Understanding the Art of Chinese New Year Snacking

By Joy Xie

Understanding the Snacks/ Food & Beverages

1. Bak Kwa

I will always remember having half a slice of bak kwa along with a piece of white bread in my younger chinese new year years. It was the go-to for breakfast, after lunch and supper when no one's aware of my presence. Now that age and metabolism aren't on my side, not only do I need to curb with my craving and amount I know I can actually fill myself with, I need to spread the message of how everyone else who's having the same weakness as I do, that they too can curb with knowledge on how our bodies react to the piece of delicious bak kwa gliding down our throats.
First of all, bak kwa is very sweet which means, a lot of sugar has been added into the meat during the marinating process. It is basically caramelized pork.  "It is often made with beef, pork, or mutton, which are prepared with spices, sugar, salt, and soy sauce, while dried on racks at around 50 °C to 60 °C" - quote: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakkwa, or, grilled over charcoal like how satays do. Due to the taste of sugar, our body crashes after the sugar-high and wants more of that to sustain our energy levels. Salt and soy sauce increases the tendency for most of us to reach for another piece because salt retains water thus the body's tendency to re-feed, similar to how salty chips cause most of us to finish the whole packet before we even know it. 
Whether it be beef, pork or mutton, there will always be some way into the disadvantage of consuming these meat produce as long as the cattle isn't grass-fed/organic. That much said, there is always more reason to refrain from grabbing another piece, right? Another tip I would like to share is to pre-cut your bak kwa in thin stripes, not squares, since popping bak kwa squares into our mouths is too convenient. Chew that jerky!
2.  Pineapple Tarts
Picture Credit: https://aimakan.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/prima-delis-pineapple-tarts/
Whether it be the ones with the pineapple filling exposed or not, the balance of the rich floury texture and that sticky yet moist pineapple paste is too delicious and comforting to resist. You really don't need to be a Chinese to love this concoction. Let's take a look at what it takes to produce 30 tarts;
As you can see, the only few ingredients which are less controversial are eggs, butter, fresh pineapples and cloves. What can you possibly do to save yourself? Switch up the recipe, replace ingredients, bake them yourself and package them to the people/ relatives you are bound to visit! It is quite a simple task if the oven is your best friend but for others less interested in the kitchen, challenge yourself to just test one or two pineapple tarts per house. 
3. Deep Fried Prawn/ Shrimp Rolls
Recipe for Prawn Rolls
As you can tell, prawn rolls aren't as bad as the first two snacks and they are rather low in calorie per roll. Although so, most of us don't usually count how many rolls we have per time/ visit. More often that not, all that fried goodness and the fiery shrimp goodness chauffeur the way to sore throats, heavy phlegm and eventually throat infection. The best thing to do is to stick to a handful/ not more than 5-6 rolls a time. Take a few sips of water inbetween each roll to keep yourself full and reduce the salty taste on your tongue.
4. Huat Kueh

Picture Credit: http://www.streetdirectory.com/jixiang/

This delicious snack can be right in my mouth whether it's just out of the oven, or if it's been left out to dry for 3 days. Sweet, moist, almost like a chinese-style of pancake, the best way to eat it without over eating is to simply eat it how it's supposed to be eaten - pinch a tiny piece and eat it for good luck. The smaller the pinch, the more grateful your waistline will be to you.
5. Packet Drinks
Picture Credit: 
And the variety goes on!
Want something refreshing, light on the palette and yet healthy?
Go for some coconut juice at your local mama store. I usually grab a carton of 24 monthly at about $20. You may wish to pour 5-6 cans of coconut juice in a water dispenser and serve your guests while they're at your place for a visit. Freshly squeezed juice would definitely be some added fun if you have a juicing machine at home. Buy some fresh fruits, cut them up, squeeze, add ice and it's done! Angbaos later! 
Share a packet of sweet drinks with your mother/ cousin per house if you really need to drink. 
6. Peanut Cookies
Aromatic, flakey, and seemingly harmless. I mean, nuts are good right? Yes they are, on their own.
You might wish to take the same advice with these cookies as of the pineapple tarts on point 2. Bake them up with healthier ingredients and enjoy sparingly!
7. Yu Sheng
Our dear friend Yu Sheng is truly your good friend. 
If all else fails while rejecting the snacks, kindly inform the owners that you're saving space for Yu Sheng!
It's probably the only time when somebody serves you vegetables generously, too.
Know your weaknesses
Everyone has different weaknesses and the best thing to do is to think of a few plans to curb with the situation when the snack arises. 
Be prepared.
Reset your body by eating clean two weeks before CNY because it does make a difference to your system.
Once your body is reset, whatever junk you have later will be naturally rejected by the body during the evening.
The morning before the visiting:
- Workout with an empty stomach.
- Pop some Probiotics for better digestion.
- Drink lots of water to keep yourself full.
During the battle
- Snacking slowly
- Hold a tissue with every bit of snack you might wish to have so that others do not have the tendency to push more snack when your hands are empty.
- If you can't finish your snack, simply wrap the tissue up nicely, walk to the fridge when no one is watching and leave it a spot just before you leave. Who'd suspect it was you, right?
Sneaky ways to do the Taichi of CNY Snacking
- Pass the snacks around
- Know who likes what and feed it to them!
- Put it back/ put your tissue in the fridge when no one is watching!
Two formulas you need to remember:
1. Lemon water (first thing in the morning) + Cardio exercises for the first week. 
    Avoid doing strength training at first.
2. Coconut Water + Vegetables, as much as you can.
Good Luck Everyone!
The SportSanity Team wishes everyone a Happy Chinese New Year!


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