In Singapore, Deepavali is a time of treats for Indians and non-Indians. Special effort is put into bringing yummy snacks and foods to the table in every household. For appetising and beneficial, healthier meals, it is vital to choose the right ingredients. 

Introducing HCS

An easy way to up the goodness in home cooked dishes is to use ingredients with the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS). Products with HCS are generally lower in saturated fat, sodium, sugar and higher in dietary fibre, calcium, and wholegrains compared to similar products within the same food category. To make nutrition labelling more comprehensive, each HCS carries a tagline that focuses on the nutritional aspect of the product so that you know what criteria the product has been awarded for. 

Using HCS For Deepavali Cooking

When cooking at home, you can choose healthier oils such as canola, olive, soy, sunflower and peanut. These contain more of the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that can decrease the risk of developing heart disease. You can also gradually replace high-fat dairy products like ghee, with trans-fat free margarine which is lower in saturated fat. The oils with the HCS label are healthier, better for your arteries and taste just as good.  You can also opt for sauces with the "Lower in Sodium" label.  This indicates that the food product contains at least 25% less sodium than similar products without the symbol. Low sodium doesn't mean your food will taste bland. You'll find the "Lower in Sodium" symbol on flavourful sauces (such as chilli or tomato sauce), mixes and pastes, as well as crunchy nuts and seeds. You will hardly taste any difference in the salt content. The spices used in the foods for Deepavali are also flavourful and strong enough to ensure that your Deepavali treats will be just as yummy. 

Here Are Some Other Easy Tips On How To Incorporate Healthier Ingredients

  • Swap white rice for brown basmati rice.
  • Replace cream with low-fat yogurt in 'creamy' curries.
  • Bake/air fry/grill murukku instead of deep fry.
  • Bake/toast/roast papadum instead of deep fry
  • Serve more tandoori chicken instead of curry chicken.
  • Snack on unsalted nuts or dried unsugared fruits instead of deep-fried pakoras or bhajis.
  • Choose to eat a portion of fruit instead of an Indian sweetmeat.
  • Use tofu instead of full-fat paneer cheese.
  • Have semi-skimmed or low-fat milk in a cup of chai instead of full-fat milk.
  • Follow My Healthy Plate recommendations and have at least half a plate of greens and fruits at mealtimes.
  • Use less sugar than you normally would. Even a little reduction helps.
  • Make use of spices instead of salt or sugar to make foods taste better.

Cook Healthy To Keep Healthy For Deepavali

Now, you are ready to make your Deepavali foods and snacks delightful and hearty at the same time! With the special festival just around the corner, there is no better time to try these healthier cooking methods and ingredients out before the special day comes around and you can wow your friends and relatives with these scrumptious foods! Not only will you be spreading good cheer, you will also be spreading good health!

Fun Recipes Using Healthier Ingredients

  • Fruits: Try out a visually beautiful fruit platter suitably named 'The Dancing Peacock'. It is easy-to-make and is definitely a dish that will wow your guests! No cooking is required and it only takes about 30 minutes to prepare.
  • Drinks: 'Minty Delight' is an ancient concoction infused with tulasi (Indian basil), fresh ginger, cardamoms, peppercorn, lime, camphor and mint leaves, this drink screams health and vigour.
  • Snacks: The 'Vazhakkai Bajji' is another simple and easy-to-bake dish, this banana and turmeric dish can be baked or air fried and taste as good as fried.
  • Vegetarian: With ingredients including onions, ginger garlic paste, tomato, mint leaves, turmeric, red chilli powder, garam masala, coriander, fennel seeds and curry leaves, this vegetarian 'Masala Idiyappam' dish simply explodes with flavour. Even I cannot wait to try this out.
  • Meat: Deepavali cannot be celebrated without curry chicken. Cook this staple using low-fat or skimmed milk and serve this staple with wholemeal bread or brown rice for a healthier version.
  • Desserts: Desserts are a must during Deepavali. Filled with nuts and raisins and infused with saffron, kesari and cardamon, the Kesari is always a favourite with the adults and children. Use less sugar to taste the natural sweetness of the raisins.  The use wholegrain flour also makes it a healthier snack!

More of such examples can be found here so be sure to check them out!

Even the most disciplined healthy diet-followers let down their guard and get into the festive spirit at such a time. Using ingredients with HCS and keeping the above tips in mind, it is possible to cook and keep healthy during the Festival of Lights and still have an enjoyable time with family and friends. 

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Eating Healthy During Deepavali