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A Bowl Full of Money

A heaping portion of greens (such as these garlicky collards) is pretty typical in January, but Tom Nealon, author of the forthcoming book Food Fights & Culture Wars: A Secret History of Taste says leafy veggies are a classic good-luck food, since they resemble the color of greenbacks and their leaves are akin to paper.

Also on the list of looks-like-cash cuisine is fish, since the scales shimmer like coins—and we never need an excuse to eat fish tacos. And, says Nealon, golden raisins and corn, both of which are small, round and similar in color to gold coins, are also said to bring good fortune.

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The Foods That Know Your Resolutions

Many of us hope to grow in some way between now and December 31, whether in our relationships, our jobs or our experiences. What you eat can help plant the seed for growth, so to speak—and Nealon says traditional New Year's Day foods are often associated with growth. Some of the most well known are black-eyed peas (they're fantastic in this slow-cooked stew), but other options include seeds, which you can incorporate into brittle or muffins; and, pomegranates (which are even great in hummus).

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A Reminder That We Are (Like) What We Eat

Want to have a long life? Eat long noodles. Planning to push forward into new frontiers this year? Make dinner with an animal that's known for always moving ahead. This line of thinking may sound far-fetched, but consuming foods that have desirable characteristics is something many traditions adhere to, says Nealon. The noodle example is one of the most famous, with this caveat: Slurp them up whole without biting, or they can be unlucky (try this soba recipe, which also includes snap peas and smoked salmon).

Shrimp are thought to look like bent-over old men with whiskers, and while achieving that look isn't exactly a lifelong goal of ours, we certainly hope to be celebrating New Year's well into our golden years—and there's no denying the deliciousness of this garlicky shrimp and tomato dish.

Finally, pigs can help you achieve your dreams (really!). These animals root for food in a forward-moving direction, unlike unlucky turkeys and lobsters, which tend to scoot backward as they feed. Can skillet pork chops and apples help you get ahead in life? Here's hoping.