Working Toward Better Health in the New Year? Start in the Kitchen with a Rainbow of Foods

As a functional medicine health coach, I often help my clients who want to boost energy and overcome digestive, autoimmune and weight-loss challenges. My solution always begins with food.

Food influences our body in so many ways: our performance, our endurance, our mind clarity, and our ability to handle stress both physically and mentally. I have seen my clients eliminate joint pain, digestive issues and brain fog by eliminating certain foods. And I have seen them increase energy and reduce sugar cravings by adding more greens.

One of the concepts I emphasize is eating seasonally. I believe eating seasonally is important for several reasons: fruits and vegetables provide the most nutrients when they are in the season and have the most flavor; they are at the most affordable price; it keeps your menu changing; and most importantly, it supports your health for that season by keeping your body prepared for the temperature and for living in the rhythm of nature.

The recipes here are from my new year’s online cleanse. They help cleanse the body of the sugary foods from the holiday season and bring your body more into balance, enabling more resilience for the new year. These recipes can also be used year-round by rotating in the fruits and vegetables of the season.  

— Mona Merrick offers Pilates, functional nutrition and lifestyle coaching through her Body Balance Coaching, located in iThrive Yoga Studio in Parker.


Purifying Breakfast Smoothie


Several kale leaves, stripped from the stem

1 handful spinach

1/2 cucumber

1 pear, sliced

1/2 cup unsweetened cranberry juice

1/2 cup water


Blend all ingredients and enjoy!


  • If you take thyroid medication, quickly blanch the kale and spinach to reduce the goitrogenic properties of the greens, which are hard on the thyroid.  

  • Get creative by trying variations:

    • Use apples or berries.

    • Add a healthy fat, such as coconut oil or flaxseed oil.  

    • Add a tablespoon of your favorite protein powder or plant-based protein such as chia seeds, hemp seeds or flax seeds.  

    • Sprinkle in spices like cinnamon. 

Restorative Stir-Fry


For the rice:
1 1/2 cups brown rice
3 cups water or vegetable stock
1 garlic clove, minced

For the teriyaki sauce:
1/2 cup Mirin (Eden Organic Brand or other brand without fructose)
1/2 cup gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

For the stir-fry:
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 small white onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ginger, minced
1 package enoki or shitake mushrooms
1/2 cup snow peas
1/4 head napa cabbage, cut into thin strips

1 handful cauliflower florets
2 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 bunch kale, cut into ribbons
1 handful mung bean sprouts


Rinse rice in water until the water runs clear. Drain the water completely from rice and combine rice, garlic and broth in a pot over high heat until it boils. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes.

In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients for the teriyaki sauce. Simmer until reduced by half and is thick and syrupy. Remove from heat.

In a wok or large pan with sides, heat coconut oil and add garlic, ginger and onions. Simmer until brown. Add more oil if needed and toss in veggies (except the sprouts). Mix well and cover pan so veggies can steam. Steam 5-10 minutes depending on how “al dente” you want your veggies.

Scoop a large spoonful of rice into a bowl; add a generous helping of veggies, a spoonful of teriyaki sauce and then top with sprouts.

Curried Sweet Potato Soup


1 tablespoon ghee

1 1⁄2-inch piece ginger, sliced and crushed

4 cloves garlic, minced

Zest and juice of 1 lime

2 teaspoons curry

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 15-ounce can full-fat coconut milk

2 cups water

1⁄2 bunch cilantro, chopped


In a large saucepan, heat ghee over medium heat. Add ginger, garlic and lime zest and cook until slightly browned, about 3-4 minutes. Add curry and simmer until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add sweet potatoes, coconut milk and water. Bring to a boil, reduce to low, cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Turn off heat and leave on stove for 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

Puree soup in blender or food processor. Garnish with chopped cilantro, lime juice and enjoy!