7 Simple Changes to Make Your Meals Healthier
Eating healthy can be hard if you eat out a lot, eat street food, and fast food. Itâ€™s always healthiest to make your own fresh meals at home. Why is this? Because street food or fast food often contains unhealthy ingredients that you arenâ€™t even aware of. When you cook at home, you can control the quality and freshness of your ingredients.
“Thai street food is both delicious and cheap, but the drawback is that it can be unhealthy for you,” says Nikki, a certified health and wellness coach with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York, and is the freelance Pilates instructor at Museflower Retreat & Spa Chiang Rai.
She explains that street food uses very cheap ingredients which are not the highest quality, lots of MSG, processed white sugar, and vegetables oils for deep frying. If you really love street food and canâ€™t give it up, try to go for healthier choices like fresh fruit from the fruit cart, grilled salt-covered fish stuffed with lemongrass, fresh coconuts and somtam rather than deep fried snacks like fried bananas, fried taro, fried chicken wings and fatty braised pork leg.
“Fast food (like popular chains and pre-packaged meals) are cooked with very cheap oils that canâ€™t withstand high heats, lots of artificial flavours, MSG, and preservatives, and a lot of added low quality processed white salt and white sugar. They use the cheapest ingredients to maximize profits, and factory-farmed meat loaded with hormones. Fast food is mass produced and not made with care, the way your mother would cook for you at home,” says Nikki.
Other unhealthy ingredients to beware of in fast food and processed foods are high fructose corn syrup, white processed salt, highly processed non-organic dairy products which are full of MSG and artificial flavours.
Tania Ho, founder and owner of Museflower Retreat & Spa, Chiang Raiâ€™s first all-inclusive vegetarian wellness retreat, is a certified Hado program operator, a holistic program that measures the bio-energetic levels of negative energy and toxins in a personâ€™s body.
Tania found that while giving Hado counseling to a few of her clients, their results showed an energetic presence of different kinds of herbicides or pesticides as pollutants inside their bodies. One of these clients was someone who doesnâ€™t cook at home and eats out often, and another of these clients was someone who loves to cook at home and eats lots of vegetables. So how could they both have different lifestyles but similar toxicities? The link between the two is that both people did not actively look for organic vegetables or organic restaurants. So besides using healthy cooking ingredients, people should try buying organic produce as much as possible to avoid consuming and absorbing pesticides and toxins.
“With online shopping and more and more organic shops opening, itâ€™s becoming easier and affordable to buy organic products. But even with organic products, consumers should still read the labels to check what kind of ingredients are present. Avoid products or sauces with MSG and artificial coloring,” recommends Tania.
Museflower Retreat and Spaâ€™s dining room Soul Food Corner is known for its delicious and amazingly flavourful vegetarian cuisine, made from the freshest produce and eggs picked the same day from their on-site organic farm.
“Guests always comment on the delicious taste and flavour, and often say they donâ€™t realize thereâ€™s no meat in the food because people usually expect that vegetarian food is bland and boring.
“A lot of people think that salt and sugar are bad for you so they try to be healthier by cutting it out completely, so they end up eating very bland food every day,” says Tania. “But we can improve the flavour of the food by choosing what kind of salt and what kind of sugar we use.”
With these healthy tips from the Museflower kitchen, you can make simple switches in your own cooking and diet to make your food healthier and even taste better –
- Swap white table salt and instead use Himalayan pink crystal salt for cooking, as this is the worldâ€™s cleanest salt and contains 84 trace minerals. Unlike white table salt that contributes to high blood pressure and other ailments, Himalayan pink crystal salt acts as a natural mineral supplement that the body can easily absorb.
- Check all the food labels when you purchase your groceries and sauces to avoid MSG.
- Instead of white sugar, use coconut palm sugar or brown sugar.
- Swap vegetable oils for healthier cooking oils such as rice bran oil and coconut cooking oil.
- Try ghee (clarified butter) instead of butter for sautÃ©ing and frying to enhance the flavour.
- The Museflower breakfast buffet offers bee pollen that can be added to homemade kefir or oatmeal. Be creative and add different super foods to your breakfast, such as chia seeds, flaxseed and virgin coconut oil.
- The Museflower buffet always has a jar of Himalayan crystal salt sole (concentrated Himalayan crystal salt water). Guests can put a couple drops into their drinking water as a liquid mineral supplement to take in the morning. The salt sole also helpful when guests feel dehydrated or have been undergoing a detoxifying process and experiences a headache. Try it in the morning with a cup of lemon water.
Adds Tania, “Simply switching to healthier natural and organic substitutes can improve the flavours in our food as well. Eating without feeling guilty or judging ourselves is important too. Moderation is the best approach for me, and eating should be a pleasurable sensory experience (rather than a guilt trip) that reminds us to be in the now and enjoy the present moment. – By Minty Green
For more information about wellness cooking and workshops in Chiang Rai, contact:
Museflower Retreat & Spa Chiang Rai, 159/1 Moo 1 Ban Samanmit, Donsila Sub-District, Wiang Chai District, Chiang Rai 57210
Office: +66-(0)52-029-823, +66(0)-93-137-0414
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