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Singapore Blue Zone Recipe. Lontong Sayur Lodeh, not Minestrone

Updated: Apr 16

recipe lontong sayur lodeh blue zones

In his research, writing and recipes, Blue Zones lead Dan Buettner sings the praises of mountain minestrone soups. And not without reason. Tasty, easy to prepare using local ingredients and longevity promoting.


In South East Asia we have our own versions, one might be the delicious and rich longtong sayur lodeh. A dish that I grew up eating in Singapore, the world's newest Blue Zone. Sayur lodeh is a traditional Indonesian and Malaysian dish, a coconut milk based vegetable soup. The word lontong itself is the rice cake traditionally served in the soup.


When we talk about this vegetable dish in the context of health, it can be highly calorific. Read on to the end, to see how we adjust the recipe at home to bring health to the forefront.

 

The core elements of a recipe for lontong sayur lodeh include:


Lontong, the compressed rice cake. This is made by cooking rice until it's soft, packing it tightly into a banana leaf or a container and boiling or steaming until it sets into a dense, firm block.


Coconut milk is a key ingredient in lontong, adding richness and flavour. It's often used in both the cooking process of the rice and as a component of the soup.


Traditional spices and aromatics such as lemongrass, galangal, ginger, garlic, shallots and turmeric are commonly used to flavour the soup


Lontong is often served with tofu, a hard boiled egg; perhaps chicken or shrimp.


Vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, green beans, and chayote are added to lontong to provide texture, colour and nutrition.

 

Need inspiration and recipes? Click to watch...




 

Taste appropriate for SE Asian palates, this dish is a delightful way to enjoy veggies in abundance.


Be cautious if you eat this dish outside of home, as calories from the saturated fat in the coconut can be very high. Almost 800 calories high, according to the Singapore government food website (scroll down for the link). Do not drink the rich soup that the ingredients are bathed in!


For a healthier home option, swap out the coconut milk with soy milk to create a lighter dish.  Adding just a little coconut for flavour. We have had great success - with positive feedback - by doing this.


Multi-ethnic Singapore has health in its dishes, if we dig into origins of our modern food. No matter what you favourite foods and personal taste profile - food has to be tasty, right?! There are ways to bring health back into traditional and ethnic cuisines without losing flavour.


Enjoy the tastes of kampung cuisine!


Felicia


  • Another dish, also perhaps with some similarities to a minestrone, is yong tau foo soup.

 


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Related Resources and Studies


Calories in lontong, and other popluar Singapore dishes... SingHealth: Best and Worst Singapore Hawker Malay Breakfast Foods: Nasi Lemak, Mee Siam, Soto and More


Whitton C, Rebello SA, Lee J, Tai ES, van Dam RM. A Healthy Asian A Posteriori Dietary Pattern Correlates with A Priori Dietary Patterns and Is Associated with Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in a Multiethnic Asian Population. J Nutr. 2018 Apr 1;148(4):616-623. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxy016. PMID: 29659965.


Buettner D, Skemp S. Blue Zones: Lessons From the World's Longest Lived. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2016 Jul 7;10(5):318-321. doi: 10.1177/1559827616637066. PMID: 30202288; PMCID: PMC6125071.


Colozza D, Avendano M. Urbanisation, dietary change and traditional food practices in Indonesia: A longitudinal analysis. Soc Sci Med. 2019 Jul;233:103-112. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.06.007. Epub 2019 Jun 5. PMID: 31195191.


Lipoeto NI, Geok Lin K, Angeles-Agdeppa I. Food consumption patterns and nutrition transition in South-East Asia. Public Health Nutr. 2013 Sep;16(9):1637-43. doi: 10.1017/S1368980012004569. Epub 2012 Nov 19. PMID: 23157893; PMCID: PMC10271281.

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