By: Thanh Nguyen, AWFH Marketing Intern
Suspecting Asian foods that are surprisingly healthy and inexpensive to prepare.
Nutritious meals are essential to a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy doesn’t mean being on a strict diet. The new norm is “There will be no mindless calorie counting, but rather a focus on food choices, balance, meal and snack ideas, and using both internal and external cues of food regulation.” Monique Ryan (MS, RDN, LDN) of Personal Nutrition Designs, LLC.
We agree with Ryan that food should nourish, energize, and sustain the body, as well as be enjoyable to eat. Some dieting practices look to be the exact opposite since they are overly restricted, promote perfectionist mindset, all-or-nothing mentality, shame, and guilt. Dieting can damage a person's relationship with food as well as their metabolism. As humans, it is common for individuals to evaluate a book by its cover and dismiss uncertainty. Therefore, some folks are unwilling to try new and "unusual" Asian dishes. In reality, they are delicious and nutritious.
Most Asian dinners include rice and at least one side dish. Little did you know, Asian cuisine does not end there; we have an abundance of inexpensive recipes. Despite the argument that some dishes appear unappetizing or unhealthy, you may be surprised to discover what they conceal. Let's look at the healthy signature foods of every region of Asia.
South Korea: Jajangmyeon - Great for after school and dinner
The blackbean sauce may cause some hesitation, but you should trust the process. Jajangmyeon is a simple dish consisting of nutritious ingredients: Chunjang (the black bean sauce), zucchini, onion, cabbage, scallions, and chicken. You can easily find Chunjang at many Asian stores or H-Mart.
China: Douhua - Great for those who have a sweet tooth
Banana pudding is a popular American dessert, how does tofu pudding (douhua) sound to you? Some argue about the strange, gelatinous texture of douhua, but once you try it, you never go back. This recipe uses gelatin instead of other chemical coagulants. You can use agar agar for vegan purposes.
Vietnam: Banh Xeo - Great for eating with family members and to snack on.
Banh Xeo is a Vietnamese sizzling crepe that holds pork belly, shrimp, and bean sprouts. Despite it being fried, you can reduce the amount of oil with a non-stick frying pan. Banh Xeo can be eaten with rice paper, vegetables such as mustard green, lettuce, mint, and dipped in sweet and tangy “nuoc mam.” It’s about the combination that supplies nutrition to your body!
India: Chana Masala - Great for simple dinner
Many argue about the simplicity of the dish, but it is the most healthy dish that you can quickly prepare for dinner. “Chana” is a Hindi word for “chickpeas” - a great source of protein - and “Masala” refers to “spiced gravy.” Therefore, the dish is simmered chickpeas in a spicy onion tomato gravy. Chana Masala is also great for vegetarians.
The Philippines: Sinigang Na Isda - Great for dinner
Many individuals often hesitate when it comes to eating fish. Sinigang Na Isda can give you a different perspective if you have an open mind. Fish sinigang or sinigang na isda is a type of Filipino fish soup wherein fish is cooked in a sour broth together with a variety of vegetables. It is best to eat it with warm rice.
As a bonus, below is a sneak peek of some recipes from our AWFH cookbook!
Asia is the origin of exotic cuisines, and the list can go on. Please feel free to share your favorite recipes in the comments below!
Asian Women For Health is excited to announce that we will be hosting a virtual social event called Healthy Eating on a Budget on February 22, 2023. Register now to learn how to master Asian healthy eating and low-cost recipes from our guest speakers! If you are interested in being on the panel, please contact Hilary at firstname.lastname@example.org.