Good food = good luck for Chinese New Year

This year I'm going to be one of well over 1 billion people who will celebrate the start of the Chinese New Year on January 26. I'm throwing a dinner party to celebrate-it's a great excuse to try some healthy Chinese recipes and share great food with friends.

Here's my Chinese New Year Menu (including foods considered to bring good luck, such as lettuce wraps and noodles):

Five-Spice Turkey & Lettuce Wraps (recipe below): Based on a popular Chinese dish, these fun wraps also make appealing appetizers for entertaining.

Long-Life Noodles with Green Tea: Baked tofu, bell peppers and scallions are stir-fried with udon noodles in this quick and easy dish.

Vegetable Fried Rice: Nothing could be easier than this light version of fried rice. We've used instant brown rice, but if you have leftover cold rice or can pick some up at a Chinese restaurant on the way home, use that instead and skip Step 1.

Scallop & Shrimp Dumplings: People along the Yangtze River enjoy dumplings with a variety of fillings, from seafood to red meat, eggs to vegetables. In Wuhan, dumplings may be served at any meal. Crisp, pan-fried dumplings don't have to be loaded with fat. Cooking them in a mix of water and oil makes them crisp on the bottom, tender and juicy inside.

Ginger-Garlic Dipping Sauce: In addition to being a delicious dipping sauce for dumplings, this can be used as a marinade for chicken, pork or tofu.


Five-Spice Turkey & Lettuce Wraps

MAKE AHEAD TIP: Prepare the filling (through Step 2), cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Serve cold or reheat in the microwave.

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup instant brown rice
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 pound 93%-lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 large red bell pepper, finely diced
1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, rinsed and chopped
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce (see Ingredient Notes, below)
1 teaspoon five-spice powder (see Ingredient Notes, below)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 heads Boston lettuce, leaves separated
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as cilantro, basil, mint and/or chives
1 large carrot, shredded

1. Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add rice; reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add turkey and ginger; cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon, until the turkey is cooked through, about 6 minutes. Stir in the cooked rice, bell pepper, water chestnuts, broth, hoisin sauce, five-spice powder and salt; cook until heated through, about 1 minute.
3. To serve, spoon portions of the turkey mixture into lettuce leaves, top with herbs and carrot and roll into wraps.

Makes 4 servings, 1 1/4 cups filling each.

NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 285 calories; 11 g fat (3 g sat, 1 g mono); 66 mg cholesterol; 24 g carbohydrate; 26 g protein; 5 g fiber; 543 mg sodium; 390 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin A (150% daily value), Vitamin C (140% dv), Iron (25% dv), Folate (20% dv).

Ingredient Notes:

  • Hoisin sauce is a spicy, sweet sauce made from soybeans, chiles, garlic and spices. It will keep in the refrigerator for at least a year.
  • Five-spice powder, often a blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns, was originally considered a cure-all miracle blend encompassing the five elements (sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, salty). Look for it in the supermarket spice section.


By Hilary Meyer

EatingWell assistant editor Hilary Meyer spends much of her time in the EatingWell Test Kitchen, testing and developing healthy recipes. She is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute.



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