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5 Leaner, Cleaner Alternative Ingredients to Yummy Raya Delicacies

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Oh the festive season of aromatic spices and glorious whiff of santan infused delicacies is finally around the corner again! Your taste buds are excited and your stomachs are rumbling for some wholesome comfort food – oh the brewing excitement of great food and great company this Hari Raya! What an amazing season it is, isn’t it? However, with good food comes heavy consequences on your body and you are torn between celebrating and keeping a disciplined, healthy diet. What do you do then? Well, how about combining both?
It is always said that healthy foods are not satisfying to your taste buds but it’s certainly not true. It is indeed possible and it takes little effort. All you need to do is simply switch a few key ingredients with a healthier alternative and you’re good to go!
Here are 5 lean and clean alternative ingredients to all your Raya woes:
Low-fat Milk instead of Coconut Milk (Santan)

Coconut milk has always been a staple and popular ingredient used in most Malaysian cuisines with its fragrant aroma and creamy consistency that lights up any meal but on the other hand, it does have a high fat content which can be detrimental to your well-being. A good alternative to that would be to replace it with low-fat milk to maintain the desired consistency minus all the fats! Low-fat milk is also a great source of calcium and it will definitely be friendlier to your Raya waist-line

Honey instead of Sugar
Raya, as always, is a galore of sweets and sugary cookies that is incredibly irresistible and addictive – you find yourself piling it up and grabbing one after another – that’s perfectly normal, if I might add. However, we all know that too much sugar can be bad for you with its high fructose content. So, how can we substitute these sugary grains then? With honey, of course! Pure honey is one of the best alternatives to sugar being a natural sweetener plus, it poses great health benefits too. It is functions as an antioxidant as well as regulates blood sugar levels – how convenient, right? Just a fun fact, pure honey also has no expiry and does not attract ants. With that said, honey is indeed the bee’s knees!
Lean Meats instead of Fatty Meats
The taste of soft, tender and melt-in-your-mouth beef rendang caressing your taste buds is such a heavenly feeling, isn’t it? But after all the “mmm” and “ahh” of a satisfied tummy, the guilt sets in and we wallow in regret. Fear not, there is always a solution to everything and this one is simple! Just replace the fatty cut meats with lean cut meats and the world is balanced once again. You can opt to use chicken breasts, strip steak cut for beef, mutton leg or even fish in your dishes and your jeans will still fit.
Canola Oil instead of Peanut Oil
Sometimes the cooking process can be the reason for added calories and we Malaysians love our oily food, don’t we? Instead of cutting out the use of oil, how about substituting your cooking oil instead? Let’s face it, it is impossible to cook without a substantial amount of oil so a good choice would be to switch from regular peanut oil to canola oil. Peanut oil may provide a nutty fragrance to your cooking but it does contain peanut oil lectin which contributes in clogging the coronary artery whereas canola oil on the other hand aids in lowering risks of heart diseases and serves a similar purpose to peanut oil with comparable heating points. So, choose your oils wisely!
Natural Ingredients instead of Food Colouring/Essence
Other than the copious amount of food during Raya, we find ourselves indulging in sweet, chewy and ultimately, colourful kuih of every colour – the brighter the better. More often than not, these kuih have been made with added food colouring as well as added food essence to enhance the aesthetic appearance as well as its fragrance but what we don’t realize is that food colouring can damage your body substantially in the long term. Artificial food colouring/essence has been said to cause illness from cancer to tumors and is advised to avoid at all cost. Of course, a small amount isn’t lethal but there are always options. How about opting for natural colouring derived from edible flowers or edible plants instead? For example, morning glory gives off a natural blue and pandan leaves are incredibly aromatic to any kuih. Always remember that there are abundance of alternatives around and plus, natural ingredients will definitely make any food taste better, too!

Hari Raya is definitely a season of bountiful celebration and generous amount of food but always choose your ingredients wisely for not only added health benefit but also for a more enjoyable guilt-free meal! Cheers and Selamat Hari Raya to all of you!

 

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