SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - Eat your vegetables. It is a mantra that mothers impress upon children from an early age. And while most of us might have had some trouble following this, greens like kale, broccoli and sprouts have become health trends and should be part of your diet.
But not all veggie dishes are equally good for you. Indeed, you may want to avoid these common local dishes when you are heading out for a meal.
Past the cabbage, carrots and onions, you are looking at a white paste of sour cream, mayonnaise, salt, sugar and vinegar. If you are making it on your own, hold back on the sauce, as one tablespoon is already 103 calories and 12g of fat. Or, swop this for a mix of olive oil, lemon juice and honey for a healthier alternative with a similar mouth-feel.
This delicious vegetable stew with eggplant, long beans and tofu sure seems healthy, but white or yellow, remember that the broth is made of coconut milk. And at about 40g of saturated fat per serving, it might be a good idea to not ladle in more of the gravy, especially since the ingredients have already soaked up plenty of the flavour.
As you bite down on these slender leaves and stalks, you should know that vitamins are not going to be high on the list of nutrients you are getting. For every 300g serving, sambal kangkong packs in more than half your day's fat requirement (30.9g), and almost all of your sodium needs (2.184mg). That's because this vegetable happens to be great at soaking up all the oil and salt, delivering it straight to your gut. Drain off the excess oil before you have it.
The innocent-looking rice roll is typically bursting with ingredients like cooked turnip, sprouts and shredded lettuce.
But let's not forget that the main ingredient of turnip has been simmering in quite a bit of oil.
There's also the sweet black sauce that delivers 188 calories for each roll, and, honestly, nobody stops at just one, right? Vendors have been adding extra crunch, using fried peanuts, dough bits or even lard that mostly add nutritionless fatty calories.
Some vegetable chips use a mix of potato and corn, so they aren't very different from potato chips. Even those made from alternatives like mushroom or kale are often fried in canola oil, and the amount of sodium to make them palatable can rival the regular chip.
It's got cucumber, Mexican turnips, bean sprouts, tofu and occasionally, even pineapple. But binding the ingredients together is a thick black sauce with peanuts that gives the gooey salad its character. Along with the presence of you tiao (dough fritters), this dish packs up to a whopping 518 calories per serving.
This omelette with tofu is often covered with shredded vegetables like carrots and bean sprouts. But appearances can be deceptive. Even though it is mostly made up of vegetable products, the starch used to give it the fluff and the accompanying sweet dark sauce and peanut gravy boost the calorie count to 628. There is the hidden fat (31g) too.
These vegetable fritters are so deceptive. The heavy use of flour which is deep fried in oil is the main culprit, and the added crunch moves your calorie count up significantly. We are talking a whopping 1,580 calories here, with 963 coming from 107g of total fat. Say sayonara to this dish or at least share the pieces.
This article first appeared in Shape (www.shape.com.sg)