new years food traditions plus a great "hoppin john" recipe.......note that this is by the american institute for cancer research and tomatoes are an excellent source of antioxidants......enjoy. New Year's Foods Promise Good Luck BY THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE FOR CANCER RESEARCH New Year’s is the time when people around the world hope for good luck and prosperity. Those dreams and aspirations have inspired many food traditions. The ancient Romans gave gifts of nuts, dates, figs and round cakes. Northern Italians attempt to attract wealth at the New Year by eating lentils, symbolizing coins. In the Piedmont region of Italy, the New Year’s Day meal of risotto signifies wealth with its abundance of small grains. Another Italian custom is to eat sweets for a year of good luck. It can be as simple as a raisin or a more elaborate, almond-filled cake in the shape of a snake. As a snake sheds its old skin and leaves it behind, this cake symbolizes leaving the past behind as a new year begins. In Spain, you are promised good luck in the new year if, at midnight, you eat one grape with each stroke of the clock. Dumplings are a traditional New Year's food in northern China. Because they look like nuggets of gold, they are thought to signal good fortune. The Vietnamese celebrate their new year in late January and eat carp - a round-bodied fish thought to carry the god of good luck on its back. Cambodians celebrate their new year in April by eating sticky rice cakes made with sweet beans. In Iran, the New Year is celebrated in March, when grains of wheat and barley are sprouted in water to symbolize new life. Coins and colored eggs are placed on the table, which is set for a special meal of seven foods that begin with the letter “s”. Here in America, a legendary New Year’s dish is Hoppin’ John, a casserole of rice and black-eyed peas, sometimes flavored with pork. It is thought to have been introduced to the South by African slaves. The dish was traditionally served with a shiny dime buried deep. The person whose portion had the coin was guaranteed good luck in the new year. Whether or not this low-fat Hoppin’ John brings you luck, it’s sure to provide lots of fiber and important nutrients - a great way to start the year. Skinny Hoppin’ John - Makes 4 servings. (snort's note: if you don't want it skinny then you add in the pork.....i would not recommend the dime unless you want to choke to death) 1 cup dried black-eyed peas 1 can (about 14-oz.) seedless, diced tomatoes, drained 2 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped 1 rib celery, finely diced ½ cup finely chopped white onion 1 Serrano chile 1/2 tsp. salt, plus additional for seasoning as desired Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1 tsp. fresh lime juice, or to taste 2 cups wild pecan rice or brown rice, cooked and hot Rinse the peas and place them in a deep saucepan with 2 1/2 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the peas are almost soft, 45 to 60 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, scallions, celery, onion, chile and 1/2 tsp. salt. Simmer 25 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Mix in lime juice and season to taste with pepper. Serve over rice. (Hoppin’ John may also be served without rice, as a side dish.) Per serving: 287 calories, 2 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat), 57 g. carbohydrate, 14 g. protein, 8 g. dietary fiber, 532 mg. sodium.