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February, 2013

February brings us some festive celebrations as well as some valuable promotions!

Peeled and Steamed Baby Red BeetsAmerican Heart Month, Chinese New Year, Purim and the most romantic holiday of the year, Valentine’s Day. Plus, Superbowl Sunday is the first Sunday in February this year… Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49’ers.

Celebrate American Heart Month by following some of these easy tips:

Remember, when you are hungry, your body is craving nutrients, not calories.

Don’t stand around the food area at parties; this only invites unconscious snacking on usually high-fat foods.

Don’t forget our ready-to-go Steamed Carrots, Steamed Beets and Steamed Kidney Beans. They are fast and low-calorie and will keep you filled up so you won’t be looking for other higher calorie food. Strawberries

Serve plenty of fruits and vegetables, cut into easy bite-size pieces or mixed into a party mix. Melissa’s has some great suggestions like dried sweet roasted corn, dried fruits like cranberries, blueberries & strawberries, or trail mix with raisins. Eating these healthy snacks can also help fulfill your 5-a-day for better health requirement!

Don’t eat wasted calories that have no nutritional value. Stay away from high-sugar sodas and head to the bottled water. There are many new flavored waters that are very satisfying. Remember, drinking 8 glasses of water a day will help you stay healthy and look better.

Meat alternatives are the greatest thing created. Veggie hot dogs and burgers made with low-fat vegetarian ingredients are a winner for taste and health. Eat them with all the extras for a very tasty meal; Stay away from the fatty mayo and secret sauce! You can even top them with veggie cheese!

Eat tofu in your daily diet. Studies have shown that tofu can help reduce the risk for cancer. It can be used as a sauce ingredient instead of mayo and even substituted for eggs. Try cubing some into your next stir-fry or soup and see how easy it really is.

Make 2013 a healthy year. Starting with February American Heart Month, you will be well on your way!


QuinoaThis year the Super Bowl is February 3, 2013. Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49’ers. Aim for some healthier snacks. Mixing Greek yoghurt into favorite dips will help bring down the fat and calories without compromising the taste… Guacamole is the number ONE item served at Super Bowl parties so serve it with vegetables, salads, and tortilla strips. Melissa’s offers some great recipes for easy to prepare salads made with grains like farro, quinoa or cous cous… Your guests will be impressed and will love them!

GUNG HEY FAT CHOY!!! Year of the SnakeChinese New Year is 10, 2013 this year. It is the Year of the Snake and the Chinese lunar year 4711. There are celebrations and festivities with many traditions which include:
Plants and Flowers:
Every traditional Chinese household should also have live blooming plants to symbolize rebirth and new growth. Flowers are believed to be symbolic of wealth and high positions in one’s career. Lucky is the home with a plant that blooms on New Year’s Day, for that foretells a year of prosperity. In more elaborate settings, plum blossoms just starting to bloom are arranged with bamboo and pine sprigs, the grouping symbolizing friends? The plum blossom also signifies reliability and perseverance; the bamboo is known for its compatibility, its utility and its flexible stems for furniture and other articles; the evergreen pine evokes longevity and steadiness. Other highly prized flowers are the pussy willow, azalea, peony and water lily or narcissus.

The Chinese firmly believe that without flowers, there would be no formation of any fruits. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to have flowers and floral decorations. They are the emblems of reawakening of nature; they are also intimately connected with superstition and with the wish for happiness during the ensuing year.

Oranges and Tangerines:

Etiquette dictates that you must bring a bag of oranges and tangerines and enclose a lai see when visiting family or friends anytime during the two-week long Chinese New Year celebration. Tangerines with leaves intact assure that one’s relationship with the other remains secure. For newlyweds, this represents the branching of the couple into a family with many children. Oranges and tangerines are symbols for abundant happiness.

Candy Tray:

The candy tray arranged in either a circle or octagon is called "The Tray of Togetherness" and has a dazzling array of candy to start the New Year sweetly. After taking several pieces of candy from the tray, adults places a red envelope (lai see) on the center compartment of the tray. Each item represents some kind of good fortune.

Kumquat - symbolizes prosperity (gold)
Coconut - symbolizes togetherness
Peanuts - symbolizes long life Longan - symbolizes many good sons
Buddha's Hand - given as gifts to represent good luck and fortune for the year
Mandarin Oranges - represent wealth.
Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan) - encourages youth and wealth.
Lettuce - also symbolizes wealth.
Mushrooms - represent coins signifying riches and prosperity.
Green Onions - symbolize brilliance and intelligence.
Won Tons are served to guests as a blessing for good fortune.
Asian Noodles are served to represent long life...the longer the noodle, the longer the life.

February also brings us the romantic holiday of Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day dates back to 269 A.D. when Emperor Claudius II forbade any marriages. Valentine would secretly marry couples and eventually got caught. Ironically, Claudius had executed Valentine on the holiday that honored Juno, the Roman goddess of women and marriage. The festival of Lupercalia followed, where boys drew the names of girls from a jar and paired up for the festivities. In 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius set aside February 14 to honor Valentine as Saint Valentine and it has been referred to as such ever since.

Today’s traditions including sending or giving flowers, candy, cards and a romantic evening with your loved one. Make your Valentine’s Day extra special by incorporating some “heart healthy” ideas into your evening!

PURIM PurimMarch 23, 2013 is the Jewish holiday of PURIM. Purim is one of the most joyous and fun holidays on the Jewish calendar. It commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination.

The story of Purim is generally recited from the Megillah, a parchment scroll on which The Book of Esther is written. The heroes of the story are Esther, a beautiful young Jewish woman living in Persia, and her cousin Mordechai, who raised her as if she were his daughter. Esther was taken to the house of King Ahasuerus, the King of Persia, to become part of his harem. He loved Esther more than the other women, so decided to make her queen. King Ahasuerus did not know that Esther was Jewish, because her cousin Mordechai told her not to reveal her religion.

The “villain” of the story is Haman, an arrogant, egotistical advisor to the king. Haman hated Mordechai because Mordechai refused to bow down to Haman, so Haman plotted to destroy the Jewish people. Haman told the king, "There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from those of every people; neither keep they the king's laws; therefore it does not profit the king to suffer them." (Esther 3:8). The king gave the fate of the Jewish people to Haman, to do as he pleased to them. Haman planned to exterminate all of the Jews. Mordechai persuaded Esther to speak to her husband the king on behalf of the Jewish people. This was a dangerous thing for Esther to do, because anyone who came into the king's presence without being summoned could be put to death, and she had not been summoned. Esther fasted for three days to prepare herself, then went into the king. He welcomed her. Later, she told him of Haman's plot against her people. The Jewish people were saved, and Haman was hung on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordechai.

Today, Purim is celebrated nationwide with traditional food, costumes and parades. A popular cookie made for Purim is called a “hamentaschen.” This triangle shaped cookie is filled with a wonderful fruit filling and can be made with any filling you like. Traditional fillings include berries and nuts.