2014 New Year's Resolutions

Time for the inevitable post--and funny that it's always New Year's Resolutions (plural), as if we were ever successful in keeping even one of them. Maybe we figure if we increase the number of resolutions, we improve our odds of succeeding with something we shoot for...

Anyhow, inspired by recent books I've read, here are some resolutions I'm considering which might also interest you:

RESOLUTION 1. Extending the usual practice of Sugar-Free January to a toned-down version thereafter. That is, go cold turkey off sugar (except honey in the tea and what honey is found in my homemade granola) for the entire, very long month of January, as I do every year, but after that, limiting sugar to the occasional dessert, especially when offered one at the home of a friend or at book club or at a family special event.

Recently I read/skimmed Eve Schaub's

and posted the following 4-star review on Goodreads:

(Rounding up from 3.5 stars.)

If you enjoy books where a family decides to give up [insert common cultural practice] for a year, while they blog about the consequences, this book will be right up your alley.

Inspired by the Robert Lustig YouTube video on the evils of sugar, Schaub's family abstains from fructose for a year and blogs about it in a chatty style (i.e., many exclamation points and italics and asides).

I had read and found convicting and enthralling Lustig's book FAT CHANCE: BEATING THE ODDS AGAINST SUGAR, PROCESSED FOOD, OBESITY, AND DISEASE, which I imagine covered much of the same ground as the video. Schaub does a good job of summing up the scientific arguments against fructose in laymen's language.

YEAR OF NO SUGAR is correctly billed as a memoir, however, so if you want the hardcore discussion of why sugar is making us fat and killing us, I would refer you to the Lustig book. Schaub recounts instead stories of driving all over town in search of something sugar-free at a restaurant, battling the omnipresence of sugar at schools and in community celebrations, dealing with the holidays, and so on.

As my husband and I do Sugar-Free January every year, and as I have long bemoaned how kids are bombarded with crap food, of which sugar is only one of many harmful ingredients, I could nod along with Schaub in her struggles. But being also firmly in the camp of don't-be-a-pain-in-the-butt when people lovingly prepare food for you, I sympathized with the put-upon wait staff at restaurants and the friends and relatives who tried to bless this family with food, only to be stymied! It wasn't like folks were offering them pies, cakes, and candy, for Pete's sake, but a tablespoon of sugar in the entree's sauce, and the deal was off.

Food can make everything wonderful or everything miserable. I think if I can convince my kids to prefer homemade goodies (which by their nature are rarer), the battle will be won. But first we've got to get through the rest of this holiday season...

Note: I received a galley of this book from the publisher.

RESOLUTION 2. Giving up one thing I normally buy packaged in single-use, non-recyclable plastic, and buying/making the alternative. I think I'm through with bagged spinach. Yes, it takes more effort to buy a bunch of spinach and wash it and dry it, but those crinkly salad bags are forever and can never morph into anything but trash. 

I would give up storebought sour cream, except that I haven't found a homemade version that worked well enough, and the tubs are at least recyclable into fleece jackets or plastic lumber or something! This resolution was inspired by two great reads:


Two fascinating, creative, disheartening books that will having you joining me on this resolution.

RESOLUTION 3. And, finally, if you're tired of resolutions that are about deprivation of some sort, give this one a go. Prepare one new vegetable per week until you run out of them, and then add new favorites to your rotation. We're stuck in the broccoli-spinach-carrots-brussels sprouts-green beans-Napa cabbage rut. How about your family?

I see Deborah Madison has issued a new revision of one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, and I can't wait to check it out:

Yes, I'll be that lady in the produce section buying the weird stuff that's never on sale, and I hope the practice will continue into the 2014 Market season because there were green and squash varieties I'd never heard of before!

Happy New Year to all, and my your Resolutions outlast the week.