Rice Dumplings or Chinese Tamales (zhong zi) is the festive food for Chinese Dragon Boat Festival. The main ingredients of a rice dumpling are glutinous rice, mung beans, pork belly and salty egg yolk. Glutinous rice contains carbohydrate which is the main source of our daily energy. Mung beans are high in proteins and dietary fiber. Salty egg yolk and pork belly provide us with proteins, fats and cholesterol. For example, a 250g rice dumpling equals to four portions of grains, two portions of meat, two portions of fat and can reach up to 500 calories which almost contains the same calories as a meal!
Healthy way to enjoy rice dumplings:
1. Use rice dumplings as one of your daily meals together with some vegetables and fruits in order to increase fiber consumption.
2. Rice dumplings already contain seasoning so it is suggested to not add extra seasonings like soy sauce or sugar to prevent extra sodium and sugar consumption.
3. People who are obese or with chronic disease especially Diabetes must control the portion of rice dumplings they eat. Since the stuffing and the glutinous rice were fried which contain a lot of oil and calories, they should not consume more than half of a rice dumpling (around 125 grams) at each meal.
4. For people who are suffering from Gout, they should be aware of the purine content of the rice dumplings.
5. For diabetics and people with high blood lipids and blood pressure, they should avoid the salty egg yolk and pork belly.
6.Glutinous rice is harder to digest for people with digestive issues.
How to make a healthier rice dumpling:
When making rice dumplings, it is best to use less oil, less salt, less sugar and add more fiber to them. Try to use less seasoning and choose lean pork meat instead of pork belly. Chinese chestnuts are great to substitute salty egg yolk. Include veggies such as carrots, mushroom, bamboo shoots can increase the fiber content in the rice dumplings. Another alternative is to mix glutinous rice with brown rice which can also increase fiber and nutrition content.
Things to consider when buying rice dumplings:
1. Pay attention to the taste of the rice dumplings. If they taste a bit sour, bitter or weird. Do not consume.
2. Buy them at large grocery stores or restaurants.
3. Choose the rice dumplings with safe and hygienic packaging.
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