How to prepare a healthy “Chinese new year candy box”
The Chinese New Year is a time of celebration and 2017 is known as the year of the Rooster. It is a time when families in Hong Kong spend quality time together. Following tradition, the host will prepare a Chinese New Year candy box to help encourage and improve luck for the year ahead while family relax and enjoy the celebrations.
Despite many other cultures celebrating their New Year on the 1st January, the Chinese New Year in Hong Kong takes place on a different date each year because it is based on the lunar calendar so the upcoming 2017 Chinese New Year actually takes place on 28th January.
There are many myths and legend surrounding the Chinese New Year and why it is celebrated. However, the main reasons for the jubilant celebrations are to acknowledge a year of hard work while also relaxing and spending time with the family. It is also celebrated as a way of wishing luck and prosperity for the coming year.
The celebrations include cultural activities such as setting off firecrackers and dragon dances while red envelopes are exchanged as a way of passing on best wishes. The Chinese cuisine is well known throughout the world but during New Year celebrations, lucky foods are consumed due to their symbolic meanings and the luck they bring. Eating fish is believed to bring a surplus of money and luck while delightful sweet rice balls, glutinous rice cakes, dumplings and spring rolls are just some of the delicious treats that can be found on the Chinese New Year menu.
What is a Chinese New Year Candy Box?
The Hong Kong Chinese New Year is a holiday that is extremely important to Chinese people. At a time when people come together, a Chinese New Year Candy box, which is also known as the “Box of Harmony”, plays a major role in the celebrations.
Chinese New Year Candy includes a mouth-watering selection of snacks such as nuts, seeds, candy and dried fruit. The host will offer the candy box to friends and family that visit while also giving their blessings to all. What makes the candy box unique and truly meaningful is that each snack has a hidden message. Therefore, the treat that is selected by family or friends will come with a desired blessing that is intended to shape the year ahead.
How to Create a Healthy Candy Box?
It is becoming common for people to create a delicious Chinese New Year candy tray that is both nutritious and healthy with the main focus being on items that contain no artificial ingredients and lean more towards organic choices.
The candy boxes are adorned with colour making them attractive in every way but choosing organic, healthy items does not mean that the traditional look or tastes has to be lost, so what items could you include in a candy box?
Candies are a popular choice and finding a replacement that tastes just as great is not too difficult. Dried fruits look impressive in colour and shape but come bursting with flavour and aromas so opting for dried prunes, apricots, cranberries, apples and peaches will certainly go down a treat with visitors as well as satisfy those with a sweet tooth. They also come packed with vitamins, proteins, fibre and many other essential minerals that help with weight loss, a healthy digestive system while warding off illnesses and diseases.
In fact, you could even use dried fruit to make a delicious treat such as Apricot Bliss Balls. These balls contain no sugar, no butter or flour, only real ingredients.
The recipe takes ten minutes to make.
1 cup (150-160g) dried Sunreal Apricots
1 cup (85g) desiccated/shredded coconut
½ cup (65g) raw cashews (Almonds also work well)
Zest of one orange, finely grated
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted (or honey, rice syrup)
1-2 tbsp fresh orange juice
Extra desiccated coconut or crushed nuts, for rolling
1. Finely zest an Orange and set aside
2. Put the apricots in a food processor and pulse until they are finely and coarsely chopped.
3. Add coconut, Cashews (and almonds if using) and orange zest and combine for 1-2 minutes until well combined
4. Add 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil and combine for around 30 seconds.
5. If the mixture is too dry and will not roll easily add squeezed orange juice a little at a time until it comes together
6. Place the coconut or crushed nuts in a small dish ready for coating balls (up to ¼ cup)
7. Taking a tablespoon sized amount of mixture roll into balls between your hands
8. Gently roll in the coconut to cover
9. Set aside and once finished chill before serving for ½ hour minimum
10. Keep stored in an airtight container in the fridge
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds offer a wide range of nutritional benefits and this is further enhanced if they are eaten raw which means they are not smeared in salt, sweetened or roasted. Almonds and cashews are a superb healthy option because they come packed with omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fibre while almonds are great for protecting the heart. Round off the choice of nuts and seeds with melon seeds or pistachio nuts which is literally translated as “Happy Nut” – which will certainly mean happy people all round.
Unlike milk chocolate, dark chocolate comes packed with a number of benefits. It comes from the seed of the cocoa tree and contains antioxidants which are beneficial to your health. To add to this, it contains a lot of mineral such as Iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium and potassium as well as a lot of fibre. It also contains good fats such as saturated and monounsaturated fats which can help to protect the heart. It can also lower blood pressure, blood flow and cholesterol while tasting exceedingly good at the same time!
Fresh Grapes, Strawberries and Cherries
Adding that extra element of flavour in the form of gorgeous tasting fruits is one way of adding extra excitement to a Chinese New Year Candy box. Grapes are refreshing and sweet while strawberries are juicy and packed with flavour. Cherries are not only great too look at but they too, have a flavour that is distinct yet flavoursome but all of these fruits offer many different health benefits.
True happiness comes in the form of a cookie. At first, cookies may not seem like the healthiest of choices but when they are homemade and created with love and affection they can be far healthier. Made with less sugar, additives and other ingredients that are deemed to be unhealthy, it makes it easy to remain in control of what ingredients are used. Oatmeal peanut butter cookies, coconut cookies, apple cookies or raisin cookies all look scrumptious and naughty but they are in fact better for us and healthier than anything that can be purchased from a superstore.
The Chinese New Year is certainly a time for exuberant celebrations and a time to treasure with loved ones. So, top off the celebrations with a healthy candy box that will tickle the taste buds of all ages.