Eating well and living healthy is indeed challenging in Malaysia, since deliciously greasy and tempting food can be found at every corner, and eating out is practically part of our culture. This is especially hard now that it is Ramadhan and despite the fasting, some of us are actually gaining weight (blame the bazaars)!
Obsessed with speed and convenience, we care more about how fast and easy we get our food than how nutritious they are (and should be!). With a hectic workload and a ton of other issues to busy yourself with every week, how to make eating healthier naturally becomes the last thing on our minds.
But it doesn’t have to be! You do not need radical, sweeping changes – small adjustments to our diets can easily snowball into huge long-term health benefits as well!
Here are 9 super-simple meal hacks your body will truly thank you for!
1. Dry-Fry (This Is Not An Oxymoron)
A dollop of oil in any dish will cause bad cholesterol and calories to skyrocket. Food fried with oil not only lose a lot of vital moisture, they also turn soggy and greasy if left out in the open for too long. Oil-soaked soggy french fries, anyone?
Frying with oil is not only unhealthy, it’s old-school. With the latest kitchen tools, dry-frying is not only healthier, but easier too! Want to dry-fry without the hassle? Invest in an airfryer!
Try: The Smart Chef Air Fryer (select from 2 models)
– Air fryer with knob controls – RM349 (original price: RM799)
– Air fryer with LCD screen controls – RM399 (original price: RM899)
A good quality pan or skillet will do just as well in the hands of a skilled chef! Just make sure that it is doesn’t have a toxic coating and that it has a heavy-bottom base.
Try: Roichen Double Sided Non-Stick Pan – RM 78 (original price: RM299)
2. Blend Up Your Greens!
Super-foods (just a fancy term for foods with health benefits) are hard to eat as they are – powdery, grainy and simply a hassle to grab out of a bag. And if food is difficult to eat, pragmatic Malaysians just pass it on. Don’t let these nutritious snacks elude you by blending them all into one super-cocktail!
Try: Big Boss High Speed Multi Purpose Blender – RM69 (original price: RM201)
Or if you want a slightly bigger capacity, a full-sized blender is just the thing for you.
Try: Khind Blender, 1.5L – RM82 (original price: RM99)
3. ‘Kurang’ Your ‘Manis’
‘Kurang Manis’ is the way to go.
To be precise, we’re talking about fructose here. Completely useless to our bodies, this sugar is metabolised in ways extremely detrimental to our bodies. It wrecks our metabolic cycles, causes havoc to our appetites and – quite obviously – makes us really, really fat.
Replace it with sweet spices like cinnamon or natural sweeteners like stevia. Stevia is completely natural and has zero carbs, sugar or calories! In fact, it has been proven that stevia boosts glucose tolerance and removal after a meal, as well as reducing blood pressure as well.
If you’re not completely convinced about the benefits of this ingenious natural sweetener, conventional spices will also do the trick. Adding powdered cinnamon to or stirring your cup of coffee with a cinnamon stick not only makes it sweeter, but enhances the flavour of your cuppa as well!
Try: Daily Right Stevia Drinks (White Coffee, Chocolate, Hazelnut White Coffee) – RM16.90
4. Substitute White Rice
Some people might regard this as a travesty of asian culinary customs, but hey, health is wealth right? White rice compels your body to store additional fat and, quite surprisingly, has little nutritional value. In fact, studies suggest that a diet centered on white rice may be responsible for the higher prevalence of diabetes in asian societies!
White rice simply doesn’t stand a chance against its darker cousin – brown rice contains far more dietary fibre, less calories and goes easier on the gut.
If removing rice completely from your everyday meals doesn’t bother you too much, try ancient grains like quinoa or chia instead. Dietary staple since times of antiquity, these grains pack a lot more goodness than their modern cousins. A similar serving of quinoa has a whopping 150% more fibre and 100% more protein than white rice!
Try: Now Foods, Certified Organic, Whole Grain Quinoa (16oz) – RM30
5. Coffee + Meat = Awesome??
No, I don’t mean to infuse caffeine into that mouthwatering steak of yours. Most meat marinades contain an awful lot of salt and even chemical additives. That steak of yours may taste better, but it certainly won’t be any healthier!
Instead of buying marinades straight off the supermarket shelf, try using beer or black coffee instead. Both share a special affinity with meats – coffee gives meat a unique, smoky flavour, and beer reduces the amount of carcinogenic (cancer-causing) particles by a whopping 13% to 53% (depending on the kind of beer used).
6. Say No To Mayo
Want to make a tasty sandwich but don’t have time? For busy Malaysians, mayo has been a timely meal-saver indeed. Problem is, mayo contains a disproportionate amount of sugar and dreaded saturated fat. Your heart will cry with every bite of that mayo sandwich.
Mayo can easily be substituted with mustard, or if you prefer a non-spicy alternative, avocado mash can also do the trick. Mustard contains neither saturated fat or sugar, and avocado mash, well – anything with avocado is definitely healthy!
7. Switch From Iceberg To Romaine
A good mix of vegetable is already as healthy as it gets, but if you want a refreshing and nourishing salad, replace iceberg lettuce with romaine lettuce instead. Both may be leafy greens, but that unassuming slice of romaine lettuce boasts over 17 times more vitamin A and 4 times more vitamin K than a similar serving of iceberg lettuce!
8. Recharge With An Unexpected Drink
Most of us know that drinking a can of Red Bull is a double-edged sword, but what about more popular options like 100 Plus, Gatorade, and H-Two-O? Invigorating as they are, sports drinks may actually have a long-term detrimental effect when it comes to endurance and performance. That’s because when carbs are consumed, our muscles are inclined to burn lesser fat.
A natural refresher, coconut water has less than half the amount of sugar and 16 times the potassium found in most sports drinks. So hit up the next coconut water vendor you see! For more active people who need to amp up the electrolyte benefits of this delicious fruit (or nut. What is it??), try getting supplements that incorporate it’s nutrients.
Try: Swisse Coconut Water Superfood Powder, 100g – RM104.30
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