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6 Traditional Treats Made Healthier For The Hari Raya Celebrations

As Hari Raya Aidilfitri draws ever nearer, households are stocking up on their various delicacies and snacks for friends and visitors during the mass visiting period—this means getting to cooking or baking the treats (or purchasing them for the time-strapped).

It is at this time that many would notice such tidbits tend to lean towards the unhealthy side: they can have chockfull of butter, condensed milk, and other flavourful but fattening ingredients, or are fried and greasy.

How then do you get your traditional snack fix while staying away from such ingredients? Here are some ways you can substitute these components or what you should look out for when buying them from the shops.

#1 Kuih Tart (Pineapple Tart) 

What it contains: Condensed milk and flour
Substitute with: Soy milk or rice milk and almond or whole wheat flour

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An addictive biscuit treat with sweet pineapple jam as its cherry on top, kuih tart is a crowd favourite and one of the offerings that will be sure to get snapped up fast. However, the treat is also known for being particularly unhealthy—a copious amount of sweetened condensed milk is used in its creation. As such, substitute it with other kinds of milk like soy or rice milk, which are less processed. Then add a few drops of vanilla extract to bring out more flavour! A portion of the flour can also be swapped for whole wheat or almond flour.

#2 Ketupat (Diamond Rice Cake)

What it contains: White rice
Substitute with: Brown rice

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This popular glutinous cake traditionally uses white rice wrapped in palm leaves. White rice, however, is infamous for being less nutritious than its counterpart, brown rice—the latter keeps all parts of the rice grain, while the former removes the bran and germ during the refining process. Thus, to make the dish healthier, many chefs opt for brown rice or a mix of both types in ketupat—just to get that little bit more nutrition in your meals.

#3 Kuih Bahulu (Asian Sponge Madeline)

What it contains: Flour and sugar
Substitute with: Whole wheat flour and brown sugar

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Often found in seashell moulds, the spongey kuih bahulu is well-liked among children for its subtly sweet taste and for being less dense than regular cakes. Unfortunately for those watching their diet, it uses a large amount of normal wheat flour and sugar—two notorious ingredients in the sweet department during festive snacking season. Thankfully, home bakers can swap them out with the healthier alternatives—whole wheat flour and brown sugar.

#4 Kuih Makmur (Malay Kuih)

What it contains: Ghee or butter
Substitute with: Avocado oil

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A leaf of buttery sweetness sprinkled with sugar and a peanut filling crisp, kuih Makmur is a must-have at your visiting stops. The amount of butter or ghee in this biscuit could make one particularly uncomfortable though, so bakers can consider swapping it with avocado oil. Unlike other oils, it is rich enough to suit dessert flavours as well as offer a bunch of healthy fats.

#5 Kuih Suji (Semolina Cookies)

What it contains: Glazed cherry and semolina (durum wheat) flour
Substitute with: Dried fruits and whole wheat flour

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A smooth tart with a glazed cherry centre, kuih suji (semolina cookies) is known for being one of the unhealthiest (if decadent) snacks on the Hari Raya treats menu—just one piece requires up to a 20-minute workout to burn it off. However, you won’t have to completely do away with it if you replace parts with more wholesome pieces. This includes changing the cherry for dried fruits like dates or apricots, or portioning out some of the semolina flour for its whole wheat alternative.

#6 Kuih Bangkit (Tapioca Cookies)

What it contains: Coconut milk
Substitute with: Skim or low-fat milk

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The powdery cover of kuih bangkit belies its melt-in-your-mouth tendencies, but even the cloying after-effect of this cookie doesn’t stop guests from reaching for this snack time and time again. Thus, making it a tad healthier can go a long way for everyone this festive period. Health practitioners recommend replacing around a tenth of the coconut milk with low fat or skim milk, so the texture can remain virtually the same while being a touch healthier.

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