Whenever anyone thinks of Chinese New Year, one thinks of time spent with family, grandma’s homemade food on the table, classic Hong Kong movies and of course, snacks!
CNY just isn’t the same without the traditional snacks we know from childhood. These snacks can be both sweet and savory, but one common denominator they have is how addictive they are!
These days, with the rise of chronic illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, many people are becoming more health conscious when it comes to snacking during the festive season.
This means that many are curious how many calories each type of snack contains, and whether they’re high in fats, sugars and cholesterols. Before we look at the average calories some common snacks have, let’s look at what calories are and how they are related to your health.
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What are Calories and How Much Do I Need?
Humans need energy in order to move, think and do pretty much everything else. This energy to function on a daily basis comes from our food. Different types of food contain different levels of energy.
Foods with sugar, carbohydrates and starch contain more energy than meat, green leafy vegetables, and seafood.
The main way that the energy in each food item is measured is through calories. This means that the more calories a food has, the more energy it has. Each day, humans use a limited number of calories for movement and for our metabolism.
Men use an average of about 2500 calories per day, while women use an average of 2000 calories. Of course, many factors like our jobs, age and health status influence the exact amount of calories needed daily.
The interesting and important thing is that any excess calories you consume will then be stored in your body, as fat. That’s the main mechanism by which people put on weight.
Therefore, if you want to maintain your weight or lose weight, your daily calorie consumption has to be equal or less than your daily caloric needs. Just as a rough guide, running on a treadmill for about 15 minutes burns 100 calories.
Calories in Your Favorite CNY Snacks
Let’s look at some of the most common CNY snacks and their calories, as well as how you can choose a healthier alternative.
Pineapple tarts are a staple for CNY. This is mainly because pineapples symbolize prosperity and wealth. These tasty desserts pair a slight salty, very crispy pastry crust with a sweet and mildly sour pineapple paste.
The salt in the crust brings out the sweetness of the jam, and this heavenly pairing is what attracts many.
Much of the calories in pineapple tarts come from both the flour in the crust and the sugars in the pineapple paste. Pineapple tarts come in several different shapes, including open faced pineapple tarts, round balls, and pineapple rollovers.
Total calories: 93 calories per piece.
Lovely and pretty white kueh bangkit have been featured in CNY snack collections for decades. Kueh bangkit literally means ‘rising cakes’ and when they meet your tongue, they melt in delicious fashion.
Kueh bangkit is surprisingly one of the CNY snacks with the lowest calorie count. Three kuih bangkit equals one pineapple tart, approximately. This is because the tapioca flour used in this kuih has relatively less starch and coconut milk has less calories than butter.
Total calories: 23 calories per piece
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Bak Kwa is dried, barbequed meat similar to a meat jerky. It is full of flavor and can be made of chicken, beef or more commonly, pork. Bak kwa are one of the more costly CNY snacks but that doesn’t prevent anyone from featuring it in their homes.
Bak kwa has a pretty high calorie count, and this is because it is slathered with a mixture of soy sauce, sugar and honey during its barbequing process.
An average piece of Bak Kwa measures about 10cm by 10cm, with some shops selling bigger pieces. Just for comparison’s sake, a piece of Bak Kwa has around the same amount of calories as a plate of chicken rice, or noodles in soup.
Total calories: 229 calories per piece
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Fried Crab Sticks
Deep fried crab sticks are a trendy new snack that is quite new to the CNY snack list. It’s actually quite easy to make. One just has to roll out and cut up a kanikama Japanese crab stick into thinner bite sized pieces and deep fry it in oil until it becomes crispy.
Although the kanikama crab stick itself does not contain any sugars or starch, much of the calories comes from the oil that they are fried in.
Total calories: 166 calories per stick
Love letters are light, crispy, crepe-like cookies that have a very unique preparation method. The batter for love letters is cooked on a small, round heated pan, and has to be lifted off when very hot and rolled in a cigar like shape, or folded into a triangle.
By themselves, love letters don’t contain very high calories because they’re very light. However, these days, it has become the trend to fill them with sweet creams and pastes, like chocolate mousse, peanut butter, and the like.
Our calorie estimate is based on the usual traditional love letters, rather than the modern varieties with fillings. Although we don’t have any official numbers, the calories of love letters with sweet fillings may be double the amount stated below.
Total calories: 56 calories per piece
Source: Ding Bakery
Apart from CNY snacks, a lot of the calories you consume during this period might come from fizzy drinks and other sweet drinks too. Therefore, alongside watching the portions of snacks you consume, it helps to also watch what you’re drinking too.
Although CNY goodies are irresistible, especially when you’re visiting. However, you can opt for healthier options to serve your guests this CNY.
Ding Bakery CNY goodies are made with zero preservatives, all premium ingredients and with less sugar. We can’t avoid snacking, but we can always opt for healthier options!