“Hoppin John” and Lucky New Year Foods

1 1/4 cups dried black eye peas, about 1/2 pound dry
1 meaty ham hock (about 3/4 pound)
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, optional
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery and leaves, chopped fine
1/2 tablespoon red or green bell peppers, chopped fine, optional
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot sauce, to taste
4 cups cooked rice (approx 3/4 cup per person)
Cornbread and cooked greens, optional

Wash and sort black eyed peas. Cover with water, place in refrigerator and soak overnight. NOTE – TO QUICK SOAK: cover peas with 6-8 cups hot water; bring to a boil, reduce heat and boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to stand 1 hour.

Drain beans and cover with 6 cups fresh water. Add ham hock, bay leaf, thyme, onion, celery, and bell pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and simmer 2-3 hours or until black eyed peas are tender. Remove bay leaf, season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Serve over hot cooked rice, with cornbread, cooked greens and with a cold glass of milk.


Hoppin John is traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day for good luck. Folklore advises to “eat poor on New Year’s and eat ‘fat’ or well the rest of the year.” Whether eaten on New Year’s or throughout the year, Hoppin John is hearty and tasty. Serves 6

For nutrition analysis, click on link: www.dairycouncilutnv.org. Cornbread and greens are not included in nutrition analysis.


Q What do the following foods have in common?

A Folklore states they bring good luck if eaten on New Year’s day:

* Cabbage (symbolizes paper money)

* Pickled herring (symbolizes prosperous fish harvest)

* Lentils (represents coins and prosperity)

* Doughnuts (eternal round – end of old and beginning of new)

* Cream (drop on the floor, symbolizes having enough that you can afford to spill some)

* Sauerkraut (cabbage – money)

* 12 grapes (one for each stroke of the clock and each month of the past year)

* Ham (pork symbol of prosperity – eating high off the hog)

* Black-eye peas (represent copper or coinage; also inexpensive)

* Collard Greens (greens – paper money, prosperity)

* Dumplings (represent lumps of gold)

* Rice (prospers harvest – abundant food for coming year)

* Pork (prosperity)

* Spinach (represents money)

* Long noodles (represents long life)


* eat poor on New Years day, eat “fat” (or well) the rest of the year

* find a almond in rice pudding and you’ll be married in the coming year

* eat 12 grapes at midnight, one for each stroke of clock, representing 12 past months

* find the coin baked in a cake (or placed in other food) and you will be rich the coming year

* eat foods shaped in a ring (doughnuts) symbolizes eternal round, prosperity, good fortune

* long noodles bring long life – to bite one off during New Year dinner is to flirt with disaster

* food at midnight assures an abundance of food in the coming year

Q Are there foods we really can eat to bring good luck in the coming year?

Yes – eat healthy. As a population, we generally have a diet out of whack – heavy in calories and fat and low in essential minerals and vitamins and fiber. To improve health, follow The 2005 Dietary Guidelines, which recommends eating more dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Make your own luck this year with healthy New Year diet habits.

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