Hidden calories are found in the deep-fried items, mock meat, greasy veggies, starchy sauces and oil-drenched chilli. Joyce Teo reports.
This vegetarian bee hoon is a greasebomb, with deep-fried tau kee (bean curd), mock char siew, starchy sauces and chilli swimming in a layer of oil. Photo: The New Paper
Some dishes, such as vegetarian noodles, may be perceived as being healthy food when, in reality, they are not.
They may be drenched in oil or a calorie-laden sauce.
This may be an issue in Singapore, where rice and noodles are sources of commonly eaten carbohydates. And replacing rice with noodles does not really make a big difference for someone who is trying to lose weight or become healthier.
It is advisable to reduce the intake of refined carbohydrates such as white rice and noodles as diets that are high in refined carbohydrate foods have been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, said a spokesman for the Health Promotion Board.
Instead, one should increase the consumption of wholegrains, such as brown rice and noodles which contain brown rice flour, he said.
Wholegrains are more nutritious than refined grains as they contain more vitamins and minerals.
What is also very important is the type and amount of ingredients you add to your carbohydates to form the final dish, said Ms Jaclyn Reutens, dietitian from Aptima Nutrition & Sports Consultants.
Plain bee hoon actually has a lower calorie content of 109kcal per 100g serving when compared with kway teow (140kcal), white rice (140kcal) or egg noodles (138 kcal).
Plain bee hoon, made with rice flour and water, is low in fat. Egg noodles, made with egg, wheat flour and oil, have a higher fat content.
But when you fry plain bee hoon with ingredients like fatty cuts of meat and drown it in oil, it becomes an unhealthy dish, said Ms Reutens.
One should consider the whole dish when making food choices. “Hidden calories such as the oils which the food is cooked in could be masked by the flavours in the dish,” said the Health Promotion Board spokesman.
For instance, a dish of hor fun usually comes with a starchy sauce, which adds to the calories, he said. There are some noodles like mee sua, which appear to be light dishes as they are often served in a soup.
Mee sua is higher in calories than mee pok, if you compare it gram for gram. However, the quantity of noodles used and the preparation method of a dish would greatly affect the calorie count of the meal.
So, a bowl of kidney mee sua soup would have 277 calories, compared with dry fishball mee pok, which has 481 calories, said Ms Lynette Goh, senior dietitian, National Healthcare Group Polyclinics.
An 82g portion of dried mee sua (without soup or sauce) has 300 calories and 60g carbohydrates, while it would take about 110g of uncooked mee pok to provide the same amount of carbohydrates and nearly the same amount of calories, she added.
Some refined carbohydrates like yellow noodles or white rice have a high glycemic index (GI) score.
However, eating a bowl of rice or noodles with more vegetables and protein can lower the GI of the meal, said Ms Goh.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2016, with the headline ‘Watch out for grease in ‘healthy’ vegetarian bee hoon’.