For many, Chinese New Year is a time of renewal, reunions and new beginnings. All decked out in lovely new clothing, we busy ourselves with giving out (or receiving) red packets and exchanging mandarin oranges with friends and loved ones, all in the hope that they will be showered with good health, good luck and prosperity for the coming year.
But let’s be honest, the Lunar New Year season wouldn’t be the same without all the delicious traditional treats that come along with it! Part of the fun and excitement of the festive season is also the excuse to indulge in all the yummy eats.
It’s no secret, however, that CNY goodies are delicious but calorie-laden, and after a season of gorging most of us are going to contend with some extra inches around the waistline.
So, just how sinful are these CNY snacks, exactly? Let’s check out some of our top favourite new year treats (or should we say top offenders?) and how they stack up on the calorie scale.
A personal favourite, this sweet and crispy wafers feel light as air and melt in your mouth after the initial crunch. While it may disappear in a jiffy, its effect on your weight-loss goals may linger just a tad longer. All things considered, one 30g roll of love letter actually has a pretty high calorie count at 56 calories per piece.
And that’s not all; just inhaling four of these babies will mean you have consumed close to your entire sugar intake (25g) for the day. To burn these off, you’ll need to get on your bicycle and ride for at least 45 minutes.
Pineapple tarts might justifiably be crowned the queen of all Chinese New Year treats. The combination of buttery-soft pastry and sweet yet tart pineapple jam is a hit with anyone and everyone.
These days, pineapple tarts come in different shapes and sizes but the two most common designs are the round, open-faced tarts and the mini rolls. It is safe to say, however, that the average calorie-count for each individual tart is about 80 calories.
While 80 calories may sound low, since when do we ever stop at just one tart? Just keep in mind that a one-hour hike will burn around 250 calories—which is approximately three glorious pineapple tarts. Do the math!
These creamy, rich bundles of treasure are a staple in every Chinese household during the Lunar New Year season. It is hard to keep away your hands off these sweet and salty cookies; they are so soft that they would literally crumble if you’re not careful while you handle them.
At about 72 calories a piece, you can probably afford to enjoy five or six of them before you have to say, no more. Just know that if you plan on jogging it all off later, you are going to need to do so for almost an hour.
Dried Shrimp Rolls
Also known as hae bee hiam, these spicy and crispy mini-rolls are deep-fried and seriously divine. But because they are so tiny, it can be hard to keep track of how many you are popping into your mouth. But horrors, each roll is 23 calories so you really should try to keep to a handful of those (or about 14) a day.
You will need to walk briskly for 15 minutes in order to burn off just four rolls of hae bee hiam, which really isn’t too bad. But these bite-sized goodies are high in unhealthy saturated fats, which means they are not the best choice for managing your cholesterol levels. You will definitely want to enjoy them in moderation.
This delectable and rich layer cake is a crowd favourite. It is so delicious and moist, probably because there is a ton of butter in it. It also takes an incredible amount of effort and patience to bake this cake (about three hours), which makes it even more important to cherish each and every morsel you put in your mouth.
But keep in mind that each teeny-tiny slice of kueh lapis is 157 calories and about 11g of fat. To burn off one slice of this heavenly cake, you will need to take to the pool and swim for at least 20 minutes. If you think that’s worth the effort—we certainly do—then enjoy your slice of kueh lapis or two.
If you haven’t had bak kwa before, these are juicy slices of sweet, caramelised barbecued (usually made from pork) jerky. It is impossible to stop at one … that is, until you find out just how many calories a single slice contains. Each 94g slice of bak kwa is 370 calories, we kid you not. And just for comparison, chewing on one slice of bak kwa is equivalent to wolfing down seven bowls of white rice in one sitting.
You will have to swim for 45 mins or go on a 2-hour walk just to burn off one slice of bak kwa. Is it worth all that hard work? I think that’s between the bak kwa and you.