New Year’s Day "Good Luck" Feast

I grew up in rural Pennsylvania. My hometown of Orwigsburg (population: 3106) is tucked in among Amish country, coal mines, and Hawk Mountain. My family is mostly of Lebanese and Italian heritage, but on New Year’s Day, we ate according to Pennsylvania Dutch tradition: pork and sauerkraut with mashed potatoes and buttered rye bread.

Dave’s always been kind of dumbfounded by my need to eat sauerkraut every January 1, but he’s a good sport and plays along with my insistence that it’s good luck. According to the lore, eating pork on New Year’s Day bodes well because a pig roots forward into the future – unlike the turkey that we eat on other holidays which buries the past by scratching backward in the dirt.

This year, I’m adhering to the spirit of the tradition, but giving it a dino-chow spin.

On New Year’s Eve, Dave and I are staying home to enjoy a homemade feast we’re making together (more on that later) and watching Mamma Mia and The Hangover (while not creating hangovers of our own). Our New Year’s Day “good luck” feast is actually going to start at midnight with a Spanish tradition: 12 grapes. In Spain, New Year’s Eve is called Nochevieja, or Old Night, and the tradition is to eat 12 grapes at midnight as each chime rings in the new year. A grape a second might be kinda tough, but we’re going to give it a go!

Our New Year’s Day Menu:
Mashed Cauliflower
Fried Apples


A Small Plate of Bigos | meljoulwan.comBigos (Polish Hunter’s Stew)

I’ve written extensively about bigos before. It’s a hearty dish made with a variety of meats, cabbage, apples, and earthy spices.  This time, I’m trying it with pork and goat!

Mashed Cauliflower | meljoulwan.comMashed Cauliflower

I was never all that crazy about mashed potatoes to begin with, so making the switch to mashed cauliflower was easy for me. The secret to making the mashed cauliflower taste heavenly is coconut oil, coconut milk, and chives.


Fried Apples with Cinnamon and Walnuts |

Fried Apples

Serves 4 | Prep 10 min | Cook 5 min | Whole30 compliant

It’s traditional to eat apple sauce with the pork and sauerkraut, but for me, unsweetened apple sauce is kinda meh. Instead, I’m making apples sautéed in coconut oil to eat alongside our meal. They’re easy, delicious, sweet, satisfying, 100% dino-chow, and make for a really nice dessert on a wintry day.

  • 1 strip sugar-free, nitrate-free bacon

  • 8 roasted, unsalted pecan halves, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

  • 2 large, crisp apples, cored and sliced (about 2 cups)

  • 1/4 teaspoon apple pie spice or cinnamon

  • zest from 1/4 lemon (about 1/4 teaspoon)

  • generous pinch salt


Cut the bacon crosswise into 1/4-inch wide pieces. Place the chopped bacon in a large, cold skillet, turn the heat to medium-high, and fry the bacon until it’s crisp, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan with a wooden spoon and drain on a paper towel.


Wipe the grease out of the skillet, place it back on the heat, and add the chopped pecans. Stir with a wooden spoon until toasted, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the pan.


In the same skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium-high. Add the apple slices and sauté until the apples begin to soften, about 2-3 minutes. In a small bowl, mix the apple pie spice, lemon zest, and salt with a fork, then add to the apples. Continue cooking until the apples are golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes.


Spoon into small dishes and sprinkle with bacon bits and chopped pecans.

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  • georgia says:

    I'll be ringing in the New Year with friends…as the designated driver. There are lots of happy plans on New Year's day (last of the blood lab tests in the a.m., 2010: A Tabata Odyssey, TSLP 1.1 Brunch, and (fingers-crossed) a dinner with a gentleman friend later that night) that I want to be in tip-top shape to enjoy!

  • georgia says:

    Oh, and thanks to almost being a Viano, I'll do lamb for dinner…and since I'm a Texan, black-eyed peas and maybe tamales

  • Michele says:

    Hi! A few months ago I stumbled upon your blog, read a few entries, which I enjoyed greatly.

    This past week I decided to try some of your recipes. Well. First I made the best chicken ever (so true) with acorn squash. Next I made the yummy chili (omgosh it's great!) which I served over spaghetti squash with romaine lettuce and avocados on top. Tonight! I made Shepards Pie using bison, green beens and the mashed cauliflower. It was tasty. For real.

    Thank you! for your insights, humour and super recipes.


  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hey, Michele! I'm so glad you're finding the recipes helpful. I'm totally stealing your idea for bison Shepherd's Pie… that sounds AWESOME!

    Happy holidays!

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  • Kam says:

    I’m curious how the goat tasted?

    • Mel says:

      I didn’t care for that particular goat, honestly… but I’ve since eaten goat cooked carnitas style at a local Mexican restaurant and it was AWESOME. I’m going to give goat another try. Nom Nom Paleo is a big fan, and she has great taste.

  • Kay says:


    I’ve made the sautéed apples twice. I love how easy this recipe is. The first time, I used coconut oil and thought it was ok. The second time, I used butter and liked the flavor much better. Thanks!

  • Natalie says:

    Hi Melissa,
    I’m LOVING your books and blog! Very wild that you’re from Orwigsburg. I lived there for 2 years and went to Blue Mountain for 9th and 10th grade in the early 80s. Small world. Best of luck to you and keep up the great job!

  • Natalie says:

    Get the heck out. I remember you now (as I whip out my yearbook)! You were a year ahead of me. Good for you, girl!