How to have a healthier Hari Raya
Whenever Hari Raya (or any other festive season) comes around, so do a slew of special foods and snacks associated with the season. What is Hari Raya without these sweet treats?
Here’s how you indulge in some of the popular snacks – stick to the old-fashioned way of handmaking your goodies so you have the freedom to switch out certain ingredients for healthier ones.
Here are examples of how you can tweak your recipe for a healthier treat! But remember, the key is still to eat in moderation.
A must-have goodie with a buttery crust topped with fresh sweet pineapple filling – definitely sounds hard to resist! One of these pieces will cost you 82 kcal, and that means a 10 minute cycle or 23 minute walk to burn off.
Improvise: The traditional recipe requires you to use sweetened condensed milk. Substitute it with soy or rice milk instead. Combine 3 cups of soy or rice milk with half a cup of white sugar into a saucepan over medium-low heat, and stir till the milk reduces to 1 cup. Add a few drops of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Another healthier alternative is to replace a quarter of the flour with whole wheat flour.
These melt-in-your-mouth cookies are heavy on the sugar and coconut milk. Though the calories are small, it’s hard to stop once you start popping. For every piece you pop (23 kcal), that’s a 3 minute cycle or 7 minute walk on your to-do list.
Improvise: Replace a small proportion of the coconut milk with milk (about 10%). The texture and taste will be different but this healthier alternative is lower in calories. You may have to try out the recipe a few times before getting the right texture and shape.
The soft and buttery texture and crunch of sprinkled sugar will tease you as you bite into the rich, crispy peanut filling. These leaf-shaped treats pack 55 kcal each, which would take 15 minutes of brisk walking to burn off.
Improvise: Instead of using ghee in this one, substitute it with canola or olive oil for better heart health.
Otherwise known as pulut manis, this sweet treat is made of palm sugar, glutinous rice and coconut milk. It is available in assorted flavours but its original flavour alone packs 63 kcal in one serving. That’s about 9 minutes of cycling or 21 minutes of walking to do.
Improvise: This treat is notoriously sweet so use less sugar, and swap the brown sugar with date sugar.
These irresistible golden brown treats crumble in the mouth perfectly. Unfortunately, they contain one of the highest calorie count in the usual array of sweets. You would need to cycle for 20 minutes in order to burn off one piece (80 kcal). A few more and you may end up having to do a 10km run.
Improvise: Reduce the amount of castor sugar and replace it with dried fruits like dates, prunes and apricots. These are concentrated sources of sweetness rich in fibre and nutrients, including iron and potassium. They also add a nice crunch to this otherwise soft smooth treat. Another modification is to substitute a quarter or half of the flour with whole wheat flour for added fibre.
Reviewed by Natalie Goh, chief dietitian at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital