Eat Rice Dumpling the Healthy Way - Tips From Nutritionist

Dragon Boat Festival (Tuen Ng Festival) is a traditional Chinese festival. Apart from watching dragon boat races, we also eat glutinous rice dumplings, a traditional festive food, to celebrate this major festival. However, most commercially available rice dumplings are high in energy and fat, and so excessive consumption may lead to obesity. To enjoy the festive fun to the full without affecting health, remember to be aware of the following tips.

What are the nutrition values of traditional rice dumplings?

In the hectic modern life, many people choose ready-made rice dumplings. As the result, a great variety of rice dumplings flourished in different types of food premises and supermarkets. Traditional rice dumplings are generally made of glutinous rice, mung beans, pork belly and salted egg yolk. Take a 300g pork dumpling as an example, it contains about 20 grams of fat which is the same amount of fat as 5 teaspoons of oil. Their cholesterol content is approximately 400-500 mg that far exceeding the limit of daily cholesterol intake for adults (300 mg). For salted egg yolk, the cholesterol content is three times more than an ordinary egg yolk, so people with cardiovascular diseases need to pay extra attention.

Tips 1 Control the serving size

A medium-sized savoury rice dumpling (about 250 g) can provide about 450 kcal of energy, the recommended daily intake is 1,600 to 2,400 kcal per day for adult women and 2,000 to 3,000 kcal per day for adult men respectively, which means that rice dumpling was almost the energy content of a proper meal as equals to almost 1/3 daily intake of calorie by an individual.

It is recommended to consume it as part of a meal (carbohydrates such as rice and noodles).1/4 to half of a standard size rice dumpling should be the upper intake limit and avoid dipping too much sugar or soy sauce to avoid excessive intake of calorie and sodium. Even if you are not eating a dumpling all on your own, you may cut back on grains (e.g. rice, noodles) for the meal to avoid overeating and hence excessive intake of energy.

Moreover, it is highly recommended to eat with vegetables and fruits in order to increase fiber intakeWhen you eat a dish like this as a main meal, consider an additional dish of blanched vegetables of about 160 g for each person to compensate for the lack of dietary fiber and also to increase satiety. 

Tips 2 Adjust the ingredients of rice dumpling

Do not just choose by the name of the rice dumplings, read the ingredients carefully when checking the food label and avoid choosing the ones containing high fat and sugar ingredients such as fatty pork, duck egg yolk, bean paste, egg custard, etc.. Choose those with high fiber ingredients such as multigrain, multi-beans or alkaline water rice dumpling with no filling. 

A savoury rice dumpling is usually made with pork belly and preserved pork, and is thus high in fat. It is therefore suggested that the fat layers and preserved meat be trimmed from the dumpling before eating to cut down on fat intake. Since rice dumplings are high in calorie, treating them as late night or afternoon snack is not recommended.  

Tips 3  Add supplement to support healthy digestion

Bear in mind that glutinous rice is a food that's low fiber and high amylopectin – which makes it very sticky and difficult to digest. Thus, to avoid indigestion, it’s better not to eat more than one sticky rice dumpling per day, especially for those who have gastrointestinal diseases. In order to lessen the indigestion problem, I recommend digestive enzymes which enhance protein, carbohydrate, fat, fiber and dairy digestion, and also help to relieve occasional bloating or gas.

Tips 4  Tea might be a good condiment

Drinking tea helps with swallowing and digesting, tea leaves not only boast a plethora of antioxidants, polyphenols, and other herbal compounds but help your digestive enzymes work smarter. With a filling of meat, ham, etc, sticky rice dumpling also contains plenty of oil, drinking tea helps digesting rice dumplings and decreases the greasy feeling. Besides, tea may help weight management as it has powerful effects on metabolism, appetite control, and especially green tea may act as an inhibitor of the intestinal absorption of fats.

Tips 5  Make your own rice dumplings

Using lean meat or skinned chicken instead of preserved meat and pork belly. Making with less salt ingredients, like conpoy (dried scallops), dried shrimps and shiitake mushrooms to replace Chinese ham, preserved duck egg yolks, preserved pork and other processed foods to control sodium intake and enhance the flavour. Use less glutinous rice, and use Whole-grain ricemung beans, kidney beans, adzuki beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, etc. instead to increase the fibre content.

High Fiber Rice Dumpling

Ingredient (10 pieces):

Glutinous rice 

250 g

Barley grain

150 g

Opened green bean, brown bean, red bean, lotus seed

70 g

Dried shrimp, mushroom

Suitable amount

Lean meat                                                       

150 g

Chopped garlic        

1/2 teaspoon

Bamboo leaves       

20 pieces  

Straw ropes

1 roll


Salt, multi-flavor powder, pepper    Suitable amount

Cooking steps:

  1. Soak barley grain, opened brow bean and red bean overnight and then dry them
  2. Rinse glutinous rice and water weeds, lotus seed, mushroom and dried shrimp with water, soak for one hour and allow them to dry
  3. Wash bamboo leaves and waterweed, soak for one hour, then soak in boiled water for half an hour, then rinse with water and allow them to dry
  4. Add salt, multi-flavor powder and pepper on lean meat, ready to be used later
  5. Cut mushroom and dried shrimp into small pieces
  6. Heat the wok and add 1 teaspoon of oil and chopped garlic, then add mushroom and dried shrimp to fry, cool them down and ready to be used later
  7. Take 2 pieces of bamboo leaves and cut the two edges away, fold them to make a small triangular top.  Add one tablespoon of glutinous rice, barley grain and opened green bean, then add brown bean, red bean, lotus seed, mushroom and dried shrimp, and then add 1 tablespoon of glutinous rice, barley grain and opened green bean.
  8. Fold the bamboo leaves together, press tightly at the edge, and then fold the remaining part inside. Circle the dumpling with straw ropes.
  9. Boil the rice dumplings for 30 to 45 mins.

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  1. Koo, S. I., & Noh, S. K. (2007). Green tea as inhibitor of the intestinal absorption of lipids: potential mechanism for its lipid-lowering effect. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry, 18(3), 179–183. 
  2. The Centre for Health Protection.

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