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In foodie-paradise Singapore, it’s all about the taste. That’s why it’s great news when you don’t have to sacrifice your taste buds in order to eat healthily! We’re talking about eating fresh and colourful—trying new dishes and giving our local favourites a healthier twist (mum won’t taste the difference). ​

​Just little tweaks to the way you cook, or the ingredients you use can make a difference. We’re blessed with access to produce from all over the world. It’s time to get creative!

​Yummier Than Ever

​Let the natural flavours in your food shine through. This means that there is no need to mask dishes with heavy sauces and too much salt. 

​Instead, explore the wonderful world of herbs and spices, mushrooms, fruit and vegetables. These are natural flavour enhancers, all readily available and familiar ingredients, which can add that special oomph to your usual fare. 

​Experiment with the exciting range of flavours and aromas that they offer. 

  • Need a zing? Try a shot of lemon juice. 
  • Want to spice things up? Why, just take your pick from your neighbourhood Indian spice stall. 
  • Even supermarkets offer a mind-boggling array of natural seasonings, from local flavours like star anise, turmeric and garam masala to Western ones like basil and thyme.

At the same time, make a switch to healthier oils, like olive, peanut or sunflower oils. You’d be surprised at how subtly it changes the flavour of your food. Still, remember to skim off any extra oil from your curry and stews! This​​ leaves more real flavour behind for you to enjoy.

Makan Makeover

 

​Your food shouldn’t just taste great, it should look great, too. Adding colour to your plate is easy with the beautiful vegetables available to us year-round. 

  • Did you know that the bright orange and red veggies, like capsicums, carrots, tomatoes an​d pumpkins, offer not just amazing sweetness but also even more amazing vitamins?
  • Keep a rainbow over your meal by using any veg from dark green kai lan to purple cabbage and white cauliflower, in order to get your full spectrum of flavour—and nutrients.

Now, how about adding new textures as well... If you haven’t discovered wholegrains yet, then it’s about time you tried some. Brown or wild rice, wholewheat bread and pasta, wholegrain or bran cereals have an “earthy” flavour, and in some foods, a chewiness that can be very satisfying. Together with the crunchy goodness of nuts and seeds, they bring another dimension to your palate.

Familiar Favourites Can Be Healthy

​​​

Eating well does not mean having to avoid our local fare. Some choice options are the pick of health heroes and you probably know them well: yong tau foo, Teochew steamed fish, thosai, and popiah can all be enjoyed regularly without guilt.

As for other heritage dishes, new ways of cooking them are winning over fans. Nowadays, it is not hard to spot hawker stalls and other eateries which have adopted healthier ingredients and methods. They are proving to be popular choices, and for the better! You just know the food tastes good, because of the queues and the good reviews they are getting.

You should try:

  • brown rice instead​ of white
  • low-fat milk in place of c​oconut milk
  • grilling that chicken or baking that pisang instead of deep-frying​​​

​To start with, replace just a quarter of the usual ingredient with its healthier counterpart. You can then change up to half the quantity for a more ​nutritious spin.

​​​When only the real deal will do

Sometimes there really is nothing like mum’s rich curry or that fried noodle dish down the road. 

When nobody makes it quite like your favourite chef, you don’t have to say good-bye forever. Our dietitian suggests these two ways to still enjoy beloved high-calorie dishes:

  1. Have it less frequently. Saving your favourite food for a special occasion makes it much more special, doesn’t it?
  2. ​Have a smaller portion. Sharing a pleasure doubles it!​

How Abou​t Going International?​​

Living in a cosmopolitan city like Singapore, it would be a shame not to get to know cuisines from other cultures. It also makes eating healthily a bit of an adventure! We suggest these well-known styles of cooking to try.

Italian cuisine is loved all over the world, and is not hard to prepare. Cook tomato-based or pesto-based pastas instead of cream-based ones. It’s also an easy way to get more vegetables into your diet, and don’t forget to use whole-meal pasta.

Mediterranean fare has long been in the limelight for its health benefits. Think grilled fish and lemon, lots of fresh greens and olive oil. The Mediterranean diet is rumoured to be the secret of the populations’ health and longevity—who wouldn’t want that?

The Japanese use a very light touch in cooking that we can learn. They also do wonders with fish, tofu and soups. That’s perfect for those who don’t want to stray too far from Asian-style dishes, but are willing to try new ingredients like nutrition-rich seaweed and miso. 


​Dining Well, Living Well

We take care of our health so that we can enjoy life, and that includes enjoying our meals. Don’t be afraid to make the switch to eating healthily, because you won’t have to compromise on taste. Instead, you’ll find you’re uncovering more depth in your food, and a new level of delight! 

Your taste buds don’t lie—Give it a try!

Low salt, low sugar and low oil doesn’t mean low on taste! Great-tasting stuff doesn’t have to burn a hole in your pocket, either. Why not give these recipes a go?

Recipe 1: Hummus ​(Makes 1½ cup)

 

This middle-eastern dip has become popular around the world, not least for its addictive deliciousness. Have it with whole-meal pita strips, or fresh celery and carrot sticks. It's also sensational with grilled chicken.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus a little extra to serve
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • A pinch of salt​

Method:

  1. Toast the sesame seeds in a pan. Remove and grind with the olive oil to make a paste. This paste is also known as tahini.
  2. Reserve a tablespoon or two of liquid from the can of chickpeas and drain off the rest.
  3. Blend the chickpeas in a food processor with the garlic and sesame paste. Add the reserved liquid as needed, if the mixture gets too dry. If you don't have a blender, try pounding the garlic with pestle and mortar before mashing it together with the tahini and chickpeas using a fork. Aim for a fine, smooth texture.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice, and drizzle a touch of olive oil over before serving.​

Hummus can be adapted easily to suit your taste—need more of a kick? Add some chilli or paprika. Want a more local flavour? Cumin or coriander seeds will do the trick. You could also blend in dried tomatoes for sweetness and colour. Be adventurous; anything goes! 


Recipe 2: Icy Mango Cream​​ (Serves 3)

​This recipe is great as it is, or you can jazz it up by adding, for example, pomelo sacs, almond flakes or even chocolate shavings. Try replacing the mango with strawberries, or pour this over chilled sago pearls for a pudding-style dessert.​​ ​