8 Vegetable Dishes in S’pore That Look Healthy But Are Actually Unhealthy

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It’s 2019, and you know what that means:

It’s New Year Resolution time (again)!

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Having faltered just days into it in previous years, you’re especially determined to go the entire length this year. No more unhealthy food. No more self-announced cheat days. It’s time to get that fit body you’ve pined for all this while.

Keep going or die trying, you reason. Failure is no longer an option.

And for the past 20 days, your belief has certainly held true. You’ve stayed away from all oily food and made sure to ingest your veggies every meal.

“I think this is the year,” you say over lunch with your colleagues. “I can almost see my end goal.”

And they certainly seem to believe you. With perhaps the sole exception of the office chiobu Xin Yi, who’s looking at you sceptically.

“You said you’ve been eating healthy?” she asked.

“Yeah,” you answer cautiously. You’ve always been pretty envious of her, what with her good looks and enviable figure. 2019’s the year to beat her once and for all, you once swore to yourself in the mirror. “Why?”

She gestured at your plate. “If you’re really eating healthily, what’s with the coleslaw?”

You look confused. “Isn’t coleslaw healthy?”

She stared at you for a long while, with a gaze that borders on pity.

Do you have a friend who’s always smiling? Watch this video and you’ll know why he or she is always so happy:

“Sorry to burst your bubble, but it isn’t.”

You stare at her blankly, before looking down at your plate. The veg that had once seemed so promising now swam freely in a stream of what’s certainly mayonnaise.

Mayonnaise. That isn’t healthy. At all.

As your world came crashing down, you started wondering:

“Why hasn’t anyone explicitly said it before?”

1. Coleslaw

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But you know the thing here? People have been preaching it for a long time:

Coleslaw isn’t really that healthy.

Sure, it has cabbage. Sure, it has carrots. Yet at the same time, it also contains mayonnaise, salt, sugar and vinegar.

All ingredients that aren’t exactly endorsed by Arnold Schwarzenneger. Or if he did, he lied.

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But not to worry. If you absolutely love coleslaw, there’s a way to make it healthier.

Simply hold back on the sauce when you’re making it; because one tablespoon actually constitutes 103 calories and 12g of fat.

Alternatively, you can also swop it for a mix of olive oil, lemon juice and honey for a healthier version with a similar mouth-feel.

2. Sayur Lodeh

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Lest you’re wondering, Sayur Lodeh is a delicious, vegetable stew with eggplant, long beans and tofu.

Which certainly sounds healthy, but the fact remains that whether white or yellow, the broth is made of coconut milk. And at around 40g of saturated fat per serving, it might not be ideal to ladle in more of the gravy, seeing how the ingredients have already absorbed plenty of flavours.

If you didn’t get it, I meant calories.

3. Sambal Kangkong

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Everyone loves Sambal Kangkong. But if you were ever under the impression that your favourite vegetable dish here is healthy…

I reckon you need some serious reality checks.

As it is, Sambal Kangkong packs in more than half your day’s fat requirements (30.9g) for every 300g serving, and almost all of your sodium needs (2,184mg).

If you’re wondering why, it’s because spinach’s particularly adept at absorbing all the oil and salt that was cooked with it.

So here’s a pointer; if you do have it, try to drain off the excess oil before doing so. But seriously, a kangkong without the oil is chicken rice without chicken.

4. Popiah

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Yes, folks. Popiah, the one dish everyone’s constantly raving about, isn’t actually healthy.

I mean sure; if you put it theoretically, it should be one healthy son of a Piah. After all, it’s just full to bursting with ingredients like cooked turnip, sprouts and shredded lettuce, stuff that aren’t exactly detrimental to your fitness journey.

Yet, do not be fooled by its innocent moniker. For one, the turnip has actually been simmering in quite a bit of oil. For two, there’s the sweet black sauce that makes popiah so tasty, and so calorie dense at 188 calories for each roll. For three, vendors have been incorporating fried peanuts, dough bits or even lard to create that extra ‘crunch’…

Which adds some pretty unnecessary fatty calories too.

5. Veggie Chips

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It sounds like a promising alternative to your standard chips. Having veggies as a snack?

Winner.

Yet nothing couldn’t be further from the truth. As it is, some vegetable chips utilise a mix of potato and corn, so they aren’t actually that different from potato chips.

Even those created from alternatives like mushroom or kale are more often than not fried in canola oil, and the amount of sodium to make them ‘edible’ rivals the regular chip.

6. Rojak

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At first glance, Rojak might potentially pass as a ‘healthy’ product… what with its combination of cucumber, Mexican turnips, bean sprouts, tofu and on the occasional basis pineapple. But just like your typical Tinder profile…

Don’t let the good parts fool you. 

With a thick black, peanut-y sauce binding the ingredients together, as well as delectable bits of you tiao (dough fritters), the dish comes in at a whopping 518 calories per serving.

That’s 1/4 of a male’s recommended daily caloric intake, for your information.

7. Tahu Telor

Image: Dapur KOBE

Like much of its counterparts on this list, Tahu Telor sounds good on paper. Omelette with tofu, covered with shredded veg like carrots and bean sprouts?

Sign me up.

But as it is, appearances can be rather deceptive. Although this dish is mainly made up of vegetable products, the starch, sweet dark sauce and peanut gravy gel together to form a caloric monster of 628 calories. And I haven’t even touched on the hidden fat content, which shines at a massive 31g.

8. Vegetable Tempura

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A wise old man once said:

“Anything with ‘vegetable’ in its name is bound to be healthy. Trust me on that, young ones.”

While I would normally agree with him, I would have to disagree on this one. Not because I’m not young anymore, but because the old fogey doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I mean…

Has he ever tried vegetable tempura?

With a whopping 1,580 calories (and 963 coming from 107g of total fat), this is one dish you don’t want to have as a ‘light snack’. And in case you’re wondering, the monstrous caloric content mainly stems from the heavy flour used, which is deep fried in oil.

Image: Giphy

Eating clean doesn’t happen overnight

If you’re like the girl in the introduction paragraph, here’s a tip:

Don’t stress so much over minor stuff.

After all, eating clean doesn’t happen overnight; it’s a lifestyle.

And always remember; as long as there’re lesser calories going in than out…

You’ll definitely lose weight.

Though, of course, I don’t think you want to eat just ice-cream every day anyway. The sugar crashes are gonna be epic.

Image: Giphy

In the meantime, here’s the usual advice from Dr Goody Feed: have everything in moderation. That’s the advice that’ll never go wrong.