After the eggnog carton is empty, the prime rib bones are picked clean and the cookie jar holds nothing but crumbs, I'm usually left with an urge to purge all rich foods from my refrigerator and my diet.
It's been a wonderful couple of weeks, without a ton of worrying over what to eat and what not to eat. The party is definitely over, though, and it's time to give my family the best gift of all -- a return to a healthful diet.
January is the time of year I want to give my entire life a spring cleaning, and I always start with the kitchen. Yes, I do go through the drawers, shelves and pantries, but, like so many other people, I also focus on eating clean. Out goes the sugar and white flour (we've had more than enough of it in the past few weeks) and in come the vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins.
One of our first meals of the new year is inevitably soup. Not a creamy chowder or a rich bisque, but a light, brothy chicken soup packed with fresh vegetables. Nothing hits the spot better when the weather is chilly and the body needs a wholesome meal. And since I've done a ton of cooking over the past several weeks, I usually stick to a version of this comforting soup that's quick and easy.
Soup is also the perfect family meal, especially this Asian Chicken Soup, because it's incredibly versatile. You can serve it in its most basic form with no adornments, or you can ladle it over a little steamed rice or cooked noodles (it's delicious over cooked rice noodles). It can easily be converted to the more traditional chicken soup by removing the ginger and spices and adding fresh thyme to the stock. Almost any vegetable will work, so if bok choy is not your thing, add thinly sliced celery or fennel -- whatever you and your family enjoy.
Just because the party's over doesn't mean the good eating has to stop. It only means the good eating will be good for you, too.
Meredith Deeds of Edina is the author of "Everyday to Entertaining" and "The Big Book of Appetizers." Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @meredithdeeds.