You know what the irony is, that we always go and buy new clothes before Chinese New Year and work our butt off to look good for the festival but only to binge on Chinese New Year goodies and not be able to fit into them after the festive season! Festive binging is common, and it is a temptation that is hard to resist. We know because we too are guilty of doing the same, haha!
But seriously, who is able to say no to those pineapple tarts after smelling its sweet aroma? And let’s be honest, having one or two pineapple tarts or ‘kuih bahulu’ will not tip the weighing scales but overconsumption of these high-calorie treats consistently throughout the CNY holidays season will definitely lead to fat gain. Because as delicious as these snacks might be but they are extremely high in calories!
Plus, more than just be fattening most traditional CNY festive snacks and dishes are packed with sodium and sugar, both of which can lead to water retention and bloating. We know it is irresistible to skip CNY treats, there is the best part about the holiday after all. We are just saying be moderate with it. So, before you open a new jar of pineapple tarts, these are the calorie count of some of the most common CNY snacks that you should know.
*The calories counts are based on data given by News Straits Times.
1. Yee Sang- 561 kcal per serving
Yee Sang is the most popular celebratory food among the Chinese community in Malaysia and Singapore. The dish comprises thin slices of pickled vegetables and other ingredients which are mixed together by tossing the ingredients high in the air with joyful exclamations of “Loh Hey” (toss high). The taste of the dish is enhanced by its special sauce which imparts a distinctive flavour. symbolic of good luck, prosperity, health and all things auspicious.
The significance of the tossing is to wish for abundant luck and happiness for all. Despite having many veggies Yee Sang also usually consisting of strips of raw fish, condiments and drizzled with a variety of sauces which are high in calories. In order to burn it off, you need to walk for at least 3 hours, which is a lot! So, consider having half the portion. By that way, you are still enjoying an ancient old custom at the same time not having too many calories.
2. Bak Kwa- 370 kcal per slice
Bak Kwa meaning “dried meat” in Hokkien is a very popular street snack among Chinese in Malaysia. It is a dried savoury sweet meat usually made from pork that traditionally takes the form of thin square slices. In fact, the consumption of meat is considered a staple during Chinese New Year and that is why whenever it is almost the festive season, you will see many local stalls popping up selling these everywhere.
Honestly, who can resist from eating these slices of sticky, chewy and sweet barbecued pork jerky? They are heavenly and you can just keep on eating and eating. But careful, cause but bak kwa has the biggest calorie count among all CNY snacks. In order to burn off just one slice, you need to walk for a whopping 2 hours! So, as hard it is, try sticking to just one or two pieces a day and drink plenty of water as this snack is high in sodium.
3. Pineapple Tart- 93 kcal per piece
Pineapple tarts are small one bite pastries that are filled with pineapple jam. The pastry consists of a large proportion of butter, egg yolk and corn starch which gives it a rich, buttery, tender and melt-in-the-mouth texture. The buttery smell coupled with the tangy pineapple filling is always a delightful experience during CNY. However, do not binge on these as you might cause your blood sugar level to reach an all-time high.
Yes, despite being small these little snacks are high in sugar and fat. Especially those bought from home are also high in sodium and chemicals are the added preservatives to make it last longer. We know, it is hard to stop with just one piece, but let us break it down to you. Just 4 pieces contain a whopping 11 teaspoons, that’s more sugar than what’s in a can of coke. In order to burn just one piece, you need to walk for at least 30 minutes!
4. Love Letters/ Kuih Kapit- 56 kcal per piece
Love letters or also known as Kuih Kapit in Malay is a traditional Malaysian snack that is baked in a special waffle iron held over a charcoal fire. It is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside and pretty similar to making the traditional Dutch wafeltjes. History says the cookies hailed from Dutch merchants who brought the waffle iron and the recipe with them to Malaysia on their ships. However, the Malaysian style of making these cookies is slightly different as butter was replaced by coconut milk.
The cookie does resemble a folded piece of paper but don’t try to open it as it is very delicate and will break into pieces immediately. We know, the creamy coconut taste of this crispy thin cookie and can make you want to munch a lot of them, but the thin, crispy, crumbly snack is not actually light on the calorie count. So be wary when eating them, as just to burn one piece you need to walk for 17 minutes.
5. Kueh Lapis- 132 per piece
Kueh Lapis is pretty similar to a layer cake. It is a traditional Malaysian cake that is prepared as a layered cake consisting of rice flour, tapioca flour, water, sugar, coconut milk, pandan leaves, and red, green, or pink food colouring. The cake is steamed and the final result looks similar to layered pudding. Despite being a steam cake, these little guys are calories dense.
A slice of this buttery multi-layered cake will set you back by loads of calories. The cake contains 10.5g of saturated fat, 12.1g of sugar, and 160mg of sodium. By just indulging in one piece you will need to walk for at least 2 hours, or swimming for 40 minutes or you can go jogging for 20 to 25 minutes.
6. Kuih Bahulu- 62 kcal per piece
Kuih Bahulu is the Malaysian madeleines. These dainty fluffy cakes are slightly crusty on the outer layer but soft on the inside. Traditionally baked using brass moulds placed on hot sand, when it becomes a bit dry, it is delicious dunked in hot coffee. You can these cute cakes being served in almost every house during their CNY open house. They’re super delicious but also extremely easy to binge on.
Just having 4 pieces of these will take you to up 240 calories extra. You will need to run for 30 minutes, walk for close to 2 hours or dance vigorously for 20 minutes to burn it off. Yeap, also they are high in sugar so not just do they increase your calories but also your sugar level.
So, How To Binge Eating Without Gaining Weight?
Now, that you know the calories of your favourite CNY snacks and the numbers may scare you but we got you covered on how to binge on these snacks without gaining too much weight. It is pretty simple, just snack in MODERATION! Prioritise your favourite snacks and eat only those and plan your meal. If you choose the eve for 4 pieces of pineapple tarts stick to that!
Another great way to not overindulge is by placing these snacks on a small plate or bowl and eat only from there. Eating straight from the box or jar that you mom keeps the snacks will make you less conscious of how much you are consuming which is why you can’t keep track of how much you are actually eating. Try taking them out of the jar and eat them from the plate. You will be more conscious and less careless of the portion.
The best way to burn excess calories is without a doubt is working out. We know you might be busy with all those shopping and decorating the house, but try hitting the gym or workout at home for at least 20- 30 minutes every day till CNY. This helps you boost metabolism and fat. The workout you should include in your routine are squats, push-ups, sit-ups, lunges and mountain climbers.
Aim to do each exercise for 30 to 50 seconds, with 30-second breaks in between. Repeat three or four rounds. If you can add weights, that will be a bonus. These intense workouts include compound movements that target multiple muscle groups and increase the calories you burn. If you did not have time to workout before the festival then workout after. If you work out within 8-10 after feasting you can burn more calories!
To Sum Up…
Like we said the key to maintaining your weight throughout the festive season is moderation. Eat the right portion and exercise enough and you don’t have to worry about anything! But don’t get too carried away about gaining weight and neglect the whole festive vibes. CNY is about getting together with your loved ones and making beautiful memories. We from Beauty Insider Malaysia, wish everyone a very Happy Chines New Year and Happy Holidays <3