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Healthier hawker delights abound

Hawker food isn't always loaded with calories, here's how you can still keep to your diet

Many people think you need to stay away from hawker food to lose weight, but there are a number of options you can choose from without worrying about your diet.

Read on for hawker delights that range from 300 to 450 calories each and can help you hit your calorie deficit goal.

Bao and tea without sugar instead of kaya toast set for breakfast

A typical kaya toast set piles on 448 calories, so switch that with a char siew bao (160 calories) and teh-c kosong (26 calories).

But not all baos are equal, pork buns can carry a hefty 301 calories apiece.

Fried beehoon instead of mee goreng

Mee goreng is such a great comfort food, with starchy spicy noodles, sliced fish cake and the occasional bit of stir-fried greens for small bursts of freshness. It is perhaps only marginally better than instant noodles and packs 613 calories.

Economic beehoon can be a calorie bomb too, but if you opt for just plain fried beehoon (294 calories) and throw in only a fried chicken wing (163 calories), it is a total of 457 calories.

Dry fishball noodles instead of fishball noodle soup

Surprisingly, dry fishball noodles (474 calories) have less calories than when served in soup (with thick yellow noodles) at 523 calories. It is good news for those who prefer their noodles dry as they can save on about 50 calories easily this way.

Thosai instead of prata

Prata is so flat and thin that you think it would have around the same number of calories as buttered toast, but one prata has 164 calories.

A better option is thosai or dosa (97 calories), which is made from a batter of various fermented pulses and rice flour. It has a crepe-like consistency and is great with some coconut chutney (86 calories).

If you think it is not filling enough, get the masala thosai (362 calories) which is stuffed with potato.

Popiah instead of fried spring roll

Make popiah (187 calories) your mid-afternoon snack instead of fried spring roll, which is super addictive and calorie-laden (198 calories).

Porridge instead of economy rice

Porridge usually ranges from 200 to 400 calories a bowl. Chicken porridge is 181 calories while pork and peanut porridge have 398 calories.

But if you think you will still be hungry, add an egg, which is a nutrient powerhouse of high-quality protein, vitamins and healthy fat.

Ice grass jelly instead of chendol or ice kacang

Traditional desserts such as chendol (386 calories) and ice kacang (256 calories) are full of sugar and fat that make you gain weight faster.

When the craving hits, swop them with ice grass jelly (121 calories) or ice jelly cocktail (152 calories).

Meaty soups instead of Western grilled meats

Hankering for chicken cutlet or pork chop at your closest Western food stall?

Get chicken, mutton or duck soup (all under 390 calories) or maybe some bak kut teh (323 calories) instead. It may not hit the spot 100 per cent, especially if you are craving for grilled or roasted meats, but it is a good compromise for those on a diet.

Thunder tea rice instead of claypot rice

Depending on the ingredients, claypot rice can contain anywhere from 500 to a whopping 896 calories and plenty of sodium.

For an alternative that your waistline will thank you for, consider thunder tea rice. Low in fat and high in fibre, this Hakka dish has surged in popularity with more hawker centres and neighbourhood coffee shops offering it.

You can opt for white or brown rice (brown rice has a lower glycemic index), which is topped with stir-fried chopped veggies, cubed tau kwa, ikan bilis, toasted peanuts, and accompanied by a broth made from green tea and a blend of herbs.

Ask for less deep-fried ikan bilis to shave off more calories and keep your calorie count under 450.

Sliced instead of fried fish beehoon soup

When it comes to soup-based dishes, a clear broth often contains less fat and calories.

The addition of fried fish slices and evaporated milk places this otherwise healthy dish alongside other calorie-dense dishes like chicken rice - it has up to 730 calories a bowl. Ask for boiled fish slices and forgo the milk, and it is only about 350 calories.

Do not slurp up all the soup though, as it is still laden with sodium.

This article was first published in Her World Online (

Food & Drink