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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Carrot cake without guilt

No added salt and less oil make this classic hawker dish healthier but no less yummy
The Straits Times - April 12, 2012
By: Lee Hui Chieh
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Carrot cake without guilt -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Fried carrot cake usually comes to mind when people are asked to think of examples of unhealthy hawker fare.

How can the steamed rice flour and radish cakes be salubrious if they are soaking up oil as they are being fried with egg and cai por (minced preserved radish)?

However, the hawker classic can be less artery-clogging - if good oil, and less of it, is used.

This is how Tat Ti Pin in Food King Coffeeshop at Block 233, Bukit Batok East Avenue 5 has cleaned up its fried carrot cake.

Madam Chen Li Qin, 46, switched to using a vegetable oil blend that contains less saturated fat than the usual oil after her stall joined the Health Promotion Board's (HPB) Healthier Hawker Programme in February.

This coffee shop, which is two bus-stops away from Bukit Batok MRT station, is the first coffee shop on board the programme, which was officially launched about a year ago in Yuhua Hawker Centre in Block 347, Jurong East Avenue 1.

Madam Chen said she coats her frying slice thinly with oil, rather than ladling lots of oil, to fry her carrot cake.

She does not add salt to her 'white' version of fried carrot cake, relying instead on the salty cai por to flavour the cake. The 'black' version is usually fried with sweet dark soya sauce.

So a $2.30 small serving of her 'white' fried carrot cake contains just 400 calories, less than the 470 to 500 calories in a typical version.

It was indeed less oily and lighter than the usual version, but was still fairly tasty.

After joining the HPB programme, Madam Chen replaced the conventional thick yellow noodles and thick bee hoon (vermicelli) in her fried Hokkien noodles with wholegrain versions containing brown rice flour.

Wholegrain products contain more fibre, vitamins and minerals than those made of refined flour, which consist mainly of simple carbohydrates. Eating wholegrain products regularly has been shown to reduce one's risk of developing some types of cancer and heart disease.

The $3 small serving of fried Hokkien noodles was generous, with three prawns, several squid rings, fried egg, bean sprouts and a dollop of chilli paste.

The gravy was not too gooey and did not weigh down the noodles.

The chewy squid and crunchy bean sprouts lent the dish texture, while the sweet chilli spiced up the taste.

Switching to more nutritious ingredients seems better not just for the health of customers, but also for that of the stall.

Business has grown by 10 to 15 per cent since the HPB programme was launched and customers have come from as far as Hougang, Madam Chen said.

Mind Your Body paid for the meal


Shape shift