2021 New Food Resolutions

New year, new me! Which means it’s also the perfect time to challenge yourself to try new flavors, new ingredients, and new foods. We’ve compiled a list of various Korean ingredients and foods that’s definitely worth a try! For the bold, we have spicier suggestions to try as well. There won’t be anything like the cinnamon challenge, we promise (but if that sounds appealing, there’s always Korean red chili pepper flakes). Korean cuisine is also known for its gut-healthy and nutritious benefits! Continue reading for some ideas to jot down in your list of 2021 resolutions.

1. Korean Spin On Your Favorite Ingredients 

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To ease you on your journey of Korean foods, we’ve first prepared an easy Korean spin on foods that you already know and use: spinach, broccoli, cucumbers, eggs, potatoes, sausages, and more. These (mainly vegetable) foods are common side dishes and easily made with typical Korean tastes and flavors that we’re sure you’ll come to love. Most of these dishes are quite easy, like the broccoli and spinach which requires blanching the vegetable (quickly immersing in boiling water and then rinsing in ice cold water) and seasoning it with garlic, salt, and sesame oil. And voila! 2 side dishes. For the cucumber side dish, you’ll want to thinly slice the cucumbers, gently toss them in salt for about 15 minutes, drain the excess liquid, and add the seasoning (garlic, sesame oil, Korean chili pepper flakes, vinegar, and sugar, all to taste). We also highly recommend trying kimchi, sso-ya (sausage stir fry), Korean-styled braised eggs, braised potatoes, and more side dishes here. Tip: Drizzle some KPOP Sauce on these side dishes and *chef’s kiss*.

2. Seaweed Snacks (Get Creative)!

If you haven’t already tried roasted seaweed, then you’re missing out on this nutrient-filled superfood. If taking care of your body for the new year is your goal, definitely incorporate these yummy snacks into your diet. You can buy the best sea snacks here! There are also countless ways to eat roasted seaweed and we’ve come up with a few easy recipes, like the eggcellent seaweed omelette or as a garnish to these eggquisite kimchi deviled eggs

3. Perfectly Balanced (and customizable) Meal

We all know that healthy eating isn’t achieved overnight. What helps you make the switch to healthier foods isn’t only transforming your habits but also enjoying the foods that you’re putting into your body. For that reason, we’re sharing these two delicious, balanced, and customizable meals to try in your new year: bibimbap and kimbap. Bibimbap is traditionally made with rice and an assortment of vegetables, proteins, and whatever you have left in your refrigerator to make a warm and scrumptious rice bowl.  Here's an easy recipe! Make sure to add  KPOP Sauce to the bowl as it adds the main flavor to the dish.

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Another alternative is kimbap (Korean sushi rolls) which consists of rice and an assortment of ingredients (mostly vegetables) tightly rolled and cut into bite size pieces. What’s best about these two dishes is that it’s easily customizable. Simply add the various ingredients that you would like (we recommend a couple of vegetables and a protein)! Here's a variation of the classic bibimbap bowl. 

4. Invest in These Korean Condiments, Herbs, and Spices

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If you’re trying to be more health conscious or daring when making food, a wonderful and easy method is to play around with different food profiles and food cultures to explore tastes and combinations you haven’t tried before. We recommend that you try the following Korean ingredients: sesame seeds and oil, gochujang and gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper paste and flakes), KPOP Foods sauces, doenjang (fermented soybean paste), loooots and lots of minced garlic, daepa (Walsh onion/giant scallion), plum syrup, and vinegar. These ingredients are sure to make delicious Korean-inspired meals and tastes that are healthy and tasty! Take a look at the health benefits of gochujang here and an easy recipe using gochujang here  (gochujang corn cheese). 

5. Eating Plant Based

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For those who are challenging themselves to adopt a heavier plant-based diet (or planning on going vegetarian or vegan) in the new year, look no further! Korean foods are astonishingly easy to customize and make for a vegetarian or vegan diet since there’s already a heavy plant-based makeup in Korean foods. Not to mention they’re invitingly appetizing too! Healthy and tasty? Sign me up! For easy meals, try joomuk-bap (seaweed rice ball recipe here ), japchae (Korean glass noodles), and more here. We also recommend the wide variety of plant-based soy milks with flavors like black sesame, green tea, chocolate, strawberry, banana, red bean, peanut, and walnut. They’re super nutty and so tasty that they’re addictive. You’re sure to find your favorite plant based “milk” within the wide variety of duyu (soy milks) in Korea.

6. Sleep Better, Eat Better

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A crucial factor to a better year is definitely better sleep. A restful night’s sleep can do wonders for your mental health and physical body. It also encourages better eating habits! If you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, we recommend that you try these relaxing and de-stressing Korean traditional teas: buckwheat (maemil), dried magnolia berries (omija), Korean citron (yuja), ginseng (insam), date and ginger (saenggang), and chrysanthemum (gukhwa) tea. You can order them on Amazon! These are healthy, non-caffeinated teas that are sure to help you sleep and relax. If you’re looking for a meditative, disciplined routine for your new year, try learning traditional Korean tea ceremony practices here!

7. Homecook Your Meals

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Sadly, we’re starting off our new year in quarantine, but what better way to (literally) spice up our lives at home than to sharpen those cooking skills by experimenting with new recipes? Try making this savory and comforting galbijim (braised short ribs) if you’re up for a challenge. If you’re looking to start small, here are a few simple and quick Korean recipes. Finally, we recommend you put a twist to a chicken sandwich by using our KPOP sauce to make it extra hot! Find the recipe for the exxxtra hot chicken sandwich here.

8. Take Your Spice Tolerance to New Heights and Approach “Spicy” Differently 

If you’re trying to challenge your spice tolerance, we definitely recommend the Fire Ramen Challenge (if you haven’t tried it already!). You can see our KPOP Foods team challenge in this challenge video and find the famous Buldak ramen on Amazon. We also urge you to approach “spicy” foods differently this year; your mindset may play a role in your tolerance for spice! Many Koreans seek out spicy foods for the purpose of destressing, relaxing, or detoxing their bodies. Try approaching spicy foods in this positive way, and we’re sure you’ll see results. Our KPOP sauces are perfect for starting slow and low in terms of spice levels and working your way up so definitely try the variety of flavors we offer in the new year!

9. Dive Into a Movie & Food

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Okay, this is a resolution for those who didn’t get to watching the Korean movie, Parasite, in 2020. Not only do we recommend putting this movie on your bucket list, but we also recommend you try the jjapaguri ramen steak dish (recipe here) featured in the movie.

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Another unforgettable food experience to try is the chimaek (or chicken + maekju (beer)) combination as you’re watching a K-drama at home. You can look here for a flavorful Korean fried chicken recipe!

10. Try Soju

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Did you know that Korea is one of the heaviest drinking countries in the entire world?! You can thank South Korea's love for soju, a clear, distilled spirit with alcohol percentages around 20%, for the jaw-dropping statistic. If you haven’t tried soju already, definitely put it on your bucket list!

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Even Snoop Dogg drank soju with Psy and absolutely loved the experience. You can look here for how to drink soju and here for some fun soju games you can play with your friends and family (virtually). There are also plenty of flavors of soju to try from, but we recommend you try the original first. Try listening to the song “Soju” by Jay Park featuring 2 Chainz here as you’re sipping away!

11. Nonalcoholic, Healthy Drinks (Tasty Alternatives)

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Finally, for those who are challenging themselves to reduce their alcohol consumption in the new year, we’ve compiled a list of some absolutely delectable, addictive Korean beverages. A popular drink for all ages is the Binggrae milk series. The banana milk is the original fan-favorite, but they also offer strawberry, melon, and coffee flavors as well. Other classic drinks include Milkis (carbonated, creamy milk!), sikhye (dessert rice beverage), Bong Bong Kyoho grape pulp drink, crushed pear drink, and the recent whipped coffee Dalgona drink. You can find all of these options and more on Yamibuy