If you’re a true local, you’ll know that we frequent our kopitiams and hawker centres for most of our meals. It’s hot, yes, but the food smells amazing, the wok hey is tantalising, the choices are overwhelming – it’s all such a wonderful experience. But while taste and aroma draws you to start queuing, it is equally important to consider the health benefits such as nutrients, calories, and what good it’s going to do for you. So Personal Trainer Khit is going to assess some of your favourite foods.
1. Hainanese Chicken Rice – 3 thumbs up out of 5
Hainanese Chicken Rice is a true classic. That tender poached chicken with aromatic fragrant rice – who can resist? Good news! From a health perspective, the dish is relatively balanced. The chicken provides a good source of lean protein, while the rice offers carbohydrates for energy. However, the skin and fat content of the chicken should be consumed in moderation due to their higher calorie content. If not, just remove it already. The dish is also relatively low in vegetables, limiting its fibre and vitamin content, so to counter this, add on extra cucumbers or an extra plate of vegetables with less oil. In terms of taste and smell, the chicken rice is great on both levels. The rice is extremely fragrant, you can eat with your nose. And the combination of chicken and rice is simple yet so complimentary, pair it with cucumbers and chilli, and you’ve got yourself a very hearty meal.
Trainer Khit gives 3 thumbs up.
2. Laksa – 1 thumbs up out of 5
Laksa is a rich and spicy noodle soup consisting of coconut milk, curry spices, and a variety of toppings such as shrimp, fish cake, and tofu puffs. While it is undoubtedly flavorful, the high coconut milk content can contribute to its higher calorie and fat content. However, the dish does contain an assortment of ingredients, including protein from the seafood and tofu, as well as spices with potential health benefits. Now let’s talk about the flavour. Laksa’s taste is a harmonious combination of savoury, spicy, and creamy flavours, accompanied by a distinct aroma of herbs and spices. Basically, what we’re saying is that it’s extremely flavourful. The spice also gives you a kick that you need midday. The ingredients pair well with the spice, such as prawns and egg, let’s not forget that these have nutritional benefits – so thumbs up on those. Sadly because it does more ‘hum’ than good, it only rates 1 out of 5. Boohoo for laksa lovers.
Trainer Khit gives 1 thumbs up.
3. Char Kway Teow – 1 thumbs up out of 5
Char Kway Teow is a stir-fried noodle dish made with flat rice noodles, prawns, chinese sausages, bean sprouts, and eggs. While the wok hey makes you drool, it is high in calories because of the amount of oil it takes to fry. Saturated fat, and sodium are high due to its cooking technique and ingredients. However, the dish does provide a decent amount of protein from the seafood and eggs. Its taste is a delightful blend of smoky, savoury flavours, while the dish emits a mouthwatering aroma of stir-fried ingredients. I’ll give it a 1 because there is just simply too much oil and charred-ness in the dish, it’s simply not a healthy cooking method despite all its great taste.
Trainer Khit gives 1 thumbs up.
4. Roti Prata – 0.5 thumbs up out of 5
Roti Prata is a popular Indian-influenced dish consisting of crispy, flaky flatbread served with curry. From a health perspective, the flatbread itself can be high in calories and carbohydrates due to the use of oil in the cooking process. However, the dish can be made healthier by opting for whole wheat or multigrain versions. But let’s be honest, the prata that you get from the hawkers will not be this healthy. The accompanying curry often contains a variety of spices, which can provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Roti Prata has a delightful taste with its crispy texture and a pleasing combination of spices in the curry. The aroma of the freshly cooked flatbread and fragrant curry is captivating. But of course, all prata lovers will hate to hear it – it is just not nutritional at all. There are close to zero health benefits. So only 0.5 thumbs up for that egg that they fry into it. If you’re getting the plain version, it’s definitely a hard 0.
Let’s quickly assess some of the other things on the menu:
Tissue prata – 0 out of 5 for extra sprinkled sugar. This is absolutely harmful to your health!
Thosai – 0 out of 5, it is equally bad as it’s pure carbs with oil
Chapati – 2 out of 5. It is much lower in carbs compared to the Naan and Prata, and it has much less oil.
Trainer Khit gives 0.5 thumbs up for Egg Prata.
5. Popiah – 4 out of 5
Popiah is a fresh spring roll filled with a mixture of julienned vegetables, bean sprouts, tofu, and occasionally seafood or meat, wrapped in a thin wheat flour skin. It’s relatively low in calories and provides an array of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibre from the vegetable fillings. While the taste of Popiah can vary depending on the ingredients and sauces used, it generally offers a refreshing combination of flavours from the fresh vegetables and a slightly sweet and savoury sauce. The smell of freshly toasted and assembled Popiah is quite appetising and inviting. Given that it’s fairly healthy in the way it’s prepared, I give it a 4 out of 5. The slightly unhealthy parts are the turnips that have accidental carbs in them, and it’s usually prepared with a sweet sauce.
Trainer Khit gives 4 thumbs up. It also happens to be his favourite hawker snack.
Here’s an extra wet blanket, one of the foods Personal Trainer Khit can think of that serves absolutely no benefit is the Ice Kachang. He gives it a solid 0 for providing 100% harm with no nutritional benefits. Ice Kachang die hard fans must be crying.
Anyway, if you’d like to know more about how to create a sustainable healthy diet with Singaporean food, consider getting a personal trainer who can do more than just diet planning for you. They’ll also be able to plan your workouts, and provide more lifestyle tips – all for that overall wellbeing.