Housewives are urged to cut down on sodium and add more fiber to their diets during the Lunar New Year, a period when an average person can easily put on a few kilograms because of excessive eating and lack of physical activity.
“An easy to remember slogan when cooking is ‘four less and one more,’” said Hung Ruo-pu (洪若樸), a senior nutritionist at Taipei City Hospital’s Zhongxiao Branch.
The idea is less sauce, less fried food, less oil, less stewing and more fiber, Hung said, adding that most traditional Lunar New Year recipes, which are greasy, usually follow the opposite rules.
However, changing the rules of cooking does not mean compromising the taste, said Hung, an outspoken nutritionist often featured in health magazines.
For gastronomes with a preference for stronger seasoning, low-calorie condiments and spices, such as white vinegar, garlic, scallion, parsley, and an assortment of Chinese herbs, can be used extensively as guilt-free solutions to retain flavors, she said.
Sauces that are either high in calories or sodium, like tomato paste, barbecue sauce and salad dressing, should be shelved or used minimally, she added.
As for reducing oil and fat, she suggested altering the method of cooking.
“Change deep frying and stir frying to steaming and water boiling, and you can save yourself the worry of shedding weight after the holidays,” Hung said.
For example, a plate of steamed dumplings is always a healthier option than a plate of fried ones. It would even be better if more vegetables, such as mushroom and cabbage, are included in the fillings to increase the fiber intake, she said.
The nutritionist also warned that holiday snacks like peanuts, pumpkin seeds and sesame cookies contain significant amounts of fat, so one should be extra careful not to overeat these foods.
Seasonal fruits like oranges and apples are rich in vitamins and fiber and are therefore highly recommended as snacks, Hung added.