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Health Tips for Lunar New Year - Lunar New Year Treats

Lunar New Year is a very important festival for the Chinese, and everyone will prepare lots of special New Year treats at home for their guests. Most of the traditional New Year treats, however, are rather greasy, you are recommended to adopt the following principles when buying or enjoying the New Year snacks.

Things to consider when serving guests with New Year snacks

  • Conventional items in the assorted snack box (chuen haap), are mostly high in sugar and energy. Examples include candies and sweetened lotus root (tong lin ngau). Chocolates and sweetened coconut shreds (tong ye si) are high in sugar and fat. It is not healthy for both adults and children to eat them excessively. Dried fruit without added sugar is good alternative.
  • Melon seeds and nuts such as cashews, walnuts and pistachios are also very popular items in the assorted snack box. However, nuts and seeds are relatively high in fat, and some of them have added salt or sugar. It is recommended choosing those that are dry-roasted without added salt and sugar as healthier options, but they should be consumed only in moderation
  • Apart from the conventional items listed above, rice crackers and non-deep fried vegetable chips without added salt and sugar are other healthier options. They are great in taste and nutritious.

Things to consider when eating New Year puddings

  • Never underestimate the energy content of New Year puddings. Sweetened rice pudding (Nin go),coconut milk rice pudding (ye jap go), and water chestnut pudding (ma tai go) are often loaded with sugar. Turnip pudding and taro pudding are rich in carbohydrates and are usually made with high-fat ingredients, such as Chinese preserved sausages and preserved meat, which greatly increase the energy content of these Chinese puddings. Therefore they should only be taken as treats, and should not replace our main meals.
  • Use healthier ingredients when you make New Year puddings yourself. Use lean pork, dried shrimps and mushrooms instead of fat meat and preserved meat.
  • Reheat puddings by low-fat cooking methods, e.g. steaming, using microwave oven, baking or pan-frying with non-sticky pan and small amount of oil. Reduce the use of pan-frying with egg or excessive oil.
  • Reduce the use of condiments and seasonings when serving the pudding, e.g. chilli oil, chilli sauce, sesame sauce, etc.
  • To avoid excessive sugar intake, cut down on drinks that are high in sugar, such as soft drinks and sweetened fruit juices, and drink water or plain tea instead.

Things to consider when enjoying other New Year food

  • Crispy triangles (yau gok), fried sesame balls (jin dui) and sesame cookies (siu hau jo) are fried treats of the Lunar New Year. They are high in energy and fat, and over consumption of them will have an adverse effect on health. Better choose crispy and relatively low-fat items such as rice crackers, rice cakes and popcorn as healthier alternatives.
  • Sweetened glutinous rice balls are another traditional New Year food, and in general, those without filling are healthier choices. Most of the sweetened fillings commonly used for glutinous rice balls, like lotus seed paste and sesame paste, contain lots of sugar and oil.
  • For New Year presents, choose food that is healthier, such as fresh fruit, tea, dry mushrooms and dry scallops.