A trip to Oakland's Chinatown reminded me that the Chinese Lunar New Year is only a few days away. The two-week celebration is steeped in tradition (and superstition), and like most holidays, so much of it centers around food — dumplings, turnip cakes, and Buddha's Delight are all staples. Not surprisingly, the holiday is also full of healthy foods like vegetables and fish. The added bonus is that these dishes are believed to bring luck and prosperity in the upcoming year. Here's what I'll be eating to celebrate the holiday for the next two weeks.
- Mandarin oranges and tangerines are symbolic of the Lunar New Year. Families often buy small potted trees and present the small citrus fruit as a gift of abundance and fortune to friends and relatives. Eat one on its own or add some slices to a salad — the fruit is an excellent source of Vitamins A and C.
- Noodles are traditionally eaten for luck in Asian cultures and symbolize long life. I'm a fan of soba noodles because they're full of protein, iron, fiber, and amino acids. Try our light stir fry of soba noodles with tofu and peanut sauce.
See more healthy Chinese New Year foods when you read more.
- Yusheng is a raw fish salad made up of heart healthy salmon and lots of fresh shredded veggies like daikon, yams, cucumbers, and ginger. The dish is usually eaten on the seventh day of the holiday and symbolizes abundance in the upcoming year. If making Yusheng seems daunting, trying rolling your own healthy sushi at home.
- Melon seeds are commonly eaten during the Lunar Year to bring fertility. Sold mostly in Asian grocery stores, melon seeds are often substituted with pumpkin seeds when they're unavailable. A great source of manganese, phosphorous, and magnesium.
- Go meat free — it's a Lunar New Year tradition. Because so much of the two-week holiday revolves around food, individuals eat a strict vegetarian diet on the 13th day as a way to naturally cleanse the body.
Source: Flickr user avlxyz