Healthy and Happy in the New Year

It's 2022, and we're more determined than ever for it not to become 2020 (part) 2. That means a lot of self-care, family care, health care and more, which doesn't need to become overly complicated. There are simple ways to boost your happiness and health in the New Year so you can feel good, even during difficult times. Plus, Bergen County small businesses are here to help you achieve some goals along the way.


Chef's Hat It's always been known that cooking at home is healthier than eating out, since you know exactly which ingredients you're using. The hardest part is actually finding the time! Keep your goal small, such as cooking just one new food each week, rather than saying you are going to try a new healthy meal each day. Try the Yum! Yum! Dumplings recipe below from HealthBarn USA, which can also be prepared in celebration of the Chinese New Year on February 1. 

We call these Yum! Yum! Dumplings because that was our reaction after the first bite! This authentic Korean family recipe is chock-full of healthy fats and protein. Make sure to mince as directed and to drain all the liquid from the tofu and shredded zucchini so that your final product will not be soggy.
1 package (14 ounces) firm tofu, drained
1 medium zucchini (10 ounces)
4 scallions, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 package (16 ounces) egg roll wrappers
5 tablespoons olive oil
Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
Juice of 1 lime
1. Prepare Dumplings: Place tofu between several layers of paper towels and squeeze out excess liquid. Place tofu in large bowl. With fork, mash tofu until it resembles scrambled eggs; set aside.
2. Shred zucchini. With hand, squeee out excess liquid. Place zucchini in bowl with tofu.
3. Add scallions, garlic, sesame oil, and pepper to ingredients in bowl and mix by hand until well blended.
4. Cut egg roll wrappers into quarters to make 4 squares each. Place 1/4 cup water in small bowl to use as "dumpling glue."
5. Place 1 wrapper square in your hand and coat 2 adjacent edges with water, using finger as a brush. Place 1 heaping teaspoon dumpling mixture in center of wrapper, then bring 2 opposite corners of wrapper together over filling to make a triangle. Pinch and pleat edges together to seal in filling. Repeat process with remaining wrappers and mixture.
6. In large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat, making sure to coat skillet bottom completely. Place enough dumplings in skillet, in one layer, to cover bottom of skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes or until browned on the bottom. Turn dumplings over; cover and cook 2-3 minutes to brown other side. Transfer dumplings to serving plate; keep warm. Repeat with remaining oil and dumplings.
7. While dumplings are cooking, prepare Dipping Sauce: In small bowl, stir together soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and lime juice.
8. Serve dumplings with dipping sauce.
Makes 15 servings (5 dumplings per serving)


Join a Club Sign up for classes or join a club of something that interests you, or step out of your comfort zone and try something completely new. Want to cook more but feel you don't have the skills? Sign up for one or more adult cooking classes at Ridgewood Culinary Studio, and learn how to cook up meals such as Risotto, Jambalaya or Chicken 3 Ways. For creative types, try out a painting class at Pinot's Palette or gather a group to take a DIY wood sign class at Board & Brush. Not only will you learn something new, you'll add some great décor to your house, too. Love to read? Tap into your town's public library, many of which offer a book group that meets monthly, both in-person or virtually.


Challenge Yourself There are a number of obvious physical and mental health benefits to working out, and sometimes joining a challenge with others is just the push you need to get started. The Fitness With Friends 6-Week Challenge offers weekly upper body, lower body, and full body workouts, plus motivational videos and meal planning tips so you can get fit and healthy on a schedule that works for you.


Go Green Invest in some plant life for your home, which have proven health benefits such as improving your mood, lowering stress and helping to recover from illness. Visit PlantShed in Englewood to invest in low-maintenance cacti and succulents, or for those with furry friends at home, pet-friendly plants such as hanging spider plants and ponytail palms. For the most dedicated plant enthusiasts, PlantShed offers plant installation and maintenance, which includes a  space and light consultation, recommendations, and maintenance options to help your plants thrive.


Speaking of Greenery Add more fresh vegetables and fruit to your diet, which is made easy by visiting one of Bergen County's local farm stores. At Abma's Farm Market, shop from a variety of fresh fruits and veggies such as tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, bok choy, purple artichokes and much more. Shopping from a farmer versus your local ShopRite guarantees the freshest, most nutrient-rich produce as well as sustainable agricultural practices.


Treat(ment) Yourself Plan a day when someone the kids are covered to treat yourself to a beauty or wellness service...with benefits. Let Loose, with locations in Montvale and Closter, offers Cryotherapy (think: 3 minutes in -220 degrees) to improve sleep, improve skin and relieve pain. Or, relax in their Infrared Sauna to detoxify and decrease muscle soreness and fatigue. Gift yourself a day of beauty with a visit to Supreen, which offers lash and wax services to make your already gorgeous features pop.


Redecorate Change up your home décor on a seasonal basis to add interest and give your home a whole new feel, without making much of a commitment. Ginger N' Cream Home seasonal scented candles, frames, quote plaques and much more, which can easily be swapped out throughout the year. Visit Market House for unique finds make by local artisans such as wooden plaques, pottery pieces, pillows and throws.

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