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Celebrating Chinese New Year through food

January 23, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Monday is the start of the Chinese New Year. Based on the first lunar cycle of the year, celebrations and traditions will last for 15 days. Katie's Cooking School in Encino offered a lesson in culture as well as cuisine for the holiday.

"I want to introduce children to the world through food, and this seems to be the most delicious way to do it," said Chef Yvette Garfield, author of Handstand Kids Cookbooks.

Garfield wants children to learn about cultures by infusing those flavors and healthy eating into their own life. She studied various regions in China, incorporating some of their cuisine into foods that kids like, such as Chinese popcorn with black sesame seeds, some soy sauce and sesame oil, and fruit smoothies with tofu - often without notice.

As with most holidays, food plays an important part of Chinese New Year, and each specific menu item has a specific wish or intention for the New Year.

"Chinese New Year is the representation of the spring festival, so a lot of the new spring vegetables and fruits," Garfield said.

So spring rolls, using Napa cabbage and other fresh veggies, are on the menu.

On many tables, protein like fish or chicken is cooked with head and tail as wholeness means a complete whole life. Noodle dishes are also a New Year's staple.

"The longer the noodle the longer the life," Garfield said.

And most kids know the red envelope is a special treat.

"It's where kids get money for Chinese New Year, and it gives them good luck," said Kylie Kurzban of West Hills.

For more information on Garfield's cookbooks, visit http://www.handstandkids.com.