Healthy Cooking - Good Taste

Components of Healthy Diet

The base of the pyramid is the "carbohydrate" component. Thus rice, pasta and cereal products should make up the bulk of our food intake. The next tier consists of "protein" products like meat, seafood and soy. Proteins should comprise a proportionately smaller component of our diets than the carbohydrates. The smallest contribution should be from the "fat" group as this is linked to the development of obesity and heart disease. Vitamins and minerals are trace elements that are found in varying quantities in the various food substances.

More recently, healthy eating advisors advocate the minimum daily consumption of two pieces of fruit and two portions of vegetables. This is to ensure the intake of fiber is adequate for the regulation of bowel movements.

Reducing Fat Intake

Although meat products are primarily made of protein, the choice of cut can markedly affect the fat content. We can choose to reduce our fat intake by choosing lean cuts of meat and cutting off all visible fat prior to consumption. With poultry, the breast meat tends to have less fat than the thigh meat. However, the removal of the skin and visible fat allows us to continue to enjoy the thigh meat. Such small actions can have a drastic effect on our total fat intake and long-term health.

Use the Right Cooking Technique

In the same way, the way we cook the food also has marked effects on the eventual fat content. The use of deep-frying or shallow-frying techniques markedly increases the fat and calorie content compared to grilling or steaming.

I advocate the use of stir-frying with non-stick equipment (particularly frying pans and woks) and the use of minimal amounts of cooking oil.

Generally, 1 teaspoon of cooking oil is enough for each dish. Compare this with the numerous cookbooks that advocate the use of large amounts of oil to marinade the meat (to prevent sticking), followed by stir-frying with large volumes of oil or even deep-frying the meat before stir-frying!

Quality, Not Quantity, Counts

Unfortunately such practices are rife in the Chinese kitchen, resulting in most Chinese meals, particularly from restaurants, being calorie laden. I make no apologies for the small recipe base of this website, as I will only include dishes that are tasty, healthy and authentic!

Avoid Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Many Chinese restaurants (and homes) use monosodium glutamate (MSG) as a flavour enhancer. There is much evidence that MSG is bad for our health, potentially even being carcinogenic! Many people develop an MSG Syndrome after consumption of significant amounts. Symptoms include thirst, asthma attacks, depression, headaches, etc.

I never use MSG in any of my recipes. I can do this without compromising the flavour of the dish. The sauces I use are varying amounts of a standard battery, particularly light soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil. Alteration of the amounts of each used produces marked changes in the flavours obtained. Please feel free to experiment and alter the dishes to suit your tastebuds!

Cooking Up a Healthy Recipe

Eating healthily according to the World Health Organization guidelines is simple with the incorporation of these Healthy Chinese Recipes. I hope that you'll enjoy them and incorporate these recipes into your diet. Please feel free to drop me a line about these recipes, and if you have any recipes you'd like to suggest, please do send them to me. If suitable, they will be featured on this website.

Fats Are Not All Equal

Artherosclerosis, the blocking of arteries, is largely blamed on a diet that is high in fat. People have thus been advised to avoid fatty foods, so as to prevent heart disease and obesity.

This simplistic stance has been supported by the "Food Pyramid", which advocates replacing fat with extra carbohydrates. However, a high carbohydrate diet, particularly if comprising mainly of high glycaemic index components, can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes mellitus. It also fails to address the fact that some fats do have proven health benefits.

The type of fat that causes an increase in LDL cholesterol and artherosclerosis is saturated fat. Some saturated fats are worse than others. Fats found in dairy products like butter and whole milk have the strongest effect on LDL. Beef fat has less impact on LDL, and fats from chocolate and cocoa butter the least!

Trans Fats - The Bad Fats

Trans fats, also known as hydrogenated fats, are commonly found in commercially prepared foods. These substances result in a depression of the good HDL cholesterol, whilst simultaneously raising the levels of the bad LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and lipoprotein A. All these are linked with heart disease.

In addition, trans fats increase platelet "stickiness", potentially contributing to the incidence to heart attacks and strokes.

The Good Fats

The good news is that monunsaturated fats like olive oil and polyunsaturated fats like soybean oil have many health benefits. People who consume more unsaturated versus saturated fats have a significantly lower risk for heart attacks and death from heart disease.

Omega-3: Essential Fatty Acids for Good Health

One class of polyunsaturated fatty acids is the Omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are essential for good health. The basic molecule can't be manufactured by the body, so an adequate intake is essential. They are involved with maintaining normal physiology, particularly in the prevention of heart disease. Fish oils are a rich source of dietary Omega-3 fatty acids.

You can get more information on Omega-3 fatty acids at Cod Liver Omega-3 Foundation.

In conclusion, we should choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils wherever possible. Food labels should be examined for evidence of trans fats. This will show as "partially hydrogenated" or "hydrogenated" vegetable oil or shortening.