Healthy Asian Food: Easy Cooking Tips

Next week we’re celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the Thrive Kitchen with our monthly class focused on how to cook healthy Asian food. We’ll sample the flavors of East, South and Southeast Asia and learn how to use some of the typical seasonings and spices from the varied cuisine of this diverse continent.

The dishes we’ll make include:

  • Green Salad with Japanese Carrot Ginger Dressing
  • Chinese Cucumber Pickle
  • South Indian Spiced String Beans with Coconut
  • Korean Soft Tofu
  • Kimchi Stew (Soondubu Jigae)
  • Indonesian Gado Gado

Most traditional Asian cooking is very healthy, since it features plenty of green, leafy vegetables and small portions of meat or fish, accompanied by a carbohydrate such as rice or noodles. However, the Chinese-American, Japanese-American, and Thai food often served in restaurants is quite different, with more meat as well as salt, sugar, and less healthy oils. America’s version of Asian food is also carbohydrate-heavy, featuring large portions of white rice and noodles.

Want to cook healthier Asian dishes in your own kitchen? Try these tricks:

  • increase the proportion of vegetables in a dish or meal to at least half
  • substitute tofu (firm or extra firm) for meat
  • use brown rice instead of white rice
  • cut the sugar and salt
  • use less oil (try stir frying or steaming instead of deep frying)
  • use low sodium soy sauce (575 mg vs 920mg sodium per tablespoon)
  • use chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs, and remove skin
  • use ground turkey instead of ground pork
  • use bean thread/glass/cellophane noodles, which are made of mung beans and therefore lower on the glycemic index. Or try zoodles.

The healthy Asian cooking class will be held Wednesday, April 9th from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Thrive Kitchen classes at Kaiser Permanente Mission Bay, 1600 Owens Street, San Francisco.

The fee is $30 for Kaiser Permanente members, $40 for non-members, and includes hands-on cooking class, recipes, nutrition discussion and the meal we’ll cook together.

To reserve a space, call (415) 833-3450 or email, and check the event listing for more details and some enticing photos. Thrive Kitchen classes are held once a month; keep up with announcements about future classes by following The Doctor’s Spicebox on Facebook.

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.