Cheap and healthy food tend to be hard to find. On the days that we are hoping to get a healthy meal in the hawker centre, fish soup will always be at the top of our mind – But is it really the only healthy food there?
Singapore is pretty well known for its hawker culture.
Like most of you, hawker food is our go-to for most of our meals — it is cheap and convenient, and there’s a huge variety to choose from — ranging from Chinese and Thai to Western and even Korean food, which is getting more common nowadays. This is definitely a good dilemma to be in for fickle-minded people!
While hawker food checks all the boxes when it comes to price, accessibility, variety and, of course, taste, the one aspect that it can fall short of is health. After all, intense flavours often mean intense use of salt, sugar and oil!
Despite enjoying a good oily plate of Char Kway Teow with extra cockles, we all have days where we crave for a healthier meal options such as dishes that are less oily, less salty and are of lower calories count.
But on days when the thought of fish soup doesn’t make you salivate, here are 6 other options that will float your bubble:
*Do note that all calories stated are based on Healthy 365 app.
Hakka Tea Rice (Thunder Tea Rice)
I love my greens, and I definitely love a good bowl of Hakka Tea Rice, better known as Thunder Tea Rice, which is a direct translate of its Chinese name.
I have to admit that, on my first encounter with this dish, I was pretty intimidated by how green the dish was, especially the soup. Fret not, though — the scary-looking liquid is actually made of ground tea, nuts or seeds, mint and basil, and tastes really good — honestly!
This dish traditional comes with a bowl of rice that is topped with tofu, preserved radish, snake beans, thin strips of cabbage, and finely chopped leafy greens that has been stir-fried. Talk about a fibre-packed meal!
This is also a good alternative to the classic vegetarian beehoon for those who prefer to go meatless, and it only has 643 calories per serving.
Popiah (Fujianese or Teochew-style Fresh Spring Roll)
This dish, hands down, makes a great option as your mid-afternoon snack, or even a perfect breakfast!
While the photo doesn’t exactly scream the healthiest hawker food on earth, but hey! If you’re concern of how “unhealthy” it is, request for no chilli and no sweet sauce! I dare say that Popiah definitely taste amazing even without the sauces and that its filling, which consist of finely grated and stir-fried turnip, taste heavenly by its own!
Not to forget, topping it with tofu, chopped peanuts and shredded omelette – WHAT A PERFECT COMBINATION! Nothing an omelette can’t solve, right?
A roll of Popiah only has 188 calories. Considering that we usually have 2 rolls of it – two is always better than one – it only amounts to 396 calories per meal!
No, carbohydrates aren’t unhealthy.
Many of us tend to have the misconception that having carbs is unhealthy and that we should avoid it at all cost. However, carbohydrate is crucial for our body as it is the body’s main source of energy! I can go on and on about how carbohydrate is important, but this isn’t the main purpose of the article.
Back to the main point now.
A delicious bowl of congee usually contains 200 – 400 calories, depending on the type of congee you have ordered. A bowl of fish congee is said to have 211 calories, while a bowl of chicken congee has approximately 181 calories.
To add a disclaimer, the calories stated is excluding of Chinese Culler which has around 192 calories per serving. Unless you have some extra calories to spare, or that you are bulking, remember to omit this from your order!
Chinese Herbal Soup
We all love food with varieties, don’t we? From Ginseng chicken to lotus root to pork ribs herbal soup, you name it, you have it.
These seemingly simple soups are actually pack with nutritious value, low in calories, and are pretty filling as well.
A serving of Chicken Herbal Soup only has 187 calories, accompany it with a bowl of white rice which has about 136 calories, you’re good to go!
This amazing dish needs no explanation at all!
Yong Tau Foo
A popular Hakka dish that allows you to pick your own ingredients, as if you’re in a buffet, except at a lower price!
With that being said, you are what you pick! For sure Yong Tau Foo can be the healthiest dish in hawker centre, but they wouldn’t be if you were to drench it with a ton of sweet sauce, have your ingredients deep-fried, or to choose all the processed food being offered.
You definitely know how this will go, right?
Choose tons of vegetables, tell Auntie to skip the deep-frying, and dip your ingredients in the sauce sparingly.
Assuming everything done right, an average mixed Yong Tau Foo soup with rice or noodle contains approximately 517 calories. But do remember to not finish the soup as they may be packed with tons of salt content!
Last but definitely not the least, how can I leave out a crowd favourite….
Bah Kut Teh
Bah Kut Teh is definitely my go-to in the hawker centre whenever I am looking for something soupy – and of course, if it is available.
A popular dish in both Singapore and Malaysia, this dish comes in 2 styles – Teo Chew style which is pepper-y and garlic-y, and Hokkien style, which uses a variety of herbs and soy sauce.
However, if you are looking to have something that is lighter to the palette and is on the healthier side, I would say go for the Teochew style as the Hokkien style will be higher in salt content.
This dish is also commonly paired with a pot of Chinese tea by the side to cut the greasiness of the pork.
Fun fact: Tea also helps to reduce fat intake and lower cholesterol!
While this dish only contains 324 calories, it is definitely a dish that is packed with tons of flavours and has a great kick to it.
So, wait no more, and grab these classic old dishes whenever you are looking to opt for a healthier food, yet is tight on budget and refuses to spend $8 on a bowl of salad!
Most importantly, I can give you a list of healthiest food on earth and tons of guide on how to opt for healthier options, but if you were to over-eat, the healthiest food can cause you harm too.
So, keep this in mind: HAVE EVERYTHING IN MODERATION!