THE COMING 15 DAYS of Chinese New Year are often a time of indulgence. Once you get into the festivities, it's easy to let yourself go. So instead of falling into habits of overeating, here are some healthy strategies you can adopt this festive period.

1. Build Your Immunity

Especially with the recent haywire weather and the busyness of preparing for the festivities, take the next few days to build your immunity and lower your vulnerability to illness.

Incorporate self-care

You're going to need your strength, so make an effort to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night. This one habit affects your well-being more than almost anything else. You need sufficient sleep to promote healthy brain function and emotional well-being. A recent study also found that adults ate an extra 300 calories and tended to choose foods high in fat and calories when they lacked sleep.

Go one step further and allow yourself a self-care routine. Treat yourself to a long bath or a weekly massage. People with chronic stress often have weaker immune systems, and are therefore, more prone to anxiety, insomnia and a host of health issues.

Sneak nutrition into your meals

Adding nutrition to your festivities doesn't require a drastic change. In fact, you can start small by infusing your water with lemon as you stay hydrated throughout the day. Doing so will help boost your immune system, aid in weight loss and digestion, and purge toxins to clear your skin. Alternatively, try adding a pinch of turmeric to your food (soups, stews) or drinks (teas). Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, rich in antioxidants, helps protect the liver and boost brain power. Remember to start off with a small amount and scale up - turmeric can be a strong flavour, but no one will notice a little pinch.

 

2. Keep Moving

Although it is difficult to fit in time for exercise during this festive period, it might just be what you need. The benefits of exercise are well-known: it helps release endorphins and helps you keep away the extra weight from holiday snacking. But more than just that, exercise also stimulates a sluggish digestion, regulates metabolism and aids in removing toxins in your body.

Simplify your routine

Instead of forgoing your exercise routine, trim it down to one activity that will make the biggest impact on your mood and energy. It could be as simple as a brisk walk, a short yoga session or deep breathing exercises.

Commit out loud

If you're finding it hard to commit to your exercise plan, voice it out to someone. Saying it out loud will help your family and friends hold you accountable. They might even share a similar need and decide to join you.

 

3. Eat Mindfully

When it comes to Chinese New Year, we easily fall into the trap that over-indulgence is enjoyment. Avoid this faulty logic by planning in advance to let yourself be more flexible this time of the year.

Choose your indulgences

Instead of mindlessly eating, allow yourself to enjoy the few treats that you look forward to on this special occasion. Research has shown that our first few bites are the most enjoyable, so save your taste buds for what you really love. You'll be more satisfied, have less cravings and will be less likely to overeat later on. According to registered dietitian, Lindsey Joe, "eat what you love, leave what you like". You don't have to eat something just because it's "holiday food".

Concentrate on what you're eating

Focus on your food while you eat it. Multitasking (watching tv or having a conversation) during a meal has been found to make you pop mindless calories into your mouth. Nutritionist Anne Ricci suggests to focus on enjoying the smell, taste, and texture of each bite of food. Eating mindfully will help you slow down and naturally stop when you're full.

 

IF YOU STILL FIND YOURSELF overeating, don't beat yourself up for going overboard (we all do from time to time). Remember to show yourself some kindness. Confine this "setback" to just that one meal. Ditch the guilt! Remember that it does not reflect poorly on you or your character. After all, these social gatherings are for you to catch up with family and friends. Take the time to socialize and be fully present, and approach the next day with confidence.

   

DURING CHINESE NEW YEAR, it's hard to deny that food is the centre of the celebration. We gather round the food for reunion dinner and visit homes bearing a pair of mandarin oranges. We also munch on Chinese New Year goodies all day. But have you wondered about the significance of some of the baked treats and savoury delights we eat during this 15-day period? What are the reasons for these auspicious foods?

From pineapple tarts to mandarin oranges, we take a closer look and find out the rationale behind eight auspicious foods that you'll encounter in almost every household during this festive period.

8 Auspicious Foods of Fortune for Chinese New Year

chinese auspicious food visual

1. Pomelo

Eating this large Asian citrus fruit is thought to bring continuous prosperity. Because the Chinese word for pomelo (柚 yòu) sounds like 'to have' (有 yǒu), except for the tone, and exactly like 'again' (又 yòu), so the more you eat, the more wealth it will bring. Pomelos are also a symbol of good health, fertility and family unity.

 

2. Pineapple

It's almost impossible to go through 15 days of Chinese New Year without eating a pineapple tart. Besides being a buttery favourite for many, the Hokkien pronunciation “Ong Lai” refers to the arrival of prosperity.

pineapple1

For Chinese New Year here at Cedele, we've brought back our Pineapple Pocket Pies, our bestseller made with melt-in-your-mouth pineapple jam and coated with a crumbly crust. Alternatively, our Pineapple Cranberry cake makes for a great gift idea to usher in a fortune-filled year. It is a moist butter cake dotted with cranberries and topped with golden pineapple slices and osmanthus flowers.

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We also made sure to include pineapple in our in-store offerings. Visit Cedele All Day Dining or Bakery Kitchen outlets to try our Pineapple Red Tofu Mushroom rice and our Huat! Salad with chicken & salted egg.

 

3. Dumplings

Since they bear an uncanny resemblance to ingots (Yuan Bao), the old Chinese currency, dumplings (饺子 Jiǎozi) symbolize wealth and profit. This tradition is popular in Northern China, where the dumplings are made with soy-ginger cabbage and pork  filling, and eaten at midnight. Some even literally hide a gold coin in one of the dumplings to bring extra luck to the eater. Others also tuck in other "lucky" foods like peanuts, which symbolize wishes for a long life.

When making dumplings, make sure that there are a good number of pleats. They should also be arranged in lines instead of circles - circles of dumplings signify that one's life will go round in circles, never going anywhere.

 

4. Fish

Since the Chinese word for fish (鱼 Yú) sounds like 'surplus' or ‘abundance’, you can expect it on the menu every Chinese New Year. Fish is typically served whole with the head and tail intact, to represent a good start and finish to the year. According to tradition, you should also leave some of the fish uneaten to represent the "surpluses" of the coming year. A common saying during the festivities, 年年有余 (nián nián yǒu yú) is a wish for others to always have more than they need in the New Year.

seabass and wakame pasta

We offer our Sea Bass Wakame pasta for our in-store Chinese New Year menu. Grilled sea bass is laid on a bed of wakame salad and linguine, topped with crispy garlic and ginger flakes. Try it now at any of our Bakery Kitchen outlets.

 

5. Mandarin Oranges

Characterised by their loose and peel-able skin, mandarin oranges (also known as tangerines) are believed to bring prosperity thanks to its Cantonese pronunciation, gum, which sounds similar to the word for gold. The Chinese for orange is 橙 (chéng), which sounds the same as the Chinese for 'success' (成). One of the ways of writing tangerine (桔 jú) contains the Chinese character for luck (吉 jí).

As part of Chinese New Year tradition, you usually offer a pair of oranges to respected seniors and hosts during house visiting. Upon your departure, your hosts will also offer a pair of oranges in return. Note that when visiting you can only give a pair of oranges, nothing more or less. Two pairs is the ultimate taboo.

mandarin orange cake

This year, Cedele's Mandarin Orange Polenta cake is a great way to usher in the festive season. Made with polenta, ground almond and poached whole mandarin oranges, this moist cake is also gluten-free.

 

6. Chinese New Year Cake (Nian Gao)

Directly translated as "year cake", Nian Gao (年糕 Nián gāo) is a sticky rice cake made from glutinous rice flour and sugar. Because “gao” sounds like ‘high’ in mandarin, eating the cake symbolizes achieving new heights in the coming year. There are various ways of cooking and eating Nian Gao, some steam it, while others fry it with an eggwash to add a crispy bite to the chewy treat. Some version of Nian Gao come with white sesame seeds or red dates, while others are shaped into a pair of carps of ingots to represent surplus and wealth.

 

7. Yu Sheng

This extremely popular Chinese New Year dish gained popularity locally in the 1960s thanks to the '4 Heavenly Culinary Kings' of Singapore. Yu Sheng translates to "raw fish", which are symbols of abundance. It can be consumed throughout the festive period, but particularly on the 7th day: “Everybody’s birthday” (人日, ren ri).

This should be familiar: the raw fish salad is typically set up on a communal table, with each ingredient chosen for its symbolic meaning. Family and friends gather round to toss the salad vigorously while exchanging well-wishes and auspicious phrases. They say that the higher you toss the salad, the greater your fortunes will be.

YuSheng

Toss to bountiful fortune and great health with Cedele's very own Yu Sheng. Our version of Yu Sheng (pictured above) includes five superfood heart-healthy grains and our homemade plum sesame dressing.

 

8. Longevity Noodles

Although longevity noodles (长寿面 Chángshòu Miàn) are eaten year round, they bring extra meaning to birthday and Chinese New Year celebrations. The very long, unsevered noodles are to signify the eater's long life and a wish for longevity. Some also cook their noodles with mustard greens to symbolize long life for parents.

 

HERE'S WISHING YOU a Chinese New Year season filled with flavours of fortune and a sweet time with family and friends!

FOR MOST, CHINESE NEW YEAR is a festive season packed with food. From sumptuous reunion dinners to addictive cookies, we (almost) always end up eating more than we should. For this Chinese New Year season, we've introduced a comforting drink that's available in-store : our longan red date tea with ginger.

A Closer Look at our Chinese New Year Tea

cnytea1 Pictured: Our longan red date tea with ginger

Let's zoom in on the specific ingredients of this hot beverage. You'll soon realize that this soothing tea contains great health benefits! Read on below to find out more.

Longan

longan

Literally translated as 'Dragon's Eye' (Long Yan) for its shiny, black seed, longans are more than just a sweet fruit. They contain nutrients and medicinal properties that have been around since as early as the Chinese Han Dynasty.

Longans are known to be a good blood tonic, and can be used as a cure for anemia - they contain a very high amount of iron (about 20 times that of grapes).

Additionally, longans are a cure for sleeping disorders like insomnia as they have a calming effect on the central nervous system and your heart. As a potassium-rich fruit, it helps maintain blood pressure and is often used as a remedy for stomach problems.

 

Red Dates

Known as the "king of nuts" for its nutritional value, we often find red dates in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) prescriptions and other brewed herbal tonics. The fruit comes from a shade tree and is higher in potassium, vitamins B1 and B2 when dried. Other than anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties, red dates also help stimulate the production of white blood cells. According to ancient Chinese herbal texts, red dates strengthen the spleen and stomach Qi (energy), which in turn helps digestion and soothes the mind.

In fact, many Chinese women consume red dates during their special time of the month, since red dates are known for enriching and replenishing blood. Ladies also drink red dates regularly for a few months to help re-balance the body's Qi and blood deficiency.

Red date tea is commonly made by soaking dried red dates in boiling water. Some add Manuka honey for more benefits. While red dates and dried longan tea is a common drink during confinement, it helps improve blood circulation and revitalize health.

 

Ginger

gingercollage Pictured, right: Cedele's Organic Ginger Tea, available online at Cedele Market

Ayurveda refers to ginger as a universal medicine. Likewise, Chinese medicine, the other most ancient yet living traditions, also use ginger medicinally because it restores Yang (hot energy). According to researchers, a compound found in raw ginger (6-gingerol) gives it anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Other research also found that ginger helps slow down the loss of brain cells which normally lead to Alzheimer's disease.

However, ginger is most commonly known for relieving digestive problems such as nausea, loss of appetite, motion sickness and pain. In particular, the phenolic compounds in ginger are what help relieve gastrointestinal irritation. Chewing raw ginger or sipping ginger tea is a common remedy for nausea and morning sickness. It also relieves gas, aids weight loss and relieves heartburn.

The aromatic, spicy root has long been used in both traditional and Western healing systems to make tea. Ginger tea is diaphoretic, working to warm the body from within. Ginger tea contains high levels of vitamin C, amino acids and trace amounts of minerals. Drinking it regularly will help your body absorb nutrients, alleviate stomach pains and improve circulation and digestion.

 

Putting it all together...

Now that you are aware of the benefits of the three main ingredients in our festive hot drink, you can rest assured that it will be a soothing drink that is beneficial to your body. It will also be a welcome beverage to help you balance out your Chinese New Year feasting.

This soothing drink is available in-store at all Cedele outlets. Head over here to find an outlet near you. Alternatively, purchase the tea together with our festive hampers for yourself or as a gift to a loved one this Chinese New Year.

 

WHAT IS CHINESE NEW YEAR without some baked goodies? Here at Cedele, we've come up with a range of 13 different cookies for you to choose from. If you're feeling spoilt for choice, we've even created a "cheat sheet" to help you figure out which cookies are the right ones for you and your family.

Using the best European butter and organic unrefined sugar, we've also made sure to include eggless and gluten-free options in our selection of handmade cookies. Find out more below.

Chinese New Year Cookie Cheat Sheet

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CNY COOKIES flowchart infographic-01

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Take your pick!

Our full list of Chinese New Year cookies (arranged alphabetically):

 
Almond Crunch (Eggless)

Go nuts for this crunchy Cedele favourite. It's a hit with the kids.

Almond Ikan Bilis

A Peranakan-inspired treat, with a spicy yet savoury local bite.

Almond & Seeds Florentine (New & Gluten-free)

Gluten-free cookies packed with a medley of heart-friendly ingredients: linseeds, sunflower seeds, nigella seeds, sesame seeds and almond flakes.

Chocolate Chip Macadamia (Eggless)

Indulge in this decadent, chocolatey cookie with macadamia nuts.

Cornflake Cookies (Eggless)

This classic cookie is an addictive fan favourite.

Cranberry Almond Oatmeal

A high-fiber, mouth-watering medley of delicious fruit, nuts and rolled oats.

Espresso Crunch

An addictive cookie with a complementary caffeine kick.

Golden Almond Nuggets (New)

Multiple layers of light buttery pastry topped with almond flakes and cinnamon to usher in abundant good fortune!

cookie collage 3

[From left, clockwise: Golden Almond Nuggets, Pandan Chia Seed cookie and our classic Cornflake Cookies]

Gula Melaka Coconut

An aromatic cookie reminiscent of your favourite local flavours.

Lemongrass Pistachio (Eggless)

A unique cookie combining crunchy pistachios with the subtle hints of lemongrass.

Pandan Chia Seed (Eggless)

An eye-catching cooking combining crunchy, antioxidant-rich chia seeds with the fragrant flavour of pandan leaves.

Pineapple Pocket Pie (Bestseller)
pineapple pocket pie

Our Pineapple Pocket Pie

Made with melt-in-your-mouth pineapple jam and coasted with a buttery crust, there's little wonder this reigns as our all-time bestseller.

Thai Chilli Rice Crisps (Eggless, New)

Crunchy, savoury cookies gently spiced with turmeric and kaffir lime leaf.

   

GOT YOUR EYE on any of these delicious cookies? May we suggest sharing the joy by giving some of these goodies away as you go out visiting? Take your pick and head over to Cedele Market to place your order online. While you're at it, feel free to browse our complete Chinese New Year catalogue.

HERE AT CEDELE, we are constantly on the lookout for great things to share with you. But this time, instead of food, it'll be in the form of sharing who and what we are inspired by.

We're including a new series for our blog which will highlight a person, movement or object that has inspired us here at Cedele. We believe in giving credit where it is due, and our 'Inspired by' posts aim to do just that. Take it as a peek into what drives us and our ethos. Hopefully, you'll get inspired too.

 

Inspired by: Brené Brown

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If you're a fan of TED Talks, we're sure you've heard of Dr. Brené Brown. We first came across Brown when we watched her viral 2010 TEDx Houston talk, The Power of Vulnerability.

Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent about 13 years studying topics such as vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame.

As an author, she wrote three #1 New York Times Bestsellers: Rising Strong, Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection. She has two online platforms: COURAGEworks, which helps individuals and families live and love bravely, and BRAVE LEADERS INC, which makes her research on leadership development and culture change accessible to teams, leaders, entrepreneurs and change makers around the world.

On Vulnerability

"Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness." - Brené Brown

 

Brené Brown's 2010 TEDx talk on vulnerability is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world, with over 25 million viewers. Watch it below.

Near the end of her talk, Brown emphasizes that we need to "believe that we're enough." According to Brown, when that happens, "we stop screaming and start listening, we're kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we're kinder and gentler to ourselves."

ISN'T THAT such a poignant reminder, to be kind to others and ourselves as we step into this new year? You can listen to her other TED talk on 'Listening to Shame' here. Visit her website for more information on her talks and what she stands for.

 

A photo posted by Brené Brown (@brenebrown) on

   

AS WE REFLECT on the past year and eagerly dive into the New Year, one thing on all our minds is New Year's resolutions: what will you set out to do in 2017? But wait, will they work this time, or will we end up lowering our self-worth?

 

New Year's Resolutions: Yay or Nay?

We really enjoyed this recent article by Huffington Post, which suggests a new framework to thinking about New Year's Resolutions.

When it comes to setting New Year's resolutions, we often get ahead of ourselves and shoot for the moon. Most of us set absolute goals to go to the gym more often, to eat healthy or quit a bad habit. But why do we find ourselves back at square one three weeks later?

According to research at the University of Scranton, only a mere 8% of people achieve their New Year's goals. There are many reasons why people don't keep their resolutions. They may set overly ambitious goals or become uninspired when they face too many small failures.

 

Instead of Resolutions, Choose to 'Reset'

The key might lie in setting smaller, incremental lifestyle changes, like daily "resets". Dr. Roberta Anding, a registered dietician and nutrition professor at Baylor College of Medicine suggests moderating your resolutions. Doing so might just be what is needed to create a lasting lifestyle change.

"January 1 signifies a new beginning.  However, each day allows for a new beginning, and hence it is a reset."  - Dr. Roberta Anding, Baylor College of Medicine

 

What's the difference? Resolutions are a firm decision to do or not do something. Whereas a reset is an "opportunity to 'set again', or set your habits differently". A reset will allow you to be flexible as you progress and figure out what does or doesn't work for you. Instead of a lofty goal, you commit to smaller realistic goals and make changes every day, step by step.

Moreover, New Year's resolutions typically have a start date: January 1. This inadvertently tricks your mind into thinking that they have an end date as well. On the other hand, a reset is about creating healthy habits that are sustainable in the long run.

For instance, if one of your goals next year is to eat more fruit and vegetables, you can 'reset' this goal daily, to re-evaluate and decide good steps to take to help you achieve this.

Lastly, no matter how you plan to think of the new year, set goals to pursue your health and wellness. According to Anding, "this is your most important 401K: Investing in your body and your sense of wellbeing." And here at Cedele, we agree.

If you're curious about New Year's resolutions, watch the video below or read more here. Blessed New Year from all of us at Cedele!