There are so many beliefs and traditions surrounding the Chinese New Year, especially when it comes to food. Considering that China boasts the world’s oldest living person, a 127 year old woman, maybe these rituals have something to them. So, in honor of the Chinese New Year on February 10th, let’s take a look at what they’re eating in the East!
Many Chinese choose to go vegetarian for the 15 days of the New Year celebrations, which some believe aids in longevity. We’re inclined to agree, especially since the “Buddhist’s Delight” veggie dish – traditionally served on the first day – is packed with powerful nutrients. Bamboo shoots are thought to bless one with longevity, but I think all the fresh ginger in the recipe might have more to do with it. Ginger has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, plus it can help relieve cold symptoms and nausea. Now – if you want to add a little extra good fortune, see if you can hunt down these hard-to-find ingredients: black moss for wealth and lotus seeds for fertility. There’s a great recipe for “Buddhist’s Delight” here.
Whether bright red pomegranates really repel evil spirits and increase fertility is up for debate. What isn’t up for debate is that pomegranates are packed with antioxidants and vitamin C. They’ve been linked to fighting cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, flu, and improving cardiovascular health.
Orange You the Lucky One
Tangerines and oranges sound like the Chinese words for luck and wealth, and are therefore thought to attract good fortune. I don’t know if eating an orange has ever made anyone wealthy, but all that Vitamin C, fiber, folate, Vitamin B1, potassium, and calcium – along with phytonutrient compounds – lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, are anti-inflammatory, and support your immune system. That sounds pretty lucky to me. And hey, when you’re not sick, you can spend more time making money, right?
The Wishing Fish
It’s customary to serve fish on New Year’s Eve, since the word for “fish” sounds like the words for “wish” and “abundance.” The fish is served whole with head and tail attached, symbolizing a good beginning and end of the year. Abundance is right – fish have an abundance of lean protein, omega-3 fat, vitamin D, zinc, magnesium and iron. In fact, studies have shown that eating seafood just twice a week can lower your risk of dying from a heart attack by 30 percent.
With these foods for dinner, I can already tell you what your fortune cookie will say: “You will have a healthy and prosperous 2013!”