Vegetables and fruits
Vegetables and fruits contains nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. By keeping a good selection of vegetables which can be kept for a relatively longer period, such as carrots, onions, pumpkins, celery, etc. in our kitchen, they become very handy for adding as supplements to our main courses or as side dishes. As regards fruits, apples, oranges and dried fruits can be kept for a longer period.
Meat, fish, eggs and legumes
Lean meat, fish, eggs and legumes are main sources of protein and vitamins. It is convenient to keep packed bean curds, eggs and frozen fish fillets in our fridge. Nuts also provide us with protein, unsaturated fat, fibre, vitamins and minerals. We can use nuts to replace meat which contains protein with saturated fats. For example, we can use cashews to replace meat when making soups, or use walnuts to replace cheese and bacon bits in salads. Do keep some raw nuts in your kitchen, such as pine nuts, unsalted sugar-free cashews and walnuts. However, as nuts also contain a large quantity of calories, we also need to watch out.
There is a general perception that oil, cholesterol are the reason for obesity and culprits in heart disease, and so oil should be avoided as far as possible. Oil in fact is also an important nutrient providing energy to the body. Our body needs a certain amount of natural oil to supply our body with the necessary fatty acid to carry many functions including maintaining brain and nerve function. Do keep some healthy oils in the kitchen, such as olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil and corn oil.
- Choices of seasonings and sauces are plenty in the market. They are simple and convenient ways to make the food we cook much more delicious, but they are at the same time a major source of potassium. According to WHO, the amount of potassium an adult can take each day should not exceed 2000 ml, i.e. about one teaspoon of salt. Over consumption will lead to high blood pressure and heart diseases. Take a good look at the nutrition information on the food labels and check the amount of fats, salt, sugar and particularly preservatives the food contains.
- For the benefit of health, it is advisable to use natural ingredients to enhance food flavour rather than seasonings of high-salinity.
Examples are as follows:
Vegetables: tomato, celery, onion, ginger, green onion, garlic
Fruits: apple, orange, lemon, pineapple
Dried foods: mushroom, shrimps
Spices: pepper, black pepper, star anise
There should not be any worry that frozen foods are less healthy as the food values of frozen foods are the same as fresh ones. We may keep some frozen vegetables, fish fillets and chicken fillets at home but make sure they are not yet expired and they are separated into smaller portions in ziplock bags and placed into the freezer. Cook immediately after defrosting.
It is always convenient to keep some dried foods at home, like mushrooms, fungus, vermicelli, shrimps, etc. which are good cooking partners. These dried foods are also high fibre foods which are good replacement of vegetables when there is no time to go to the market. When preparing mushrooms, it is advisable to cook a bit more in one go and separate the cooked mushrooms in smaller portions and keep them in the freezer for future use. Mushroom can go with all kinds of food.
- The choices of canned foods are enormous – meat, fish, beans, vegetables, soups, etc. Coupled with the fact that there is a much longer expiry date, canned foods are popular in families which have no time for shopping in the market or are always in a rush in their daily lives. Canned foods however cannot be taken too frequently because of their generally high-fat, high-sugar and high-salinity contents. Do check the nutrition labels and buy those which are more healthy, such as tuna in water, corn, beans, etc.
- Remember to remove the food from the can after it is opened to prevent the foodstuff from being contaminated by the tin materials after exposed to air.