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Food for the soul

Fruits and vegetables are good for the body, but what can be considered good fodder for our souls?


For some it’s soup. Others, something deep fried and crunchy. Food cravings can happen when it’s chilly or if we’re a little fatigued or under the weather, but only certain types can give us that something extra to brighten our moods.

Like how the rodent in Ratatouille won over the heart of the difficult critic with his childhood dish, most soul food conjures feelings of warmth and comfort through their links with fond memories. In Singapore, thanks to our racial diversity, we often have more than one favourite dish that will send us to gastronomic heaven and instantly warm the cockles of your heart.


No other dish says “Singapore” quite like it. Whichever brand you favour, from Maxwell’s Tian Tian to the premium Chatterbox variety, Hainanese chicken rice dominates most lists as the food that best says “home”. It checks all the right boxes when it comes to a nourishing meal –dancing with savoury and spicy notes (when you add that tangy chilli), and combining tender slices of chicken mixed with flavoured grains. Then that little bowl of clear soup comes in just right, to help you wash it all down.

Then there’s the Ramly burger. What started as an unassuming item at pasar malams (night markets) quickly became a staple, found sometimes even at Muslim hawker stalls because it’s just that good. The famous burger is unpretentious, messy and delicious. It usually couples a thin fried egg skilfully wrapped around the patty, then drowned in black pepper sauce, mayo and buttery magic. One chomp, and you’ll be sold.

While chicken soup is often said to be good for the soul, we’d prefer to have a serving of Indian soup kambing. It takes the place of a main because it’s incredibly rich, featuring intense flavours heady with spice. The signature yellow soup comes from turmeric – which is said to offer anti-inflammatory properties. Mutton is a rich source of high-quality protein and many vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. Hearty and flavourful – we like!


Noodles are enjoyed all around the world, but for locals, a rich and creamy bowl of laksa hits the spot every time. Recipes differ slightly, but the robust bowl can always be counted upon to include belacan (shrimp paste) and chilli paste, shallots, blue ginger (galangal), and turmeric in its signature coconut milk broth. The tedious process of making this soup base makes this a dish of love, and the glassy thick white noodles are the perfect match to the intense flavours.

At the other end of the spectrum, ban mian comes in a clear soup but it’s no less flavourful. This is Asia’s version of chicken soup, with the savoury broth made punchy by fried anchovies and minced pork. The dish usually comes with an egg and fresh vegetables, making this truly a balanced bowl. And one of the ban mian’s best feature is how you can pick and choose the type of noodles that go in. From flat squares and thin noodles to transparent vermicelli, the options allow you to find the texture you want for this classic.

And how can one go wrong with mee rebus? Although there is a clear variety in Terengganu, the ones we know in Singapore are of a thicker consistency, made delicious with sweet potatoes. This deep, earthy base is mixed with beef or chicken stock for an amazing combination and comes with yellow noodles to give it that oh-so-homely taste that satisfies. If you have two servings, we won’t judge – the dish is often smaller in portion so go ahead!


No local food list would be complete without seafood dishes. Many of us will have fond pre-pandemic memories of tucking into mouthwatering chilli crab and barbeque stingray dishes with family members and friends. Whether to celebrate a special occasion or “just because”, these communal meals played a part in forging the ties that bind for many of us.

Opening at HomeTeamNS-JOM in late-2021, Jom Makan Seafood is a Muslim-owned eatery that serves a variety of signature dishes, like their Shovel Seafood Platter and Maggi Goreng Lobster. And what seafood meal would be complete without dishes like Sambal Stingray and Sambal Sotong.

Orchid Live Seafood, located at HomeTeamNS Khatib is offering a 1-for-1 deal on its popular Boston Lobster dish as well as 10-per-cent discounts off all orders, while stocks last.


Sometimes, a little goes a long way. Soulful food is often uncluttered by complicated cooking, and nothing speaks of such simplicity more than a traditional pairing of youtiao (fried fritters) and a soya bean drink.

It’s just two strips of flour fried in oil – with a shockingly symbolic past referencing a traitorous advisor and his wife in ancient China. But  somehow, every munch of this doughy pastry fulfils, especially when washed down or soaked in the milky soya bean drink.

Dip in. Bite down. Be happy in its simplicity.

The ubiquitous kaya toast combines the sweet coconut egg jam with a touch of salty butter (choose frozen for that old-school kicker) – the perfect filling to make this an ideal snack any time of the day.

Local food empires were built upon its flaky toasted crust, and when paired with a local cup of Nanyang coffee or tea, instantly conjures scenes of a raucous kopitiam.

Being the global city that we are, it’s only natural that some Western items have become included in this soulful list. Jewel Cafe, located at the HomeTeamNS Khatib clubhouse is offering a buy-2-get-1-free promotion on its gelato.

There are, as it turns out, many ways to lift one’s spirits and fuel the soul, and these gastronomic delights are just the tip of the iceberg. Bon appetit!

Shape Up

Health is wealth: How to keep focused on staying in shape during a pandemic

COVID-19 may have limited our options for outings, but it has also inspired many to keep fit. We talk to a Fitness Workz expert from HomeTeamNS to find out how they encourage their clients to stay motivated in the light of ever-evolving safe management measures.


Last year’s circuit breaker period saw many people rush to stockpile everything from eggs to exercise mats. As normal activities – from dining out to going to the gym – ground to a halt, Singaporeans and companies pivoted to virtual activities and services.

These included gyms, which began offering virtual exercise classes. Working out at home became one of the most popular means of passing the time, until the option of heading to gyms and engaging personal trainers gradually became available during Phase 2.

The current increase in COVID-19 cases mean that safe management measures are now in a state of flux. There’s a certain air of uncertainty around what to expect and whether we might need to adjust our workout routines every few weeks. While frequent change can be distracting or even demoralising, we spoke to a professional trainer to gain some insights on why that needn’t affect your broader fitness journey.


Following the easing of restrictions as Singapore entered Phase 2 last June, Mr Noel Lee, a Business Development and Marketing Executive at Fitness Workz, observed an initial surge in patrons at the gym.

Apart from trying to re-establish disrupted routines (while adhering to safe management measures at the gym at the same time), working out provided attendees with an avenue to hang out with their friends.

That said, the subsequent further relaxation of safe management measures and reopening of public spaces diverted some people from their fitness routine, as they struck a new balance between their other interests and commitments.

Mr Lee aptly summarises this as a zero-sum game – “the recurring problem we have as a society is the search for the fine balance between work and health”.


Taking small steps, like using the stairs instead of the lift, can encourage healthy habits and make exercise a part of your daily routine, without you even realising it.

Admittedly, repeating the same exercise routines can be a turn-off for many. But this does not have to be the case. Instead, why not use your progress as an impetus to work out regularly?

For some, seeing tangible improvement — such as their fat percentage decreasing over the weeks — provides them a constant impetus to continue their efforts,” shares Mr Lee.

To keep pushing forward, it can help to break things down and focus on bite-sized goals.

For instance, with the increase in work and home demands, keeping exercise regimes short but effective ensures your routine is sustainable. You should also start celebrating the small wins – every bit of fat lost, or muscle gained is a great victory in itself.

The most important takeaway here is to keep the momentum going. Even if progress feels slow, don’t forget to take a step back and look at the bigger picture: These small steps add up on your lifelong adventure to better health.


If you’ve taken a detour on your fitness journey and are feeling lost, the good news is fitness trainers can help you get back on track. Receiving professional guidance is particularly effective for beginners, as trainers are able to put together a wide range of the latest regimes that have yet to be adopted by the masses.

Working out with an expert will also help to make exercise a part of your routine and serve as a constant reminder to keep fit. Mr Lee suggests speaking with your trainer first to identify your goals, motivations and barriers, to come up with sustainable solutions.

The pros at Fitness Workz are also ever-mindful of being over-zealous and drawing up routines that are too intense for their clients. “This can in turn decrease motivation and turn clients off exercising,” Mr Lee points out. To help those who need more time, trainers often encourage clients to start off small – such as using the stairs instead of the lift. Such activities encourage the formation of healthy habits, and can help encourage individuals.


There are plenty of nice things that come with getting physically fit (like the compliments from friends), but did you know numerous studies have also established a positive correlation between physical health and mental wellness? Examples include reduced stress levels, better sleep patterns and increased self-confidence – all of which have become even more important in light of the current pandemic and its negative impacts on mental health.

Recent research supports these findings, with reports concluding that even performing light physical activity regularly can have a positive stress-reducing effect on individuals needing to self-isolate due to prevailing safe distancing measures.

Remember: At the end of the day, a healthy body makes for healthy mind. Fitness is more about muscle mass and weight loss – it’s also about adopting a mindset of general wellness to help lead a more fulfilling life. By having set a strong foundation on this front, there’s nothing holding us back from being able to go forth and live our best lives, no matter the circumstances.

Find out how you can kickstart your journey to a healthier you at Fitness Workz.

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