As the Mid-Autumn Festival approaches, bakeries are racing against time to sell their products, inundating the city with advertisements for their mooncakes.
The traditional recipes for mooncakes consist of lotus seed paste, red bean paste, preserved egg yolk and assorted nuts, while new-style cakes introduce other ingredients such as fruit, ice cream and even dried seafood. Many claim to be healthier choices: low on sugar, oil and cholesterol.
Whether traditional or experimental, mooncakes could be very filling as their energy content is quite high.
A traditional 200-gram mooncake of white lotus seed paste with double egg yolks has around 800 kilocalories, which is the equivalent of four bowls of rice, 15 teaspoons of sugar and nine teaspoons of fat.
A snowy mooncake of the same weight is surprisingly only 100 kilocalories short, or about three bowls of rice and seven teaspoons of fat.
Mooncakes with assorted nuts – mostly walnuts, olive nuts and almonds – are popular among health-conscious individuals as they are high in fibers and made of vegetable fat. But if the fillings are mixed with cane sugar, pork fat and sweetened winter melon, they would also be high in sugar, oil and cholesterol.
It is recommended that a whole piece of mooncake be divided into four or six servings, meaning for four to six people and not all for oneself. They could be consumed as an alternative to a breakfast or late night snacks. Avoid having it with soda, milk or any cold beverage.
Greasy or sugary food like egg yolk, animal intestines, meat, fried noodles and deep-fried items should also be excluded from the regular diet if mooncakes are to be served as dessert.
According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, too much mooncake would cause indigestion.
Those who suffer from energy deficiency in the spleen and stomach may feel bloated, vomit, or experience stomach ache, which could be alleviated by placing a heating pad or hot water bottle on the abdomen. They might also lose appetite and have watery stool.
Those who suffer from damp-heat will feel bloated and experience a burning sensation in their stomach; bad breath and constipation might also occur.
After eating mooncakes, people should consider having papaya, pineapple or kiwi, which are all rich in enzymes that could facilitate digestion.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 25
Translation by John Chui with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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