Save your calories with these 8 hawker food swops

(Clockwise from top left) Char siew bao, fried beehoon, dry fishball noodles, thosai, popiah, porridge, ice grass jelly and bak kut teh.
(Clockwise from top left) Char siew bao, fried beehoon, dry fishball noodles, thosai, popiah, porridge, ice grass jelly and bak kut teh.PHOTOS: ST FILE

(HER WORLD) - Hawker foods are not always loaded with calories. Keeping in mind that the McSpicy has 528 calories, hawker dishes such as seafood fried rice (907 cal) and char kway teow (744 cal) give a bad rap to all the other hawker dishes out there. 

Many people think they need to stay away from hawker foods to lose weight. But there is hawker food one can eat without worrying about one's diet. 

Here are some hawker dishes that range from about 300 to 450 calories each - perfect for women who want a healthy diet of 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day to lose weight. 

1. Bao and tea without sugar instead of a kaya toast set for breakfast

A typical kaya toast set at Ya Kun gives 448 calories. Switch that up with a char siew bao (160 cal) and teh si kosong (26 cal) to shave off 262 calories. 

But not all bao are equal. Stay away from pork bao as they carry a hefty 301 calories a piece.

2. Fried beehoon instead of mee goreng


Ffried beehoon from Hong Yun Seafood at Toa Payoh Lorong 1. PHOTO: ST FILE

Mee goreng is such a great comfort food, with starchy spicy noodles, sliced fish cake and the occasional bit of stir-fried greens for small bursts of freshness. It is perhaps only marginally better than instant noodles and packs 613 calories.

Plain fried beehoon is just 294 calories and, if you throw in a fried chicken wing (163 cal), it is a total of 457, saving you 156 calories. 

3. Dry fishball noodles instead of fishball noodle soup


Dry fishball noodles at the Great World City food court. PHOTO: ST FILE

Surprisingly, dry fishball noodles (474 cal) have fewer calories than when served in soup (523 calories). It is good news for those who prefer their noodles dry as they can save on about 50 calories easily this way. Skip the lard if you want to trim down on the fat and calories even more.

4. Thosai instead of prata


Thosai has a crepe-like consistency, is great with some coconut chutney (86 cal) and offers fewer calories than prata. .PHOTO: ST FILE

Prata is so flat and thin, you would almost think it has about the same number of calories as buttered toast. But this is not true. One prata is 164 calories. Got a plain one and an egg prata? They are 481 calories and that is not even including the curry.

A better option is the prata’s cousin, thosai (97 cal). It has a crepe-like consistency and is great with some coconut chutney (86 cal). If you think it is not filling enough, get the masala thosai (362 cal), which is stuffed with potatoes. This way you save about more than 100 calories.

5. Popiah instead of fried spring rolls


Glory Catering Nonya Popiah at 139, East Coast Rd. PHOTO: ST FILE

Make popiah (187 cal) your mid-afternoon snack instead of fried spring rolls, which are addictive and calorie-laden (396 cal per serving of two). Your body will be thanking you for the 209 calories saved.

6. Porridge instead of economy rice


 Xiang Ji Cooked Food’s pork porridge. PHOTO: ST FILE

Economy rice is great for dieting, especially if you order two vegetables and one stir-fried meat. But we found that you can slash the calories even more with some wholesome porridge.

Porridge usually ranges from 200 to 400 calories a bowl. Chicken porridge is 181 calories while pork-and-peanut porridge has 398 calories. It is really filling too, but if you think you will still be hungry, try getting plain porridge with a half a serving of you tiao (142 cal). It is only 323 calories.

This food swop saves you roughly  more than 250 calories. 

7. Ice grass jelly instead of chendol or ice kacang


A bowl of grass jelly. PHOTO: ST FILE

You know that traditional desserts such as chendol (386 cal) and ice kacang (256 cal) are full of empty calories that make you gain weight faster.

It is difficult to avoid them completely especially when the craving hits, but swop them out with ice grass jelly (121 cal) or ice jelly cocktail (152 cal) to cut back on around 104 to 264 calories.

8. Meaty soups instead of Western soup


Pork rib soup from Ming Ren Bak Kut Teh. PHOTO: ST FILE

Hankering for chicken cutlet or pork chop at the Western food stall? Get chicken, mutton or duck soup (all under 390 cal), or maybe some bak kut teh (323 cal). It may not hit the spot, especially if you are craving for grilled or roasted meats, but it is a good compromise for those on a diet.