Yes, Asian cuisine is easily one of the best in the world, but some of the region’s traditional fried food can wreak havoc on your waistline (think: crunchy spring rolls dripping in oil and deep fried, carb-packed, sauce heavy noodles). Fear not, Just because you’re visiting the land of flavoursome – albeit unhealthy- food, doesn’t mean you have to pack on the kilos, nor does it mean that you have to avoid local foods in order to stay in shape. In fact, thanks to it’s fresh, region-specific vegetables and spices, true Asian cuisine has been proven to be one of the healthiest diets in the world. Here’s how to avoid having kilos creep on when you’re in a country where the cuisine itself is a tourist attraction alone.
Fresh Spring Rolls
Unlike their fried counterparts, fresh spring rolls are actually full of beneficial ingredients because rather than being deep fried, they’re prepared raw. They’re made from a thin sheet of rice paper which is wrapped around a protein of your choice (usually baked chicken, pork or prawns) and fresh, uncooked vegetables. The low fat delicacy is rich in iron and is a natural way to pack plenty of fibre, folate and vitamins into your diet. Otherwise known as cold rolls, they mean you can still get the joy of eating the delicious little wrapped packages of spring rolls, minus the guilt factor!
In the western world, juices are packed full of preservatives, sugars and flavoring, but most agree that the best kind of juice is one literally made from only fresh fruit. Thankfully, in Asian countries, this is usually exactly how they’re prepared, providing a great source of vitamins and minerals, essential for good health. Simply pick a selection of different fruits and you can get them blended into a juice for a very reasonable price. Better still, Asian countries normally have a much bigger selection of tropical fruits than those offered in their western counterparts.
A Vietnamese soup consisting of flavoursome broth, rice noodles, vegetables and either meat or tofu, Pho has become one of the world’s most popular meals. Because it’s packed with protein and local, unique vegetables the delectable dish can even help combat colds and other ailments. Pho is low in calories and high in micronutrients making it a fantastic – and healthy – local dish to try.
Who said salads have to be boring? Som Tom is a fresh and spicy green papaya salad that’s typically topped with freshly caught prawns. The lack of processed ingredients in a dish like Som Tom will help eliminate bloating and leave you feeling fresh and healthy.
Thai Green Curry
From San Diego to Sri-Lanka, there’s a reason Thai Green Curry is available almost anywhere in the world. The fragrant dish has garnished international acclaim for a very simple reason: it’s absolutely delicious! The main ingredient in the dish is cilantro (coriander) roots and green chillies, hence the name green curry. The flavoursome base is combined with a mixture of coconut milk, green curry paste, palm sugar, fish sauce, kaffir limit leaves, Thai basil and a protein of choice. Many of these ingredients are full of vitamins, iron and anti-oxidants, making it the perfect example of how you don’t need to sacrifice taste in favour of health.
Although not a specific dish the spices in South east Asia are an integral element to the healthy nature of many dishes. For instance, ginger is a substance with powerful medicinal properties and can even alleviate muscle soreness. In addition, lemon grass regulates blood pressure whilst boosting your metabolism and helping ones hair and skin. These are just two of the many amazing spices which are common in Vietnamese and Thai cuisine, these spices can add amazing flavour while also reducing any need for excessive amounts of sodium.