To avoid the crowd at markets and the hassle of queuing up at supermarkets, you can enjoy more relaxed moments by always keeping some healthy Food Ingredients at home. With the assistance of a few pieces of useful Kitchen Utensil, despite the bad weather or hectic schedule, you can easily manage to treat your guests a nice and nutritious meal at home.
Chopping boards and knives
In your kitchen, you must keep at least 2 chopping boards and two knives: one set to treat raw foods and seafood, and one to treat cooked foods to prevent contamination of the foods. There are different choices of chopping boards made of different materials and in different shapes and colours. No matter which ones you have chosen, you must keep them thoroughly clean and dry after use each time. Those with cracks and cleaves due to long years of use should be displaced.
Crockery and eating utensils
- There is no need to keep too many eating utensils but just enough for the family on a day-to-day basis. Try to find those made of materials which are unbreakable, non-slippery and good in insulation of heat.
- It would be ideal to use crockery which can go direct into the kitchen appliances such as microwave stove, oven, dish-washer and the fridge. In this way, you don’t have to remember which is which and avoid unnecessary accidents.
- It is better to choose cups and mugs with handle for easy handling. Those with bigger handles provide better grip and are safer.
- It is not necessary for the crockery to come in one set. Choose those who interesting and easy-matching colours can add life to a dining table and stimulate the appetite of an elderly person who may not be able to eat a wide range of foods.
- Try to find bowls with a circular ring at the base of a bowl. The circular ring provides better insulation as the ring keeps the palm and fingers away from the body of the bowl. It also keeps bowls on a stack slightly apart, making it easier to take the bowls out one by one.
- A good-looking noodle bowl can also be used to serve food with heavy sauces.
- Deep plates prevent sauces from spilling over during serving.
- Different types and lengths of cutlery can be used to meet the needs of the individual members of the family.
All foods must be handled and stored properly once taken home. This is to keep the foods hygienic and safe and to maintain the food quality. Plastic wraps, ziplock bags and airtight containers are good partners to store different types of foods.
A refrigerator is a must in a kitchen. It helps to maintain the quality of foods and prolong their usability. Based on the needs of the family choose one with the appropriate design and storage capacity. Always keep the temperature of the fridge at 4 degree C or below. For foods which are not to be consumed immediately, keep them in the freezer. Eggs, milk and vegetables should be kept in a fridge to prolong their usable periods. As for foods which require to be kept frozen, such as ice cream and frozen foods, the temperature of the freezer should be maintained at -18 degree C or below.
Rice cooker is a very practicable cooking utensil. Apart from its usual function of cooking rice, it can be used to steam food while cooking rice without the need to watch the stove. In recent years, rice cookers come in all sorts of designs with various functions such as cooking congee and soups as well as baking cakes.
Water can help transfer the values of foods to different parts of the body and also help dispose wastes in the blood. We should drink 6 to 8 glasses of water each day. Water boiler is therefore a must in the kitchen to ensure that there is sufficient drinking water each day. It is safer to have a water boiler which can turn off automatically or produce an alarm sound when water boils.
Food preparation utensils
- Most elderly persons have difficulty holding up heavy things due to lack of strength in the arms and wrists. Pots and pans should not be too big or too heavy, but attention should also be given to the materials used to make these cooking utensils. Those made of poor quality materials can burn easily.
- Try to use pot and pan which can be cleaned easily
so as to save the prolonged washing and standing time which may lead to back pain. Also check the coating
used as the durability of the materials against scratching and the time for heating up may vary greatly
- Cooking utensils like turners, soup ladles, should come with a heat resistant handle to prevent burning in the hand.
- Pots and pans in recent years come in all kinds of shapes and designs and in glamorous colours. They can be used for serving on the table apart from cooking. Cookery books on cooking with a single pot, like one-pot meal, one-pot pasta, are becoming very popular in overseas countries. All you need to do is to put all food ingredients into the pot and use the same pot for serving. It is both good-looking and also most convenient. However, the materials used to make this type of pots are usually quite heavy and we must expect to use a bit more strength.
Grain and cereals
Grains and cereals provide carbohydrates and are the main sources for energy. According to Healthy Eating Pyramid, grains (or plant-based foods) should make up the largest portion of our diet each day. Apart from white rice, other whole grains like brown rice, high fibre cereals, bread, noodles, pasta, etc. should be kept in kitchen to provide carbohydrates and fibre to our diets.
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.