“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, 'It will be happier.'”

— Alfred, Lord Tennyson

One of the most glorious aspects of preparing a delicious life is the opportunity to adopt new healthful habits and a more fulfilling lifestyle. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to take stock of your life and refocus your energy by taking positive steps to ensure a happy and healthy existence.

New Year’s Eve celebrations usher out the old and welcome in the new. After the last twelve months of unique challenges, raising a toast to 2017 will start a highly anticipated cycle of hope. Whether you attend a large, festive party or enjoy a quiet evening at home, New Year’s Eve should be particularly luscious, with special attention paid to both food and drink.

Add some sparkle to your glass with brilliant, bubbly Prosecco. A splash of cranberry or pomegranate juice, along with a fresh cranberry or pomegranate seed garnish, will make a gorgeous, jewel colored cocktail with a bit less alcohol content and a bright boost of Vitamin C.

Balance the sparkle and sweetness with a bit of crisp saltiness, with bowls of roasted, seasoned nuts. Rosemary, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper or maple and smoked paprika are just two of the myriad of scintillating flavor combinations that will transform almonds, walnuts, pecans, or any combination of nuts into a nutritious nibble that will deliver plenty of skin soothing Vitamin E.

Smoked salmon, thinly sliced and served atop cucumber slices, garnished with fresh dill and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice is another superb accompaniment to effervescent beverages. Cucumbers are crisp, cool and wonderfully hydrating, a vital issue during the dryer winter months. Smoked salmon provides protein, vitamin D and a silky mouthful of heart healthy monounsaturated fats.

May your New Year be filled with health,happiness and copious amounts of conscious cooking and may you always prepare a delicious life!

New Year’s Spiced Nuts

Makes 3 cups.

3 cups mixed raw nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts — any combination you prefer)

2 ½ Tablespoons grapeseed oil

3 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (well washed and dried)

1 ½  teaspoons  minced fresh thyme leaves

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place nuts in a medium bowl. In another bowl, mix together all other ingredients. Pour oil mixture over nuts and toss until well coated. Place nuts onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, checking every few minutes that the nuts are not burning and giving them a toss. Remove from oven when nicely browned and let cool. Can be stored in an airtight container for two weeks.

Find more from Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, The Conscious Cook at www.theconsciouscook.net