By: Karen Sevong (黃凱玲) MScFN RD CDE CPT
About Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is approaching and this year we welcome the Rabbit! According to the Chinese zodiac, those born with this sign demonstrate vigilance, deftness, wittiness, and patience.
The traditional Chinese calendar marks this to be the start of spring and a new cycle in the agriculture world. It is an important time for families to gather and celebrate good fortune for the upcoming year. Preparations for this symbolic occasion begin about half a month leading up to a big reunion dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve.
During this time, traditions around food choices are highly valued to nourish and bring prosperity, good luck, health, and happiness. It is customary during Chinese New Year reunion dinners to include a variety of dishes including meat such as pork, chicken, fish, and duck to show abundance. The color red is prominent in all decorations during this holiday to bring luck.
Tips to Manage Kidney Friendly Variations
3. 避免暴飲暴食。 要注意自己平時的飽腹感，確保吃團圓飯時不過量和平時吃到飽感覺一樣。例如，每道菜只拿一些來享用。
Tips to help manage a kidney friendly celebration this year:
- Focus on choosing more vegetables on the plate (aim for half plate if possible). For those with potassium restrictions, some choices can include cabbage, eggplant, cauliflower, carrots, celery, bell peppers, and string green beans.
- Be mindful of potassium and phosphorus restrictions as needed, reduce salt in seasoning and various sauces. For example, keeping dipping sauces on the side.
- Try to be conscious of hunger cues and satiety levels, choosing a small portion of various items to help set the pace during reunion dinners and meals.
Traditional Chinese New Year Main Dishes
Although Chinese New Year is celebrated across regions of China and Asian households alike, there are slight variations among ingredients used and dishes shared with family. Below are a few dishes with some modifications as needed:
Dumplings (餃子- jiao zi): A symbol of happiness, wealth, and unity with family. The Chinese word “jiao zi” means the exchange between the old and new year. Interestingly, they are shaped in close resemblance to the ancient Chinese currency silver and gold ingots. Wrapping dumplings are meant to reflect wrapping in fortune. Eating dumplings represent leaving behind the past year and welcoming a prosperous new year.
There are many types of fillings including Chinese napa cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, green onions, chives, ground meat, shrimp and eggs.
Tip: Make this kidney friendly by using vinegar with finely sliced ginger for the dipping sauce. Try seasoning the dumpling filling with white pepper, Chinese cooking wine, sesame oil, less salt and low sodium soy sauce.
Steamed Fish(鱼- Yu) : According to Chinese cultural traditions, eating fish represents surplus and leaving leftovers represent having abundant resources carried into each year. The phrase “年年有余 (Niánnián yǒu yú /nyen-nyen yo yoo/): May you always have more than you need!” reflects this. Steamed Whole Fish- Sea Bass (鱸魚) or tilapia (羅非魚) – Kidney Community Kitchen
Sea Bass (鱸魚) or tilapia (羅非魚) are common choices during this Chinese new year feast. A great way to add extra flavour is by garnishing with thinly sliced ginger and scallions. Drizzle with less soy sauce and balance with sesame oil after steaming the fish. Alternatively, have soy sauce placed on the side for a lower sodium option or try this Soy Sauce Substitute Soya Sauce Substitute – Kidney Community Kitchen
– ⅓ 杯 (75 mL) 牛肉湯，不加鹽
– ⅓ 杯（75 毫升）紅酒醋
– 1 湯匙（15 毫升）糖蜜
– ¼ 茶匙（1 毫升）生薑，磨碎
– ½ 茶匙（3 毫升）大蒜粉
– ⅛ 茶匙（小撮）黑胡椒
– 1 ¼ 杯 (300 毫升) 水
1. 將原料混合放入鍋中，輕輕煮沸 5 至 10 分鐘，直至混合物減少至約 1.5 杯（325 毫升）。
Poached Chicken (白切鸡 – bai qie ji), translates into “white cut chicken” A whole chicken represents wholeness, reunion, and rebirth. Poach the chicken in a large pot of boiling water with ginger and scallions for flavour. The key to consuming this delicious chicken is to pair it with the Ginger Scallion dipping sauce.
Tip: To help keep the sauce renal friendly, consider using sesame oil, green onions, minced garlic, ginger powder, and less salt to taste.
「年夜飯」又稱「圍爐」，大家圍在一起吃火鍋就有團圓之意，同時還可以根據個人的需要來定製配料。 蔬菜選擇的例子包括空心菜 、菜心 、芥菜。如果有鉀限制，蓮藕和白蘿蔔的份量要少一些。 – 包括您最喜歡的麵條類型，例如米飯或白面，作為長壽的代表 。通常會加一些蛋白質和蝦，一次 ¼- ½ 杯硬豆腐，新鮮或冷凍魚或瘦牛肉片、豬肉或羊肉。盡量限製油炸豆腐、油炸豆腐、仿蟹或魚丸、豆腐片的鉀和磷限制。
- Hot Pot (火锅– huǒ guō)- A versatile way to enjoy a family reunion dinner while also customizing ingredients that suit your needs.
- Examples of vegetable choices can include napa cabbage (sui choy), choy sum (yao choy), gai choy (mustard greens). Have smaller portions for lotus root and daikon radish, if there are potassium restrictions.
- Include your favorite type of noodles such rice or white noodles as a representation for longevity
Toss in some protein with shrimp, ¼- ½ cup firm tofu at a time, fresh or frozen fish or leaner slices of beef, pork, or lamb. Try to limit fried soy puffs, deep fried tofu curds, imitation crab or fish balls, bean curd sheets for potassium and phosphorus restrictions.
Tip: Make the broth using boiled vegetables for prolonged periods of time to bring out the flavour, season with ginger, scallions, and chilis according to your preference. Bone broth will contain phosphorus for those with restrictions. Some examples for dipping sauces can vary from sesame oil, minced garlic, ginger, scallions or low sodium soy sauce, ½ tbsp or less of pure sesame paste, and some chili oil.
Chinese Vegetable and Seafood Stir Fry ( 炒三鮮 – Chao San Xian): There are many variations in the ingredients for this dish including scallops or shrimp with mix vegetables. Shrimp “Ha” is a symbolic meaning for bringing fortune, good luck, and happiness into the new year.
Tip: Stir fry shrimp with snow peas, bell peppers and carrots in a modest cornstarch slurry. Season with white pepper, Chinese cooking wine, minced garlic, thinly sliced ginger and green scallions if preferred. Try to limit salt to taste in small amounts. Check out a similar recipe: Shrimp and Apple Stir Fry – Kidney Community Kitchen
Gai lan (Chinese broccoli) or Chinese Eggplant Stir Fry: These vegetables are a good alternative for being lower in potassium. Try stir frying it with garlic, Chinese rice wine and thinly sliced ginger to serve. Add some sesame oil for flavor.
Traditional Chinese New Year Desserts Platter
To conclude Chinese New Year celebrations, having something sweet represents bringing happiness (sweet) in the new year. Clementine or Oranges or tangerines (桔子) represents luck and success. It is customary to bring oranges or clementine for family and friends during this holiday. Clementine and tangerines are better choices for being lower in potassium compared to oranges.
Chinese prosperity or togetherness tray: These are common gift boxes with treats for families including a variety of dried fruit, seeds, candies, and snacks. Some of these traditional items would be rich in potassium and phosphorus, as an alternative you can consider some of the following substitutions.
– 蘋果：吃蘋果, 「平平安安」
– 金橘 : 橘』諧音『吉』，象徵「吉祥如意」
選擇較小的份量，每份不超過 5 份，以限制鉀含量
Build your own fruit tray with the following lower potassium choices:
- Apple (苹果 Píngguǒ): Chinese homophone meaning for safeness and peace
- Grapes (葡萄 Pútáo): Represents abundance and good luck to follow
- Pineapple (菠萝 Bōluó): For wealth and good luck
- Fresh kumquat for good luck and happiness. Choose a smaller portion size of no more than five each for potassium restriction
Join us for our next cooking class, featuring Tanya Choy, on January 24th at 5:00 PST. She will be sharing how to prepare some delicious dishes that celebrate Chinese New Year while nourishing your kidneys. Register here.
Happy Chinese New Year! Wishing everyone a healthy and prosperous new year!