10 Chinese New Year Healthy Snacks You Can Enjoy Guilt-Free

Chinese New Year is the time to reunite with relatives and friends. It is the season filled with food, family, and fun. But mostly food.

If you’re worried about being tempted by calorie-filled Chinese New Year treats, then this list is for you. Simple changes in your eating habits can allow you to enjoy your healthy Chinese New Year snacks without regret.

Photo courtesy of Josiah Lau Photography via Flickr

A simple guide to healthy eating during Chinese New Year

You don’t always have control of the menu when you visit relatives or eat out. But you can always make better and healthier decisions.

Try these tips when it comes to healthy eating during Chinese New Year feasts:

  • Eat a healthy snack before going out to meet with your friends or family. You will be less likely to overeat.
  • Bring healthy snacks to share when you visit someone. A Mandarin orange is a traditional Chinese New Year snack which is healthy and delicious.
  • Slow down. No matter how delicious everything looks, eat slow. It can take up to 20 minutes before your body realises you are full. Eating slower makes you eat less and you can enjoy your food more.
  • Drink water or tea. Tea and water are great beverage choices. Both have few, or no, calories. The more you drink, the less you will eat. However, limit the amount of alcohol to avoid unwanted calories and fat.
  • Save room for the main course by eating less appetisers and snacks. Remember, white rice has over 240 calories per serving.
  • Make better snack choices. It is hard to resist the snacks you loved when you were a kid. It is okay to eat a few favourites, but don’t get carried away. Control portion sizes, and try to replace with healthier Chinese New Year snack options.
  • Avoid the “F” word: fried food and dishes that contain lots of flour or fat.
  • Don’t forget about exercising. Chinese New Year is the perfect time to gather your friends and family for some active outdoor fun.
  • Homemade food is usually much healthier. Try to cook some  Chinese New Year healthy snacks when possible

Traditional Chinese New Year Snacks

Everyone has a favourite Chinese New Year snack. Most of them are unhealthy. Here are 10  traditional snacks available at most Chinese New Year dinners. The average number of calories, grams of fat and sugar are listed. There is also a healthy alternative. You can find the recipes to make these healthy Chinese New Year snacks in the next section.

Peanuts

Photo courtesy of heecehil via Pixabay

A 20-gram portion contains:

  • 113 calories
  • 10 g of fat
  • 0.8 g of sugar

Peanuts provide plenty of protein and vitamins, along with healthy monounsaturated fat. On the downside, even a small serving contains a high level of fat and calories. As an alternative, try Oven Roasted Chickpeas to save 83 calories and 8.5 grams of fat.

Banana Chips

Photo courtesy of ponce_photography via Pixabay

A 30-gram portion contains:

  • 150 calories
  • 10 g fat
  • 5 g sugar

Banana chips are delicious and crispy. But when bananas are deep-fried and coated in honey, they are no longer as healthy as you think. Cut out 72 calories and 9.7 grams of fat when you make your own Oven-Dried Banana Chips.

Open-Face Pineapple Tarts

Photo courtesy of Alpha via Flickr

One 20-gram tart contains:

  • 82 calories
  • 4 g of fat
  • 6 g of sugar

Sweet, chewy, and fruity, Open-Face Pineapple Tarts are one of the most popular Chinese New Year snacks. The tarts available in the local shops are loaded with fat and sugar. Candied Pineapple Chunks offer a chewy and fruity alternative which is almost fat-free.

Bak Kwa

Photo courtesy of Alpha via Flickr

A one square serving contains:

  • 229 calories
  • 7.8 g of fat
  • 24.5 g of sugar

Who can resist one, or more slices of this must-have Chinese New Year favourite? The rich, savory flavor is completely satisfying. It is too bad that Bak Kwa is loaded with fat, sugar and calories. Try making a healthier Honey Grilled Chicken Bak Kwa version. You will save 169 calories, and over 7 grams of fat.

Yu Sheng

Photo courtesy of Alpha via Flickr

A 385-gram portion contains:

  • 560 calories
  • 42 g fat
  • 15 g sugar

Yu Sheng is a must-have Chinese New Year snack. This classic Chinese New Year salad includes vegetables and slices of raw fish mixed with plum sauce, deep-fried crackers, plum sauce, and oil. Yu Sheng is special because it symbolises abundance in the coming year. Make a promise to increase your health, and try a Smoked Salmon Salad this year. You will save 354 calories and 26.2 grams of fat.

Kueh Lapis

Photo courtesy of Ivy Ho via Flickr

A 33-gram slice contains:

  • 157 calories
  • 11 g fat
  • 0 g sugar

It is hard to resist the rich, buttery taste of Kueh Lapis. This multi-layered cake looks as good as it tastes. Unfortunately, extra body fat isn’t as attractive. Instead, try the delicious and light Angel Food Cake. Save 10.9 grams of fat, and all that extra exercising.

Fried Nian Gao

Photo courtesy of Cathrine Ling via Flickr

A 138-gram portion contains:

  • 233 calories
  • 12.6 g fat
  • 16.5 g sugar

Eating Nian Gao on Chinese New Year symbolises a desire for growth in the coming year. Fried Nian Gao is delicious, but save 115 calories and 11.8 grams of fat by enjoying steamed Nian Gao instead.

Kueh Bangkit

Photo courtesy of su-lin via Flickr

A three-cookie portion contains:

  • 60 calories
  • 0.6 g fat
  • 5.1 g sugar

Most people can’t stop eating these tiny treats. Almost everyone remembers eating Kueh Bangkit as a child. Now that you are an adult, you know eating too many is unhealthy. Why not enjoy a melt-in-your-mouth, fat-free Meringue Cookie instead?

Fried Pork Dumplings

Photo courtesy of cegoh via Pixabay

A portion contains:

  • 420 calories
  • 22 g fat
  • 0 g sugar

There is no doubt that Fried Pork Dumplings are delicious. Who doesn’t love juicy pork wrapped in a crispy, fried wrapper? But Fried Pork Dumplings can be a little unhealthy. Try steamed vegetarian dumplings instead; you can save 312 calories and 19.6 grams of fat.

Dried Shrimp Rolls

Photo courtesy of Sebastian Mary via Flickr

A 45-gram portion contains:

  • 228 calories
  • 14 g fat
  • 2 g sugar

Small and crispy, it is too easy to indulge in  Dried Shrimp Rolls. The spicy, garlicky taste is also very addictive. Most Dried Shrimp Rolls from shops are deep fried in palm oil which is high in saturated fats. If you want to enjoy shrimp, try a Classic Shrimp Cocktail. It has 99 fewer calories and 12.5 less grams of fat.

Chinese New Year Healthy Snacks

Try these lower calorie, lower fat snacks to make your Chinese New Year healthier and happier.

Oven-Roasted Garbanzo Beans

Photo courtesy of Kyle Killam via Pexels

Recipe adapted from: AllRecipes.com

Makes: 12 servings | Preparation time:  Approx 45 minutes

One serving contains:

  • 30 calories
  • 1.5 g fat
  • 0.5 g sugar

Ingredients

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 230 degrees C.
  2. Drain the beans
  3. Take off as many skins from the beans as possible.
  4. Dry completely with a paper towel.
  5. In a bowl, combine garbanzo beans and oil. Add optional seasonings. Toss to completely coat beans.
  6. Spread garbanzo beans in a single layer on an oiled sheet pan. Place the garbanzo beans in the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 35 minutes until brown and toasted.

Banana Chips

Photo courtesy of Barthateslisa via Wikimedia Commons

Recipe adapted from: Yummly.com

Makes: 8 servings | Preparation time: Approx 3 hours

One serving contains:

  • 80 calories
  • 0.3 g fat
  • 10.8 g sugar

Ingredients

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 100 degrees C, or the lowest setting on your oven.
  2. Cut bananas into thin 0.5 cm slices.
  3. Place banana slices in a single layer onto a wax-paper lined sheet pan. You may need more than one sheet pan, or you can cook in batches.
  4. Juice the lemon. Make sure to remove all the seeds.
  5. Brush banana slices with lemon juice.
  6. Bake in the oven until completely dry, about 1.5 – 3 hours.
  7. Remove from the oven. Place banana slices on a wire rack to cool completely before eating. The banana slices will get crispier as they cool.

Candied Pineapple Chunks

Photo courtesy of szjeno09190 via Pixabay

Recipe adapted from: Food.com

Makes: 20 servings | Preparation time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

One serving contains:

  • 105 calories
  • 0.05 g fat
  • 23,7 g sugar

Ingredients

  • pineapple, cut into 3 cm cubes
  • 250 ml water
  • 500 ml light corn syrup

Instructions:

  1. Peel the pineapple. Remove the core, and throw away.
  2. Cut the pineapple into 3 cm cubes.
  3. Bring sugar, water, and light corn syrup to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  4. Carefully add the cubes of pineapple to the saucepan. Adjust the heat to avoid splattering. Stir frequently. Cook until the pineapple chunks are translucent.
  5. Strain the pineapple cubes.
  6. Cool on a wire rack into dry.
  7. Store in an airtight container.

Honey Grilled Chicken Bak Kwa

Photo courtesy of City Life Meal via YouTube (screengrab)

Recipe adapted from: iTazzoHomeStyle.com

Makes: 12 servings | Preparation time: 30 minutes.

One serving contains:

  • 60 calories
  • 0,4g fat
  • 0,8g sugar

Ingredients The meat mixture:

The basting sauce:

Instructions:

  1. Put all the meat mixture ingredients into a food processor. Process on low until the chicken is finely minced. Make sure all ingredients are combined evenly.
  2. Remove the meat mixture from food processor. Put in a bowl. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C.
  4. Lightly oil a baking sheet. Place chilled chicken bak kwa mixture onto the baking sheet.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap, and press to form a thin, even layer.
  6. Put all of the basting sauce ingredients into a bowl. Stir to combine.
  7. Remove the plastic wrap from mixture. Brush the meat with a thin coating of basting sauce.
  8. Bake in your oven for 10 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven. Carefully turn over the chicken bak kwa, then lightly brush on more basting sauce.
  10. Return to the oven for 10 minutes.
  11. Let the chicken bak kwa completely cool on a wire rack.
  12. Cut into serving pieces.
  13. Store inside an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Smoked Salmon Salad

Photo courtesy of Marie via Flickr

Recipe adapted from: Food.com

Makes: 4 servings | Preparation time: 15 minutes.

One serving contains:

  • 205 calories
  • 15.8 g fat
  • 1.8 g sugar

Ingredients The salad:

The dressing:

Instructions:

  1. Put capers, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
  2. Slowly add the olive oil while whisking until the dressing thickens.
  3. Add the mixed greens, smoked salmon, and cucumbers to the dressing.
  4. Lightly toss to coat.
  5. Place mixed greens and cucumbers on a serving plate.
  6. Put the smoked salmon on top of the vegetables.

Angel Food Cake

Photo courtesy of skeeze via Pixabay

Recipe adapted from: Food.com

Makes: 16 servings | Preparation time: 50 minutes

One serving contains:

  • 125 calories
  • 0.1g fat
  • 20.6 g sugar

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.
  2. Sift cake flour with 60 g of sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt to form soft peaks.
  4. Add the remaining 60 g of sugar to the egg white mixture. Whisk until stiff peaks form.
  5. Gently fold in the flour mixture, vanilla extract, and almond extract slowly. Combine well, but don’t over mix.
  6. Pour batter into an angel food cake pan.
  7. Use a knife to remove air bubbles from batter.
  8. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes until cake feels like a sponge.
  9. Remove from the oven and let cake cool before removing it from the pan when the cake is cool, remove it from the pan.

Steamed Nian Gao

Photo courtesy of Skjackey tse via Wikimedia Commons

Recipe adapted from: Food.com

Makes: 8 servings | Preparation time: 1 hour and 20 minutes

One serving contains:

  • 118 calories
  • 0.3 g fat
  • 16.5 g sugar

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Dissolve sugar in a bowl of boiling water. Let cool.
  2. Put Chinese dates in water for 30 minutes. When ready, remove Chinese dates,cut in half, then take out pits.
  3. Save the water to use later.
  4. Put the gluttonous flour in a large, clean bowl. Add the water used for soaking the Chinese dates. Pour in the milk.
  5. Use a wooden spoon to start forming a dough.
  6. Add half of the Chinese dates when the dough is smooth. Mix to combine.
  7. Oil a square 18 cm square cake pan. Put the dough into the cake pan, then spread evenly.
  8. Decorate the top of the dough with the rest of the Chinese dates.
  9. Steam the cake for around 45 minutes. The cake is done when the sides start to pull away from the cake pan.
  10. Use a butter knife to loosen the cake from the pan. Place a cutting board on top of the pan, and turn over.
  11. Wrap the cake tightly in wax paper. Put in the refrigerator until completely chilled.
  12. Don’t fry the cake before serving. Save fat and calories by heating it in the microwave.

Meringue Cookies

Photo courtesy of gtjoflot via Pixabay

Recipe adapted from: Food.com

Makes: 40 servings | Preparation time: 40 minutes

One serving contains:

  • 23 calories
  • 0 g fat
  • 5.5 g sugar

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.
  2. Boil a large pot a third filled with water. Put all ingredients in a large, metal bowl.
  3. Place the bowl over the boiling water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.
  4. Start to whisk the egg white mixture until stiff peaks form. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Oil a baking sheet.
  6. Drop 5 ml of egg white mixture onto the baking sheet.
  7. Bake 12 to 15 minutes on the middle rack until light brown.
  8. Cool cookies on a wire rack.
  9. Store in an airtight container when completely cooled.

Vegetarian Steamed Dumplings

Photo courtesy of jonathanvalencia5 via Pixabay

Recipe adapted from: FoodNetwork.com

Makes 8 servings | Preparation time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

One serving contains:

  • 108 calories
  • 2.4 g fat
  • 1.5 g sugar

Ingredients

Instructions:

  1. Cut tofu in half lengthwise, and put on a paper towel. Put another paper towel on top of the tofu.
  2. Place a heavy cutting board on top. Wait 20 minutes.
  3. Dry the tofu, and cut into 1/2 cm cubes.
  4. Combine all ingredients, except wrappers in a bowl. Mix gently to combine.
  5. Form dumplings by wetting the edge of a dumpling wrapper with water. Put 5 g of dumpling mixture in the center of the wrapper. Fold into a dumpling.
  6. Steam dumplings in batches for 10 to 12 minutes.

Classic Shrimp Cocktail

Photo courtesy of GamerChef6 via Pixabay

Recipe adapted from Food.com

Makes: 5 servings | Preparation time: 30 minutes

A three shrimp with sauce serving contains:

  • 129 calories
  • 0.39g fat
  • 1.5 g sugar

Ingredients

Sauce:

  1. Combine the chili sauce, ketchup, wasabi paste, and Tabasco sauce in a bowl.
  2. Mix until well combined.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Shrimp:

  1. Fill a large pot with salted water.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Cut a lemon, and put in the boiling water.
  4. Carefully put the shrimp in the pot.
  5. Cook for three minutes, uncovered.
  6. Remove the shrimp, and chill immediately to stop them from being overcooked.
  7. When the shrimps are cool, peel and devein.
  8. Chill the shrimp until you are ready to serve.

Cooking shows how much you love your friends and family. Spend the time cooking with those you love this holiday season. Don’t forget that cooking with your children is one of the best ways to bring your family closer. Teach your kids how to cook and eat healthier food.

Try cooking some of these Chinese New Year healthy snacks, and discover a new favourite. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.

Disclaimer: All of the nutritional information in this article is based on averages, and is meant as a guide only.


YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE...