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The holidays are a time of indulgence but they can also be a time of reflection and self-care where intentions are set to lay the foundation for a vibrant and dynamic new year. After too many weeks of rich food, imbibing, and late nights, there’s nothing better than dialing back the debauchery in order to keep that promise you made to yourself to make the year ahead an epic one.

Related Reading: 6 New Year’s Food Traditions from Around the World

Whether you’ve decided to party into the wee hours as the clock ticks down to 2020 or plan to duck out early for a good night’s sleep, marking the new year with a healthy brunch or lunch is a way to restore balance following an indulgent month, reminding your mind, spirit, and body that it actually likes healthy eating, calm moments, and libations that don’t include alcohol.

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Here’s a plan to help you execute a spa lunch that’s as restorative as it is healthful.

Set the Scene

healthy New Year brunch

Brooke Lark / Unsplash

Keep your color palette light and energizing, and prepare a music playlist that includes songs that are easy to listen to but also lively enough to keep the energy level up. Clean and prepare your service ware and linens the evening before the event. If you’re using cloth napkins, roll them up and tie them with a decorative ribbon along with a flower, eucalyptus sprig, or tiny pine bough.

Arrange flowers in vases throughout the space or opt for pots of fresh herbs. Select candles that have invigorating aromas (without being overpowering), and light them just before your guests arrive. Or, if you have a fireplace, be sure to light a fire before your guests arrive. Top your logs with eucalyptus branches to fill the room with a restorative aroma.

Encourage your guests to wear comfy clothes they can relax in (i.e. give them the OK to wear their favorite yoga pants).

Banish the Booze

mocktail recipes and guide

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Serve non-alcoholic drinks to align with the spa theme. Omitting alcohol from a beverage does not mean it can’t still be interesting. Spritzers that combine sparkling water and freshly squeezed juices garnished with edible flowers or herbs are both colorful and refreshing. Keep your juice selection interesting by swapping the usual orange or pineapple juices for pomegranate, hibiscus, or blackberry. See our guide to mocktails for more.

In addition to zero-proof cocktails, serve ice water that has been infused for at least 12 hours with herbs such as basil or lemongrass or citrus such as kumquats or limes. Keep the botanicals in the water during service for a pop of color.

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It’s also nice to set up a tea station offering herbal teas and matcha.

Lighten Up (the Food)

healthy superfood acai smoothie bowl recipe


Skip greasy, heavy, or bready items and opt for light and healthy soups sans cream, smoked salmon, fresh vegetable pickles, salads packed with flavor and nutrition, lettuce wraps, and fresh fruit for dessert. If you want to skew a bit more brunchy, include chia pudding or açaí bowls, or even an unusual and delicious quinoa porridge.

Fill small, decorative bowls with a variety of nuts, seeds, and berries and arrange them throughout your serving table—for looks and for snacking. If you serve yogurt (try oat yogurt or coconut yogurt for a non-dairy option), guests can top it off as they please from this selection, or they can add them to a garnish-your-own salad. See more menu ideas below.

Send Guests Home with a Gift

Finally, send your guests home with a gift to remind them of their commitment to filling the year ahead with mindful action. Ideas include a box of energy balls, an invigorating tincture, or a pretty journal where they can document their intentions for the year ahead.

Spa Lunch Recipes

More ideas on what to serve at your healthy lunch or brunch.

Oatmeal Protein Energy Balls

no bake energy ball and energy bite recipes


This easy no-bake energy ball recipe is as tasty as it is healthy. Prepare them to serve in a bowl at your spa lunch or pack them up to send home with your guests as a parting gift. For an extra dose of nutrition, add a tablespoon of flax seeds or finely chopped pumpkin seeds. Get the Oatmeal Protein Energy Balls recipe

Quick Pickled Vegetables

Quick pickled vegetables are fantastic for a spa lunch for myriad reasons: They’re colorful, invigorating, and can be prepared ahead of time. Serve them right in the jars arranged throughout your spa spread for splashes of color; make extra jars to send home with your guests if you’re so inclined. Get the Quick Pickled Vegetables recipe. Also see: Chow Chow and White Kimchi.

Chilled Avocado, Cucumber, and Kefir Soup

chilled avocado cucumber kefir soup

Lauren Volo

There are so many things to love about this soup recipe. Let’s start with the way the avocado and probiotic-packed kefir makes it creamy without the cream. The cucumber’s detoxing power aligns so well with a spa lunch and the mint infuses the soup with an energizing flavor—and best of all, there’s no cooking involved. Get the Chilled Avocado, Cucumber, and Kefir Soup

Ground Chicken Lettuce Wraps

ground chicken lettuce wrap recipe


These lettuce wraps feel filling and substantial without weighing you down. The ginger is excellent for detoxing and the garlic adds a hint of heat. Swap the chicken for firm tofu for a vegetarian option, but either way, don’t forget to serve with a bowl of limes alongside. Offer Sriracha and chili oil for those who want more spice. Get our Ground Chicken Lettuce Wraps recipe

Tangy Greens and Apple Juice

healthy green juice recipe


This juice recipe is loaded with healthful ingredients that are as detoxing as they are invigorating. Blend the juice right before your guests arrive so it’s at its freshest and most flavorful and vibrant. Get our Green Juice reicpe

Three-Ingredient Honey Berry Sorbet

Easy Homemade Raspberry Sorbet


You can’t go wrong with a colorful dessert that includes only three ingredients but tastes so much more substantial and satisfying. The honey sweetens the berries and the lemon adds an lively zing. The sorbet is made ahead of time so requires nothing but serving on the day of your spa lunch. Get the Three-Ingredient Honey Berry Sorbet recipe.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Jody Eddy is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan. She has cooked at Jean Georges, The Fat Duck, and Tabla and is the former editor of Art Culinaire Magazine. Her most recent cookbook was "Cuba! Recipes and Stories From a Cuban Kitchen", published by Ten Speed Press. Her cookbook "North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland" was published by Ten Speed Press in 2014 and won the 2015 IACP Judge's Choice Award. She is the author of the James Beard nominated cookbook "Come In, We're Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World's Best Restaurants" and her upcoming book for Ten Speed, "The Hygge Life", will be published in November, 2017. She is writing a cookbook for W.W. Norton profiling the cuisine and food traditions of monasteries, temples, mosques and synagogues around the world which will be published in 2019 and a cookbook with the Food Network chef Maneet Chauhan profiling the cuisine of India via an epic train journey throughout the country. She writes for Travel+Leisure, Saveur, Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, Plate, and VICE, among others. She is the author of, leads culinary trend tours for food and beverage corporations in Iceland, Peru, Mexico, Ireland and Cuba and is the Vice President of Marketing, Partnerships and Events at Hop Springs, an 85 acre agritourism destination opening in Nashville in May, 2018.
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