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The other side of wholegrains - beyond brown rice and wholemeal breads

How to enjoy healthier desserts in Singapore

 A growing number of F&B establishments are creating delicious, healthier desserts using wholegrains. PHOTO: ISTOCK
A growing number of F&B establishments are creating delicious, healthier desserts using wholegrains. PHOTO: ISTOCK

As the wholegrain movement continues to gain traction across the country, more Singaporeans are warming up to the idea of incorporating wholegrain in their diets.

While it is easy to swap white rice for red rice when you have nasi padang, or opt for wholegrain noodles when you order your favourite soya sauce chicken noodles, it may require more effort to keep the healthier choice in mind when it comes to dessert.

This is especially so because sweet treats are often regarded as well-deserved indulgences. Many believe that by opting for a healthier dessert alternative, they compromise on the experience of having dessert.

The good news is: A growing number of bakeries and traditional dessert parlours have made it their mission to create delicious desserts in wholegrain options — so you can still enjoy healthier sweet treats in moderation.

Old favourites, new tastes

At quick-service kiosks such as Mr Bean and Polar Puffs & Cakes, the introduction of wholegrain options has made it convenient for the grab-and-go crowd to find healthier alternatives whenever the need to snack hits.

Earlier this year, Mr Bean added wholegrain versions of its pancakes in four special flavours as part of a National Day promotion.

The Taro Wholemeal Pancake, in particular, was a hot seller. With the positive response from the customers, Mr Bean has started offering wholegrain pancakes at selected stores and will continue to make it available in more stores soon.

Mr Bean's Cheese Wholemeal pancake. PHOTO: MR BEAN

Customers can choose from a series of savoury or sweet wholegrain pancakes such as Mr Bean's popular Cheese Wholemeal pancake, Ham & Cheese Wholemeal Eggwich and the Royal Hazelnut Wholemeal pancake - a healthier sweet treat for chocolate lovers.

Polar Puffs & Cakes' Wholegrain (original), Matcha Wholegrain, Malted Milk Wholegrain and Charcoal Wholegrain Swiss Roll (L-R). PHOTO: POLAR PUFFS & CAKES

At Polar Puffs & Cakes, a Wholegrain Swiss Roll series has been endorsed by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) under its Healthier Dining Programme for the bakery sector. The series includes flavours such as Wholegrain (original), Matcha Wholegrain, Charcoal Wholegrain and Malted Milk Wholegrain.

Even old-school bakeries are jumping on the bandwagon to find the sweet spot between staying true to tradition while keeping up with changing tastes.

Bakery New Hong Kong offers various wholegrain breads and muffins on its menu. PHOTO: ISTOCK

Ms Joy Wu, 50, owner of ABC Brickworks Market Food Centre’s Bakery New Hong Kong decided to experiment with using wholegrain flour for a blueberry-flavoured muffin.

The muffin proved to be a hit, because of its success, the bakery offers wholegrain breads and muffins permanently on its menu.

Popularity of wholegrain among customers of baked goods is no surprise to the 29-year-old Swee Heng Bakery. As one of the early adopters of the wholegrain trend, the bakery has seen its fair share of satisfied customers of its wholegrain bread since it was sold a decade ago.

Wholemeal Sweet Potato Chiffon Cake from Swee Heng Bakery. PHOTO: SWEE HENG BAKERY

Today, in addition to these breads, its menu also includes items such as a Wholemeal Sweet Potato Chiffon Cake and Walnut Yoghurt Cake.

Spurred on by the popularity of its healthier items, Swee Heng Bakery plans to launch six Healthier Choice products under HPB’s Healthier Dining programme.

Something for everyone

Whatever your preferences, F&B operators believe the addition of healthier dessert alternatives is an essential move, given the growing focus on healthier diets and a change in eating habits.

Ms Venus Ang, 38, senior brand manager of Mr Bean, says: “It is important for us to be able to provide healthier options so that we can make it easy and affordable for customers to make it part of their lifestyle.”

Likewise, a Polar Puffs Cakes spokesperson describes the addition of wholegrain alternatives as “a natural extension of [their] continued response to Singaporeans’ healthier eating habits”.

Older customers are also warming up to wholegrain products, says Ms Wu. She continues to sell them at Bakery New Hong Kong to help raise even more awareness of the benefits of wholegrains and encourage a healthier diet.

She believes that once customers understand these benefits, it is just a matter of time before they would be willing to give her healthier baked goods a try.

A Swee Heng Bakery spokesperson shares similar sentiments, saying: “It takes time for people to accept wholegrain products. But it’s our duty as companies to keep improving on their taste. We believe that they can be nutritious and tasty at the same time.”

  • Nourishing start to your day

    Begin the most important meal of the day with Mr Bean's wholegrain breakfast option. The Chicken Meatball Soya Porridge is made of rice and millet grains slow-cooked to perfection in its Classic Soya Milk, giving you a delicious and wholesome boost of energy to take on the day ahead.

  • For more healthier ways to indulge your sweet tooth without busting calories, look out for our next feature on lower-sugar treats in November.

For some consumers, more wholegrain dessert alternatives simply mean more options for everyone — a win-win situation.

Says author Suffian Hakim, 32: "Before dessert stalls included wholegrain options, I didn't think my choices of comfort food can come in a healthier version. I probably won’t always go for a wholegrain alternative, but I’m glad that I have access to both should the mood strike.”

Says communications specialist Casey Ong, 35: “Honestly, I didn’t even know wholegrain desserts - other than pulut hitam and bubur terigu - existed until recently. It's great knowing that there’s a greater variety of healthier desserts out there now. If I feel like having dessert once in a while, I will definitely want to go for a healthier alternative. And if these wholegrain options can taste good too, all the better.”

As part of HPB's Wholegrain Wednesday, aimed at encouraging consumers to opt for wholegrain dishes on Wednesdays, members of the public can look forward to wholegrain options every Wednesday at Tan Tock Seng Hospital's food court from now till February 2019.

Going wholegrain has its perks too. From now to Oct 26, you get to earn sure-win rewards like F&B and shopping vouchers when you purchase healthier options such as wholegrains in the Eat, Drink, Shop Healthy Challenge

Look out also for other wholegrain promotions at hawker centres here.

Check out our earlier story in this series. Find out more on wholegrain meal options when dining out here.