Tekka Market hawkers dish up healthier food

Uncle Jack Hainance Boneless Chicken Rice owner Jack Toh, 54, and his wife Sally Nyo, 52, showing Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Home Affairs Amrin Amin a plate of whole grain chicken rice from their stall. The Health Promotion Board a
Uncle Jack Hainance Boneless Chicken Rice owner Jack Toh, 54, and his wife Sally Nyo, 52, showing Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Home Affairs Amrin Amin a plate of whole grain chicken rice from their stall. The Health Promotion Board aims to get 20 hawker centres to offer whole grain dishes by March next year.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Stalls offering dishes like wholegrain chicken rice, and drinks with half the amount of sugar

Since last month, more than 80 hawker stalls at Tekka Market have been serving healthier food and drinks.

They include all 25 drinks stalls at the hawker centre and 31 stalls offering dishes such as wholemeal prata and wholegrain chicken rice.

The hawker centre in Little India joins 12 others in offering healthier food options, including wholegrain dishes.

The initiative by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) is part of efforts to increase options for healthier food and drinks at hawker centres, and encourage Singaporeans to eat healthy when they dine out.

The HPB aims to get 20 hawker centres to offer wholegrain dishes by March next year. All 114 hawker centres in Singapore already offer lower-calorie dishes such as fishball noodles and mee soto.

Last month, HPB offered hawkers at Tekka Market samples of healthier ingredients like brown rice and wholegrain bee hoon to test and use in their dishes. It also helped them ensure the taste and texture of the dish did not change.

DEMAND FOR HEALTHIER FOOD

As more and more people embrace healthy lifestyles, there is increased demand for wholegrain options, healthier food, and this in the end reduces prices, and that's the development that we would like to create and encourage.

MR AMRIN AMIN, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Home Affairs.

HPB also helped to connect one of the drinks stalls with local manufacturer Faesol, which is involved in an HPB scheme that encourages manufacturers to create healthier food and drinks.

Maya Mohan Hot & Cold Drinks stall now sells drinks such as water chestnut and iced lemon tea that contain about half the amount of sugar usually found in other similar syrup-based drinks.

Hawkers can opt to continue serving whole grain options and source for their own suppliers after the two-month trial period or continue working with suppliers HPB has put them in touch with.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a food sampling session at Tekka Market yesterday, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Home Affairs Amrin Amin said the hawkers gave useful feedback.

 
 
 

He said: "They have told us that for certain types of food (such as mee goreng), these taste better with wholegrain... and they actually report brisk sales, and that's a good development. But some other types of food, I think, require a bit of getting used to."

He added: "As more and more people embrace healthy lifestyles, there is increased demand for wholegrain options, healthier food, and this in the end reduces prices, and that's the development that we would like to create and encourage."

Madam Hathija Mohaidin Pichai, 52, who owns a Malay food stall, decided to mix brown rice with white rice in her nasi goreng dish. She said: "We didn't want our regular customers to think the food tastes different, so we mixed the rice. The brown rice is just like an additional ingredient. We told our customers to give it a try, and they liked it."

Madam Hathija said her family is also trying to adopt a healthier diet. "It's important to be healthy, and we hope more people will come and to try the brown rice or whole grain bee hoon. I don't mind giving free samples to taste," she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 28, 2018, with the headline 'Tekka Market hawkers dish up healthier food'. Print Edition | Subscribe