Cooking Healthy Food - Pt. 1

  • By:  Santosh Choudhury

Processed food contains chemicals. Even vegetables and fruits have wax and other preservatives. It’s healthy to cook food and vegetables with special care to minimize chemicals and preservatives. Many published recipes use unhealthy ingredients. Cooking is a pleasure and it can help reduce the amount of harmful chemicals in food. 

Here are a few recipes to enjoy with rice or noodles. Most require spices for flavor. Keep popular spices on hand, like these: turmeric, cumin, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, dry red chili (preferably whole), mustard, and cardamom. Since some spices can lose flavor over time, I recommend buying in small quantities in powder form or buy whole seeds of spices and grind for even better flavor and quality.

The health benefits of turmeric, cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom were indicated in an earlier column I wrote (now available on TW’s website). Cumin seeds are antioxidant, carminative, aids digestion, have iron, zinc, copper, vitamins and calcium. Coriander is aromatic, antioxidant, anti-flatulent, digestive, has minerals, vitamins, and lowers LDL cholesterol levels. Mustard seeds are oil seeds; rich in minerals, vitamins, an excellent source of B complex vitamins, and lowers blood cholesterol. Chili peppers are good for pain relief and fight ulcers. 

 

LOWER-CARB RICE - Rice is a carbohydrate-based fiber. This cooking method produces rice that is lower in carbohydrates. 

For each cup of plain rice, bring 4-5 cups of water to a boil. Before cooking, wash rice in warm water 3-4 times. Do not soak rice. Drain water and slowly drop washed rice in boiling water.  

Stir for a minute, or rice will stick to the bottom of pan because of heat. Stir until contents start to boil. Then reduce heat to medium, partially cover pan with lid, (do not close cover completely, or it might overflow), and set timer to 12 minutes. It’s a good idea to stir once or twice in between to avoid rice sticking in pan.

When buzzer rings, check rice. If it’s not soft enough for you at this time, let it boil for a couple more minutes. If it’s ready to your liking—don’t let it get too soft—put one or two big glasses of cold water into the boiling rice and turn off heat immediately. Stir well for a few seconds to avoid rice sticking in pan.

Take pan off stove, drain the hot water using a strainer, and let water drain completely for about 2-3 minutes. Your fluffy plain rice with fewer carbohydrates is ready to serve. 

For Basmati rice, follow the same procedure, except allow only about ten minutes (or less) for Basmati rice to get tender instead of 12 minutes for plain rice. Serve warm (you may add a little butter for flavor if you like). The rice can be safely stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

 

EGG OMELETTE

Two fresh eggs

1/2 med. onion, minced

Ginger powder, few pinches

One small garlic, minced (optional)

4-5 pinches of turmeric

Salt to taste

2-3 med. mushrooms, chopped

Mix all ingredients together until mixture is thin and eggs and spices have completely assimilated. Turmeric has a flavor of its own and makes the mixture look yellow.

Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil or butter according to taste in a non-stick fry pan. Allow oil/butter to heat moderately. Now reduce heat to low, wait for 10-15 seconds to pour egg mixture in pan. Do not pour the mixture with high heat on stove or one side will become overcooked. Cook in low heat for about 6-8 seconds.

As soon as the mixture looks like a pancake, turn it over. The idea is to turn it over before it gets burned or dark brown. It’s a good idea to turn over soon enough again, so neither side is dark brown, while chopped onions are steamed enough to provide their full flavor. It should be ready within 3-4 minutes at the most. Serve warm. 

You may sprinkle ground black pepper or add a tiny amount of minced hot green pepper to the egg mixture before frying, if you like a hot taste. 

Santosh Choudhury, Ph.D. is a freelance writer from Virginia Beach.

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