Whether you are planning ambitious New Year’s resolutions or just looking to start 2014 off right, we could all use a good luck meal. Cultures around the world and even within the United States rely on traditional foods to guarantee good luck in the year ahead. My family did not have any special New Year’s traditions, so I love to learn and adopt ones from a variety of cultures.
- Some Asian cultures dine on long noodles to signify longevity in the new year. It is traditional to slurp noodles without breaking them. Soba noodles, made from buckwheat, are traditional in Japanese culture. Buckwheat is a good source of manganese, magnesium, copper and fiber. It also contains two flavonoids, rutin and quercitin, that act as antioxidants and can help prevent heart disease. Try using soba noodles, ramen or rice noodles in your favorite stir-fry recipe or soup. Try our soba noodle salad recipe, below.
- In the American South and across Europe many people have the tradition of eating greens for prosperity in the new year. The cooked greens are said to resemble folded paper money. Tradition has it that the more greens you eat for New Year’s, the more prosperity will come to you in the year ahead. Greens are a nutritional powerhouse and different varieties contain various amounts of vitamins and minerals. In general, greens can be good sources of vitamin C, folate, beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin E and calcium. While collard greens are traditional in the South, you could start your own tradition in your house with your favorite green. Try an arugula salad with apples and nuts, kale chips, roasted Brussels sprouts or sautéed Swiss chard with cherries.
- Lentils are another healthy food thought to symbolize money in Italian and Brazilian cultures. These round legumes resemble coins, which is said to bring you prosperity. Lentils contain both soluble and insoluble fibers, which makes them beneficial for lowering cholesterol, balancing blood sugars, managing weight and easing digestive discomfort. Try a warming bowl of lentil soup or stew like this Lentil and Eggplant stew from our blog or mix lentils with quinoa and roasted root vegetables for a hearty winter salad.
- In Spain and Portugal, party-goers eat twelve grapes at midnight. The sweet grapes symbolize the good months ahead, while the sour ones are warnings of difficult future months. While it is traditional to place each grape in your mouth as the clock chimes twelve times, this can be more difficult than it sounds. Instead try making a fruit salad with grapes or add these antioxidant-rich fruits to your morning smoothie.
These are just a few traditional foods to bring good luck in the year ahead. While they may not guarantee your future prosperity, they do guarantee some delicious healthy meals throughout the month of January.
Soba Noodle Salad
- 6 oz. low-sodium soba noodles
- ½ cup Organic Peanut Butter
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon chili oil
- 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
- 2 tsp. low-sodium tamari
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1 lime, juiced and zested ( a few more limes for garnish)
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, divided
- 1 English cucumber, sliced
- 1 small red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 large carrot, grated
1. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, and rinse under cold running water.
2. Purée peanut butter through lime juice in a food processor or blender.
3. Toss together noodles, cucumber, bell pepper, carrot, and peanut butter mixture. Garnish with cilantro.
4. Serve with lime wedges
What foods does your family eat for New Year’s celebrations?
Amanda Thomas, Dietetic Intern BS Nutrition