I am not your typical guy — I actually enjoy cooking. When I was younger, I experimented with different ingredients to make snacks, entrées and desserts. But as I got older and spent more time at work, it seemed that I had less time to pursue the simple pleasure of preparing home-cooked meals. I began relying on pre-packaged, microwavable meals to save time. And the less I cooked, the worse my diet became.
Then I got married and my wife helped me reignite my love of cooking. Sure, she occasionally pampers herself with a facial or spa, but for most of the time, we actually enjoy making meals together and taking the time to prepare natural, whole foods in a simple way. We like to eat in a style I call “close to nature”, which means we eat a lot of unprocessed fruits, vegetables, meats and whole grains. By cooking with light seasoning and a short amount of time, we allow the natural flavours of food to shine through. Cooking in this manner also helps to preserve the nutritional value of foods, making it harder for our bodies to convert what we eat into unwanted body fat.
Pretty much every night, my wife and I would prepare fish or meat dishes, add baked potato and a vegetable, and enjoy a healthy, hearty meal as we sit together and talk about our days. We are not your typical Malays either — we are both big fans of soups. Usually, we prepare extra portions to have on hand for those evenings we are too busy to cook.
Some of our culinary secrets? We love cooking with onions because of the flavour they add to food and the antibacterial benefits they offer. We do not use salt and generally avoid frying. Most of all, we constantly experiment with different combinations of tastes and textures to keep our meals interesting.
And so, we are pleased to share some of our favourite recipes. We hope you get to try all of them — and find them as fun to cook as they are to eat!
These burritos are tasty and a low-fat way to start off your day. You can make them using other vegetables too, whatever is in season. Here is what you need:
- Non-stick cooking spray
- ½ cup of mushrooms, sliced
- ¼ cup of onion, diced
- ½ red pepper, trimmed and diced
- 2 cups of egg substitute
- ½ cup of non-fat cottage cheese
- Black pepper to taste
- 2 whole wheat tortillas
- 2 ounces of low-fat cheddar cheese, grated salsa
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, cottage cheese and pepper and set them aside. Place the tortillas in a warm oven. Coat a medium saucepan with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat until hot. Sauté mushrooms, onions and red pepper until they turn soft. Pour the egg mixture over vegetables and cook until firm. Next, place half of the egg and vegetable mixture down the center of each warm burrito. Roll it out, then top it off with some cheese and salsa.
Tuna-Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes
Horseradish and onions give these stuffed tomatoes extra zip. Make them as an impressive hors d’oeuvre for when you have company over or enjoy them all by yourself. To whip these red and orange cuties, you will need:
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
- 2 cans of chunk light albacore tuna
- 1 tablespoon of non-fat mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon of non-fat sour cream
- 2 tablespoons of horseradish
- ¼ cup of onions, diced
- Fresh parsley
Carefully slice the top of the tomatoes and bin them. Using a small spoon, remove the pulp from inside each tomato and drain them out before setting them aside. In a small bowl, combine tuna, mayonnaise, sour cream horseradish and onions. Spoon one tablespoon into each tomato and chill. Garnish with parsley before serving.
Chunky Chicken Minestrone
This soup is colourful, easy to prepare and makes a complete meal. Here is what you will need:
- Non-stick cooking spray
- A quarter non-fat chicken broth
- 5 ounces of Italian beans
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 8 ounces of mushroom, sliced
- 3 small zucchinis, shredded
- 3 ounces of small pasta, like mini bowties, cooked
- ½ tablespoon on basil
- ½ tablespoon of oregano
- 2 cups of chicken breast, cooked and diced
- 14 ounces of crushed tomatoes
Place a non-stick pot over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. Sauté onions and mushrooms and then add frozen vegetables, spices and tomatoes. Add chicken broth and bring it to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Add cooked chicken, pasta and shredded zucchini and simmer for another few minutes before serving.
We like to steam fish and vegetables, simply because it is a healthy and fast way to prepare dinner. Here are the ingredients that you need:
- 12-ounce swordfish
- 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons of dry white wine
- ½ tablespoon of garlic powder
In a steamer, cook the swordfish while it is covered with the juice of a lemon, white wine, garlic powder and pepper. Steam until the fish flakes with a fork. Serve with a small baked potato and steamed sliced carrots as well as snap peas.