As my parents age, they become more and more health-conscious, sometimes to the extent of being too obsessive. Yup, they’re the ones who’ll religiously remove the yolks from their eggs. I seriously dislike eating eggs without yolks.
Dad’s in charge of marketing while mum makes dinner for the family. Living with them means that I’m eating healthy meals everyday, so much so that I get a tummyache if I eat ‘unhealthy food’ at hawker centres. I don’t remember they were that obsessive when we were younger. It’s a good start for my kids (they love their veggies!) but they are forever complaining about the lack of junk food in the house.
Dad’s breakfast consists of steamed corn, pumpkin and sweet potato. For lunch, it’s wholemeal bread with cheese and tomato. His beverage of choice - green tea. And he goes for a long jog every morning, putting me to shame.
Mum drinks her 8 glasses of water every day and claims that vegetables contain natural sodium and minerals, so there’s no need to put anymore seasoning in the stir fried dishes. Our standard dinner fare revolves around lightly stir-fried vegetables with deep colours like the red, yellow or green capsicum, dark leafy greens like spinach and mustard green, food rich in vitamin C like broccoli, cauliflower and tomato. She makes sure we have enough beta-carotene by adding carrot and pumpkin in our soup. Only fish rich in Omega-3 will make it to our dinner table, where they're steamed instead of fried. There’s no red meat in the house. Chicken is boiled with ginseng, wolfberries and other Chinese herbs to make soup.
We’ve replaced white rice with organic brown rice. Sometimes it’s basmati rice because mum says it’s a healthier choice. She’s the boss.
Of course cooking oil comes under scrutiny too. They know the difference between saturates, unsaturates and trans fats… so, only olive oil and canola oil can make the cut. Salt is used sparingly and our sugar jar, believe it or not, is tucked away in the fridge because it is hardly used. Honey is the preferred choice for flavouring.
When mum read that dark soya sauce is a more powerful antioxidant than vitamin C and red wine, we’ll find the dishes seasoned with dark soya sauce thereafter, until another theory proves otherwise. You know how the papers are always publishing contradictory reports like coffee is bad for your health. No no no, coffee is good for your heart. One day, it’s this, next day, it’s that. I tell her, as long as you eat in moderation, it’s OK. Her daily half cup of diluted coffee (so called her indulgence) is not going to ruin her health in any way!
When dad read that sea cucumber has 0 cholesterol, he’ll be back from the market with a bag of sea cucumbers which mum will cook with lots of ginger (good for getting rid of wind), garlic (for lowering cholesterol and improving immunity) and black soya sauce. Oh, she'll add lots of shitake mushrooms (to build immunity) and tofu (good source of protein and calcium) too.
Dad makes sure that there is always lots of fresh and dried fruits in the refrigerators. Yup, we have 3 fridges– one for meat and fresh vegetables, one for fruits and dairy products and one for dried food like legumes, beans, nuts and fruit. When he found out dark chocolate is good for the heart, he started buying dark chocolate bars too!
Once the newspapers published an article on how non-stick cookware releases toxic fumes at high temperature, mum ditched all the non-stick ware for stainless steel pots and cast iron woks. She threw out all the plastic flasks and utensils for the same reason too.
Oh, I’m such a delinquent compared to my folks! I enjoy food too much and would cook a feast during weekends. But I’m becoming quite an advocate of healthy eating and lifestyle. It’s in the genes, they say. Oh yes, I'm so blessed.