Here's to healthy eating in the new year!

You can't put it off any longer - it's January 1 and so officially time for those New Year resolutions. Odds are, if you are making one of those pesky resolutions, it probably involves eating better or losing weight.

Well, if you're looking for healthy food options, we've got some for you to consider.


Mystic Market

63 Williams Ave., Mystic

Just as the holidays can stretch your wallet, they can have a similar effect on your body. For me, all that chocolate, liquor and cheese comes to roost somewhere below my waistline and suddenly, I have to hold my breath to button my pants.

But do I panic? No. I eat Spicy Broccoli Salad.

At first glance, this crunchy salad ($6.99 per pound) seems barely dressed, but one bite reveals complex flavors that are difficult to identify but very easy to love.

There's a nuttiness, I think from some toasted sesame oil. There's heat, perhaps from sriracha. There's a richness that must come from mayonnaise but there's nothing gloppy here. And there's a floral note, I think from ginger.

I've tried on numerous occasions to replicate this salad at home, and although I've come close, I've decided that there's nothing like the real thing, especially during the post-holidays battle of the bulge.



Muddy Water's Cafe

42 Bank St.

New London

I can kind of imagine the genesis of this lunch offering:

Owner Barry: We need a healthy menu option.

Cook: How about a homemade vegetarian burger?

Barry: It would need to be really special.

Cook: OK, I'll not only put lentils and oats and a ton of veggies in the burger, but I'll put lettuce, tomato and onion on it.

Barry: You're getting close...

Cook: OK, I'll also put carrots, spinach and cucumbers on it.

Barry: Perfect.

Perfect indeed, for $7.50 on your choice of bread or roll and condiments.



Two Wives Pizza

45 Huntington St.

New London

(860) 447-9337

One might be tempted to dismiss a panzanella salad from a listing of healthy foods, since, indeed, chunks of carb-a-licious bread figure prominently in a panzanella salad.

BUT if those chunks are made from whole-grain focaccia bread, can we not call this a culinary loophole/victory? I sure do, because those crunchy-chewy, oil-soaked bread chunks, paired with an excellent dressing, romaine greens, reliably tasty plum tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, parmesan cheese, garlic, basil and onion, results in one of the most delicious (and pungent) salads I've ever tasted. It's a menu item I order again and again (sans onion) at Two Wives ($9.50), and it's wonderful (and sans onion) every time.

Yes, you can order your panzanella salad with crusty white bread, but you'll miss out on the better texture and toasty flavor of the whole-grain bread if you do.

With all those greens, tomatoes and garlic, this dish makes for a perfect addition to your Healthier Foods to Eat in 2015 list. Be warned: one salad equals one very filling lunch. Share it, or save some for later.



The Shack

131 Boston Post Rd., Waterford

(860) 442-6660

One of the hardest things about eating at the Shack is the wide variety of tempting offerings on the menu - many of which, let's face it, aren't particularly healthy. However, if you can divert your eyes from the sausage gravy and hash, look on the "Hometown Fare" section of the lunch menu and order the Twin Chicken Dinner ($9.99) You'll receive two boneless breasts, in a gentle and vaguely Asian marinade, accompanied by toothsome rice pilaf. You also get another choice of vegetable, so it's up to you to avoid the French fries and opt for a steamed medley or perhaps some corn. But it's all delicious and, yes, good for you, too.



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