A healthy start to the year | News, Sports, Jobs


This year has been a phenomenal year of containments, variations and needles. Almost 3,000 people died on September 11, 2001. 2021 has seen an average of 3,000 deaths from COVID-19 each day, for a total of 800,000 Americans since the pandemic began almost two years ago. In contrast, the flu kills approximately 20,000 Americans each year.

Everyone wants to stay healthy and strong – so COVID has changed our lives. We used to meet by Zoom or FaceTime. Masks have become common. Have you ever thought that you would need to put on a mask to go to the bank?

Plans had to be changed when someone you hoped to vacation with had been exposed to the virus – or worse, tested positive or developed symptoms.

We’ve gotten used to spending less time in meetings and more time alone. Fortunately, in the summer we were able to congregate outside.

But now it’s winter. We miss the time spent with our friends and family. It is not all bad. There is more time to read, more time to devote to creative solitary pursuits like writing, arts, crafts.

Cereal, Green Vegetable and Salted Bean Stew (Photo provided – Yvona Fast)

Many restaurants are closed, but there is more time to cook and more time to create a healthier lifestyle. Eating healthy and getting in shape top the list of New Year’s resolutions for most Americans, with over a third of which include health, diet, and fitness.

Fresh air and good nutrition are essential for a healthy lifestyle. Diet and fitness help boost your immunity, so you’re less prone to succumbing to a virus. Vitamins and minerals are important weapons in the arsenal that help your immune system ward off disease.

Fruits and vegetables are reservoirs of vitamins and minerals. Citrus fruits contain an abundance of vitamin C. Vitamin D is abundant in eggs, fish and dairy products. Carrots, winter squash, and sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A. Zinc is found in mushrooms, meat, beans, spinach, and seeds. Make sure you are eating enough protein, as a protein deficiency is associated with an impaired immune response.

Green vegetables – a symbol of fortune for the coming year – are among the healthiest foods. Many green vegetables are considered “superfoods” because their phytonutrients provide health benefits such as disease prevention, reduced cancer risk, improved cardiovascular health, and longevity. Most are high in fiber and antioxidants, high in minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, and copper, a good source of vitamins like A and C, and low in calories.

Whole grains (as opposed to their nutrient-deprived counterparts) are also important for good health. The FDA’s dietary guidelines (http://www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines/) recommend a minimum of three servings of whole grains per day.

Certain foods – like garlic, onions, mushrooms, oats, elderberries, tea, and herbs like ginseng, curcumin, and ginger – are known for their ability to boost the immune system.

Everyone needs a fresh start, and the New Year is the traditional time to do it. Almost every culture has a season to look back and look forward, promising us to do better and wishing everyone good luck. Starting afresh is an old and timeless tradition.

Move towards better health by incorporating nutritious food choices. Go forward with optimism, hope, and plans for the future. May 2022 be full of health, energy and productivity.

Fresh green vegetable and whole grain salad

Mustard dressing


1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 tablespoon of prepared mustard

1 teaspoon of salt

1 clove of garlic

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Salad ingredients:

2/3 cup quinoa

1 1/2 cup water

1/4 teaspoon of salt

4 or 5 cups of fresh greens (I used bok choy, pea sprouts and kale)

2-3 small pickles (about 1/2 to 1 cup, diced) – I used pickles in brine

1 carrot

2 stalks of celery or a piece of celeriac

1 or 2 oranges


Rinse the quinoa. In a small saucepan, combine the rinsed quinoa, water and salt. Bring to a boil; lower the heat to simmer. Cook until liquid is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In the bottom of a salad bowl, combine the mustard, olive oil and salt. Grate or crush the garlic, and add (I used a microplan). Squeeze the juice from half a lemon; use a teaspoon to scoop up and discard the seeds.

Wash and roughly chop the greens. Incorporate into the vinaigrette. Add the remaining vegetables – carrot, celery and pickle. Mix again. Gradually add the quinoa and mix.

Zest the oranges and add them to the salad. Peel and cut across segments to release the juice; add the orange to the salad.

For 4.

Option: Add 1 can of rinsed chickpeas or black beans before serving.

Cereal, green vegetable and salted bean stew

Stew is an adaptable dish. Feel free to substitute different grains, green vegetables, and beans. Experience!


1/2 cup dried beans, such as pinto, black or navy

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 large onion

1 teaspoon of salt (less if using broth)

4 oz. mushrooms

2 stalks of celery

1 or 2 carrots

4 to 8 ounces of Italian or breakfast sausage, optional

Herbs: thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, marjoram, cayenne

1/2 cup barley, brown rice, farro or millet

6 cups of broth or water

1 bunch of green vegetables, such as kale, collard greens or mustard greens (about 4 cups)

1 or 2 cups diced tomatoes (1 14.5 oz can)


Cover the beans with water and let soak overnight. If you forget, bring to a boil, turn off the heat and let stand for about an hour.

Heat the oil in a kettle over medium-low heat. Peel and dice the onions; add, sprinkle with salt and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Chop the mushrooms; slice the celery and carrots; stir in and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Crumble into sausage, if using, and cook to brown, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add soaked beans, barley (or whatever grain you use), herbs and broth or water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 1 hour, or until beans and grains are tender. In the last 20 minutes, add the kale leaves that have been plucked from the stems and torn. Add the diced tomatoes for the last 10 minutes.

Taste and adjust the seasoning.

For 4 to 6.

Option: Omit beans (if using sausage) or use canned beans. Drain, rinse and add at the end with the tomatoes.


Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: fresh and fabulous meals from your garden, CSA or farmer’s market”, Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and joined at [email protected] or on Facebook at Words Are My World.

The latest news today and more in your inbox


About Author

Comments are closed.