The end of the holiday season and start of the new year finds many diners looking for lighter fare to satisfy their palates. Indulgence has been the theme for the past season, but now diners are saying "no" to that extra serving of pie.

Instead of excitement, many dread the thought of swapping decadence for healthy options. With some creativity and understanding, healthy eating can be something to be very excited about—dare I say joyous. And, if you clean up your menu, customers will be excited to spend their dining dollars with you in January. This is the month to put the fried chicken aside and find some healthy inspiration.

Let’s think about methods of cooking. Methods that preserve nutrients in food and use little if no oil are: grilling, broiling, baking or roasting, smoking, steaming and poaching. Stay away from deep frying, pan frying, sautéing, braising, stewing and boiling. All of these either use fat that will be absorbed into the food, or the method causes most of the nutrients to be lost.

How can I eliminate salt and still have food taste great? Easy—instead of salt use mustards, wine, vinegar, citrus juice, herbs (dry and fresh), and spices. These flavor enhancers will please the palate and prevent water retention.

Lean meats like pork loin, a small filet, skinless poultry, and any fish are proteins to consider for a great eating experience.

When you need an oil, use one that is high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These forms of fat are good for your body. Olive oil and canola oil are great options that are easy to find.

Now how about some great and easy dishes? Try Seared Salmon Salad with Mango Salsa for a light dish with a lot of flavor. This Kale-Wrapped Sea Bass with Sundried Tomato Coulis recipe combines a unique preparation and presentation with a health-centric dish. Jerk Chicken with Wild Mushroom Au Jus has all kinds of savory and spicy flavors going on. Pork Loin Stuffed with Spinach and Low Fat Yogurt with Blueberry Puree gives you creamy, rich flavors without the fat.

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