Please take note that I'll no longer actively update this blog. Do visit Cindy's Lovely Life in future. This blog will update only when necessary (paid post). LOL! Kindly update my link in your blogs accordingly, do let me know if I've yet to put your link in my new blog.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Healthy cooking tips

Healthy cooking is easy. In many cases, your favorite recipes can be modified so they offer a healthier alternative. Non-stick cookware can be used to reduce the need for cooking oil. To keep valuable nutrients, microwave or steam your vegetables instead of boiling them. Cut out salt and cut down fats.

Eating healthy food doesn’t mean giving up your favorite foods and switching only to salads. Healthy cooking is easy. In many cases, your favorite recipes can be modified so they offer a healthier alternative. Non-stick cookware can be used to reduce the need for cooking oil. To keep valuable nutrients, microwave or steam your vegetables instead of boiling them.

Keep fats to a minimum
It’s a good idea to minimize ‘hidden fats’ by choosing lean meats and reduced fat dairy products. Processed foods can also have lots of hidden fats. Dietary fats are best when they come from the unrefined natural fats found in nuts, seeds, fish, soy, olives and avocado. Fat from these foods includes the essential long-chain fatty acids and this fat is accompanied by other good nutrients.

If you add fats when cooking, keep them to a minimum and use monounsaturated oils such as olive and canola oil. A little added oil can be a good thing.

At the shop
Low fat cooking begins when you are shopping:
  • Choose the low fat version of a food if it exists – for example milk, cheese, yoghurt, salad dressings and gravies.
  • Choose leaner meat cuts. If unsure, look for the Heart Foundation tick of approval.
  • Choose skinless chicken breasts.
General suggestions
General suggestions on healthy cooking methods include:
  • Steam, bake, grill, braise, boil or microwave your foods.
  • Modify or eliminate recipes that include butter or ask you to deep fry or saute in animal fat.
  • Avoid using oils and butter as lubricants. Use non-stick cookware instead.
  • Don’t add salt to food as it is cooking.
  • Remove chicken skin, which is high in fat.
  • Eat more fresh vegetables and legumes.
  • Eat more fish, which is high in protein, low in fats and loaded with essential omega-3 fatty acids.
Low fat cooking
Suggestions include:
  • If you need to use oil, try cooking sprays or apply oil with a pastry brush.
  • Cook in liquids (such as stock, wine, lemon juice, fruit juice, vinegar or water) instead of oil.
  • When a recipe calls for cream as a thickener, use low fat yoghurt, low fat soymilk, evaporated skim milk or cornstarch.
  • When browning vegetables, put them in a hot pan then spray with oil, rather than adding the oil first to the pan. This reduces the amount of oil that vegetables (such as mushrooms) can absorb during cooking.
  • An alternative to browning vegetables by pan-frying is to cook them first in the microwave, then crisp them under the griller for a minute or two.
  • When serving meat and fish, use pesto, salsas, chutneys and vinegars in place of sour creams, butter and creamy sauces.
Retaining the nutrients
Water soluble vitamins are delicate and easily destroyed during preparation and cooking. Suggestions include:
  • Scrub vegetables rather than peel them, as many nutrients are found close to the skin.
  • Microwave or steam vegetables instead of boiling them.
  • If you like to boil vegetables, use a small amount of water and do not over-boil them.
  • Include more stir-fry recipes in your diet. Stir-fried vegetables are cooked quickly to retain their crunch (and associated nutrients).
Cutting out salt
Salt is a traditional flavor enhancer, but research suggests that a high salt diet could contribute to a range of health problems including high blood pressure. Suggestions include:
  • Don’t automatically add salt to your food – taste it first.
  • Add a splash of olive oil or lemon juice close to the end of cooking time or to cooked vegetables – it can enhance flavors in the same way as salt.
  • Choose fresh or frozen vegetables, since canned and pickled vegetables tend to be packaged with salt.
  • Limit your consumption of salty processed meats such as salami, ham, corned beef, bacon, smoked salmon, frankfurters and chicken loaf.
  • Choose reduced salt bread and breakfast cereals. Breads and cereals are a major source of salt in the diet.
  • Iodised salt is best. A major dietary source of iodine is plant foods. Yet there is emerging evidence that Australian soil may be low in iodine and so plants grown in it are also low in iodine. If you eat fish regularly (at least once a week), the need for iodized salt is reduced.
  • Avoid salt-laden processed foods, such as flavored instant pasta or noodles, canned or dehydrated soup mixes, chips and salted nuts.
  • Margarine and butter contain a lot of salt but ‘no added salt’ varieties are available.
  • Most cheeses are very high in salt so limit your intake or choose lower salt varieties.
  • Reduce your use of soy sauce, tomato sauce and processed sauces and condiments (for example mayonnaise and salad dressings) because they contain high levels of salt.
  • Use herbs, spices, vinegar or lemon juice to add extra zing to your recipe and reduce the need for salt.
Culinary herbs are leafy plants that add flavor and color to all types of meals. They are also rich in health-protective phyto-oestrogens (plant compounds that have some similar effects to the female hormone, oestrogen). In many cases, herbs can replace the flavor of salt and oil.

  • Herbs are delicately flavored, so add them to your cooking in the last few minutes.
  • Dried herbs are more strongly flavored than fresh. As a general rule, one teaspoon of dried herbs equals four teaspoons of fresh.
  • Apart from boosting meat dishes, herbs can be added to soups, breads, mustards, salad dressings, vinegars, desserts and drinks.
  • Herbs such as coriander, ginger, garlic, chilli and lemongrass are especially complimentary in vegetable-based stir-fry recipes.
Sandwich suggestions
To make a sandwich even healthier:
  • Switch to reduced salt wholemeal or wholegrain bread – for example, some brands of soy linseed bread.
  • Don’t butter the bread. You won’t miss butter if your sandwich has a few tasty ingredients already.
  • Limit your use of spreads high in saturated fat like butter and cream cheese. Replace them with a thin spread of peanut butter or other nut spreads, hummus, low fat cheese spreads or avocado.
  • Choose reduced fat ingredients when you can, such as low fat cheese or mayonnaise.
  • Try to reduce your use of processed meats. Instead use fish such as salmon, tuna or sardines.
Other tips
Suggestions include:
  • Spend a little time on presentation. You are more likely to enjoy a meal if it’s visually appealing as well as tasty.
  • Make every meal an occasion. Set the table. Eat with your family. Give yourself the opportunity to enjoy your food without distractions like television.
  • Long-term deprivation, such as crash dieting, doesn’t work. Allow yourself the occasional guilt-free treat.
  • You are less likely to overeat if you eat slowly and savour every mouthful.
Things to remember
  • In many cases, favorite recipes can be modified so they offer a lower fat content.
  • Choose to steam, bake, grill, braise, boil or microwave your foods, rather than deep fry them.
  • Use non-stick cookware.
  • Microwave or steam your vegetables instead of boiling them to retain the nutrients.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Close the kitchen after 7pm

For many dieters, that post-dinner period is the witching hour. They follow the program all day long, and watch what they eat. In fact, they've almost made it through the day when those P.M. cravings rear their ugly heads.

An hour after you've finished supper and cleaned up the kitchen, it's far too easy to sneak back into the refrigerator or pantry and fall victim to a binge. Many experts believe that those midnight snacks wreak the most havoc on our bodies.

A study conducted by Northwestern University discovered that the timing of your eating is every bit as important as what you eat. According to reports, researchers determined that mice who eat at weird hours gained twice as much weight.

One suggested theory is that the body's internal clock plays a role as to how the body uses energy. In the study two groups of mice were given high-fat diets that they consumed at different times of the waking cycle. The mice that ate at the times when they would normally be asleep actually gained twice as much weight, even though they ate the same amount of food and performed the same amount of activity as the other test group.

Although there is still more research to be done, there are steps you can take to ensure your nighttime binging is kept to a minimum. Following dinner, limit yourself to a healthy snack such as a piece of fruit or a serving of yogurt. But make it a personal rule to keep the kitchen off limits after 7 p.m. This will prevent you from engaging in senseless snacking.

Even if you have to hang a sign on the refrigerator door to serve as a reminder, do what you need to do.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Wash your hands

In conjunction of the recurrent of H1N1, Malaysians are encouraged to maintain personal hygiene to prevent the spread of influenza A(H1N1).

We are advised:
  • Practise good hand hygiene – frequent hand-washing with soap and water, ensuring all surfaces of the hands are cleaned. Once washed, dry hands thoroughly with a clean dry towel.
  • Practise good cough and sneeze etiquette – cough into the crook of your elbow rather than your hands. Sneeze into a tissue to minimize hand contact, discard tissue, and wash your hands immediately.
  • Avoid touching mouth, nose and eyes with hands.
  • Use hand sanitiser if soap and water is unavailable.
  • Regularly disinfect all commonly touched areas, such as door knobs, taps, light switches, TV remote controls, and computer keyboards.
  • Seek advice from your doctor via telephone first if you are feeling unwell and displaying flu-like symptoms. Do not go to work.
Proper hygiene practices play an important role in minimizing the spread of germs and infections.