This Sunday, Feb. 10, marks the Chinese New Year, the most important of all Chinese holidays. The 15-day celebration is based on the lunar cycle, beginning on the first day of a new moon and ending with a Lantern Festival on the full moon. Traditionally celebrated with family meals, fireworks, gifts, and general merriment, we think it's a great opportunity to learn a bit about Chinese culture as a family. Here, seven fun ways that you can celebrate the Year of the Water Snake with your kids!
Lunar New Year celebrations usher in the Year of the Snake and, with them, a buffet-full of culinary delights. If you've been lucky enough to partake in a traditional Chinese New Year feast, you also may have learned the significance behind each dish. Otherwise, here's a look at common Chinese foods eaten during the New Year and what they represent.
Chinese takeout is one of those comforting meals that has a permanent home on my speed dial. After a long day of work, there's nothing more satisfying than being able to order in instead of slaving away over a stove. Even if you've taken on a healthy food plan, you don't have to give up this fast and quick option altogether. There are plenty of smart and simple choices you can make to revamp your Chinese takeout order and boost the health value of your meal.
- Start with a lighter appetizer: Filling up on delicious, wonton, egg drop, or hot and sour soup helps avoid loading up on heavier Chinese entrees that come later in the meal. If egg rolls, chicken wings, or Hoisin ribs are usually your standard, swap those out for a steamed dumpling fix instead.
- Forget the fried foods: Fried dumplings, crispy egg rolls, and yes, even fried rice are foes not friends. What's actually packed into these treats may not seem that bad, but all that oil changes the equation. Luckily there are plenty of alternatives to satisfy your taste buds. Enjoy steamed veggie dumplings instead of fried gyoza, and go for rice paper spring rolls stuffed with bright veggies instead of traditional egg roll fare. Choose steamed rice over fried, and opt for braised dishes or stir-frys whenever possible.
- Look for a light menu: My favorite Chinese takeout spot offers a "health menu" with plenty of great options that offer more veggies and less oil. You may be weary of skipping out on your standard order, but you may find a new favorite, flavorful dish. If a lighter menu isn't available, ask the restaurant to use less oil and up the veggies.
- It's all in a name: Instead of city or regional descriptions, look for Chinese entrees that offer veggies up front. Mongolian beef or kung pao chicken may have been your go-to moves, but dial in for beef and broccoli, chicken with snow peas, or chicken with mushrooms. These low-calorie alternatives will help you get your meaty fix.
Keep reading for four more ideas for healthier Chinese ordering.
Celebrate Chinese New Year by eating in! Though Asian takeout has become a beloved staple in many households, it's fun to get the whole family cooking a different cuisine. With Lunar New Year celebrations kicking off tomorrow, we asked kiddie chef extraordinaire Catherine McCord, founder of Weelicious and mother of two, to share some of her healthful recipes fit for a year of the dragon fete. Check out Catherine's five options that you can serve up on a plate or in a box, but don't forget the chopsticks!
I've got Chinese food on the brain after a lengthy interview with the Cooking Channel personality Ching He Huang about essential Chinese ingredients and kitchen tools. As a Chinese-American myself, I'm a bit biased, but I do believe that Chinese food is one of the world's most colorful and versatile cuisines.
When it comes to Chinese cooking, I'm well studied in just about everything, from stir-fries, sesame chicken, and Sichuan hot pot. One of my favorite dishes is Hong Kong-style chow mein: thin, wavy noodles browned in oil until golden and crispy at the edges, then topped with a hoisin sauce and wok-fried snow peas, carrots, chicken or pork, and mushrooms. What do you reach for when you're craving Chinese?
Source: Flickr User www.bluewaikiki.com
When it comes to Chinese cuisine, don't be scared to try cooking it at home — you don't need much in your pantry to experiment with China's flavors. I asked Ching-He Huang, host of the Cooking Channel's Chinese Food Made Easy and the forthcoming Easy Chinese: San Francisco, to rattle off some of the ingredients she couldn't do without in her kitchen. Along with tea and rice — fundamentals of the Far East cuisine — she also mentioned the following food items. See what they are when you read on.
There's nothing more delicious than a meal made by a loved one. Here, Morrow Clark shares a dinner her husband recently prepared for her.
My Husband made delicious and beautiful dinner Homemade Kung Pao Chicken. It tasted incredible.
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This week, billions of people will be ringing in the upcoming year of the rabbit by enjoying an intimate Chinese New Year meal with family and friends. Even if you aren't destined to be one of them, you can still celebrate the Lunar New Year by honoring a piece of culinary tradition in the Chinese heritage: dim sum. What do you know about the storied culinary tradition and subsection of Chinese food called dim sum? Bust your
chops chopsticks on this quiz to find out.
Source: Flickr User faunggTake the Quiz
San Francisco certainly seems like foodie central, and sometimes dining out seems like a competitive sport here in the Bay Area. But restaurant dining doesn't need to be fraught with difficulty if you're watching calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Here are some simple tips from The Mayo Clinic Diet to follow next time you find yourself searching a menu for healthy fare. Knowing what to look for and what to avoid will help you "savor the exotic" without worrying about your waistline or heart health.
If you've ever cracked open a fortune cookie — and I bet you have — then see this book in your future. Far more satisfying than those sugary slips of paper, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, by New York Times reporter Jennifer 8. Lee, explores the American obsession with Chinese food, from delightful trivia to dark realities.
Considering the US has more Chinese restaurants than McDonalds, Burger Kings, and Wendy's combined, it makes sense that the cuisine comes with a stir-fry of great stories. Lee begins her journey with the tale of how the Powerball lottery was once almost brought down by a set of lucky numbers printed in dozens of fortune cookies. She follows with fun facts about the origins of the cookies, as well as of chop suey and General Tso's chicken. But this book isn't as lighthearted as you might think