Vegan. Gluten-free. Dairy-free. Keto-friendly. These are terms not usually associated with food-obsessed Singaporeans. But for every chicken rice-loving, char kway teow-infatuated local who scoffs at what seems to be a diet du jour, there is a legitimate, health-conscious diner looking for options around town that can cater to one's very specific proclivities.
It seems that eating well – and "clean" – in Singapore has started to shift from being trendy to being a proper lifestyle that is gaining awareness and popularity.
According to the 2018 National Nutrition Survey by the Health Promotion Board (HPB), the quality of the Singaporean diet has improved, with people consuming more wholegrain, fruits and vegetables.
It stated that Singaporeans are consuming fewer calories, with the average daily energy intake dropping five per cent from 2,600 kcal in 2010 to 2,470 kcal in 2018. The Singaporean diet has also shifted towards one that is lower in carbohydrates.
In an online survey on the health landscape of Singapore conducted by Nielson, it emerged that 79 per cent of Singaporeans are actively making dietary choices to help prevent health conditions. The same survey found that 75 per cent of us are willing to pay more for foods with health benefits.
With consumers being more selective about what they put in their mouths – flourless, butterless, sugar-free, egg-free pineapple tarts, anyone? – local establishments are now stepping up to make their picky health-conscious customers happy and slim.
Here's where you can go to maintain your healthy, albeit fussy diet in Singapore.
For the uninitiated, the ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate diet that seeks to change the body’s source of energy from carbohydrates to fats. This is done by eliminating carbohydrate intake and entering “ketosis,” a purported metabolic state by which the body is burning fat as energy due to the absence of carbohydrates.
This particular bakery, created by founder Janti Joso Brasali, is determined to deliver on a daily spread of low carb, zero sugar desserts made with natural ingredients for those looking to indulge without guilt.
The entire ketogenic menu is made with Swerve, a sugar substitute derived from natural ingredients such as erythritol, oligosaccharides and natural flavours, which does not affect blood sugar or insulin levels. This also means the treats are safe for diabetics.
Seriously Keto, 10-01 Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road
Opened by parents Wendy and Sebastian Chia, whose son Ryan has multiple types of dietary intolerance, this organic butchery and gluten-free grocer is known for its wide range of ethically sourced meats.
Have food allergies like young Ryan does? There are plenty of options for those with wheat, dairy, sugar, soy, egg and yeast intolerances.
Ryan’s Grocery also carries organic-certified products which include soups, stocks, sauces, teas, soda and grains. It has a fresh produce section with organic fruit and vegetables and a full-service butchery which offers exclusive imports like the organic grass-fed Blackwood Valley Beef from Western Australia, free-range Borrowdale pork, and antibiotic-free chickens.
There are even gluten-free sausages with all-natural casings to go with gluten-free condiments, gluten-free savoury pastries and gluten-free flour and pasta. Party.
Ryan’s Grocery, 29 Binjai Park, Singapore 589831
THE BUTCHER'S WIFE
This modern European bistro by the Spa Esprit Group is committed to supporting Singapore's long suffering gluten-intolerant community.
According to founder and CEO of Spa Esprit Group Cynthia Chua, just because one cannot eat gluten does not mean one's meals needs to be dull. The menu is extensive: From a gluten-free ban mian-textured chestnut pappardelle with an eight-hour-braised osso buco ragu, to a flourless chocolate pave with rhubarb compote, rhubarb sorbet and saffron syrup. The place also serves up natural wines and cocktails.
And just in case you're wondering, no, the restaurant and its menu has nothing to do with the 1991 movie starring Demi Moore.
The Butcher's Wife, 19 Yong Siak Street Singapore 168650
KITCHEN BY FOOD REBEL
For those who believe that healthy food equals boring food, this 40-seater bistro founded by Elika Mather is prepared to debunk that charge.
Advocating knowledge of what exactly goes into your body and the origins of food – Food Rebel ensures that all of its ingredients are either organic, hormone-free, sustainable or locally sourced.
They preach the 80/20 rule, where the outweighing percentage involves only eating real, unprocessed food. The menu promises clean-eating with energy-inducing goodness – from their signature Buddha Bowls, chock-full of nutrient-dense food, whether its fats, carbs, or proteins; chilli padi chicken sandwiches made with gluten-free bread; guilt-free cakes; and smoothies that pack a tasty punch.
Kitchen by Food Rebel, 28 Stanley Street, Singapore 068737.
THE LIVING CAFE AND DELI
The brainchild of nutritionist Dana Heather is a one-stop cafe and health shop that serves up raw, yes raw, and unprocessed organic foods.
Although not 100 per cent vegan, most of the dishes on its extensive menu run the gamut from vegetarian to vegan-friendly and gluten-free.
There are zucchini pesto pastas, spiced chicken burgers, taco boats and wholemeal pizzas. Plus dessert offerings that include a raw blueberry cheesecake and raw Blackforest brownie (made with dates, nuts and cacao powder).
We feel healthier just typing those words.
The Living Cafe, 779 Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 269758