February is here, bringing us cold weather, Lunar New Year, the Big Game, and Valentine’s Day. And don’t forget Idaho Potato Lovers Month and American Heart Month, too.
GUNG HAY FAT CHOY!!!
The Lunar New Year begins February 1st, and the festival continues through February 15, 2022, about 15 days later. 2022 is the Year of the Tiger. If you were born in the year of the tiger, you are said to be brave, competitive, unpredictable and confident.
There are traditional celebrations and festivities for the Lunar New Year, which include:
Plants and Flowers:
Every traditional Chinese household should also have 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, utility, and flexible stems for furniture and other articles; the evergreen pine evokes longevity and steadiness. The pussy willow, azalea, peony and water lily or narcissus are other highly prized flowers.
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 the reawakening of nature; they are also intimately connected with superstition and 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 any time 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 of abundant happiness.
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 place a red envelope (lai see) on the center compartment of the tray. Each item represents some 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.
Anyone can participate in Chinese New Year festivities. Be sure to celebrate with these traditional fresh fruits and vegetables, available from Melissa’s.
Another “food” holiday is the Super Bowl! It takes place during the Lunar New Year this year. Super Bowl Sunday is February 13th and will be played at the new So-Fi Stadium in Los Angeles, California. This new stadium is state-of-the-art! Covered roof with open sides. It’s absolutely beautiful and their concessions are amazing. Not only do they have the traditional foods, but they also offer an assortment of plant-based foods AND they carry a full assortment of Melissa’s snack items from fruits and veggies to an assortment of Clean Snax®. This will help you stick with your New Year’s Resolutions and enjoy some healthier food while you cheer on your favorite team!
If you’re going to be watching the big game on TV, be sure you are prepared with plenty of delicious and healthy snacks. Melissa’s is here to help. Our Clean Snax® are perfect for any gathering – so many flavors to choose from! (Please link Clean Snax® page). Or try putting a tray of finger hors d’oeuvres together with cut cucumbers, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes and hummus dip. Your guests will be happy and so will their waistlines!
The next big February celebration is Valentine’s Day. February 14th is probably the most romantic day of the year. It is definitely the busiest day for restaurants (even with COVID-19!), so instead of waiting for hours to eat in a crazy-busy restaurant, enjoy a special evening filled with good food and romance at home.
Did you know that fresh peppers release endorphins and add a boost in mood and energy? Add some heat to your Valentine’s Day meal by cooking with fresh peppers. Be sure to make your Valentine’s Day meal HOT by using plenty of fresh peppers. Use them with some fresh seasonal vegetables, like pearl onions, Asian veggies and fresh and dried mushrooms to create a simple vegetable sauté. Use Melissa’s Crêpes for a sweet dessert; stuff them with fresh berries and cream and top them with our delicious dessert sauces. Perfect to set the mood at the end of the evening. While you are enjoying berries in your crêpes, try some fresh organic strawberries. Strawberries have always been a romantic fruit. Try them in salads, desserts or sprinkled with a little sugar.
Another “romantic” ingredient is the Goji Berry. These little berries are packed with nutrition and are considered an aphrodisiac. You will find them dried, and you can use them in recipes like you would use a raisin. They are mildly sweet with a little tartness. Try some for a little added romance.
Pomegranates represent fertility and reproduction. Eating these on Valentine’s Day has couples believing they will start or add to their family in the coming year. Depending on Mother Nature, you will find whole pomegranates or pomegranate arils to use in your recipes. They are perfect for adding to salads or sprinkling on plates as a garnish to add color.
And last but not least, the most coveted romantic ingredient: Fresh Truffles. Add fresh truffles to your favorite pasta dish, chicken or beef. They are so aromatic and pungent, and will add so much flavor.
Other celebrations in February lasting the entire month:
Idaho Potato Lover’s Month. Celebrate every day with potatoes! Melissa’s offers several delicious, low-fat recipes to create the perfect potato dishes. Dutch Yellow® potatoes have a creamy texture and are delicious mashed. Baby Reds are great when roasted with the skin on and served with a bit of seasoning. Gemstones®, Fingerlings and Peewees are perfect for side dishes and sautés.
Potatoes contain about 20 calories per ounce and are super versatile. Bake, mash, broil, grill or use as an ingredient in soups, casseroles and salads. When you enjoy them with the skin on, they are a good source of fiber and contain several vitamins and minerals.
Potatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, making them very healthy. Studies have linked potatoes and their nutrients to various impressive health benefits, including improved blood sugar control, reduced heart disease risk and higher immunity.
American Heart Month. Learning about heart-healthy foods will help you feel better and live longer. Start off eating your ten servings of fruits and vegetables every day. It’s so easy with all the convenient products we offer, from vacuum-sealed legumes to pre-packed vegetables.
Eating foods that are high in omega-3 vitamins like salmon and tuna, as well as chickpeas, raspberries, walnuts and high fiber foods, will help keep your heart in good shape!
February is a great month to celebrate!