\u201cI like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.\u201d \u2014Thomas Jefferson Ringing in the New Year is a marvelous opportunity. Hopes of renewal and rebirth can lift the spirits and open an avenue for optimism. And after the extreme challenges of 2020, hope is what we must embrace in order to prepare a brand new, delicious life. As always, the holiday season resulted in an uptick of weight gain for this cook! Now that January is here and the pantry and refrigerator have been emptied of sweet treats and rich entrees, the time has come to refocus on consuming consciously. Redirecting eating habits after all those tantalizing holiday treats will take ingredients with plenty of pizzazz. Garlic and onions will play a prominent part in my January meal planning. Both will provide fabulous flavor as well as plenty of anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits. Fresh ginger root will also be on my grocery list. Sassy, spicy, ginger root has a seductive flavor that will add sweet heat to winter recipes. Hot water steeped with slices of ginger becomes a soothing cup of tea on cold, dark days. Zesty ginger root will spark up fruit or vegetable smoothies, hot lemonade, creamy carrot or sweet potato soup, and citrus based fruit salads. The addition of fresh ginger root will liven up salad dressings and stir fries as well as adding a delectable layer of delicious flavor to desserts. Fresh ginger root can be found year- round in almost every supermarket. Pale tan in color and rather knobby, ginger root may look a bit lumpy and unassuming, but its benefits are truly lovely. Suffering from nausea, overindulgence of fatty foods, stomach cramps or morning sickness? Try that cup of ginger tea. Fresh ginger is a solid source of magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese and vitamin B6. You can easily peel a fresh ginger root by using the back of a spoon and rubbing away at the skin. Preserving ginger is also a simple task. Grate the peeled root or slice into recipe size portions and store in the freezer. Unpeeled ginger root can be kept in a brown paper bag in the vegetable drawer for several weeks. Let the natural nourishment of fresh ginger help you prepare your brand new delicious life! Fresh Ginger Tea Place 2-3 thick slices of fresh, peeled ginger root in a mug of hot water. Let steep for five to ten minutes, then remove ginger. Add a little organic honey, if desired or lemon slices, and enjoy the calming effects. Nourishing New Year Ginger Stir Fry Serves 4 2 tablespoons cornstarch 1 tablespoon brown sugar 1 1\/4 cups chicken broth 2 tablespoons soy sauce 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided 1 1\/2 pounds boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces 1\/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms 1 cup asparagus or green beans 1 can (8 oz.) sliced water chestnuts, drained 1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger root 4 green onions, sliced 3\/4 cup salted cashews Hot cooked rice Mix the first four ingredients until smooth. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat and stir-fry chicken until no longer pink. Remove from the pan. In the same pan, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat; stir-fry mushrooms, asparagus or green beans, water chestnuts and ginger until vegetables are crisp-tender, 3-5 minutes. Stir broth mixture and add to pan with green onions; bring to a boil. Cook and stir until sauce is thickened, 1-2 minutes. Stir in chicken and cashews; heat through. Serve with rice. Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, \u201cThe Conscious Cook,\u201d writes about preparing a delicious life and presents healthy food workshops throughout New England. She is a professional cook, organic gardener and a graduate of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teachers College.