Oh, the resolution. Throughout December's holiday party season, the question surfaces often in small talk around a punch bowl. New Year's Resolution? My favorite responses are the ones that start with "This year, everything is going to be different." Everything?! Quite a resolution indeed. Upon the year's turning to a new number, and a supposed new order, hoards of literature becomes available, from advisements of tonics, balms and salves, to gyms, diets, and fashion trends. In truth, if one is able to weed through all of the advising and distill the passage of the year into one succinct point of resolve, I say well-done, already. My favorite (and admittedly most-effective) resolutions have been more themes than diets or retractions of former habits. For me, 2013 was for the bold. Boldness, whether positive or negative, definitely dominated the year, so in that way, I felt successful and fulfilled by my resolution's influence. My favorite New York Times chef, Mr. Mark Bittman, often finds the best ways to tell his readers to calm down already, and convince themselves that yes, coq au vin is possible for one and all and it won't take three hours, or rather that the best recipe is often simplicity. In Bittman's case, he's speaking about food, but his recipes often apply to other situations. I for one, have certainly found that cooking is an effective way to teach yourself how to multitask (Judkins Resolution circa 2007). It matters little whether your multiple tasks are related to the recipe. Sometimes the realization is simple; for me, it was understanding that roasting is a great way to make your main dish and sides at the same time. Forgive the near insulting metaphor, but one's life can be similar. Less effort on the main event is sometimes a good thing. In the case of resolutions, I find it undeniably so.
In his "Sustainable Resolutions for Your Diet," published in December 31'sts New York Times, Chef Bittman lays out strategies rather than die-hard changes, like cooking batches of grains weekly, and buying frozen fruits and vegetables to have on hand when they're out of season. He includes short recipes that implicate his suggestions and almost all of them are remarkably easy. All of this, I must say, does come with a dose of realism. While I don't know if I'm going to start making my own nut butter regularly, I can attest to the joy of learning a new skill or understanding that I can make something, easily, that I thought I had to buy. Who knows, in a month, I may be biting my tongue. 2014 could very well be the year of the nut butter. The point is that lasting change is often, in Bittman's words, incremental, and our willingness to adhere to pledges of devotion and self-reform are rooted best in rewarding behaviors. Eating well and with a sense of ownership hopefully aids in both increasing confidence and overall health. 2014's theme? 2014 is for the confident, I say.