twists such as minced garlic, grated ginger, a dash of turmeric, citrus, lemon zest, red chili flakes and herbs. I love cilantro in my soup and often add leafy greens to my chicken soup.

Miso soup is another soup I make throughout the winter. I add lots of seaweed and vegetables. Salmon or tofu and seasoned rice are excellent additions to miso soup.

Chinese Hot and Sour soup and Kimchi soup, both made from fermented vegetables are delicious and fermented vegetables are excellent for digestion.

Bone broth is easy to make and healthy. The broth also serves as a foundation for other types of soup (just add protein and vegetables) or sip it as a hot beverage.

My mother swears by Bieler broth. This green soup is packed with nutritional benefits and is easy to prepare.

While living on an ashram, I made several types of soup steeped in ayurveda, a natural system of medicine that originated in India. The recipes are easily adaptable. Red lentil coconut curry soup with butternut squash soup and Kitchari, a mung bean dal and basmati rice soup, are healthy and contain nutrients.

Find recipes for this and many more soups at

Start the new year healthy. Eat nourishing foods that help heal the body and eat a whole, nutritious, balanced diet. Reduce sugar and processed foods. Be well in 2024.

Bieler Broth
From the kitchen of Priya Hutner

2 zucchinis, sliced in rounds
1 lb. green beans, trimmed
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 bunch fresh parsley
4 C water

Boil zucchini, green beans and celery until vegetables are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Add parsley. Mix in blender or food processor until smooth.

From the kitchen of Priya Hutner

1 C white basmati rice
½ C split mung dal
1 T ghee or oil
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric powder
1½ tsp ground coriander powder
½ fennel powder
1 pinch asafoetida, optional
1 tsp salt
6 C water
2 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
Optional: Asparagus, yellow squash or zucchini

Soak the split mung dal overnight. Strain and rinse dal.

In a large pot, warm the ghee or oil on medium heat. Add onion and fresh ginger. Cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add rice and dal. Stir for 3 minutes. Add water, carrots, celery and spices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.

Cut up any additional vegetables and add them during the last 5 minutes of the cooking process. Simmer until the rice, dal and vegetables are cooked. Add extra water for desired consistency. Garnish with fresh cilantro and shredded coconut.

Note: If using an Instant Pot, add all the ingredients except for the recommended additional veggies (they should be added at the end and steam cooked) and cook on bean function.