No matter what people say, we can make healthy eating choices
HEALTHY Malaysian food ... is there such a thing? You may wonder sometimes whether you can find any healthy Malaysian food. However, with some common sense, you can make appropriate choices in selecting well-balanced meals. But I do agree that it is harder to monitor the fat content of meals when someone else is doing the cooking!
The key to making healthier choices when eating out is to learn to decipher the menu. Deep fat fried, thick curry, creamed and breaded are examples of some menu lingo that tells you the meals are high in fat and calories. If your taste buds are really tickling for some of these dishes, then it is best to select smaller portions or share with your friends and eat less often.
Sensible tips for healthy eating
Variety, moderation and balance are key to healthy meals. Remember, there is no such thing as good or bad foods but good or bad eating habits. If you need to change, then change your negative eating habits.
Some healthier breakfast choices include:
•Mee or meehoon soup with lean meat or chicken and green vegetables and bean sprout
•Chapatti with dhal curry
•A medium bun with lean meat or chicken
•Plain chee cheong fun with less gravy
•Iddlis or thosai with dhal curry and a small amount of coconut chutney
•Sandwiches with tuna egg or lean chicken filling with lots of tomatoes, cucumber and salad.
•Nasi lemak (1 small packet) with more cucumber and kangkung
•Putumayam with curry or small amount of coconut scrapping and brown sugar
•Stir fried noodles with sawi, carrot, bean sprouts and lean meat or chicken
•A small serving of bah kut teh soup with lean meat and a small bowl of rice
•Cornflakes or muesli with low fat milk and fresh fruits
•Wan tan noodle soup
For lunch and dinner, healthier choices include:
•A medium bowl of rice, ½ cup cooked vegetables, 1 cup ulam or salad, a medium serving of lean meat, or fish or skinless chicken with a serving of fruit and lots of water.
•A medium bowl of rice with stir fried green leafy vegetables, chicken curry and fruits
•A medium bowl of rice, with chicken tikka, tomato and carrot raita with vegetable curry and fruits
•A medium bowl of rice with a variety of ulam, assam pedas fish with fruits
•A medium bowl of rice with stir fried long beans and tempe, fish pindang with fruits
•Two small chappatis with minced meat peas curry and vegetables with fruits
•A plain naan with dhal curry and mint chutney , a piece of chicken tandoori and fresh fruits
•A medium bowl of rice with stir fried mixed vegetables, with ginger chicken and spring onions and fruits
•A medium bowl of rice with ikan bakar, stir fried bean sprouts and mixed vegetable soup and fruits
•A medium bowl of rice with steam tofu, stir fried beans, stir fried bean sprouts and fruits
•A medium bowl of rice with tomato dhal curry, stir fried lady’s fingers, carrot raitas and fruits
•A medium bowl of mee , meehoon or kway teow soup with lean meat or chicken with more green leafy vegetables and a small serving of cendol (occasional dessert)
•A bowl of meehoon with seafood tom yam soup and fruits
•A small plate of spaghetti with chicken bolognaise and a small amount of cheese
•Four pieces of tuna sandwich with salad and vingarette dressing and fresh fruits
Some healthy snack choices include:
•Sandwiches with tuna, sardine or egg filling with tomatoes and cucumber
•Chicken, lean meat or red bean bun
•A piece of plain jelly
•About 20 cashew nuts
•Two to three pieces plain biscuits
•One chicken or lean meat pau
•½ corn on cob
•Two pieces of kuih appam
Some sensible beverages choices include:
•Barley water, sweetened lightly
•Plain coffee or tea with low fat milk
•Ice lemon tea with less sugar.
•Unsweetened fruit juices
•Unsweetened soya bean milk
•Coconut water without added sugar
•Malted drinks with low fat milk and no added sugar
When choosing meals while eating out, it is helpful to understand some basic low fat cooking techniques. However, the cooking methods will depend on the individual hawker or cook.
1. Baking means food is cooked in a pre-heated oven to seal the juices with very little fat. Food may be wrapped in a foil or waxed paper.
2. Roasting is another way of cooking with dry heat. This method is used for large cuts of meat, such as a roast or a whole bird on a rack which drains off fat during cooking.
3. Braising and stewing are very similar except that braising uses less liquid. Food is cooked in a very small amount of liquid or gravy over a very slow fire in a pot to develop flavour from spices and herbs.
4. Grilling retains all the juices and flavour of the foods because it seals them in with dry heat. The temperature of the grill should be very hot before placing the food.
5. Barbecue is cooking food over hot charcoal. The coal should be glowing and not burning. Foods are cooked slowly over the glowing coals until done. It is important to prevent burning or charring of the food.
6. Parboiling or blanching is a way of partially cooking ingredients. This is usually done to extract bitterness form vegetables. This is done with large amounts of salted boiling water.
7. Steaming is used to cook vegetables or fish with moist heat and helps to retain their nutrients, flavour and texture.
8. Stir frying means adding little oil and stir frying quickly over hot fire to seal the juices.
In summary, choose wisely when it comes to food choices. Choose as you would when you invest in a property or saving unit trust. Be flexible and allow some variations occasionally.