January can be a little all over the place when it comes to food.
On the one hand, most New Year's resolutions are to eat better. Many of us start the new year aspiring to spare, sensible meals of poached salmon and steamed spinach.
But January is also the real onset of winter. All the cold and the snow make us want to bunker down for some serious comfort food — those stick-to-your-ribs classics perfect for the most hygge-worthy winter nights.
It's not surprising, then, that this dichotomy shows up in food magazines, too. The pages of January issues are filled with juice cleanses, stripped-down salads, and lean proteins, alongside sumptuous pastas, creamy risottos, hearty stews, and all-day braises.
The One Food Magazine You Should Buy in January
For a good look at the right way to straddle that line, check out this month's issue of Cooking Light. If you're only going to read one food magazine this month, it's the one for you.
(Side note: We highlighted Cooking Light back in November, too, and if you haven't picked up a copy in a while, you really should. The magazine relaunched in 2017 with a fresh new look and new features. We highly recommend it.)
The January/February issue is full of craveable recipes we're eager to try. The cover story, called Good Mood Food, is an eye-popping spread of Technicolor dishes — like a grapefruit, apple, and pomegranate Salad, and citrus-pickled shrimp with fennel and potatoes — set against some groovy '70s graphics.
We also really enjoyed the "3-Day Detox" feature (although, points deducted, Cooking Light, for using the word "detox" like it's actually a real thing). The piece includes a couple of make-ahead items that get used in a few different dishes. We really like that approach in general, and one of the make-aheads is a green goddess avocado sauce that we're really excited to make. Green goddess dressing, of course, has been around for a long time, but we recently loved it all over again after a lunch at San Francisco's Tartine Manufactory. Bring on the sauce!
There's also a cool spread of recipes built around six spices that are known for their medicinal qualities. We're frankly pretty skeptical of these sorts of recipes: Will sprinkling aleppo pepper on fish improve your vision? Will those three cinnamon sticks swimming around in that pot of chili really prevent Alzheimer's? We're no physicians, but we suspect you'd need to eat a heckuva lot of turmeric to see any of its cancer-fighting benefits.
But hey, you've got to eat something, and you might as well eat something that nudges you in the right direction rather than the wrong one. So we're very much on board for the recipes in this story, including a creamy turmeric cauliflower soup and a very yummy-looking cumin lamb stir-fry.
Other Magazines We Recommend This Month
In Food Magazine Land, January is rather quiet. Several mags — including Saveur, Bon Appétit, and Garden & Gun this year — don't publish a January issue. But there's plenty of other good stuff to check out this month.
Food & Wine has a story we flat-out love, from Anthony Bourdain, called Ugly Delicious, about those foods that are delicious but decidedly not Instaworthy. It includes a pork braised in milk that looks so good. We're also dying to try a recipe from the magazine's monthly Handbook section, for seared gnocchi with roasted arugula. Seared gnocchi: ingenious.
Finally, in Better Homes and Gardens, there's a nice feature on cooking with citrus. Foods like pan-seared salmon with kumquats or an orange-roasted chicken sound so bright and lovely to us right now.
Will your January be a binge or a cleanse? Let us know what you're cooking!