Hosting a Healthy Hari Raya Open House: 6 Tips to Get You Started!

healthy food, hari raya, ramadhan foods

Ramadhan is almost over and Hari Raya is just around the corner. As excited as some of us are over the cookies, rendang, ketupat, serunding, lemang and many other Hari Raya goodies, some of us diet-goers will be fighting with our inner discipline teachers in resisting the tempting delicacies. Worst still, some of our guests might equally be watchful with what they eat and you might end up cracking your head over ideas on healthy foods to serve every year. Fret not; we have got some useful tips for you to please your guests’ stomachs and souls.

A lot of us have a mistaken belief that all tasty foods are unhealthy. Truth be told, you do not really have to sacrifice taste over health. If you cook something the right way, using the right ingredients, you really do not have to compromise taste over health. Your guests might be expecting to have a taste of everything that is served, so try to keep everything modest, and perhaps along the following tips.

1. Providing smaller plates

Anyone having an open house would definitely want their guests to enjoy and eat as much as they want, but it isn’t exact very good for your guests to overeat.

Bigger plates encourage guests to overeat, which is unhealthy, whereas smaller plates make them take lesser food, which means they will end up eating lesser.

Provide smaller plates

This does not mean they could not have more; they could if they return to refill their food, but in a way this method would stop people from eating too much and indirectly prevent food wastage. Remember, it’s always good to go along with human psychology – some of them may feel guilty refilling food or taking for the second time.

2. Altering Your Recipes

The term "altering" here is not to change the recipes of particular meals into entirely different meals; you can keep all the traditional food like lemang, rendang and other traditional dishes on the menu. It is just preparing them into low-fat, low sugar and low-salt healthy versions.

As we said it earlier, if you cook these dishes the right way using the right ingredients, there is really no need to forego them. After all, what is Raya without rendang, ketupat or lemang? So perhaps, you could try varying some of the ingredients here and there, such as changing the cooking oil from traditional palm oil to canola oil or other equally healthier alternatives.

3. Trying out Healthier Cooking Methods

There are plenty of ways to cook up juicy and flavourful foodsand yet retain the nutrients in these foods without having to add excessive amounts of fats or salt. A number of healthier or alternative cooking methodsinclude the following:

Microwaving
Microwaving
Stir-frying
Stir-frying
Stewing
Stewing
Steaming
Steaming
Boiling
Boiling
Grilling
Grilling

Admittedly, each of the above alternative cooking methods has its own pros and cons, so adopt and adapt the way you deem fit, according to your and your guests’ needs. And of course, this list is not exhaustive, so you can always find other suitable methods.

4. Providing Healthy Fluids

Sweet drinks such as Sirap Bandung and TehTarik are some of the top choices for most people during Hara Raya Open Houses, but you for this year, perhaps you could try serving some infused water. There are many different ingredients that can be used for the infusion, from lemon to cucumber and celery to mint. These infused drinks are not only refreshing and taste nice, they are also detoxifying. They provide really exciting alternatives to the traditional sugary drinks served, and might very well attract your guests due to the manner in which they are served – colourful fruits soaking in water visible through transparent jugs or containers. To top it all, some even believe that these drinks help them to lose weight. So why not have something that helps to burn down the fat you just consumed.

Provide healthy fluids

Additionally, if you intend to serve coffee or tea, make it plain or black. Serve milk, creamer or sugar separately at the side, so your guestscould choose their sweetness level or opt not to have sugar at all. You can also add some cinnamon into the coffee or tea, as studies have shown that cinnamon can lower blood glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride in people, especially those who are diabetics.

Most importantly, make sure there is plenty of water. Not everyone is into flavoured drinks, especially on a festive day full of heavy meals.

5. Adding more fruits and vegetables

Prepare more fruits and vegetables during Raya Open House - this will encourage your gueststo eat more of them. You can prepare them in creative and attractive ways such as Ulam, mini fruit tarts, rainbow fruit cups and fruit kabobs. Even kids would be tempted to try if you serve fruits and vegetables this way.

Fruits cocktail Salad Healthy skewers

Fruits and desserts are essential part of our meals, so it is best to have a few varieties for the different guests you may be hosting.

6. Avoid preparing too much food

Start by identifying the number of guests that you are planning to invite, as this allows you to plan the amount of food to be served.An open house is not an event to show-off but rather an occasion to strengthen our ties with friends and family. Moderation is the key;not only in the ingredients we use, but also the amount of food served.

All said and done, it is inevitably very difficult to avoid high calorie foods during Hari Raya Open House, but wherever applicable, there is always a healthier option or alternative to an ingredient used or method applied. So try out some of the above tips for your Open House this year and let us know how it goes!

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*As causes for being overweight vary from person to person, weight loss results will also vary from person to person, dependant on various genetic or environmental factors such as food intake, individual rate of metabolism, level of exercise, etc. No individual result should be seen as typical.