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Healthy Hampers For Gong Xi Fa Cai!

02 February 2024

6 minute read

Healthy Hampers For Gong Xi Fa Cai!

With Chinese New Year (CNY) approaching, the festivities bring a variety of delectable treats. As public awareness of health increases, concerns about the calorie, sugar, and additive levels in CNY snacks and desserts are rising. Hence, there is an increasing curiosity in exploring healthier snack and dessert alternatives to savor during this festive season.

Cultural Significance

During CNY, indulging in snacks and desserts is a cherished tradition that symbolizes a sweet and joyful year ahead. These treats, often bearing auspicious names and shapes, embody wishes for reunion, prosperity, and good health. Preparing CNY snacks and desserts with family members not only strengthens familial bonds but also serves as a means of preserving and passing down cultural traditions through generations.

The tradition of exchanging and gifting CNY snacks in contemporary times, often in the form of hampers, serves as a gesture of appreciation, especially in business settings. In response to increasing demand for healthier choices, numerous CNY hampers now incorporate processed snacks with lower calorie or sugar content. This ensures a harmonious balance between tradition and health considerations.

Mandarin oranges: A symbol of wellness

Mandarin oranges, renowned gifts during CNY, signify not only prosperity but also offer notable health advantages. Abundant in Vitamin C, they bolster the immune system and serve as antioxidants to combat cell damage. On top of that, their dietary fiber enhances satiety with minimal calories, while their high water content aids in maintaining the hydration of our body.

However, consuming excessive mandarin oranges in one sitting can spike blood glucose levels. It is recommended to consume no more than one medium-sized whole fruit twice daily, a guideline that applies to other types of fruits as well. Choosing fresh fruits that retain their natural fiber content over fruit juice can also help maximize fiber intake and promote overall health.

Nutty delights: Almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds

Nuts and seeds have gained popularity as snacks due to their nutrient-rich profiles. Among their most beneficial nutrients are the healthy fats, which are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. These healthy fats are essential for reducing inflammation and lowering blood cholesterol levels, thus improving heart and brain health.

Furthermore, consuming unsalted roasted nuts and seeds as snacks during CNY is highly encouraged. This is because nuts and seeds are excellent sources of vegan protein, fiber, Vitamin E, magnesium, copper, and other essential vitamins and minerals. Incorporating nuts and seeds into CNY snacks can present a creative and modern approach to infusing these beneficial nutrients into traditional celebrations.

Dried fruits: Nature's sweet treasures

Dried fruits, such as dried apricots, raisins, and cranberries, offer a concentrated source of nutrients which makes them a valuable snack option. The dehydration process extracts much of the water content from the fruit, yielding smaller-sized dried fruits that boast abundant vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Additionally, dried fruits boast a longer shelf life compared to fresh varieties.

Dried fruits are commonly incorporated into CNY snacks to elevate their flavor profile and add a touch of natural sweetness without the need for artificial flavorings or excessive added sugar. Examples include dried fruit cookies and desserts with dried persimmon. It is important to consume dried fruits in moderation to avoid excessive sugar intake, with one tablespoon serving as the recommended limit.

Tong Sui (sweet soup): Comfort with a health twist

Tong Sui, commonly known as sweet soup, is a cherished dessert relished by individuals of all ages, from children to adults. Especially during the CNY celebrations, this tradition embodies the hope for a year ahead marked by sweetness and harmonious family ties. As its name suggests, concerns about its sweetness impacting blood glucose levels and calorie intake have arisen. To address this, modifications can be made by exploring alternatives such as artificial sweeteners or incorporating dried fruits and sweet Chinese herbs into the sweet soup. The main purpose is to reduce the need for added sugar. Dried fruits and sweet Chinese herbs also offer numerous nutritional benefits compared to sugars with calories but zero nutrients.

Chinese tea: Timeless beverage

Chinese tea is a popular traditional beverage enjoyed all year-round, not just during CNY. Its high antioxidant content provides cell protection. As an excellent non-sugary drink, it is a good option to accompany all the CNY snacks and desserts and to aid in mitigating blood glucose spikes. In addition, the refreshing qualities of Chinese tea work to cleanse the palate after indulging in treats.

Tea is also known for its ability to boost metabolism and lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels. Therefore, enjoying a cup of tea alongside high-fat or high-calorie snacks can obtain these beneficial effects, promoting overall health and well-being.

In other words

To conclude, enjoying snacks and desserts during CNY is inevitable and a cherished tradition for festive celebrations. However, choosing and limiting low-fat and low-sugar snacks and desserts can help mitigate the calorie overload often associated with this celebration period of the year.

Additionally, incorporating high-fiber and healthy fats into snacks and choosing non-sugary drinks are effective strategies for maintaining healthy eating habits. Last but not least, being mindful of snack ingredients and making wise choices during CNY shopping allows you to enjoy snacks and desserts without feeling guilty, while also benefiting from healthier options.

5 Diet Control Tips For CNY

To enjoy snacks and desserts during CNY, consider the following tips:
  1. Avoid random snacking
    • Limit snacks to one to two times between meals, depending on the period between meals.
    • Allow at least two hours between snacks or meals.

  2. Control snack portion
    • Limit cookie intake to two to four pieces or a handful of snacks each time.

  3. Choose healthy snacks
    • Identify calorie-dense sources in snacks and desserts such as butter, cream, chocolate, deep-fry cooking methods, jam, and sugar.
    • Reduce calorie-dense snacks to decrease overall calorie intake.
    • Choose low-calorie snacks such as mandarin orange, unsalted roasted nuts or seeds, roasted seaweed snacks, oatmeal cookies, and baked fruit chips.

  4. Take diabetes-friendly snacks
    • Opt for snacks and desserts that contain low sugar or use artificial sweeteners.
    • Choose keto-friendly snacks with very low or no carbohydrates and sugar.
    • Create low-sugar snacks using recipes that are available online, such as almond flour cookies, black sesame cookies, keto nuts Florentines, and more.

  5. Stay active during CNY festivities
    • Increase physical activity to expend more energy.
    • Take a short walk after meals or take a stroll to visit nearby neighbors’ homes.
    • Incorporate body movement in mini-games during CNY celebrations.

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02 February 2024

6 minute read

Healthy Hampers For Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Yap Pau Lin

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