Cheers to a New Year, a new you, and a new mindset to bring you good luck and prosperity! If you want to start 2024 off on the right foot, grab a fork, and let’s dig into some of the most delicious and nutritious foods enjoyed and cherished for centuries. These foods are said to provide powerful properties to help you achieve your health goals and bring good fortune. So, let’s explore the nutritional benefits of each dish and how they can help you have a prosperous and healthy new year!

Annie and LJ are preparing for their first walk of the new year. You can feel the love between them as they button up their coats and pull on their hats. They share a smile and a laugh as they help each other get ready. LJ buttons up Annie’s coat, and she pulls his hat down over his ears. They look into each other’s eyes and share a moment of warmth and affection. It’s clear that they are deeply in love and that their relationship is built on a foundation of trust, respect, and mutual support. As they step outside into the crisp, cool air, they take each other’s hand and begin their walk, excited for the new year and all the possibilities it holds.

LJ adjusted his sunglasses. “This is what I call perfect weather. The sun is shining; there’s plenty of light. A new day is dawning sunny and bright.”

“Um, aren’t those the lyrics from the Temptations, Since I Lost My Baby?” laughed Annie. “I agree; the sun is shining brightly. Look at our desert landscape. Some cacti are budding, which means spring will be here soon.”

LJ’s smile widened. “What a great way to kick off the new year! I’m looking forward to all the challenges and opportunities 2024 will bring. I recently read about the Conference of the Parties (COP28), which gave me hope. After 28 years, the summit members finally decided to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources and reduce emissions by 2030. That is huge and shows global warming is being taken seriously. The goals included the importance of international climate finance tools, prioritizing the well-being of nature, animals, and humans, and promoting global collaboration to protect our planet.”

“That’s fantastic news! The shift from oil and gas is essential for creating a sustainable future. Many people wonder how to participate, but even something as simple as buying locally-grown food can make a big impact.

Buying food from local sources has numerous benefits, including reducing our carbon footprint, preserving valuable farmland and open spaces, minimizing food waste, and improving personal and community health. Locally sourced food is also typically fresher and more nutrient-rich than food transported long distances. In addition, buying local can help us develop a stronger connection with our food and be more mindful of our eating habits.”

“Exactly! We can start with our first meal of 2024. For example, several traditional foods that are locally grown, nutritious, and earth-friendly are said to guarantee prosperity throughout the new year. Black-eyed peas are believed to represent wealth. A cup of cooked black-eyed peas contains 160 calories, 10 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fiber, making them a nutritious choice for a meal.”

“I didn’t know they were viewed as wealth,” exclaimed Annie. “Let’s include black-eyed peas and dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, turnip, mustard, and collard greens, which are thought to bring prosperity and good health if you eat them at the start of the New Year. All contain essential vitamins A, C, and K and minerals like calcium and iron.”

LJ nodded. “Our neighbor, Bill Soohoo, told me noodles are a traditional New Year’s food. He said noodles represent longevity in Asian cultures because they are so long. They are often served uncut to symbolize a long life; a 2-ounce serving of cooked noodles contains 210 calories, 7 grams of protein, and 1 gram of fat.

I also read that lentils are a popular food for celebrating the New Year, as they symbolize prosperity and abundance in the upcoming year. In countries like Italy, people consume lentils after midnight on New Year’s Eve because they resemble Roman coins and are thought to attract good luck. Lentils are rich in protein, fiber, iron, and folate, which help promote a healthy body.”

“In Spain, it is customary to eat 12 grapes at midnight on New Year’s Eve,” said Annie. “One for each stroke of the clock. Grapes bring good fortune for all 12 months of the year. One cup of grapes is 62 calories, 1 gram of protein, and 0.3 grams of fat.

In the Philippines, it is a tradition to consume 12 round fruits on New Year’s Eve, which are believed to bring good fortune and abundance for the upcoming year. The number 12 symbolizes the months in a year, while the roundness of the fruits represents coins. Some typical round fruits consumed during this time include apples, grapes, pineapples, and oranges. Each is low-calorie, vitamin C, and fiber-rich.”

“We have most of the ingredients to make a delicious New Year’s meal. We need to pick up some black-eyed peas. I can walk to the store and meet you back home?”

Annie slipped her hand through LJ’s arm. “Let’s go together. I’m enjoying this time. And walking reminds me of how we should be grateful for what we have and not take the earth’s health for granted. Like this beautiful weather and the promise of a new year.”

Annie and LJ are a fictional couple. Their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.

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