I LOVE SINGAPORE HAWKER CENTRES and I always lament to my dad I’m very afraid when I grow older, there would be no more hawker centres! The horror!
Most days when I don’t know what to eat for lunch, I secretly scan and see which stall has the oldest person frying up something and order from that stall instead. Guaranteed yumminess! 🙂
But while hawkers sell really tasty food, I personally think hawker food is really
terrible for daily consumption especially if you are an office worker
and you eat out for breakfast, lunch and dinner then go back to your
desk for the rest of the day with minimal activity. I think we would all
agree that hawker centre food in general is too high in fat salt and
refined carbs lacking in vitamins, minerals and fibre.
It’s not wonder then if you are an average Singaporean looking to eat better in Singapore’s
Hawker Centres, you might find the task a strangely difficult and uphill
one. You start off the day all determined to Eat Right! and Eat Better and
you troop down to the nearest hawker centre for lunch and you are faced
with all these options that sound kindaaaa healthy but make you feel bloated and full and greasy and lethargic post meal.
I’m still dreaming of the day where EVERY hawker uses less salt, fat and sugar in their meals and offer a choice between brown and white rice (why don’t they, really?) instead of a couple of little red triangles on their menus.
Anyway, this list is a
couple of suggestions on how you can cut the fat and salt and try to
get in a little more fibre and balance the composition of fat, protein
and carbs a little more evenly.
#1: Thunder Tea Rice
If you are lucky enough, the hawker centre you are at has a Thunder Tea Rice store. This is possibly the only thing sold in Singapore hawker centres that gives you the most fibre for your buck without all the unnecessary oils and fats. The portion of rice is sometimes still a little too much (especially for an office worker) but you can always half it and up the cabbage.
|Thunder Tea Rice, Changi City Point’s Koufu.|
Personally, I usually order it with less brown rice, no ikan bilis (too hard, I don’t like!) and fill up all the remaining space with veg please! For extra protein, you can also ask for more beancurd. The combination is really flavourful. The egg and tau gwa side is usually overfried and really oily too but I would eat it if I felt like it or omit it entirely depending on how I felt that day. I’m not a fan of the tea too though I love green tea usually. But there’s just something about that herbally-ness of the Thunder Tea one that just makes it bleargh.
A better option would be to order half a bowl of veg of different colours like (more!) baby bok choy, eggplant, carrot, yam etc and things like egg or mushroom and non fried beancurd. Tang hoon is a pretty great low GI, non starchy option for noodles. Best however, would be to find a vegetarian store in the hawker centre. They usually sell a serving of brown rice for 50cents- $1.00. Limit yourself to a fist sized portion if you are easily affected by blood sugar fluctuations.
If you are having the dry version, ask for the noodles plain and add the sauce yourself.
If you are having the soup version, ask for the soup in a separate bowl and ask the server to pour HOT PLAIN Boiled water into your ingredients bowl. It sounds strange but they will do it and you can vary the levels of saltiness in your food accordingly when you eat it.
|Image taken from The Traveling Hungry Boy|
#4 Bak Kut Teh is another one of my favourites!
Buy your brown rice from a vegetarian store (are you starting to see a trend here?) for your fibre needs and go easy on the soup. The rest of the side dishes are way too oily though.
#5 Fish Soup
Once again, if you can, buy your brown rice from a vegetarian store. If not, white rice is okay too. White by itself is not bad/ good for you. It’s just that there are other options out there for your fibre/vitamin A needs etc. But if there is not other option, why not right? Go easy on the soup, I usually ask the stall owner to dilute the soup half-half. Half plain boiled water, half soup base and and add the chilli padi in the soup for some added kick without the sodium from the soya sauce.
#6 Kway Chap
I LOVE KWAY CHAP!!!! But it’s a definite no no if you are going to eat it everyday. TO make it more everyday-safe, I cut the sodium levels by asking that my ‘kway’ comes in plain boiled water/ soup.
|Image taken from The Real Singapore|