The new year brings with it hopes, reflections, resolutions and food traditions. Yes, food traditions! Around the world, stories are told of the origins of so many varied foods served on the first day of every new year — hard to tell from whence they really all came, but these gastronomical treasures should not be overlooked!
Tradition holds that these foods bring luck, good fortune and a long life … and hey, they even taste good! So, dive into these lucky culinary traditions and cross your fingers while enjoying a delicious meal!
I hope this year brings you much health, happiness, prosperity and tasty gluten-free food. Cheers!
Good Luck Foods
Long Noodles = Long Life:
An age-old Asian custom entails enjoying long noodles to symbolize a long life –take care not to break the noodles before eating them though! One fun gluten-free option is “Shirataki” noodles, as they may bring not only good luck, but also good health! Unlike traditional pastas made from grains, these noodles are made of soy tofu and sometimes yam flour as well. With only 20 calories, 3 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber and almost no fat per serving, these noodles turn the conventional wisdom regarding grain noodles on its head. They are naturally gluten-free and come in small packages filled with water, so it only takes a couple minutes to par boil them, and they won’t break before you eat them – even better!
Black-Eyed Peas, Please:
On top of these lucky noodles, try a generous helping of black-eyed peas. Legumes like peas, beans and lentils have long symbolized money. Some believe that they even resemble small coins. In my native South, traditional New Year’s fare includes black-eyed peas in a dish often called “Hoppin’ John.” Some folks even set out to eat a pea for each day in the new year, a custom apparently hailing from the legend that the town of Vicksburg, Virginia ran out of food during the Civil War, while under attack. The citizens fortunately found a store of black-eyed peas which helped them outlast the attack and thus, gave them pretty darn good luck. (Try my Hoppin’ John Hushpuppies for a new twist on an old tradition!)
If using dried peas, be sure to rinse and soak them overnight, then rinse them again, adding water to about 2 inches above the level of the peas, and bring them to boil in a large pot. Cover the legumes and reduce to a simmer for about 3 hours, testing them for doneness regularly. For flavoring, try red chili paste, red curry paste, or other spices like ground turmeric, curry powder, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. You can make your Hoppin’ John with any combination of these spices, adding any or all of them to taste.
Don’t Forget Your (Folded) Greens:
Another New Year’s food to try is cooked cabbage. I know cabbage may not sound romantic, but greens like cabbage, collards, kale and chard are traditionally consumed around the world on New Year’s Day because their cooked green leaves look so much like folded money — and who couldn’t use some economic good fortune?! Most of us are familiar with the German sauerkraut dish, but the Danish actually like theirs stewed and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.
Easy New Year’s Cabbage
- 1 small head of cabbage, rinsed and chopped
3 Tbs. water
1/2 small onion, diced
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. granulated cane sugar
salt and pepper, to taste
In a large skillet over medium heat, stir the cabbage and water until wilted. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients to form a thin sauce. Pour over the cooking cabbage and continue stirring until warm. Remove from heat and serve immediately.