The Happy Hostess Presents a Healthy Menu For the New Year (Recipes Included)

Lemongrass-chicken soup (photos by Lesley Mann Lynch

I’m not a New Year’s resolution kind of gal. And you won’t be seeing me sign up for a juice cleanse anytime soon. Mother Nature gave me her own version of the juice cleanse over the holidays that left me with my head in the toilet for four days. By the time January 1 came around, I was ready to give up my Gatorade and chicken broth diet for real food.

I was all too excited to cook the recipes I had earmarked over the break in Burma, Naomi Duguid’s hot new cookbook that so many people have been praising. As a self-proclaimed adventurous eater, I take pride in the fact that I prefer ‘authentic’ cuisine over the watered-down American fusion version and can handle a serious amount of spicy heat. I have built up my sense of pride only to show you how far the mighty fell last week. I did make a multi-course meal’s worth of recipes from Burma, in the hopes of sharing a Burmese dinner party idea with you. A few bites in, I threw it all away. The flavors were way too much for me. This is not Duguid’s fault — I’m convinced I was just not strong enough for it.

First step and final product of the lemongrass-chicken soup

Although my first stab at the recipes in this book was a disaster, I was inspired by the ingredients and came up with an American interpretation of a Burmese soup and salad for a simple and healthy meal. This is a dinner party menu that will please all of the people still holding on to their New Year’s resolution and those who have already fallen off the wagon. The strong flavors distract the mind from the absence of any butter, sugar, or carbohydrates. Give it a try. And, if you a truly adventurous eater, pick up a copy of Burma. The recipes are authentic and full of surprisingly original flavor profiles (assuming you are not familiar with Burmese cuisine).

Making grapefruit supremes: 1. Cut ends off of the grapefruit. 2. Cut along the contour of the grapefruit to remove the skin and pith. 3. Cut along the internal membranes to release wedges of fruit. 4. Impress your friends with your grapefruit supremes.

Spicy grapefruit salad

Lemongrass-chicken soup

Optional dessert–assortment of fruit

Make chile and shallot oil (optional)
Prep grapefruit slices and cook chicken, if pressed for time on the day of

Make soup
Make salad

Click here for the recipes.


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  • Sandy

    Interesting report. Not many reveal their failures but kudos to you I might even bet the recipes weren’t tested properly.

  • yangonthu

    This is the first time I have heard anyone saying they had to throw out the food as the flavors were too much. You must not like Thai food then. Burmese cooking uses similar ingredients but is more subtle than Thai in the flavoring of the dishes. Also, in making the broth, we do not use celery or carrots… usually chicken pieces, submerge in water, add 1-2 garlic pods, sliced or crushed, salt, 1/2 a small onion sliced, some fish sauce and simmer till the meat is tender. You can add glass noodles to it (after chicken has been deboned) and wood ears (soaked first to soften). Add lemon/lime juice and more fish sauce to taste. Mimi