“Pasta = Carbs!” That’s what a colleague would say when we crave for pasta during lunch. I know of some who has forgone pasta all together, sticking to a low or even no-carb diet as far as possible.

But, but, but… While recent health reports have suggested that cutting down on carbs may help to shed some weight over a period of time, on the flipside, omitting carbs or consuming too much protein can result in an unbalanced diet.

We all know that carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel, and needed for the central nervous system, brain, muscles and heart to function properly.

Unfortunately, pasta has ‘suffered’ from an unflattering fattening image. Some of us imagine a rich creamy bowl of noodles which would add inches to the waistline. Think about it, the Italians eat a lot of that, but many still quite trim.

The next question is – Is there such a thing as lower calorie pasta?

Take for example, a usual pasta dish with meat and tomato sauce dish is about 613 kcal. That is even higher than Fried Hokkien noodles, with prawn, at 522 kcal.

The good news: Under the Health Promotion Board’s Healthier Dining Programme, 3 of Char Grill Bar’s menu items have been created to offer customers to enjoy a healthier meal namely: Chicken Bolognese ($5.50), Seafood Spaghetti ($5.90), and Ham & Mushroom Spaghetti ($5.50).

They are all about 500 calories or less.

Q: First things first, what’s with the ‘500-calorie meal’?
The National Nutrition Survey 2010 showed that many Singaporeans are consuming more calories than needed.

The daily recommended energy allowance for men is 2,600 calories and for women is 2,000 calories. On average, an eat-out meal here is about 700 – 800 calories. In a day, we consume 3 meals and some of us may even consume snacks throughout the day.

A 500-calorie meal would help to keep within the daily recommended energy allowance.

Q: How many calories are there in a pasta dish?
According to HPB’s iDAT app, pasta with meat and tomato sauce dish is 613 kcal. However, Spaghetti with tuna meat sauce is 268 kcal. So it’s all about making healthier choices.

Q: What else makes Char Grill pasta healthier than others?
All three spaghetti dishes –Chicken Bolognese, Seafood spaghetti and Ham & Mushroom Spaghetti, are all made from a base using the Tomato Pronto Sauce which is a HCS product due to its lower sodium content.

Q: How about its taste?
After tasting, I find that Char Grill’s pastas did have that thick consistency and distinctive sweet-tangy tomato taste which was rather uplifting. And the sauce base did not get watery even after I ‘ta-bao’ a box home.

The generosity of the ingredients is not compromised. My favourite of the lot was the seafood, which included prawns, fish and mussels. If I have a feedback, I wished that they have included some greens.

Here are 5 personal tips I can share when consuming pasta outside:
1. Go easy on the cream. If possible, choose light dressings.
2. Keep portion sizes under control
3. Choose pasta dishes with more lean protein and vegetables
4. Some pasta shops include whole wheat pasta. Pick that as an option.
5. Keep the additional sauces away. Some of us have the bad habit of downing our pastas with additional chili sauce, ketchup and parmesan. Actually, simple herbs and pepper would do the trick.

Moral of the story: You can also find dishes with a calorie count of about 500 calories or less that are not only affordable, and healthier.

Char Grill Bar has a total of 24 outlets plotted throughout Singapore. The next time you want to indulge in some carbs and lower-calorie pasta, you know it is possible to find them close to home in a local coffeeshop.


Char Grill Bar
5 Marine Parade Centre #01-05 Singapore 449410
Other branches: http://chargrillbar.com.sg/location

* This post is brought to you by the Health Promotion Board’s Healthier Dining Programme. For more information on The Healthier Dining Programme, check out eathealthy.sg

Other Eat Healthy SG Entries
Jack’s Place (Parkway Parade)
Loving Hut (Joo Chiat)
Dian Xiao Er (Vivocity)



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