Thu, April 09

Be Fit Fit! Healthy Asian Cooking

You asked, we deliver! Here goes (text only) of Jan's presentation on Healthy Asian Cooking, which took place at the Be Fit Fit Studio on January 27th. I hope it is inspiring, happy (Asian) cooking!

Light & Healthy Asian Cuisine: By the Be Fit Fit Girl's Personal Chef

1) A note about Asian restaurants:

Avoid the temptation of Asian restaurants, take-outs and preferably even ready-made sauces (Tandoori, Vindaloo, curry sauces, etc.). While tempting, the food comes with loads of salt, sugar and conservation agents.

Example: P. F. Chang Hot & Sour Soup (bowl) has 7,980 mg of sodium (a 5-day allowance), and none of its soups have less than 1000 mg. We like P. F. Chang since it sponsors the Phoenix Rock'n'Roll marathon! But we never eat there.

Avoid anything described in the menu as crispy or crunchy [unless it's lettuce!] - it means that it was fried - breaded, or things looking shiny or oily.

Typically, Chinese Cuisine is loaded with fats and added sugars.

Japanese cuisine is generally lighter - just avoid tempura and other fried stuff when you cook or order, and pay attention to salt (even miso soup can be extremely salty) Whenever possible, replace coconut milk with Greek yoghurt (at least a part of it). You will save on calories and fat and get lots of proteins!

Make yourself: steam fish drizzled with a notch of teriyaki sauce or chicken/bell pepper/onion kabobs with a drizzle of yakitori sauce.

Also, home-made sushi are great.


Be creative with spices! Spicy foods can extend your lifespan. Scientific evidence shows they are good for heart, respiratory system and cancer prevention.


Spice mixes - beware if salt is in the mix; you can always add salt separately if you must.

I can highly recommend Penzey Spices for their creative choices of spice mixes.

Examples of spice mixes:

Salt free Bangkok blend: sweet peppers, garlic, ginger, black pepper, galangal, hot peppers, lemongrass, basil and cilantro Garam Masala (available at Whole Foods): Indian: coriander, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg. One of few spice mixes actually used in India Other interesting options: Tandoori, vindaloo, Balti. They are versatile and can be stored up to a year without losing aroma.

Indian cuisine spices: Turmeric [its compound curcumin slows the growth of some cancers, particularly colon cancer], cumin, laksa spices (coriander, turmeric, lemongrass, galangal - experiment with them!) Some exotic flavors:

Thai flavors: lemongrass, kaffir limes, basil Ginger - great in grated form for tea, smoothies Mexican spices [not Asian but worth mentioning here]: fresh and dries chili peppers, serrano, jalapeños [great roasted on fire or on your gas stove] Shichimi Shichi-mi tōgarashi (seven-flavor chili pepper): A wonderful no-salt citrusy Japanese spice mixture containing seven ingredients: Coarsely ground red chili pepper (the main ingredient) - Ground sansho ("Japanese pepper") - Roasted orange peel - Black sesame seed white sesame seed - Hemp seed - Ground ginger - Nori or aonori (seaweed) (Excellent for soups, chicken, no salt - Penzeys does not have it, so buy online from elsewhere)

3) Sample Healthy Recipes:

A) Thai Curry with Shrimp and Kale:


6 ounces of dried rice noodles / rice / kelp noodles / quinoa

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/3 cup chopped green onions

1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic

1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger

2 tablespoons Thai green curry paste (such as Thai Kitchen)

1 1/4 cups matchstick-cut carrots

1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock

1 (13.5-ounce) can light coconut milk

6 cups packed chopped Lacinato kale (about 1/2 bunch) (or regular kale or even chard)

1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon grated lime rind

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

B) Indian Dahl Soup:


1. Prepare rice / noodles separately. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add green onions, garlic, and ginger; sauté 1 minute. Stir in curry paste; sauté 30 seconds. Add carrots, chicken stock, and coconut milk, stirring well to combine; bring to a simmer, and cook 5 minutes.

3. Fold in kale; sprinkle with salt. Cook 3 minutes or until kale is wilted and tender. Add shrimp; cook 3 minutes or until shrimp are done. Remove from heat; top with cilantro, lime rind, and juice. Serve over rice noodles.

[Lends itself to countless combinations - red/yellow curry instead of green, chicken or even tofu/tempeh instead of shrimp]

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