While the western world might consider December and Christmas to be the season of pigging out, for those who celebrate Chinese New Year, that dubious honour falls to this time of year.
The Chinese New Year starts on January 31, 2014, and many families have already started to gear up to travel back home for the holiday. Packed in their bags, along with plenty of red clothing, will be sticky, sweet snacks that are guaranteed to tempt every sweet tooth.
Kuala Lumpur-based radio DJ and fitness fan Linora Low put together an infographic of the top sweets for Chinese New Year, with helpful, guilt-inducing calorie counts alongside them.
Of all the ones listed on her chart, nian gao, or Niángāo, is probably the most commonly eaten for Chinese New Year, as it's traditionally an offering to the Chinese kitchen god, explains ChineseFood.com. Traditionally, Chinese desserts are made from ingredients like mung bean, glutinous rice and agar.
For those who haven't tried out these sweets, the upcoming Lunar Festival seems like the perfect opportunity — visit your local Chinatown or Asian specialty shop to find out if you can get your hands on these treats.
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Pan-Fried Pork And Cabbage Pot Stickers
Having pork represented at the meal is symbolic of welcoming wealth and abundance to the year. So what better excuse do you need to share a plate of pot stickers with family and friends? Learn how to create this at <a href="http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/pork-cabbage-potstickers.aspx" target="_hplink">Fine Cooking</a>.
Cantonese-Style Steamed Sea Bass
Serving fish is symbolic of prosperity and having it at the dinner table is regarded as an auspicious way to start the New Year. Fresh fish will achieve the most delicious results for this easy restaurant-style recipe. Learn how to create this at <a href="http://culinarygypsy.com/recipes-2/chinese-favorites/cantonese-style-steamed-sea-bass/" target="_hplink">Culinary Gypsy</a>.
Bean Curd Sticks & Pork Ribs Soup
If you grew up in a Cantonese household, soup is unfailing presence at the dinner table. This recipe includes dried bean curd – which is symbolic of happiness. <strong>Note</strong>: fresh tofu is not eaten during New Year celebrations because white is associated with death and mourning in Chinese culture. Learn how to create this at <a href="http://rasamalaysia.com/recipe-bean-curd-sticks-and-pork-ribs/2/" target="_hplink">Rasa Malaysia</a>.
Vegetable Fried Noodles
Long glass noodles are fortuitous of a long life. This veggie-friendly recipe is super easy, but it also serves two so multiply accordingly. Learn how to create this at <a href="http://rasamalaysia.com/vegetable-fried-noodles-recipe/2/" target="_hplink">Rasa Malaysia</a>.
Chinese-Style Roast Chicken
Having poultry at the table of symbolic of happiness, good marriages, and family reunions. The key to this recipe is to marinade overnight and let the chicken air dry completely prior to roasting to maximize the crispiness of the skin. Learn how to create this at <a href="http://rasamalaysia.com/chinese-roast-chicken/2/" target="_hplink">Rasa Malaysia</a>.
Steamed Chinese New Year Cake (Nian Gao)
When translated literally, nian gao means “higher year.” So to eat this sweet, chewy cake is an auspicious way to invite prosperity and promotions toward your way, year after year. Stale cake after a few days? No problem. Just cover slices (as thick as your thumb) in egg wash and pan fry on both sides until brown and crispy. Learn how to create this at <a href="http://www.chow.com/recipes/29363-steamed-chinese-new-year-cake" target="_hplink">Chow</a>.
Sesame Balls With Red Bean Filling
For the brave and adventurous, these fried sesame balls are worth the effort. Crispy on the outside and chewy in the inside, these treats are prefect snacks to send your family and friends home with. Learn how to create this at <a href="http://redpathsugar.com/sesame-seed-balls-for-the-lunar-new-year/" target="_hplink">Redpath Sugar</a>.
Prosperity Cakes (Fa Gao)
"Fa" is a lucky Chinese pun: it means prosperity and literally, leavened. Sweet, light, and fluffy, these blossoming cakes are also easy to make. Learn how to create this at <a href="http://www.randomcuisine.com/2011/02/prosperity-cake-fa-gao.html" target="_hplink">Random Cuisine</a>.