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Healthy Tip: Gamble on Good Luck Foods

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.