older indian sister feeding her younger sibling

Hari Raya Food

close up of delicious hari raya pastries

As you snack during Hari Raya, keep an eye on your waistline by knowing the average calorie count of popular festive snacks.

For instance, a single pineapple tart contains 82 calories and a twisted cookie contains 67 calories. Five cornflake cookies contain almost 200 calories — that’s almost as much as a small meal! Most festive snacks are high in butter, fat and sugar, so keep portion sizes small.

If you’re baking these snacks, reduce ingredients such as white sugar. Train your taste buds to enjoy less-sweet treats as you lower the amount of sugar in your recipes. Alternatively, use fruits or fruit juice as a natural sweetener, such as in apple muffins or banana cake. Reduce butter, which is high in cholesterol, or replace it with liquid cooking oil with the healthier choice symbol (HCS). Lastly, replace white flour with whole grain flour.

Related: Sneak Tweaks for Healthy Baked Treats

When choosing drinks, go for packet drinks with the HCS, which are lower in sugar. Make a healthier version of bandung by replacing evaporated milk, which is high in saturated fat, with low-fat milk. And always serve water — it’s healthy, quenching, and virtually free! For an added twist, add frozen fruit chunks to a jug of water for a gentle fruity flavour.

While you’re cooking, make healthy substitutions without compromising on taste. For instance, cut the fat but not the flavour with a simple rendang recipe that uses lean chicken and low-fat yoghurt. And serve dishes such as rendang and lontong with whole grains by replacing white rice with brown rice. Eating more whole grains has been shown to lower the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes and certain cancers.

Deepavali Snacks

close up shot of indian snacks eaten during deepavali

Sugary Indian treats, which are eaten as snacks or dessert, are high in sugar. Limit yourself to two to three pieces of each cookie, or less if you’re visiting (and snacking at) multiple households.

Alternatively try making your own traditional snacks. Burfi, a sweet traditionally made with milk, sugar and nuts, can be sweetened naturally with dates and figs instead. Or make a healthier version of gulab jamun[1], spongy milk balls which are usually fried and soaked in rosewater syrup. Try reducing the amount of sugar in the recipe, or replacing it with artificial sweetener.

If you prefer savoury snacks, bake your own murukku instead of buying a typical deep-fried version. This also lets you cut down the amount of salt in your seasoning.

Besides homemade nibbles, fruit such as grapes, berries and nectarines are tasty bite-sized snacks that will satisfy your sweet tooth and nourish your body.

Nuts, eaten in small amounts, are a good alternative energy source for snacking. While stocking up your home, look for packaged nuts with the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS), which indicates that they are lower in ingredients such as fat, salt and oil. Go for raw or baked unsalted nuts rather than those with flavoured toppings.

Related: Healthier Festive Foods for Christmas and Chinese New Year

Healthy Hosting

If you’re throwing a party, look for restaurants or caterers which are part of the Healthier Dining Programme. These businesses offer healthier ingredients such as whole grains, healthier cooking oil, and less deep fried items in their menus.

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  1. Healthy Indian Recipes. (n.d.). Baked Gulab Jamun [Website].
    Retrieved Mar 2017 from http://www.healthyindianrecipes.co.uk/baked-gulab-jamun/