Is it coincidence that foods associated with luck are also health promoting? We don’t think so. Many New Year’s traditions focus on whole foods that symbolize hope and prosperity – but the real value is in the nutrition these foods offer in helping you achieve a healthful 2018 and beyond.
Here we give you several reasons, other than luck, to include these foods in your diet and a variety of ways to prepare them throughout the new year:
Very similar in shape to Roman coin, Italians have served lentils on this holiday in hope of wealth and prosperity in the New Year. One of lentils’ greatest health benefits comes from the soluble fiber they contain – soluble fiber is the ultimate detoxifier. This type of fiber creates a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that captures cholesterol and other oil-soluble compounds and toxins your liver wants to clear from the body. In addition to being delicious, these tiny legumes cook up quickly. Try this recipe made with red lentils, a super quick-cooking variety: Roasted Cauliflower with Red Lentils and Curry Sauce
The deep red color of pomegranate seeds is close to the color of blood and represents life and fertility in many cultures. In Greece, the seeds also represent prosperity. Many families break open a pomegranate at the stroke of midnight – more seeds = more good fortune. Not up for removing the seeds of the fruit? No worries – pomegranate seeds can now be found both fresh and frozen at the grocery store. We love them sprinkled on our salads like this Brussels Sprouts and Pear Salad or over roasted vegetables to add some tartness.
In some Asian cultures, serving a whole fish signifies hope for abundance from the “beginning to the end” of the upcoming year. Purchasing fresh, whole fish has never been simpler, with many fish departments providing prepping [gutting and scaling] at time of purchase. We love our fish simply grilled in a packet – delicious and simple clean up:
- Place parchment paper on a sheet of aluminum foil. Place fish on parchment.
- Season fish with lemon, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and crimp foil to create a tightly sealed packet.
- Place on medium-high grill or in a 375°F oven and cook until flesh flakes away from bones – usually less than 30 minutes depending on thickness of fish.
- Starting at head, slide thin knife between spine and flesh and slide toward tail to remove top fillet.
- Lift tail to remove spine, exposing bottom filet.
- Carefully remove any stray bones.
Consuming fish regularly will provide you with high-quality protein and B-12. Limit intake of predator fish and focus on less-contaminated varieties – here is a resource for identifying safe fish and seafood to consume in your area: Seafood Watch
In Spain and Portugal, eating 12 grapes for every chime of the clock at midnight is thought to bring prosperity in the New Year. Grapes, especially red and purple-skinned varieties, contain good amounts of resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant studied for its possible positive impact on longevity. Grapes are not only a convenient snack, but they can also add sweetness and tartness to salads and cooked dishes. Our team loves them quartered in salads and roasted with Brussels sprouts.
Collards and Black-eyed Peas
Serve collard greens and black-eyed peas and you’ll be diving deep into a 100+ year southern U.S. tradition that promises wealth and good fortune. Collard greens symbolize paper money and the black-eye peas represent coins, but the real riches are in their collective nutrient density. Collards are an excellent source of calcium, fiber, and contain quantum amounts of vitamins A and K. Black-eyed Peas are full of fiber and folate. Traditionally, these two foods are simmered for many hours with lard and bacon – for a lighter, quicker version, sauté collards with some onion and garlic then add broth and simmer until softened. Stir in drained, canned black-eyed peas and warm through.