New Year, Renewed You | Natural Gourmet Institute

The Natural Gourmet Institute’s health-supportive, plant-based career curriculum is now exclusively offered at the Institute of Culinary Education. Learn more about career training in Health-Supportive Culinary Arts at the new Natural Gourmet Center at ICE. Click here

Recreational classes, certificate programs, and Friday Night Dinners will continue through March 2019 at NGI’s Flatiron location. We have a lot of exciting programs scheduled, which are sure to sell out! We look forward to having the NGI community be a part of the final programs on 21st Street.

New Year, Renewed You

Posted January 24, 2019

January is a time when many of us make resolutions and goals for the new year ahead. But doing this can lead to an overwhelming pressure to make too many life changes. Studies show that 80 percent of people give up on their resolution by February. Plus, the thought process when making these resolutions usually comprises some negative self-talk about the faults we made the previous year.

While I don’t suggest giving up on goal-setting altogether, making simple, small improvements in our lives can make a bigger impact than making too many big changes at once. Small improvements are more easily attainable and will allow us to not set ourselves up for failure.

When it comes to our health, starting our days with a nutritious breakfast, sitting down for meals without distractions, and drinking more water are all examples of slight improvements that will have a lasting impact on our wellbeing. Incorporating these small changes routinely will allow them to become second nature in the months to come.

How to begin?

Start by focusing on optimizing your plate with whole foods. Don’t fall for the pressure of adopting strict diets or using quick-fix supplements. Fill your plate with fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, trying to include bright, vibrant colors and varying textures. NGI’s founder, Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D. said it best, “Eating whole foods ensures consumption of the maximum amount of original nutrients, in the right proportions.” This does not necessarily mean that we have to jump into eating whole foods 100% of the time. Aiming for 70-80% is much more realistic and will still make a tremendous impact on our health.

In order to start adding more whole foods to our plates, we need to make healthy swaps in our pantry and fridge. The beginning of the year is the perfect time to do this. When shopping for ingredients, take NGI’s Seven Principles for Food Selection with you. This is a great guide to have on hand when trying to incorporate the right foods into our diets. Try shopping at the local farmers market if it’s open through the winter, and when shopping at the grocery store, aim for getting most ingredients in the outside aisles.

Here’s a well-rounded, whole foods recipe to help get things started.

This Sweet Potato, Kale and White Bean Hash is prepared using whole, seasonal ingredients, and is deceivingly simple, making it the perfect weeknight dinner.

(Yield: 4 Servings)


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large sweet potato, scrubbed and diced
  • ¼ cup white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup dried cannellini beans, soaked, or 1 cup canned cannellini beans
  • 3 cups Lacinato Kale, sliced into thin ribbons
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (*optional)
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste


  1. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the potatoes and a pinch of salt, and stir. Cover the skillet and cook for 7-9 minutes, stirring occasionally so that all sides of the potatoes are browning.
  2. Add the onions and white beans to the skillet, and mix well. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened.
  3. Add the kale and cook just until kale is beginning to wilt. Remove from heat.
  4. Sprinkle in lemon zest, parmesan cheese* and black pepper, and salt and crushed red pepper flakes to taste.