6 Foods to Enjoy on Chinese New Year’s Eve for a Prosperous 2022!
Dietitian-approved tips for preparing Chinese New Year Eve (reunion) dinners
Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year, a traditional festival celebrated by the Chinese community globally will soon be upon us as of February 1st! According to the Chinese Zodiac, it is the year of the Tiger. People born in a year of the Tiger are believed to be strong, brave, and fearless.
Children love this time of year as they receive “lucky” red envelopes laced with money from parents and relatives. Some people go so far as to wear new outfits to signify a great start to the year!
The holiday lasts for 15 days where family and friends alike visit each other and share wishes for as well as foods that are regarded as a symbols of good luck and fortuitousness.
The child in me always has loved celebrating Chinese New Year as Mom cooked delicious foods and prepared a variety of snacks for the family to enjoy together. After all, Mom’s cooking is usually the best! You may not know this, but even the names of the dishes have symbolic meanings. Let me introduce you a few of the popular dishes our family prepared and enjoyed the most!
6 Foods to Eat on Chinese New Year’s Eve for a Prosperous 2022
Always a popular dish at Chinese New Year, a chicken is boiled whole in a broth and then carefully chopped into pieces and then reconstructed on the serving plate to appear whole. This symbolizes family reunion with different parts, but still together while partaking the meal at the table.
Steamed (whole) Fish
An entire fish is steamed with the head and tail intact. This is believed to bring abundance in the coming year. In Chinese, the pronunciation of “fish” is very similar to “abundance”. Leftovers for the following day are consciously reserved for the next day as this means the prosperity and abundance will carry forward.
Green Leafy vegetables
Vegetable leaves represent longevity. Leafy greens such as lettuce, bok choy or choy sum are cooked and served whole.
Noodles made from wheat or rice flour are cooked and served full length and never cut smaller. Long noodles symbolize longevity. At our house, we choose whole wheat, brown rice or buckwheat noodles as they are great sources of nutrition.
Mandarin Oranges and Regular Oranges
In Chinese, the pronunciation of the words “mandarin oranges” is similar to saying “good luck.” Likewise, the word “orange” sounds like “wealth”. We often eat or give these beautiful fruits as gifts to bring happiness and prosperity to the whole family. We serve fresh fruit platters as dessert after meals.
Dumplings with Meat or Vegetables
As a family, we make dumplings that consist of meat, fish, or vegetables around the table together. The shape of dumplings looks like Chinese gold or silver ingots. Most people believe that eating dumplings during Chinese New Year, will equate a prosperous year. We steam or pan-fry the dumplings.
Dietitian-approved Tips for Preparing Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner
If you are preparing a delicious Chinese New Year reunion dinner for your family or relatives, you can keep the following dietitian-approved tips in mind:
- Include a variety of plant-based foods* such as vegetables, legumes, beans, whole grains, and nuts in your cooking to add nutrients, healthy fats, protein and fiber.
- Preferably choose a fatty fish as it contains more Omega-3 fatty acids for heart health
- Choose lean proteins such as lean cut of meat, skinless poultry over fatty meat, fish, and vegetable protein such as tofu.
- Substitute white rice or noodles with whole wheat noodles, brown rice vermicelli, or buckwheat noodles that have more dietary fiber.
5. Use Asian sauces such as soy sauce, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce or chili sauce in moderation as they tend to be higher in sodium, oil, and sugar.
6. Flavour foods with dried mushrooms, shrimps, clams, herbs and spices.
7. Drink green tea or flower tea such as Chrysanthemum tea to stay hydrated and they have less or no caffeine.
8. Use healthier cooking methods such as steaming, boiling, roasting, or stir-frying.
9. Enjoy fresh fruits as dessert.
20. Make your own Chinese New Year goodies and snacks where you can substitute or replace ingredients with healthier choices such as using brown rice flour instead of the white rice flour when you make savory turnip cake, a very popular snack during Chinese New Year.
Homemade dinners are always the healthier option because you get to choose what actually goes into the dishes.
This Chinese New Year, the year of the tiger, pass up the buffet dinner at a fancy restaurant and opt for a homemade reunion dinner! You and your family will thank you!
Have a healthy and prosperous year!
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