A Healthy Twist on a Traditional Southern New Year’s Eve Meal

Serve up this menu for health, prosperity, and luck in 2017.

The thought of a home-cooked Southern meal conjures up images of the fatty, finer things in life. We’re talking jellied biscuits, crispy fried chicken, pecan pie, cheesy grits and deep-fried vegetables.

But while for many, Southern food puts other American cuisines to shame, we have to admit that it holds an unfair advantage, relying heavily on butter, animal fat and bacon for its flavor. While the staple dishes aren’t exactly low in calories, they certainly rank high on the deliciousness scale. And the traditional meal served up on New Year’s Eve is no exception. According to Southern tradition, three main ingredients make for a healthy, lucrative and lucky year ahead:

Pork: Go ahead and grant that pork roast the main spot on your New Year’s Eve table. According to legend, since pigs root their snouts in the ground while moving forward, eating a portion of the animal for your last meal of 2016 will keep you marching towards health and prosperity in the new year. But in order to make sure the meal is lending itself to your wellness goals, be sure to keep portion sizes to a healthy 3 ounces (about the size of a deck of cards), for a healthy dose of protein, B vitamins and zinc, which supports immune function.

Black-Eyed Peas: According to Southern tradition, every black-eyed pea you consume on New Year’s will add a bit of luck to 2017. And these peas are packed with nutrition, so you can enjoy a large serving with no guilt whatsoever. Just one cup of these bad boys contains 20 percent of your daily serving of magnesium, calcium and iron. Plus, they provide manganese, an element that helps you metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins—and after spending the week polishing off a batch of peanut butter cookies, our metabolism could definitely use a boost.

Collard Greens: This side is all about the money, honey. While Southerners enjoy this veggie all year long, it’s also an essential element to the last meal of 2016, believed to bring wealth in the new year. A one-cup serving of collard greens comes packed with vitamin A (essential for eye, skin and oral health), plus bone-strengthening vitamin K.

While this trio bring may bring the promise of a healthy, wealthy year ahead, the traditional preparation is bound to weigh you down. But that doesn’t mean that you should scrap the tradition all together. Instead, we’ve rounded up some healthy spin-offs of these prosperity-promising eats that you can whip up tomorrow night.

Give your tastebuds a front row seat to the fireworks—this meal will help 2016 go out with a bang.

Choose Your Main Dish

Crispy, Crackly Pork Loin

If you’re in the mood to keep it simple, this is the main for you. Top your 3-ounce portion with spiced apple chutney for an extra treat.

Garlic Rosemary Pork Tenderloin

Get your last taste of the holiday season with this rosemary spiced tenderloin. This recipe calls for grilling, so if you’re spending New Year’s in 70 degree weather, this is just the dish for you.

Mushroom-Filled Pork Tenderloin 

This dish may look gourmet, but it’s simple enough to whip in 30 minutes. That means you can spend December 31 bidding 2016 goodbye, instead of slaving away in the kitchen.

Choose Your Side Dishes

Hoppin’ John Risotto with Collard Pesto 

Make this risotto for a decadent Northern-twist on two classic Southern ingredients. Make an extra batch of this collard pesto for a few lucky leftovers next week.

Garlic Ginger Collard Greens

For a fresh, clean dish, pull out your cast-iron pan. Ginger is fantastic for digestion, so we recommend pairing the champagne and leftover christmas cookies with a generous portion of this gorgeous side.

Sauteed Collard Greens with Garlic

A super quick side for your holiday meal. Calling for only one dish and six simple ingredients, set yourself up for a wealthy new year, which you’ll enter with an empty sink.

Vegetarian Hoppin’ Johns

This classic Southern New Year’s dish is named after a rice seller who used to frequent the streets of Charleston, South Carolina. While the usual plate may include sausage and/or bacon bits, this one sticks to the veggies and rice.

 

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