“Eating right with our fast paced lives seems to be an ever growing challenge. We try again and again yet at the end of it we get so tempted with all the yummy foods that we give in and end up eating something that is not necessarily the best for us. Today, everything we eat is so loaded with salt, sugar and oil. Many times we don’t even know what is in what we eat. We can enjoy the tasty unhealthy food as long as we are healthy…But what if that changes? What will meal time be like then?
One of the most challenging experiences for the past week was cooking for the National Kidney Foundation. Even as a trained food technologist, this required a lot more preparation than I initially thought to ensure what I presented was not only nutritious, but safe for kidney patients to enjoy. ‘Why’ you may ask. Well a lot of what is recommended for us as healthy adults is actually not good for them. Did you know they have to restrict water intake? Even some leafy greens are not recommended for them because of the high levels of potassium. Suddenly, it seemed that a lot about what I knew about healthy eating was not going to work for the cooking class. But I knew exactly where to start: I asked for help! My friend Sheila and I figured that since kidney patients have to restrict water intake, they probably could not enjoy one of Singapore’s local delicacies: "Steam boat".
So, we created a "Waterless Steamboat". The only seasoning we added was a teaspoon of soya sauce. The rest were fragrant vegetables like lotus root, red and green peppers and cauliflower. What I loved about it was that it only took 30 minutes to make. I have to admit it was a lot different that the regular steamboat all of us are used to, loaded with salt and seasonings. However this is not to say the waterless steamboat tasted bad, that could not be further from the truth. It was just lighter in flavor and a lot more focused on the natural flavors of the vegetables. The meat and vegetables were sweet and succulent, a good change from out salty diet. It was not completely dry either. Many of the vegetables released their own juices and helped flavor the rest of the dish. The secret was to use a stainless steel pot with a lid to retain the heat allowing the vegetables and meat to cook slowly and nutrients to stay intact.
Everyone had a chance to try it. The program coordinators had lots of wonderful comments about the dish. Some patients took to the idea as well that they did not have to give up this prized dish despite their current condition.
Overall, a morning well spent educating myself and the wonderful kidney patients about cooking healthier and eating well!”
By Heeru Murjani