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Healthy Tip: Gamble on Good Luck Foods

By Alana Sugar, December 27, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Alana Sugar
This New Year’s Day, why not take a gamble on some really good good-luck foods? I’m talking about foods that for centuries have been eaten around the world by traditional people in hopes of bringing good luck — including money, prosperity and, of course, plenty to eat. Back in the old days, food meant survival! I find it especially interesting that many of these “good luck” foods are exactly those that we now know provide a wealth of good nutrition. You may be surprised to learn that when it comes to eating for luck, an intriguing variety of different foods have been held in high esteem around the world. Here’s a rundown. Cooked Greens: All over the world, cooked greens are eaten on New Year’s Day. This is because green leaves are reminiscent of folded money and so became a symbol of economic good fortune. The more you eat on New Year’s, the greater your wealth in the coming year. How very true from a nutritional point of view — and that’s no superstition! Greens are a super food – packed with a wealth of good nutrition from vitamins to minerals to powerful antioxidants. You can try this Hearty Greens Soup or this non-dairy Creamed Kale. My German ancestors ate plenty of pickled cabbage called sauerkraut; the Danes ate stewed kale sweetened with cinnamon and sugar; and the southern folks in the U.S. (more of my ancestors!) cooked and ate the collard greens. Legumes: In many cultures, small beans, peas and lentils are symbolic of coins and are believed to bring financial rewards when consumed. This is another great example of a good luck food that’s super lucky for you when it shows up on your dinner plate! Legumes are packed with soluble fiber, good protein and carbohydrates and an array of vitamins and minerals. In Italy it’s the custom to eat lentils with sausages after midnight. In Germany, pork and lentils or split peas are a common good luck meal. In Brazil, lentils and rice or lentil soup is the first meal to celebrate the New Year. In Japan, black beans are eaten at the first of the year. Here’s a lucky recipe for French Lentils with Onions and Carrots and you can double your luck with this recipes for Collards with Lentils, Tomatoes and Indian Spices. During the Civil War, the town of Vicksburg, VA, ran out of food while under attack. It seems at that time the residents of the town discovered black-eyed peas and thereafter they were considered a good-luck food. Some believe you should eat at least 365 black-eyed peas, preferably before noon on New Year's Day, to ensure good fortune for each day of the coming year! If you’ve ever had Hoppin John, you know it’s a famous black-eyed pea and rice dish that sometimes contains pork, and it’s a favorite dish for observing this special tradition in the South. Sometimes a small coin is buried in one portion and whoever receives it is singled out for special good fortune. Here’s a traditional version of Hoppin’ John with ham and here’s a Vegan version of Hoppin’ John with tempeh bacon. Pork: Pigs are a symbol of progress. In Cuba, Spain, Portugal, Hungary and Austria, a hearty roast suckling pig is served on New Year’s Day. The Germans love pork sausage and in Sweden, pigs feet are often served. Because of its rich fat content, pork is a symbol of wealth and prosperity. If choosing pork go for lean cuts, like in this Cranberry and Apple Stuffed Roast Pork, or serve smaller amounts of pork with lots of veggies like in this Pork and Pepper Stir Fry. Grapes: In Spain in 1909, the tradition of eating twelve grapes at midnight began – one grape for each stroke of the clock. The practice spread to Portugal, Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Ecuador and Peru. Each grape represents a different month; if one of the grapes happens to be bad or sour, it means the corresponding month in the coming year will be the same. There’s no doubt grapes are really good luck when it comes to good health – they’ve got antioxidants, fiber, natural sugars and vitamin C. Isn’t it wonderful that some of the luckiest foods we have honored for centuries are truly some of the healthiest, most delicious foods we can eat? Here’s wishing you GREAT LUCK for your New Year! Got a special tradition your family observes on New Year’s Day? I would love to hear about it.

 

22 Comments

Comments

Andrew says ...
I'm Ecuadorian American, we always eat twelve grapes at midnight! Great article, I love how the superstitions coincide with some superfoods!
12/27/2010 9:40:08 AM CST
Lora K says ...
Creamed herring!
12/27/2010 1:18:20 PM CST
Gail Shearer says ...
My husband cooks once a year - on New Years Day. He puts on a fantastic meal with traditional Hoppin John and does a stir fry with peas, beans and sausage. We have been blessed for many years. So, there must be some truth to this! Happy New Year to all.
12/27/2010 1:21:08 PM CST
Ash Lauren says ...
We always have seafood on New Years, whether it's at a restaurant or made at home. Last year, my dad and I made cioppino for the first time and everyone enjoyed it! I especially love shrimp and crab legs.
12/27/2010 6:48:37 PM CST
Lilly says ...
Where's the recipe for the soup pictured at the beginning of the article? Looks like black-eyed peas, greens, and maybe sweet potatoes?
12/28/2010 9:07:09 AM CST
bepkom says ...
Lilly, sorry that the link wasn't working! Here's the recipe for the photo at the top of the page: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/380 Thanks!
12/28/2010 10:56:04 AM CST
Bonnie says ...
Our family tradition has been black-eyed peas (peas cooked in low-sodium, organic chicken broth and with a few carrots, a minced jalapeno, and bits of ham). And it's not only for New Year's either - we enjoy this year 'round.
12/29/2010 6:30:47 PM CST
MONIQUE E says ...
Thanks for the reminder I forgot about the grapes and I learned of more good luck foods.I already knew about the black-eye peas and collards. Have to get to Whole Foods tomorrow!
12/29/2010 6:38:20 PM CST
Sue says ...
My Polish family always enjoys roast pork and sauerkraut on New Years Day.
12/29/2010 9:37:58 PM CST
Vanessa says ...
We always cook seafood for New Year's. Layered my table with luxuries and beautiful things to create the feel for the next year. We always have a bottle of Tequila, for the health, amazing pearls for beauty and a statue that represents our work. The food is always differen, but the ingredients are consistent. This year we were not able to find a fresh lobster because of the snow storms, but we will substitute with other shellfish. And the tradition of the grapes is celebrated in pretty much all hispanic countries. I am Puertorrican and we do it too.
12/29/2010 9:40:40 PM CST
gail o'hare says ...
I was told by a student from Peru that her family made a wish on each of the 12 grapes. Obviously, one has to have the list planned in advance because the grapes come pretty fast - It's not all that easy to get them down. I didn't know about the association with the months. Maybe it would be good to tailor your wishes to the months - easy taxes and a refund for April, all A's on final exams in May,etc.
12/29/2010 11:00:03 PM CST
kathym says ...
I was told by my husbands grandma that its good luck to eat creamed herring on new years day
12/29/2010 11:29:54 PM CST
Kade Madison says ...
Wow, can't believe anyone would have seafood New years Day. Traditionally, it's considered bad luck.
12/29/2010 11:42:16 PM CST
Stephanie says ...
I'm from Arkansas and my dad tells us the black-eyed pea story every year. According to him, black-eyed peas were used for horse feed only. The soldiers ran out of food during an especially terrible winter battle and resorted to eating the horse feed (black-eyed peas) and then they won the battle. I love the story, it is a little bit of southern folklore :)
12/30/2010 8:38:04 AM CST
Wendy says ...
The Pennsylvania Dutch always eat pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day. http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art12697.asp
12/30/2010 11:26:03 AM CST
Kerry Dexter says ...
black eyed peas, rice, greens, onions, and cornbread is one dish we make, and another is a version of the Irish dish called colcannon, mashed potatoes with greens. we use broccoli (that's what we are doing this year), brussels sprouts, or cabbage for the green vegetable -- and sometimes add in other vegetables as well just for fun, red and green peppers, corn, carrots, black beans...
12/30/2010 12:07:17 PM CST
Ann says ...
The greek side of our family always ate spicy black eyed pea soup with tomatoes on New Year's Eve for good fortune.
12/30/2010 4:04:12 PM CST
jennifer says ...
Our tradition included a bite of a giant pretzel as the first item eaten in the new year. . . . I think that this is a Catholic tradition, and it happens to be very strong in my hometown - Pittsburgh.
12/30/2010 5:34:21 PM CST
tiffany says ...
it looks gross ewww i would never eat that
12/30/2010 5:40:53 PM CST
susan says ...
I truely enjoyed reading all about the many tradions foods
12/31/2010 5:00:29 AM CST
Aunt Bea says ...
My Italian grandparents, Mom, Aunts and Uncles all used to eat lentils with escarole on New Year's Day for good luck.
12/31/2010 12:41:19 PM CST
Michelle Langenbach says ...
On the 2nd day of the lunar new year, Chinese eat a dish "Yu Sheng" (quite similar to sashimi), as a symbol of properity and good fortune!
01/05/2011 2:45:41 PM CST