Written by 9:01 am Family Fun

12 Yummy CNY Goodies to Make with Your Loved Ones

Chinese New Year is around the corner! One of the things many of us look forward to during the festivities is the spectacular variety of CNY goodies and snacks available. This year, instead of buying the usual store-made goodies, why not turn them into a fun family activity? Besides being a wonderful bonding opportunity, you can customise the goodies to suit your dietary preferences and needs for guilt-free snacking.

Read on for 12 easy and delicious CNY goodies you can make with your loved ones this Chinese New Year, complete with tips on how to make them healthier!

SWEET CNY GOODIES

1. Kueh Bangkit

CNY goodies - Kueh Bangkit
Image: Asian Inspiration

Impress your relatives with homemade kueh bangkit, one of the most popular CNY goodies around. While it may seem difficult to achieve the perfect melt-in-your-mouth texture, these light and crumbly coconut cream cookies are actually great for beginner bakers. It only requires five ingredients and a few steps. While finding an alternative for coconut milk is hard since it is a critical ingredient in this recipe, you can cut down on the amount of sugar for a healthier version.

Prep time 40 minutes
Difficulty 4/5
Full recipe click here

2. Love Letters

Love Letters
Image: Asian Inspirations

Love letters, also known as kueh kapit, are crispy thin wafers traditionally made from heating an egg batter over charcoal, then rolled into a funnel shape. This snack is typically gluten-free, so those who are sensitive to gluten can enjoy them too. The ingredients for the batter are easy to get, but finding the mould may be tougher. Try using a waffle cone maker if you have one.

To understand why this snack is consumed every Chinese New Year and holds significant meaning, you have to find out the endearing story behind it. In the past, lovers would discreetly convey messages of affection to one another through this pastry, and the act of consuming the pastry would mean that the message is well-received and taken to heart. How poetic!

These days, it is also common to find love letters with a modern twist — infusing additional flavours like strawberry and chocolate into the snack. Feel free to experiment and modify the recipes to suit your taste preferences too. After all, what’s most important is to create fun, precious memories with your loved ones.

Prep time 1 hour
Difficulty 5/5
Full recipe click here

3. Peanut Cookies

CNY goodies - Peanut Cookies
Image: Rasa Malysia

Peanut cookies are round, bite-sized cookies that are crumbly and addictive. The steps to make these cookies are as simple as it gets. Combine the ingredients to form a dough and roll them into small balls. Brush the top with egg wash for decoration, then pop them into the oven till they turn brown. For a healthier option, cut down on the amount of sugar and shortening that the recipe calls for.

Prep time 40 minutes
Difficulty 3/5
Full recipe click here

(See also: Hop in兔 the Year of the Rabbit with these Fun CNY Activities)

4. Almond Cookies

Almond Cookies
Image: Just One Cookbook

Almond cookies are fragrant and crumbly, best paired with coffee or tea for maximum satisfaction. They usually take on a round shape and symbolise coins and wealth. The main ingredient in this recipe is almond meal or flour.

Almond meal is coarser and ground with the almond skin, while almond flour, also called almond powder, refers to finely ground almonds without skins and appear lighter in colour without speckled bits. Their nutritional composition is similar, although almond meal is higher in fibre and mineral content, so it is slightly healthier. However, when replacing almond flour with almond meal in recipes, you may need to add a bit more oil to achieve the same crumbly texture.

Prep time 40 minutes
Difficulty 3/5
Full recipe click here

5. Cashew Cookies

CNY goodies - Cashew Cookies
Image: Milk and Dust

Cashew nuts are a great source of healthy fat and minerals and can improve heart health when consumed in moderation. As for cashew cookies, well, they can always be made healthier by modifying the recipe when it’s baked at home. The recipe is relatively easy to follow, consisting of combining the ingredients, chilling the dough, then forming flattened balls and baking them till golden brown.

Prep time 2 hours
Difficulty 4/5
Full recipe click here

6. Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Image: Huang Kitchen

Packed with loads of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants, oats are nutrient-dense and among the healthiest grains available. Combined with naturally sweet raisins and savoury fragrant nuts, oatmeal raisin cookies are probably one of the healthier CNY snacks out there. These bite-sized CNY goodies are thick, soft, chewy, and crunchy all at once, perfect for both the young and old.

Prep time 35 minutes
Difficulty 2/5
Full recipe click here

7. Koi Fish Jelly

CNY goodies - Koi Fish Jelly
Image: Greedy Girl Gourmet

Koi fish are prized possessions as they represent prosperity and success. With that symbolism, jellies in the shape of koi are often consumed during Chinese New Year and can retail for over $100 for a bundle of six. With those extravagant prices, why not try making them at home instead? Making the jelly is a straightforward process, and exercising creativity to paint these colourful fishes could be a fun activity for the whole family!

Prep time 4 hours (including time taken for the jelly to set)
Difficulty 1/5
Full recipe click here

(See also: CNY 2023: 35 Unique Yusheng for Huat-warming Family Reunion Dinners)

SAVOURY CNY GOODIES

8. Seaweed Crackers

Seaweed Crackers
Image: What To Cook Today

A crowd favourite among both kids and adults, crispy seaweed crackers consist of roasted seaweed, spring roll pastry, and sesame seeds (optional) sealed with egg wash, then fried till golden brown and crispy. It is a simple snack with few ingredients and takes no more than a few minutes to fry. For a healthier option, opt to air-fry or bake the crackers instead of deep frying them in oil.

Prep time 30 minutes
Difficulty 1/5
Full recipe click here

9. Arrowroot Chips

CNY goodies - Arrowroot Chips
Image: Nyonya Cooking

Arrowroot chips, or ngaku in Cantonese, are made from thinly sliced bulbs of the arrowroot tuber. These snacks are often widely available during the Chinese New Year period, but are hard to find off-season. However, the good news is, they are super simple to make if you ever crave them during other times of the year. Just soak and fry the thin slices of arrowroot bulbs till they achieve a golden yellow hue. To reduce oil consumption, opt to air-fry them instead.

These addictive snacks are so savoury that you wouldn’t guess that no seasoning is required. They also contain higher protein content than potatoes, so you may want to reach for this healthier alternative whenever you’re craving a handful of potato chips.

Prep time 1.5 hours
Difficulty 3/5
Full recipe click here

10. Lotus Root Chips

Lotus Root Chips
Image: Veggiekins

Impress your guests with beautifully shaped lotus root chips! A great alternative to potato chips, these vegan, gluten-free, and oil-free snacks only take three steps to make. Simply peel and slice the lotus root and season with garlic powder and salt (or anything you like). After that, you can then bake, air-fry, or microwave them. With full flexibility in seasoning, this crispy snack can be as healthy or as sinful as you make it to be.

Prep time 35 minutes
Difficulty 1/5
Full recipe click here

11. Fried Crab Sticks

CNY goodies - Fried Crab Sticks
Image: Noob Cook

Making CNY goodies can’t get any simpler than this. Not to mention, they’re always a hit with kids. These addictive crispy snacks are made by pulling store-bought crab sticks apart into small strips lengthwise and frying them together with curry leaves. Opt to air-fry or bake them instead to reduce your oil consumption.

Prep time 30 minutes
Difficulty 1/5
Full recipe click here

12. Sambal Shrimp Rolls

Sambal Shrimp Rolls
Image: Tummy Troll

Savoury sambal shrimp rolls, which your grandparents might know as hae bee hiam rolls, are always a refreshing change to your palate and a good contrast to balance the tins of sweet buttery cookies and CNY goodies. These rolls are essentially dried shrimp sambal mixture wrapped in pastry skin and fried to crispy perfection.

Make them healthier by baking or air-frying the rolls instead of the traditional method of deep-frying them. To save time and effort, you may want to buy ready-made hae bee hiam, but this would leave less room for healthy modifications such as reducing the amount of oil and salt used. Regardless, rolling up these shrimp rolls are sure to be a fun family activity.

Prep time 1 hour
Difficulty 3/5
Full recipe click here

(See also: Where to Find Qipao, Cheongsam, and Twinning CNY Clothes for Chinese New Year 2023)

5 Tips for Making Healthier CNY Goodies

Making CNY Goodies at home
Image: Ron Lach

#1. Reduce the amount of butter, shortening, salt, and sugar

Most (if not all) of us are aware of the negative health consequences of consuming fat, salt and sugar in excess — the very ingredients that make CNY goodies so addictive. However, butter, shortening, salt, and sugar are all key ingredients in baking. Still, there are always ways to make them healthier, and the most straightforward method is to reduce the amount of these ingredients in recipes wherever possible.

#2. Substitute sugar with stevia or other sweeteners

One of the concerns with baked goods is the amount of sugar that goes into them and its effect on our health, particularly for those with diabetes. However, this can be resolved by replacing sugar with diabetic-friendly substitutes like stevia and other sweeteners. For instance, 1 cup of sugar can be substituted with 18-24 stevia sweetener packets, ⅓ to ½ teaspoon of undiluted stevia powder, or 1 teaspoon of liquid stevia extract.

Since using stevia as a substitute would result in a much lower volume than sugar, you may need to make up the lost bulk of sugar by adding ⅓ cup of egg whites, apple sauce, fruit puree, or yoghurt for each cup of sugar substituted. The final product may be more dense and doughy, but you can counter that by adding more baking powder.

(See also: Mums-to-Be, Take Note of These 8 CNY Goodies Pregnant Women Should Avoid)

#3. Replace regular white flour with whole-grain flour

Whole-grain flours are widely considered healthier than white flour as they are made by grinding entire grain kernels into powder, while white flour removes bran and germ — the most nutritious parts of the grain. Besides being a rich source of fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals, whole-grain flours can also add additional texture and a nutty flavour to CNY goodies.

However, do note that whole-grain flour contains gluten. Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity can try coconut, almond, potato, cassava, teff, buckwheat, sorghum, amaranth, teff, chickpea, brown rice, oat, or corn flour instead.

#4. Choose healthier preparation methods

Besides baked CNY goodies, there are many snacks like lotus root chips and sambal shrimp rolls that require deep-frying. To reduce your oil consumption and calorie intake, opt to air-fry or bake them instead.

#5. Make bite-sized CNY goodies

Reduce the portion sizes and bake mini versions of your favourite CNY goodies. Not only does this make it easier to share with family and friends, but bite-sized snacks also give you the full flavour at reduced fat and calories per portion. At the end of the day, the key is always to consume a well-rounded diet and enjoy the food you love in moderation.

(See also: 28 Novel CNY Goodies to Satisfy Every Sweet Tooth & Savoury Craving)

This Chinese New Year, instead of snacking mindlessly while watching TV, get hands-on and make your own CNY goodies while forming precious memories with your loved ones!

This article first appeared on Homage, an award-winning personal care solution that provides on-demand holistic home and community-based caregiving and medical services to seniors and adults, allowing them to age and recover with grace, control, and dignity.

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