We don’t know about you, but we sure are ready to cut down on all the festive binging as we enter into Day 12 of the Chinese New Year! Believe it or not, hawker centres can help you lose the pounds, aside from their wallet-friendly prices and lip-smacking deliciousness. All you gotta do is step away from your usual nasi lemak, roast pork wan tan mee and claypot noodles, and look out for these eight dishes instead!
You don’t need to be a rabbit to crave these savoury crunchy rolls. Popiah are ingenious creations of veggies like radish, carrot, cucumber, bean sprouts, lettuce, fried shallots, and depending on the style, filled with heart-healthy protein like prawn, ground peanuts or omelette, drizzled with sweet-chili sauce to enhance the medley of flavours. Some recipes come with crispy, if you’re feeling naughty.
2. Steamed chicken rice
This is possibly the best post-workout meal to look forward to. But seriously, who can resist the pull of tender, fragrant and freshly steamed chicken over a bed of fluffy rice? Steamed chicken is the ideal clean protein, while the rice restores your energy levels. Order a side of crunchy blanched bean sprouts for added fibre.
3. Ikan bakar
Besides chicken, fish is also an excellent source of protein and much more low in fat as compared to beef or pork. Popular fish to grill include Stingray, Mackerel and Tilapia, which is then smothered in an aromatic marinade of spices, coconut milk, lemon, lime, belacan and chilli and grilled on a banana leaf over a charcoal fire. Complete the dish with ulam, or raw vegetables.
4. Economy rice
There are so many reasons to love economy rice. The buffet style spread offers a variety of dishes to choose from, with platters constantly refilled with freshly cooked meat and vegetables that are either fried, braised, stir-fried or steamed. In fact, you might end up at a loss for choice, deciding between a few different dishes. Budget friendly but hearty and healthy.
5. Fish paste noodles
We don’t have to repeat the goodness that comes from this omega-rich brain food. If you feel like slurping on some noodles, go for a bowl with fish paste or homemade fish balls and fish cake. We highly recommend the clear fish noodles that’s cooked with tofu, tomatoes, ginger and preserved cabbage.
6. ‘Tong Sui’
Feel like something sweet? Divert your footsteps from the fluffy cake and doughy buns and opt for the cooling, herby soups that help with detoxification as well as your digestion. Choose from red bean soup, bubur cha cha, Cheng Pou Leong and grass jelly, and ask for less sugar.
You don’t have to give up mamak food just to be healthy. The next time you crave some roti, instead of murtabak or roti canai, opt for tosai, a crepe made from rice batter and black lentils, high in iron, low in fat and gluten free. Scoop up vegetarian protein sides and dips like lentils, potatoes, chickpeas, beans and spinach, which are fibrous food that fill you up good.
Incorporating more fruits in your diet shouldn’t be too difficult with a serving of rojak. This salad of cucumber, turnip, pineapple, guava, young mango and papaya easily adds up to you daily vegetable and fruit quota, sprinkled with hi-protein roast peanuts. We suggest you go easy on the sweet-savoury prawn paste dressing, though.
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