Food Spy Lifestyle

The smart snacker’s guide to healthier treats

When the munchies strike, instead of reaching for comfort food that’s deep-fried, greasy or sweet, why not include some healthy snacks in your diet?



Maybe you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to eat healthy — but it’s the Chinese New Year period and the pineapple tarts are calling out to you. How do you satisfy your desire to indulge, without feeling guilty about increasing your cholesterol levels and risk of diabetes?

Rather than avoiding these treats altogether, it’s better to take a balanced approach by including some healthy snacks in your routine. During a long day at work, snacking can take the edge off your hunger to prevent you from overeating at the next meal, and provide a much-needed energy boost if your blood glucose levels fall sharply.

And if you can’t resist the urge, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) recommends maximising nutrients while minimising calories: Choose snacks that are below 200 calories a serving while providing useful nutrients such as fibre.

Read on for game-changing tips on reshaping your snacking habit into a healthier one — without losing any crunchy or sweet satisfaction.


Air-frying snacks uses very little oil but produces a similar taste and texture as deep-frying.

Home cooking is generally healthier than buying curry puffs and samosas from hawker centres and restaurants – but if you’re overly reliant on deep-frying or reaching out for the salt shaker in your kitchen, you won’t be getting any of the health benefits from preparing your own snacks.

If you’re craving hot, crispy fries, try oven-roasting or air-frying (with very little oil) your own sweet potato fries, which offer more Vitamin A than potato fries. Tip: If using an oven, switch it to convection mode, as the dry and hot air circulation allows for crispier edges.

Once your homemade healthy snacks are done, it’s tempting to salt them as heavily as many eateries do. To avoid hypertension (also known as high blood pressure), try low-sodium salt instead, which substitutes the mineral potassium for about a quarter of the salt content. Potassium tastes similar to salt, but has been known to reduce blood pressure and improve heart health instead.

For sweet treats, healthier, less-processed sweeteners can sometimes offer more complex and satisfying flavours compared to plain white sugar. For example, you can mash dates to sweeten cakes or cookies, or swirl honey into yogurt as a simple dessert instead of reaching for the ice cream.


Products with the Healthier Choice Symbol meet the Health Promotion Board's nutritional guidelines – signalling that these are healthier food options.

Instead of heading straight for the familiar packaging of old snack favourites at the supermarket, look for a different sign instead: The red-and-white pyramid of the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS). This indicates that the product is a healthier option that meets HPB’s nutritional guidelines.

This means that the item generally contains less fat (both total and saturated fat), sugar and sodium. Beneath the HCS’ pyramid symbol, you’ll also find a line indicating the main health benefit of the item. For example, if the snack is a bag of dried apricots, you might find a line stating “No added sugar”, or if it’s a box of crackers, the line might read “Trans-fat free”.

For more sinful options like chips and ice cream, the HCS will indicate if a serving is less than 100 calories or 200 calories. (Before dishing it up, don’t forget to check the product’s nutritional information for how big a serving size should be!).


If reading ingredient labels just isn’t your thing — or perhaps you’re in a rush — there’s an even simpler way to make sure you’re biting into some healthy snacks. As the award-winning science and food writer Michael Pollan wrote: “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food.”

This means sticking to snacks that are as unprocessed as possible, such as dried or fresh fruit, nuts and vegetables. Try toasting chickpeas in the oven with just a sprinkle of salt, or slicing up mangoes or papaya for an easy snack. For a spicy Mexican-style twist, drizzle lime juice and a light dusting of salt, chili powder or paprika over the fruit.

He also recommends sticking to items that have five ingredients or fewer, as well as items that have a short shelf life. For example, choose buns that are baked fresh with no preservatives instead of those in the bread aisle of the supermarket with expiry dates that stretch days or even weeks ahead. Not only do these long-life options contain artificial preservatives, they’re also likely to be laden with unhealthy sweeteners such as refined sugar or corn syrup.

Whatever you decide to munch on, it’s important to do so in moderation and with an understanding of your body’s needs. Happy snacking!

Food Spy Lifestyle

Feelgood festive treats for Chinese New Year

From hampers to hotpots, there are plenty of options to help your family make the most of the festive period.



Holidays are great, though having Christmas, New Year and Lunar New Year so close together often has us asking the perennial question: Where’s a good place to eat?

The good news is that organisations like HomeTeamNS offer numerous deals that help make those celebrations a little easier – and more affordable – to plan.


We’re all missing Thailand’s mouthwatering cuisine so it’s a good thing we have plenty of authentic options like Siam Kitchen at the HomeTeamNS Khatib clubhouse.

This halal-certified eatery’s secret lies with their bona fide Thai chefs, so every serving of Tom Yum or pineapple rice is satisfyingly authentic. HomeTeamNS members can look forward to a Chinese New Year menu for two or five from S$48++, or enjoy 10-per-cent off for other classic favourites on the menu at checkout. Valid from 10 January to 28 February 2022.


Photo: HalalFoodHunt

What’s Chinese New Year without a little hotpot? Indulge in tradition while adding a twist with Suki-Suki Thai Hot Pot over at HomeTeamNS Khatib. From thin slivers of halal beef and chicken to home-made fish paste, as well as a colourful and tantalising array of Thai desserts, you’ll have an Insta-worthy table that tastes as good as it looks. Diners can also opt for a seasonal special of Tomato Soup.

From 10 January to 28 February 2022, HomeTeamNS members enjoy 10-per-cent off their bills at checkout. With lunch buffet sets starting at just S$19.90++, it’s the perfect place to have a casual meal with some hungry friends.


Photo: Fuji Izakaya Bar

Yusheng (tossed raw fish salad) is a lunar new year staple. If you’re looking for an alternative, how about trying the Sashimi Combo Sets starting from S$138.80 at Fuji Izakaya Bar at HomeTeamNS Khatib? You’ll have plenty of fresh fish to bring on the luck, and other optional add-ons like seafood, grills, ramen and rice bowls from their extensive menu.

Want to add a little extra buzz to the outing? Order up some beers or the award-winning “Izumofuji Daiginjo” sake. For all a la carte items from the menu, members enjoy 10-per-cent off at checkout till 3 February 2022.


Photo: Heavenly Wang

Over at the HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok clubhouse, Heavenly Wang has a festive creation of their own. The “Wang”derful Blossom Bundle, at just S$6.60 (U.P S$7.40) for HomeTeamNS members, celebrates Asia with some distinctive flavours and is available from 5 January to 15 February 2022.

The Yuzu Ham Blossom Toastie combines the savoury with the citrusy. Follow this up with the Iced Osmanthus Pineapple Tea – a refreshing beverage fragrant with floral and fruit.

To enjoy these benefits, just present your HomeTeamNS membership card during billing.


Photo: Noel Gifts

When visiting someone’s house, it’s always a good idea to bear gifts to offer good tidings. Pick from Noel Gift’s large range of flowers, gifts and hampers suitable for all budgets and receive 8-per-cent off for any Chinese New Year Collection order of S$80 and above.

Whether it’s a spectacular arrangement with tangerines or an abundant arm of symbolic delicacies, you’ll have until 12 February 2022 to pick those goodies for your loved ones. To enjoy the discount, HomeTeamNS members just have to retrieve the promo code from your HomeTeamNS mobile app and use it during checkout from Noel Gift’s website.


Photo: Grand Hyatt Singapore

Adding some elevated dining to your feasts is now a whole lot easier. Grand Hyatt presents their Lunar New Year menu, with a generous 15-per-cent discount for all HomeTeamNS members till 15 February 2022 with the promo code from your HomeTeamNS mobile app.

Savour the stunning Bountiful Treasure Pot (Pen Cai) and usher in its abundant blessings, or ring in the same with the Sauteed Hybrid Grouper served with mushrooms, snow peas and an XO chili sauce. They even have an option for vegetarians – the plant-based Organic Vegetable and Truffle Yu Sheng.


Photo: Novotel Singapore

Novotel Singapore is finding inspiration from a collaboration between Food Exchange and Ancient Taste (Gu Zao Wei) – a restaurant with a zero-waste precept. You’ll find familiar classics like Shrimp Paste Chicken and Fu Yong Egg on the menu, but the highlight has to be their claypots, available in fish head or a more collagen-filled mix of braised phoenix claws, pork tendons and premium Chinese mushrooms.

If you’re having a party of four to six, opt for the convenient Gu Zao Wei Set. As HomeTeamNS members, receive 18-per-cent off from now till 15 February 2022 and apply your mobile app’s promo code upon checkout.


Photo: Mandarin Oriental

If you prefer to place your orders at the same place, check out Mandarin Oriental’s offerings. The luxury hotel has anything from dishes like yu sheng, roasted goose and pork roulade to pineapple tarts and lavish hampers. There’s even Nian Gao (sticky cake) for some traditional blessings. With their elegant packaging and elevated menu, members will appreciate the 15-per-cent discount on all items (except hampers). Enter your HomeTeamNS mobile app’s promo code to enjoy the promotion from till 15 February 2022.


Photo: Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay

The Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay opened to much fanfare, partly because the lauded Peach Blossom restaurant made a welcome return. The hotel has launched an exclusive hamper, Treasure Pot and six-course meal experience on their website

You’ll be able to enjoy a 20-per-cent discount before 30 January 2022 and 15-per-cent discount thereafter until 15 February 2022.

 Email or call their hotline: +65 6845 1118. Visitors to the hotel enjoy the same discount. Just present your HomeTeamNS card at the promotions counter, which is open daily from 10:00am to 6:00pm, at the hotel lobby. Order more than S$100 and get a complimentary bottle of Peach Blossoms’ Homemade Sakura Ebi Chilli Sauce worth S$28 – a wonderful way to fire up the festivities.

Be on the lookout for more mouthwatering treats next month and don’t miss out on any promotions! Find out more about HomeTeamNS members’ deals and treats.


The smart reveller’s guide to celebrating Chinese New Year with a roar

From DIY decorations to smart housekeeping hacks and treating the family to delicious meals, here’s how to prepare for your Chinese New Year celebrations without wearing yourself out in the process.



2022 is off to a roaring start as we welcome the Year of the Tiger — but if you’re feeling more like a sleepy sloth at the thought of spring cleaning, decorating and preparing for the Chinese New Year celebrations, don’t worry. With these tips, the smart reveller can save time, effort and money, while still focusing on what really matters — spending time with friends and family.


Chinese New Year celebrations are a great time to buy new clothes and accessories. But the endless cycle of consumption is hurting our planet by worsening climate change. And if you’re planning some last-minute shopping, you’ll have to deal with weekend crowds, nightmare parking and long queues. Why not combine the convenience of online shopping with saving the earth, by buying things that are new-to-you?

For example, curated second-hand online clothing and accessory platforms are growing in popularity in Singapore, including ones dedicated to designer labels, streetwear and even children’s clothing. Many items have only been worn or used once, or not at all — and they often come with their original dust bags, boxes and tags.

For household items and furniture, tech-savvy second-hand retailers like Hock Siong and platforms like Carousell offer a wide range of goods in conditions ranging from new and unused to well-loved. Before adding items to your cart, make sure to measure the available space in your home — you don’t want to end up with an oversized dining table that won’t fit through your front door.

Determined not to make any big purchases this year? Try rearranging your furniture instead of buying new pieces. Don’t limit yourself to just items from the same room — if a bedside table works well as a side stand for the sofa, why not? If colours clash or the item looks dated, you can use chalk paint to spruce up old furniture. (This fast-drying paint doesn’t require priming or sanding down of surfaces — perfect for a weekend project with older kids.)


Spring cleaning before your Chinese New Year celebrations may sometimes feel like a mammoth task — but taking a smart approach to it can save you valuable time and energy.

First, declutter before you start cleaning — set aside items in three piles: to sell, to donate and to throw. Arrange for the town council or waste collectors to pick up bulky items, and look for the nearest e-waste recycling point for used electronics. Decluttering makes your home feel more spacious. Besides having more space to manoeuvre while cleaning, there’s also no need to waste time wiping down things you’ve decided to throw away.

Next, draw up a cleaning schedule. To limit procrastination, assign specific chores to each family member and indicate when these should be done. Breaking it down into short, clear steps — declutter, vacuum and mop, then wipe down surfaces — will make the entire task seem more manageable.

If you don’t want the fuss of hiring a home dry-cleaning service for large soft furnishings, try this DIY method: Remove the sheets and sprinkle your mattress with baking soda and — for a nice scent — a few drops of your favourite essential oil. Rub in the mixture, and leave for an hour or two, then vacuum it all up to remove odours and dust mites.

If you’re doing this to your sofa, make sure to remove the cushion covers first, and avoid using baking soda on dark fabric surfaces as it might leave a whitish residue.


Don’t rush to buy new decorations. Bring out leftover red packets (especially those from previous Chinese New Year celebrations) and get your kids to make lanterns, baskets or even origami fans that you can decorate the house with.

And instead of buying new, pre-decorated plants, why not spruce up your existing plants? Cut out the ‘Fu’ character for prosperity from a red packet and paste it on the plant’s pot (upside down, of course). If you have red or gold ribbon leftover from Christmas, snip it lengthwise for a thinner width and tie festive bows around the plant’s stalks, or around the pot itself if you prefer. Finish off the latter with a giant bow or rosette if you have excess ribbon left.


The Monetary Authority of Singapore has highlighted the wastage of printing new notes for red packets every year — most of which end up destroyed due to lack of circulation demand. If sending an e-angbao just doesn’t feel as meaningful, why not compromise with a festively printed QR Gift Card? Recipients can scan the QR code to collect their angbaos. It also saves you the hassle of having to queue for new notes.

When preparing a feast, it’s time to ‘stock up’ – on chicken, pork and seafood stock, that is. You could spend hours boiling prawn shells, fish and pork bones for an umami-laden steamboat broth, or alternatively buy frozen ready-made stock and stash it in your freezer a week ahead. Defrost it in the microwave on the day of reunion dinner and pour into your hotpot. Better yet, why not head out for a meal? Check out the Halal-certified Suki-Suki Thai Hot Pot, at HomeTeamNS Khatib clubhouse, which offers a crowd-pleasing buffet featuring six soup base options ranging from clear chicken broth to spicy tom yum and rich coconut curry.

Have guests coming over? Replace sugary store-bought drinks with homemade chrysanthemum or lemon barley brews that may offer some health benefits, as well as a touch of nostalgia that guests will surely appreciate. If you don’t feel like turning on the stove, cold brew some Oolong tea and flavour with canned lychees or dried longans for a fruity twist on a refreshing iced drink. Then sit back with a glass in hand and enjoy a relaxing Chinese New Year with your loved ones – just the way it should be.