All over Singapore, celebrations to welcome in the year of the Rat have begun. The excitement for Chinese New Year is building in the air, and you can’t wait for the spectacular parades, lion dances and fireworks displays. But admit it—you’re also eager to feast on love letters, bak kwa, pineapple tarts and the other delicious morsels that have become synonymous with the most festive season of the year.
But just how healthy are your favourite Lunar New Year delicacies? While counting calories may be the furthest activity from your mind while you indulge (or overindulge?) in sweet and savoury treats, it’s not a bad idea to be in the know when it comes to what you put in your mouth. Besides, it might even inspire a new year’s resolution or two!
Before we begin, let’s put this into perspective. Women generally need to consume 2,000 calories daily to maintain their weight and 1,500 calories to lose pounds. For men, it’s 2,500 calories a day for maintenance and 2,000 for weight loss. A regular bowl of white rice contains 280 calories, while a pint of beer has anywhere from 150 to 180 calories.
Keeping that in mind, it’s time to take a closer look at 10 of your favourite Chinese New Year treats:
Calories per piece: 112
This classic Chinese New Year cookie is everyone’s favourite. Love letters, as they are fondly known, are crispy, buttery and oh-so-addictive!
Calories per slice: 370
The salty-sweet flavours of bak kwa will have you coming back for more, but beware, the thin slices of Chinese jerky are deceivingly yummy (and calorific!).
Green pea cookies
Calories per piece: 53
Green pea cookies may sound weird, but it’s the salty-sweet flavour combination that gets me every time. Warning: it’s easy to demolish loads of these Lunar New Year cookies!
Calories per piece: 94
Pineapple tarts are certifiably yummy and sugary! But that’s where the danger lies—there are 3.5 teaspoons of sugar in each tart! That’s a lot…and how many can you eat in one sitting?
Calories per serving (80g): 339
Everyone loves prawn crackers, and the thing is, they are so very moreish! One handful follows another, especially when there are drinks involved to offset the salty-spicy goodness of this savoury snack.
Calories per slice: 238
This steamed pudding cake, originally from Indonesia, is soft, buttery and sinfully good—it’s pretty much impossible to just eat one slice!
Calories per serving (2-cm slice): 482
You can’t celebrate Chinese New Year without year cake! Nian Gao, with it’s soft and sticky texture, is divine and absolutely traditional. Beware the calories, though!
Peanut sesame candy
Calories per piece: 218
While peanuts may be considered a healthy snack, there is loads of sugar in this sticky and chewy delicacy. Watch how many you eat, and don’t forget to get all that sugary goodness off your teeth after!
Calories per piece: 15
These delicate tapioca and coconut cream cookies are absolutely delectable—they melt in your mouth, making them irresistible!
Calories per piece: 83
These treats are so yummy, with the perfect blend of crunch from the cornflakes and velvety, chocolatey goodness all over—beware the trap of never-ending munching!
So there you have it—mouth-watering Chinese New Year goodies and the honest-to-goodness truth on the calorie counter. If you ate one of each of the ten treats discussed in this article, you’d be looking at consuming a whopping 1,892 calories in one go!
The important thing is to enjoy while not getting too carried away. Gong xi fa cai!
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