How Many Calories Are in Your Favourite Chinese New Year Goodies?

by Morgan Awyong
FOOD  |  January 09, 2020
  • The calorie count of these popular Chinese New Year goodies will make you think twice before taking another piece
    1 / 7 The calorie count of these popular Chinese New Year goodies will make you think twice before taking another piece

    Chinese New Year goodies come just once a year, but they are also calorie bombs that are laden with fat, sodium, and sugar. Deceptively tucked away in small bites, they are almost impossible to avoid during house visits.

    To stay on track with your daily calorie needs, be mindful of what each serving of CNY goodies – from love letters to pineapple tarts – entails. If you’re worried about weight gain, it helps to up your activity level by doing fun workouts you love, which will also motivate you in the long haul.

    All photos: Shutterstock

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  • Love letters
    2 / 7 Love letters

    Not actual notes written for your beloved, these are thin and airy egg wafer rolls that crumble at the slightest bite. They are deceptive snacks as they melt quickly in the mouth. We wish the same disappearing act applies to the 56 calories and almost 5g of sugar that each roll has, no thanks to the amount of sugar and coconut milk in the recipe.

    (Also read: 5 Ways to Eat What You Want During Chinese New Year Without Gaining Weight)

    Serving: Two pieces

    Alternative: Soda crackers are just as crunchy and flaky, and contain 10 calories per piece.

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  • Bak kwa
    3 / 7 Bak kwa

    These Chinese meat jerkies already warn with their glistening surface. Sliced thin and marinated with sugar and spices, the final step of grilling the meat (usually pork) seal in not only the robust flavours, but also 370 calories, 6g of fat and 25g of sugar. It might be a CNY staple, but this oily snack needs to be managed to avoid a post-CNY nightmare.

    Serving: One slice

    Alternative: Nothing applies like the old adage, “good things must share!” The best way to lessen the impact is to cut up the slice into smaller pieces and distribute. Or if you’re a pro in the kitchen, make a honey baked chicken version instead.

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  • Fried nian gao
    4 / 7 Fried nian gao

    A crunchy skin, a tacky, sweet inside — what’s not to like? The glutinous cake that is eaten during new year because the name (Chinese love to be literal) means “higher year”, goes down easy. Bad news — it also goes straight to the tummy. One piece alone hits 190 calories and 55g of fat.

    Serving: One slice

    Alternative: Instead of frying, steam them. By changing the cooking method, you slough off that nasty skin and take in only half the calories and a quarter of the fat. You still get the sweetness, but with less guilt.

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  • Mini dried shrimp rolls
    5 / 7 Mini dried shrimp rolls

    We know how insanely addictive these salty and spicy rolls are. The punchy stir-fried minced dried shrimp filling strikes the taste buds afire, and the crunchy shell just makes us want to take another bite. But bundled up in four small pieces is 92 calories and 165 mg of sodium — a shocking figure for barely a mouthful.

    Serving: Four pieces

    Alternative: Halt the snack attack with some melon seeds instead. The effort needed to crack them open slows the snacking and even if you go through two handfuls, that’s only half the calories at 40.

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  • Pineapple tarts
    6 / 7 Pineapple tarts

    These buttery pastries that combine the best of savoury and sweet have become a firm favourite at Chinese New Year gatherings, and if Chaucer’s sin of gluttony needed a mascot, this would be it. They average 90 calories a piece and with their double whammy of pastry and jam, hold 5g of fat, 6g of sugar and 58mg of sodium.

    (Also read: This is Exactly How Long You Must Walk to Burn Off Calories From Chinese New Year Goodies)

    Serving: One piece

    Alternative: Nothing can really replace the pineapple tart but more bakeries are offering options with less or no sugar, so keep a lookout. Otherwise, go for the other popular fruit instead — tangerines!

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  • Kueh bangkit
    7 / 7 Kueh bangkit

    They soak up all the moisture in your mouth as the chalky cookie crumbles away. These flower-shaped treats are made from tapioca flour and coconut milk for that creamy mouthfeel, but don’t be fooled by the pretty appearance. They bode well for blessings and fertility but not for your waistline. At 15 calories a piece, they don’t offend as much as the rest, but we all know no one stops at one, or two… or three!

    Serving: Three pieces

    Alternative: Divert the addictive eating to some groundnuts instead. Although two handfuls contain about 90 calories, it’s mainly healthy monounsaturated fats, fibre and protein that will make you feel full faster.

    (Also read: 3 Steps to Lose Fat During Chinese New Year)

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