In preparing for Hari Raya, it is common for family members in Muslims families to gather around to prepare various Hari Raya delicacies.
From sweet and milky kuih semperit to the spicy and savoury rendang, these foods always taste better if it’s made to celebrate Hari Raya. In turn, it’s very common for Muslims to indulge in these delicious and flavourful delicacies and sometimes, turn a blind eye on the nutritional profile of the food itself.
In this topic, find out seven easy ways you could create healthier versions of your favourite Hari Raya recipes!
1. Use ½ or ¾ of the amount of sugar that you normally use in biscuits, cakes and kuih raya
Taking half or 3/4 of sugar off your sweet bakes doesn’t mean reducing the flavour. In most recipes, reducing the amount of sugar by half or quarter wouldn’t make a noticeable difference in the sweetness. In order to satisfy your sweet tooth and still ensure that you wouldn’t mess up your diet plan, use these alternatives in combination with reducing the sugar:
- For natural sweet flavour, double up the amount of vanilla, almond or orange extracts
- For natural sweetness and fruity flavour, use fruit such as raisins, dried apricots, dates or bananas
- For natural sweetness and spicy flavour, use spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
- Use canned fruits that is packed in water instead of syrup
- Use unsweetened jams instead of the regular ones
2. Remove the skin from meat and chicken
The skin on meat and chicken stores the saturated fat and cholesterol, which are fats that you would want to avoid if you are health conscious. Hence, removing the skin from your meat and chicken can make up a Hari Raya dish with less fat and calories, such as rendang.
3. Use heart-healthy fats to replace fats and oil
Hari Raya calls for kuih raya, in which the common ingredients are of high saturated fat sources such as butter, palm oil and coconut oil. If the recipe calls for these ingredients, replace some of them with heart-healthy fats such as canola oil, corn oil or sunflower oil.
4. Use low fat or skimmed milk to replace coconut milk
Hari Raya dishes in Malaysia commonly use coconut milk as part of the ingredients as it gives a smooth and creamy taste to the dish. Coconut milk might be cholesterol-free, however it contains a lot of saturated fat. Hence, to make healthier versions of recipes (such as kuah lodeh that uses coconut milk) you can replace coconut milk with low fat milk or skimmed milk instead.
5. Use high-fibre ingredients to make cakes, biscuits and kuih raya
Ever wondered what is the best way to make a guilt-free kuih raya? Increase the fibre content of the recipe! High fibre ingredients such as oats, prunes or dried fruits can be added to the recipe and regular white whole-wheat flour can also be replaced with whole grain flour. You can also experiment with your recipe by using almond flour or baking more recipes that use whole grain ingredients such as kuih cornflakes and cornflakes madu.
6. Try to avoid artificial food colouring in preparing cakes, biscuits and kuih raya
Celebrating Hari Raya with an array of vibrant kuih raya just makes your Hari Raya more colourful. However, you should try to avoid using artificial colouring in your kuih raya and opt for food colouring from natural ingredients instead. These natural ingredients not only give your food a vibrant colour, but also add flavour and fragrance.
- Blue: Butterfly pea flower, spirulina powder
- Purple: Purple yam, blueberries, purple sweet potato or squeeze some acidic ingredients such as citrus fruits into butterfly pea flower juice
- Yellow: Chrysanthemum flower, turmeric
- Red or pink: Strawberries, raspberries, beets, pataya powder
- Green: Matcha powder, pandan leaf juice, spinach
- Brown: Coffee or cocoa powder
7. Cut meat and chicken into smaller pieces
This tip is helpful when you are scooping the prepared dishes onto your plate. Scooping meat and chicken that were cut into smaller pieces helps to make your plate look full. Therefore, this tip allows you to control your calorie intake during Hari Raya.
Be sure to follow these tips when preparing food for Hari Raya. Customizing your recipes to make the healthier versions would definitely make your Hari Raya more meaningful!
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1. Cox, J. (2019). Healthy Baking Alternatives. Eatright.org. Retrieved 20 May 2020, from https://www.eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/cooking-tips-and-trends/healthy-baking-alternatives.
2. Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia. (2012). Makan Secara Sihat di Hari Raya [Ebook] (p. 4). Retrieved 12 May 2020, from https://www.infosihat.gov.my/index.php/multimedia/buku-kecil/item/makan-secara-sihat-di-hari-raya.