Eat your greens! It’s a mantra that every mother impresses upon us since we could walk. And while most of us might have had some trouble including it in our diet, greens are coming back in a big way with health trends. Kale, broccoli, sprouts — you name it, it’s in one fad diet or another.
But what’s this… vegetables can be bad for you? Sacrilege! Before you hit us with your yoga mats, hear us out: You’ll want to avoid these vegetable dishes when you’re heading out for a meal.
Text: Morgan Awyong
Additional text: Zoe Zeng
Images: Shutterstock, Pexels
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It’s tempting to think that a harmless serving of slaw with every western meal gives us our dietary vegetable needs. But remember this: Past the cabbage, carrots and onions, you’re looking at a white creamy paste of sour cream, mayonnaise, salt, sugar and vinegar. If you’re making it on your own, hold back on the sauce as one tablespoon is already 103 calories and 12g of fat. Alternatively, swop out for a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice and honey for a healthier alternative with the same mouth-feel.
The innocent-looking rice roll is typically bursting with ingredients like cooked turnip, sprouts and shredded lettuce. But let’s not forget the main ingredient of turnip has been simmering in quite a bit of oil. There’s also the sweet black sauce that ups the calories to 188 calories for each roll, and honestly, nobody just has one right? And in a bid to up the taste game, vendors have been adding extra crunch, using fried peanuts, dough bits, or even lard that really serves up nutritionless fatty calories.
It’s got cucumber, mexican turnips, bean sprouts, tofu and even the occasional pineapple! What could possibly go wrong? Let’s not kid ourselves. Binding the ingredient together is a thick black sauce riddled with peanuts that give the gooey salad its character. Together with the presence of youtiao (fried fritter), this sends the dish up to a whopping 518 calories per serving. If you are still craving for it, choose to skip the pastry and maybe ask for a little less sauce.
4. Sambal Kangkong
This perennial dish that appears at nasi padang and zi char stalls is irresistible for a reason — the punchy taste is perfect with rice! But as you bite down on these slender leaves and stalks, you should know vitamins isn’t going to be high on your list. For every 300g serving, sambal kangkong eats up more than half your day’s fat requirements (30.9g), and almost all of your sodium needs (2.184mg). Why? The vegetable happens to be great in soaking up all the oil (almost double that of Sambal Sotong!) and salt, delivering it straight to your gut. If you must, drain off the excess oil before you have it.
5. Sayur Lodeh
This delicious vegetable stew with eggplant, long beans and tofu sure seems healthy, but white or yellow, remember that the broth is really made up of coconut milk. And at about 40g of saturated fats per serving, it might be a good idea to not ladle in more of the gravy, especially since the ingredients have already soaked up plenty of the flavours. You can then have a hearty meal without adding on to the risk of heart diseases.
6. Tahu Telor
Whether it’s the local towering version or the flatter original from Indonesia, this tofu and egg omelette is often smothered with shredded vegetables, like carrots and beansprouts, on top. And like a match on Tinder, appearances can be deceiving. Even though it is mostly made up of vegetable products, the starch used to give it the fluff and the accompanying array of sweet dark sauce and peanut gravy rockets the calories up to 628 calories. Don’t let this mound escalate your heart health with all that hidden fat (31g) too!
7. Vegetable Tempura
These vegetable fritters are so deceptive. Fluffy and light, they melt in your mouth with a satisfying vegetable core. As airy as it might be, one can’t deny that’s a lot of batter wrapping your baby corn. The heavy use of flour which is deep fried in oil is the main culprit, and the added crunch moves your calorie counter up significantly. We’re talking a whopping 1,580 calories here, with 963 coming from 107g of total fat. Say sayonara to this dish or if not, do the next best thing and share the pieces.
8. Veggie Chips
Yes, they are a more diet-conscious choice than potato chips, but healthier doesn’t mean healthy. Some vegetables chips use a mix of potato and corn, so it isn’t very different from the potato chip. Even having those made from alternatives like mushroom or kale are often fried in canola oil which can be toxic to humans, and the amount of sodium to make them palatable can rival the regular chip. Don’t be lulled into complacency and end up having more than you intended — they’re engineered to be just as addictive.