Happy New Year! (in Chinese)

I love celebrating New Year’s twice! This year we celebrated on December 31 and again on January 31 thanks to the Chinese lunar calendar. Yes that’s right, Happy Chinese New Year! Yay for holidays! 

You know what’s really great about celebrating New Year’s twice? You get a second chance at making resolutions. Maybe you set some impulsive resolutions January 1 and are now finding they’re not a good fit or plain too extreme… I’ve fallen into this category more times than I’d like to admit. And then of course there’s the huge increase in gym attendance come January 1 or thereabouts that hastily tapers back to normal. Sometimes I think we all get a little over excited (and even unrealistic) with the prospect of a New Year. It starts with…

Goal 1: Get In Shape
Exercise for 30 minutes 3x a week. No 30 minutes 5x a week. Wait no, 7x a week. Scratch that. I’m going to do 4 hour three-a-days 365 days this year. Bam. That’s goal one.

Goal 2: Eat Healthy
Eat 6 small meals each day + 8 glasses of water. Oh, and how about we eliminate white sugars. Wait, fruit has sugars, no fruit. Carbs—gotta do away with those too. And doesn’t the word “grain” just sound blah? No grains. Most Vegetables are gross anyway so eliminate those. Beans and such cause bloating = look fat. Bad beans. Meat? Meat has fat, which is obviously no good. So what do we have left? Ah what does it matter… scratch it all. I’m going on a 365-day water only diet. …but wait, what about the minerals in water? Fine. 365 day no eating or drinking diet. I’m totally going to succeed.

But why stop then? It’s a New Year. There are so many things I want to do! So we continue…

Goal 99: Memorize the Bible.

Goal 999: Defy Newton’s First and Third Laws of Motion. His Second Law can stay.

Goal 7,942: Solve world hunger. End war. And cure all diseases. 

You get the gist…

Don’t worry those aren’t my goals. But as I mentioned, I do tend to imagine some pretty lofty, set you up for failure goals come January 1. You know, you’ve just gotten through the holidays and the hype of everything, you’re working with a clean slate, and so you feel pretty pumped and invincible. Which is exactly why I don’t set my resolutions January 1 anymore. Instead, I aim to implement my resolutions at the start of the Chinese New Year celebration. I find I need that time between December 31 and the commencement of the Chinese New Year to really reflect and ponder on what I need to work on. I definitely don’t have time in December. I mean, when do people actually make and plan out their resolutions amongst the business of the Holidays? Resolutions are serious. Why, without goals we lack power over our own lives and personal progress. Without goals we leave everything up to chance. Which is why resolutions should take sincere and dedicated time, thought, and planning… something I can’t squeeze in amongst the Holidays.

Ok so clearly I missed Goal Setting During the Holidays 101. Let’s be honest, so many of you are on top of the whole resolution thing come January 1 and carry your goals out like a champion. I’ve just determined that it’s not really a recipe for success in my case; so I’ve found something that works for me. Which takes us back to Chinese New Year!

In order to successfully make and carry out New Year’s resolutions, I need time. And since I don’t find (or make) that time in December, I use the post Holidays lull of January to fairly review the past year and plan for the New Year. Come the start of the lunar New Year, I am then both prepared and committed to my resolutions; and I am better set up for success. For example, this year my resolutions consist of the following,

Goal 1: Work out once.

Goal 2: Don’t eat chocolate for 15 minutes.

Ha. Kidding. Though wouldn’t that be funny. The epitome of underachieving. I’m not actually going to share my resolutions here. But that’s my resolution setting timetable. Shall we move on?

Chinese New Year 2014: the Year of the Horse. Our Chinese New Year’s dinner rocked! Yeah, you heard me. It rocked. Bryan has been extremely busy with work—he manages a lot of teams and people and really has a lot of responsibility—so I decided to surprise him by making our New Year’s dinner before he got home. (If you are suddenly holding your breath, I understand. But let me appease you now: things turned out.)

First step: menu. As I brainstormed I kept thinking about the savory potstickers I used to eat in my pre-Celiac Disease (aka can’t eat gluten) days. So I pulled up a gluten-free potstickers recipe online. Then another. And another. There were so many ingredients! And so many steps! Clearly making pot stickers was a terrible idea. I wouldn’t even dabble in that. But I didn’t give up hope. Not yet.

So I Googled “pre-made or frozen gluten-free potstickers” and lo and behold, up popped Feel Good Foods. They are certified gluten-free and advertise, “Feel Good Foods focuses on all-natural, great tasting, gluten-free frozen foods – made by a chef, approved by a Celiac. Current product offerings include the world’s first gluten-free and dairy-free Asian Dumplings and Egg Rolls.” Whoa? Did they say egg rolls too? What?!!! Folks, this is a big deal. I was diagnosed with Celiac in 2005; meaning, the last time I had potstickers or egg/spring rolls was in 2005. Let me repeat, 2005. As in almost a decade ago.

And you know what else is great about the Feel Good Foods’ website? They conveniently have a list of retailers so you can find a store near you. For me, this was Organic Basic Food, located one Path stop and a 10 minute walk away in Hoboken. Entering the store was like walking into a gluten-free dream come true. Yes, they had my potstickers and egg rolls. But it didn’t stop there. Organic Basic Food had near every gluten-free item I’ve ever purchased (and liked) and then some. Why they had everything from my favorite gluten-free Oreos (which my brother eats by the package), graham crackers, animal crackers, bread mix, pastry mixes, doughnuts, and cookies; they had chicken nuggets and fingers, veggie burgers, meatballs, pizza and pizza crust… the list goes on and on. Organic Basic Food you are a fantastic find. Ahem. Back to Chinese New Year's. 

Eating gluten-free specific food is always a risk. Always. Let’s be honest, they have some pretty nasty gluten-free substitutes. Take store bought gluten-free bread for example; it’s disgusting. (Pamela’s Gluten-Free Bread Mix, however, is wonderful.) That being said, there are plenty of delicious gluten-free mixes and foods that you wouldn’t even guess are gluten free. Right, so considering this risk I decided to include some brown rice and a tried and true family favorite, sesame beef stir-fry (that I even made from scratch). 

And since Chinese New Year isn’t complete without a little décor, I made a sign or two and threw up some little lantern light things (that are actually from of our Valentine decorations). Turned out pretty neat. 

The Chinese characters are what Google says is “Happy New Year”. If this is wrong and I decorated with something horrible or rude… I’m really sorry. Until proven otherwise, let’s just all assume it says Happy New Year. After all, we did have a very happy Chinese New Year's!

Oh, and let's not forget our My Little Pony mascot—with a Chinese New Year mask—in honor of it being the Year of the Horse.

So how about those Feel Good Foods products? We loved them! We loved the potstickers and the egg/spring rolls! They were so good that I immediately recommended them to my Mom, who immediately recommended them to my Aunt and recently Celiac diagnosed cousin, who immediately went out and bought them for their MST gluten-free Chinese New Year’s dinner. My Mom also bought them for my baby sister the following day and I’ve heard nothing but positive reviews. Yay for good gluten-free food!

Oh, and Happy Chinese New Year!

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