Monday, December 31, 2012

A Few New Year's Traditions to Bring You Luck in 2013!

While living in Spokane, Washington I often celebrated New Year’s Eve with my Filipino neighbor Ida.  We wore polka dots, ate 12 round fruits, filled our pockets with gold & silver coins, filled our wallets with folded paper money, ate sticky rice and made lots of noise at midnight!  Each of the elements had something to do with bringing good luck, good fortune and good health into the New Year.
While celebrating with some of my Italian friends I was served whole fish and small round balls of fried dough dipped in honey and rolled in nuts called chiacchiere - again with the sticky desserts!  
My Irish friends serve potatoes (of course), light candles and eat shortbread, PLUS copious amounts of Guinness and sing at midnight!
But for 22 years of my adult life, I celebrated New Year's Eve and Day in Texas and according to Southern traditions, it is a MUST to eat black-eyed peas, greens and cornbread to ensure good fortune in the coming year. According to southern folklore, the tradition dates back to the Civil War.  As Union troops pillaged the land, they left the "cow peas" aka black-eyed peas behind, and unfamiliar with some of the greens popular in the south considered them to be nothing more than animal fodder. While rustic and humble, these foods are very nutrient rich enabled Southerners to survive. 
So today I've packed this blog post with lots of fun New Year's info!   I'm sharing one of my favorite black-eyed pea soups with you as well as a blog post from Woman's Day to share 10 Good Luck Foods for the coming year (plus a little surprise at the end)!

10 Good Luck Foods for the New Year

Find out which traditional eats are symbols of a fortune-filled future

By Brynn Mannino

Each New Year’s, revelers around the world chow down on specific foods to summon good luck for the next 365 days.  While some traditions call for noodles and others call for fruit, all the edibles connote forward movement, prosperity and health. Whether or not you're superstitious, take a look at our list of common celebratory eats. If no luck comes your way, at least you'll go into the new year with a full belly.

Long Noodles 
In China, Japan and other Asian countries, it’s customary to eat long noodles, signify longevity, on New Year’s Day. Since the noodles are never to be broken or shortened during the cooking process, the typical preparation for “Long-Life Noodles” is a stir-fry. Photo: Thinkstock
In some countries, including Cuba, Spain, Portugal, Hungary and Austria, pigs symbolize progress. Some say it’s because these animals never move backward, while others believe it’s all in their feeding habits (they push their snouts forward along the ground when rooting for food). And it's not limited to pork—foods shaped like pigs (think cutout cookies) count, too. Photo: Heath Robbins/Getty Images
Round Fruits 
Though the number of pieces varies by region, eating any round fruit is a common New Year’s tradition. In the Philippines, the custom calls for 13, considered a lucky number; in Europe and the U.S., it calls for 12, which represents the months in a year. In both cases, their shape, which looks like a coin, and their sweetness are the common denominators. Photo: Thinkstock
Whole Fish
According to Doris Lum, a Chinese cuisine expert, the Chinese word for “fish” sounds like the word for “abundance,” one of the many reasons fish has become a go-to good luck food. Also, Rosemary Gong writes in Good Luck Life, her book on Chinese celebrations, that it’s important for the fish be served with the head and tail intact to ensure a good year, from start to finish. Photo: IMAGEMORE Co., Ltd./Getty Images
Pomegranates represent good luck in Turkey for many reasons: Their red color, which represents the human heart, denotes life and fertility; their medicinal properties represent health; and their abundant, round seeds represent prosperity—all things everyone hopes for in any fresh start. Photo: Thinkstock
From the coastal American South to Europe, people eat green leafy veggies—including kale, collards and cabbage—on New Year’s Day because of their color and appearance, which resembles paper cash. Belief has it, the more you eat, the more prosperous you’ll be (and the healthier, too!). Photo: Thinkstock
A popular New Year's meal in Italy is Cotechino con Lenticchie (green lentils with sausage) because of the legume's greenish color and coin-like appearance. Deeper into the myth: When cooked, lentils plump with water, symbolizing growing wealth. Lentils are also considered good luck in Hungary, where they’re preferred in a soup. Photo: Shutterstock
Pickled Herring
In Germany, Poland and Scandinavia, it's believed that eating herring at the stroke of midnight will ensure a year of bounty—as herring are in abundance throughout Western Europe. Also, their silvery color resembles that of coins, a good omen for future fortune. Photo: Thinkstock
Black-Eyed Peas
Considered good luck due to their penny-like appearance and abundance, these peas, enjoyed in the southern United States, are traditionally served in a dish called Hoppin' John. On the day after New Year's Day, leftover "Hoppin' John" becomes "Skippin' Jenny," meant to demonstrate frugality and promote prosperity in the new year. Photo: Smneedham/Getty Images
A favorite throughout the year, cornbread is especially venerated as a New Year’s treat in the southern United States. Why? Its color resembles that of gold. To ensure extra luck, some people add extra corn kernels, which are emblematic of golden nuggets. Photo: Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

Now here is my recipe for a delicious and ultra nutritious recipe to ensure good health this year . . . and who knows, it may just bring a load of good fortune as well!

Spicy Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Tender Greens
According to Southern tradition, eating both black-eyed peas and greens bring you good fortune in the new year.  While I cannot guarantee money, fame or fortune, I can guarantee that you can start out the New Year on a very healthy note!
Yield –

1 tablespoon grapeseed or olive oil
1 ¼ cup diced yellow onion
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
                        1 teaspoon cumin
1 quart Flavorful Vegetable Stock or Chicken Stock                 
2 cups diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 fire roasted poblano pepper, peeled and diced
1 rounded tablespoon nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon smoked salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
5 cups kale leaves, tough stems removed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 pound fresh or frozen black-eyed peas
Avocado slices
Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed stock pot over medium heat.  Add onion, carrot and celery.  Saute just until onions begin to look translucent. cook, stirring, until just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic, cilantro, cumin, juniper berries, nutritional yeast and crushed red pepper.  Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broth, tomatoes (including juice), roasted poblano, black-eye peas, salt and pepper.  Slightly increase heat and bring to rapid simmer until peas are tender, about 20 minutes.

Reduce heat to low, add kale, stir to distribute, cover and steam until kale is tender, about 8 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve in warmed bowls, top with avocado slices and a sprig of cilantro. and enjoy!

And just in case you've always wondered what in the world these lyrics mean, here are both the words and the translation to Auld Lang Syne:

The Lyrics:
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And auld lang syne!
For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We'll drink a cup of get yet
For auld lang syne. 

The Translation:
Should old acquaintances be forgotten, And never be remembered?
Should old acquaintances be forgotten and days long ago.
For days long ago, my dear,
For days long ago
We'll drink a cup of kindness yet
For days long ago!

So now you can put on your favorite polka dot sweater, blouse or tie, fill your pockets with coins, your wallet with folded bills, clean your house, light candles, open all your cabinet doors, make your favorite good luck foods, and jump up and down with a whole grape in your mouth at midnight, while singing and kissing, toasting and making lots of noise!

Happy New Year's Eve and New Year's Day!  May this year bring you health and happiness beyond measure . . .

Dr. P

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