For many Chinese families, Lunar New Year is a time to feast on delicious traditional foods, many of which signify health and prosperity. One such food is Chuen-Hop – or Tray of Togetherness – that symbolizes a sweet or happy start to the New Year.
This tray of eight kinds of sweets and snacks is often offered to house guests. Traditionally, this tray was filled with Chinese favorites like melon seeds, peanuts, and dried lotus root. But nowadays, many people buy prepackaged trays that are often filled with candies and other artificially-flavored sweets. Why not celebrate the New Year with healthy foods for a fresh start? Make your own tray with these nutritious treats:
- Dried fruits such as dates, raisins, apricots and cranberries are rich in fiber to keep you full and their natural sweetness is sure to satisfy every little kid’s sweet tooth. Choose dried fruits with no added sugar and preservatives.
- Fresh fruits are a better source of vitamins and fiber. Kumquats, clementines and tangerines are not only Lunar New Year favorites, but they are high in vitamin C, a nutrient that helps boost your immune system.
- Unsalted nuts such as pistachios, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and almonds have fiber and good fats that can help lower bad cholesterol.
- Puffed brown rice crackers are good for crunch and good for your heart! The fiber found in these whole grain snacks help move waste out of the body. Eating rice during the New Year is also associated with good fortune.
For a healthy start to the Lunar New Year, make a tray for your guests or as a New Year gift for friends and family. Be a role model for the family by preparing healthier dishes like steamed instead of fried dumplings on New Year’s Eve, and make sure to include vegetable dishes at each meal. Enjoy sweet rice cakes in smaller portions and have more fresh fruit. Spend quality time with your loved ones by taking a brisk walk after dinner, exercising at home or looking for the first full moon together.
From all of us at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, we wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous Lunar New Year!
Written by Bonnie Tse.
Bonnie Tse is part of the Health Education Department at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science from Hunter College.