Hari Raya Food

This festive season, use fruits as a natural sweetener in place of sugar in muffins

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

For instance, a single pineapple tart contains 92 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 or tea time 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 sweet 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 and saturated fat, or replace it with liquid cooking oil with the healthier choice symbol (HCS). Lastly, replace white flour with wholegrain 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 wholegrains 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

This Deepavali, look for healthier recipes of murukku, your favourite traditional Indian snack.

It’s not a Deepavali celebration of light over darkness without oil lamps and mouth-watering Indian sweets. 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.

Snacks, too, are part of Deepavali food. Try making your own traditional snacks this holiday season with healthier Diwali snacks recipes. Burfi, a sweet traditionally made with milk (and sometimes condensed 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. Reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe, or replace it with an intense sweetener such as stevia or monk fruit.

If you prefer savoury snacks to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, 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. It’s the festival of lights after all, not a celebration of sugar or salt.

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 fat, sodium and sugar. Go for baked and/or unsalted nuts rather than nuts that have been fried, sweetened and/or salted.

Related: Healthier Festive Foods for Christmas and Chinese New Year

Stay Healthy During Any Festive Season

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 wholegrains, healthier cooking oil, and less deep fried items in their menus, no matter which festive season you’re celebrating.

Download the HealthHub app on Google Play or Apple Store to access more health and wellness advice at your fingertips.

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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/