Hey pesto, healthy living

Photo of the lunch-time workshop by Jacelyn Tay on healthier cooking in Mapletree Business City.
PHOTO: Hey pesto, healthy living

She was aware of the benefits of healthy cooking, but did not do it often at home as she thought it was inconvenient.

At most, she would eat brown rice instead of white rice.

At a workshop yesterday, Miss Tan Wen Yan, 30, learnt much more about healthy cooking.

Along with 119 other participants at Mapletree Business City (MBC), she learnt how to select healthier ingredients and to put together a simple yet tasty low-calorie meal.

The workshop was conducted by celebrity health coach Jacelyn Tay from health-care and wellness clinic Body Inc and raw food chef Bibiana Neo.

The pair demonstrated how to make zucchini noodles with pesto, which has only 142.8 calories.

Amazed at its simplicity and innovation, Miss Tan said: "I was surprised that zucchini could be used to make noodles. It tasted quite good."

The workshop is one of many that the Health Promotion Board (HPB) has organised with MBC as part of the Healthy Workplace Ecosystem initiative.

The initiative, which was launched last October, involves exercise programmes, healthier food options and screening packages.

MBC has also implemented healthier food options at eateries to complement the workshops.

Miss Alcina Lin, 25, who works at MBC, tried out some of these options.

She participates in the workshops as she is health-conscious.

Miss Lin said: "Having healthier alternatives is good as more people will choose them."

She and her colleagues often choose the healthier options at the Food Style Food Court during lunchtime.

Said Miss Lin: "I enjoy the sliced fish soup. The soup is lighter, but still tasty. I will make the conscious choice to eat the healthier options."

Approved by HPB

Eateries at MBC have seen more people choosing healthier options that have been approved by HPB.

For instance, Subway offers eight sandwiches that contain under 6 grams of fat and an average of 300 calories each.

HPB advises an average daily Recommended Dietary Allowance of 2,000 calories for women and 2,600 for men.

In 2010, about 60 per cent of Singaporeans exceeded the allowance, the board said.

Mr Raphael Chan, country director of Subway, said: "Around 20 per cent of customers are consuming the healthier choice now, but there needs to be more education on the availability of healthier meals."

Astons offers two chicken burgers with less than 500 calories and they have been a hit with customers.

"Out of 100 lunchtime customers, about 10 will choose them," said Miss Ng Li Ling, a purchaser at Astons.

At Food Style Food Court, more than 90 per cent of the stalls offer healthier choices.

The owner of the sliced fish soup stall, Mr Tay Kiang Tee, 57, said that his stall's healthier option, the sliced fish soup with thick bee hoon, is his bestseller. It has only 280 calories, compared to the fried fish ee mian soup, which contains 850 calories.

Said Mr Tay: "We always sell out the sliced fish at the end of the day. Out of about 200 bowls sold daily, aboout half would be the healthier choice."


Healthy eating initiatives

Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS)

The symbol, first used in 1998, enables the public to recognise a healthier product easily. As of last year, there are 2,800 HCS products available in the market.

There are six symbols, each of which focuses on a nutritional aspect of the product.

Healthier Hawker Programme

Hawkers in this initiative use at least one healthier ingredient - healthier salt, oil or whole grains - when preparing their food.

There are 16 eating places under this programme.

Interactive Diet and Activity Tracker

This app, which is the first in the world to be programmed with a scientifically-based algorithm specially designed for Singaporeans, helps users count their daily calorie intake.

This article was published on May 10 in The New Paper.Get The New Paper for more stories.