Healthy Chinese New Year feast
MANILA, Philippines - The Chinese New Year celebration, though a festive occasion, need not be an occasion to grow your waist line.
For the health-conscious who don’t want to compromise taste — and luck — here are some tips on healthy eating this Chinese New Year:
1. Eat in moderation
So pig’s tongue and pig’s feet symbolize profits? Whole chicken and fish mean prosperity? Savor the taste, but know when you've already had enough. Remember to share the chicken and fish – the wealth! – with your family.
2. Eat a balanced meal
Of course, meat dishes are not the only stars in Chinese New Year feasts. Don’t forget to include vegetables like bamboo shoots, dried bean curd, and black moss seaweed in your menu, too. These vegetables symbolize wealth.
Lettuce, meanwhile, symbolizes growing wealth.
3. Cut down on fat
When cooking, use only the lean parts of the meat, and use as little oil as possible. Stir-frying is one way of cooking that uses a smaller amount of oil. The cooking time is shorter, too! Use a wok or pan big enough to mix the ingredients well while cooking.
Avoid frying as much as possible. Other healthy ways to prepare food for less fat are steaming, stewing, and blanching.
For those who are carefully watching their weight and calorie intake, refer to this healthy eating guide. It includes the calorie count for common Chinese New Year dishes.
4. Lessen sugar
Instead of going for concentrated fruit juices — healthier than soft drinks, but still high in sugar — why not opt for the fruit itself? You get the fiber, too. Oranges and tangerines particularly symbolize gold and wealth.
When preparing sweet desserts like glutinous rice balls with red bean or sesame paste, substitute some parts of the sugar with sweet but lower-glycemic alternatives like coconut sugar or stevia.
5. Substitute salt and seasonings
Soy sauce, hoisin (barbecue) sauce, and bean sauces are common Chinese seasonings that boost the taste of a dish but are high in salt. Substitute some parts of these seasonings with natural spices like garlic, ginger, pepper, and 5-spice powder (clove, cinnamon, star anise, fennel, and peppercorns) to give your dishes richer flavor, albeit with less salt.
6. Go vegetarian, or substitute meat ingredients with plant-based alternatives
So meat balls are said to signify reunion and are perfect for the family? Why not substitute them with rice balls, which signify the same thing?
Or you can go all out and cook vegetarian dishes for your New Year celebration. Stir-fry 5 Chinese vegetables to represent the “5 blessings" of long life, fortune, peace, wisdom, and virtue. You can also have a noodle dish (noodles symbolize long life) with vegetables.
Here is a vegetarian recipe of a popular dish for Chinese New Year:
Follow these tips for a Chinese New Year feast that is healthy, delicious, and great for luck! - Rappler.com
Claire Madarang is a writer, traveler, and seeker. Her wanderlust takes her on adventures like backpacking for 7 weeks straight. Her seeking leads her to different wellness practices like meditation and healthy (mostly vegetarian) eating. Follow her adventures, tips, and epiphanies at her blog, Traveling Light.