8 Chinese New Year HEALTHY Foods to Bring You Abundance of Luck!

Life Care Diagnostic

February 8, 2021

The foods enjoyed during New Year have a special emphasis on bringing luck and fortune in the coming Lunar New Year. The names of dishes served and/or their ingredients often sound similar to words and phrases referring to wishes expressed or hold a symbolic meaning.

  1. Pineapple (Ong lai)

The Hokkiens also consider certain fruits auspicious, and they are particularly fond of pineapple, “ong lai” in the Hokkien dialect, which literally means “fortune come”.

Pineapple is high in Vitamin C and it contains a special digestive enzyme called bromelain, which helps us break down proteins, improve digestion especially after heavy meals during Chinese New Year.

  1. Mandarin oranges 

The Chinese words for orange and tangerine sound like luck and wealth, so it’s common to bring some of these fruits when you visit other people’s homes during Chinese New Year.

The mandarin fruit is packed with nutrients like Vitamin C, boosting your immune system, promotes skin, and gum health.

Frequently asked questions:

Can these two lucky fruits be enjoyed for a person with diabetes?

Yes, recommended fruits intake for adults is 2-3 servings of fruits/day. Examples of one serving of fruits includes one slice of pineapple and one medium mandarin orange. For better blood glucose control, always choose fresh fruits instead of juice as fiber in the fruit slow down the absorption of blood glucose, which improves blood glucose control.

  1. Sweet Glutinous Rice Cake / “Nian Gao”

Nian Gao is translated as “near year cake” or “year cake”. The chinese word “nian” meaning “sticky” and it is a homophone for the word “sticky”. Whereas the word “gao” meaning “cake” is identical to the word “high” in Chinese.

For old people, nian gao expresses the hope of longevity. For young people, it symbolizes the wish for higher success or higher income in the new year, while for kids it expresses the wish to grow up.

Nian gao is often made from glutinous rice flour and sugar. Indeed, Chinese believe eating nian gao during Chinese New Year symbolizes the wish for growth in the coming new year, but just a piece of battered fried nian gao contains as many calories as a bowl of rice. It would be wise to limit the intake.

  1. Babao Fan (Eight-Treasure Rice)

Eight treasure rice or eight treasure rice pudding in Chinese is called Babaofan. It is a very traditional Chinese dish, and is especially popular to top off a Chinese New Year feast. It has a good representation of longevity, harmonious marriage, auspiciousness, sweetness, and smooth things, in addition to the meaning of reunion.

Traditional eight treasure rice will use lotus seeds, longan, honey kumquat, red dates, honey cherry, honey melon, melon seeds, green red silk and a couple of other ingredients. These ingredients are usually loaded with flavonoids and antioxidants. This sweet rice pudding has been an important celebrated part of Chinese New Year which is rich in history yet nutritious.

Modify this recipe:

For a healthier version of babao fan, sticky texture can be replaced with millet as millet is a healthier option as millet is easier to digest, richer in fibre compared to glutinous rice. 


Healthy Recipe: Sticky millet Babao Fan


1 ⅔ cups sticky millet (wash, soak in water for 1 hour and drain)

2 cups water

2 tablespoons brown sugar

¾ cup red bean paste (low sugar)

5 dates

3 tablespoons toasted walnuts, finely-chopped

½ teaspoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon toasted pumpkin seeds, finely-chopped

1 tablespoon roasted peanuts, finely-chopped

1 tablespoon lotus seeds

1 tablespoon longan


1. Steam the sticky millet (first steam).
2. Mix the sticky millet with vegetable oil and sugar.
3. Spread the toppings such as dates, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, longan and lotus seeds on the bottom of the bowl.
4. Add a layer of cooked millet.
5. Add the red bean paste layer.
6. Fill up the bowl with the rest of the sticky millet.
7. Steam the second time, then drizzle with the syrup
8. Plate the sticky millet babaofan and serve. Enjoy!

  1. Arrowhead

The Chinese arrowhead (慈菇; cí gū), due to its Chinese name, implies benevolence. Its arrowhead-shaped leaves that grow skywards signify continuous improvement and progress in all endeavours in the New Year.

It consists of nutrients such as iron and magnesium. The iron helps to enhance oxygen distribution throughout our body, keeping us more energetic and maintaining a healthy level of immunity. The magnesium keeps our nerves and muscles in a relaxed state. It is recommended to air-fry or bake an arrowhead instead of deep-frying to enjoy the crispness of the snack without extra fat. 

  1. Chicken

Chicken is also popular at Chinese New Year, symbolizing the coming together of families and a good marriage. Serving the bird whole emphasizes family unity. Chicken is a great source of protein; avoid the skin to reduce its fat content. Around one palm size of chicken meet your protein requirement per meal.

  1. Whole Fish

The pronunciation of ‘fish’ is similar to ‘abundance’ in Chinese; therefore, eating fish is seen to bring about abundance in the coming year. It’s important that the fish is served whole with the head and tail intact, to ensure a good start and finish and to avoid bad luck throughout the year. It’s also important to leave leftovers for the next day because this signifies that the prosperity will overflow.

Fish is a good source of protein and minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, iodine and selenium. Oily fish is additionally a great source of long chain omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D. 

Always choose healthier cooking methods such as steaming instead of deep-frying fish during this festive season. Deep-frying the fish may reduce the omega-3 content and the excess oil from deep-frying can contribute to weight gain. Having a steam  fish during your CNY feast is not only a good choice for your luck, but also improves your health too!

  1. Peanuts

Peanuts, also named “longevity nuts”, symbolize vitality, longevity, riches, and honour. Unshelled peanuts can be used to replace the shelled ones if you feel lazy to peel the peanut. 

Peanuts are packed with healthy fats and high-quality protein. Peanuts are an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals. These include biotin, copper, niacin, folate, manganese, vitamin E, thiamine, phosphorus, and magnesium.  It is recommended one serving of nut intake per day, which is approximately 30 grams or 1 handful of nuts as a part of your healthy diet.

KKLIU 1600/2021