Get a bite of these healthy mooncakes

Joan Chew checks out two versions which are nutritious and not harmful to the heart.

It is three days to the Mid-Autumn Festival, which is celebrated annually on the 15th of the eighth lunar month.

By now, you might have eaten your fill of mooncakes. If not, check out two new snowskin mooncakes that have earned the Health Promotion Board’s (HPB) stamp of approval for being healthy. One has a brownie filling that uses no egg, butter or chocolate, while the other is filled with nutritious and healthy sweet potato.

Their creator, Ms Judy Koh, is the managing director and principal chef of Caffe Pralet by Creative Culinaire and 13-year-old cooking school Creative Culinaire The School, both at Eng Hoon Street in Tiong Bahru.

She was trained at French culinary institutes Lenotre and Bellouet Conseil and has published three cookbooks. She was keen to introduce a brownie mooncake that vegans and those allergic to eggs can eat.

A traditional brownie, a Western dessert, contains butter, eggs and chocolate, all of which Ms Koh substituted. Instead of egg, she used tofu, making this a cholesterol-free mooncake.

Tofu is also high in protein and low in fat. But doing so gave her a new challenge.

She explained: “Although tofu is bland, it has a distinctive taste which had to be disguised to make the mooncake more palatable.”

Ms Koh found the solution in cocoa powder, which masks the taste of tofu.

Cocoa powder is healthier than chocolate because it is lower in fat, sugar and calories. The brownie mooncake contains just half the amount of saturated fat in a traditional lotus seed paste snowskin mooncake, while the sweet potato mooncake contains 90 per cent less saturated fat.

Ms Koh reduced their saturated fat content by replacing butter with corn oil, which has 25 per cent less saturated fat. The danger of consuming a large amount of saturated fat is that it raises one’s risk of developing heart disease.

Saturated fat is converted into low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, commonly called “bad” cholesterol. It is distributed to tissues where it is used to make hormones.

When in excess, it is deposited on artery walls, narrowing the arteries and raising one’s risk of developing heart disease.

For both mooncakes, Ms Koh used less sugar to prepare the pandan syrup needed for the skin. She created the sweet potato mooncake for a mooncake-making demonstration two Saturdays ago.

The event, part of a Mid-Autumn Festival celebration at Namly Drive organised by the Namly Neighbourhood Committee, was an opportunity for the public to learn how to make the traditional pastries.

Steaming is also healthier than frying, which is required to prepare other types of mooncake filling such as yam, red bean or lotus seed. For the sweet potato filling, no oil or lard is used.

Ms Koh said sweet potato is a good choice for a mooncake filling as it is naturally sweet and people can opt to use either the orange or purple varieties to lend colour to the paste. The vegetable is also a good source of fibre and phytochemicals, which are beneficial plant substances that reduce one’s risk of developing some types of cancer.

Ms Gladis Lin, a dietitian at the HPB, said that Ms Koh’s sweet potato mooncake is lower in calories, sugar and saturated fat than conventional lotus seed paste mooncakes. But even with healthier mooncakes, do not overeat, she added.

Ms Lin said people should not eat mooncakes in place of regular meals as they are high in calories and usually low in dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Nor should they attempt to eat an entire mooncake on their own, as a normal-sized mooncake with double egg yolks contains between 890 and 900 calories.

To burn this off, a woman weighing 55kg would have to do one of these exercises: Brisk walk at a speed of 5km per hour for 41/2 hours, do aerobic exercise for two hours or play badminton for at least 21/2 hours. Mooncakes are best cut into small pieces and shared with friends, said Ms Lin.

Mooncake lovers can track the number of calories of various types of mooncakes by using the health app from HPB called the Interactive Diet and Activity Tracker, she added.

The eggless brownie mooncake is on sale at Caffe Pralet in 17, Eng Hoon Street for $38.80 per box of four till this Sunday. joanchew@sph.com.sg

Recipe

RECIPE

Mooncake with sweet potato

INGREDIENTS

  • 9 pandan leaves
  • 3 slices lemon
  • 170g sugar
  • 225g water
  • 130g Hong Kong flour, available at supermarkets
  • 130g fried glutinous flour, also known as “gaofen”, available at cake ingredient shops
  • 40g corn oil
  • Food colouring
  • 300g sweet potatoes (orange or purple potatoes), steamed
  • 3 tsp fried glutinous rice flour
  • 30g honey
  • 40g raisins, soaked in 100g of rum for a week before using (optional)

METHOD

1. Boil four pandan leaves, lemon, sugar and water together to create the pandan syrup and chill it.
2. Bake the Hong Kong flour at 120 deg C for 15 minutes with five pandan leaves (torn into pieces and mixed into the flour).
3. Then mix it with the 130g fried glutinous flour, corn oil, food colouring and cold pandan syrup.
4. Knead this till a dough is formed.
5. Divide it into 20g sections.
6. Mix steamed sweet potatoes, three teaspoons of fried glutinous rice flour, honey and, if you like, raisins, together.
7. Roll the mixture into 30g balls.
8. Chill them till they become firm, which takes about an hour.
9. Finally, to assemble the mooncakes, wrap each sweet potato ball carefully with a portion of dough.
10. Dust the small mooncake mould with some fried glutinous rice flour and carefully press into each mooncake.
11. Knock out each mooncake from the mould and then chill them.

Source: Ms Judy Koh, managing director and principal chef of Caffe Pralet by Creative Culinaire

Nutritional information


NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION
(Per snowskin mooncake)

Mooncake with sweet potato

Energy: 95 calories
Saturated fat: 0.2g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sugar: 9.6g

Mooncake with eggless brownie

Energy: 188 calories
Saturated fat: 1.4g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sugar: 13.6g

Mooncake with lotus seeds paste (for comparison)

Energy: 187 calories
Saturated fat: 2.6g
Cholesterol: 2.5mg
Sugar: 19.2g

Note: The Health Promotion Board said sugar and fat are the main nutrients of concern when eating mooncakes, so the sodium and protein content have not been calculated.

Source: Health Promotion Board


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