Eat Right

Quirky idea became healthy tofu rice dish

PHOTO: FIONA CHUA

Result of childhood cooking experiment has turned into regular dish for woman's family

It all started as an experiment when Ms Fiona Chua, 39, was nine years old.

The then Primary 3 pupil had a quirky idea to combine tofu with rice, with a couple of familiar ingredients thrown in.

The result was a healthy tofu rice dish that the mother of two continues to whip up today.

"Back then, I had this idea to combine tofu, ginger, garlic and margarine with rice," said the property developer.

She added garlic and ginger to the rice because they were ingredients that her mother often used in home-cooked meals. "I discovered that the combination resulted in a dish that tastes like chicken rice."

CULTIVATING GOOD HABITS

I believe that when you involve your children in cooking, they learn to choose and eat wisely, as they are able to appreciate what is healthy for them.

MS FIONA CHUA, on how preparing the tofu rice dish with her children gives her the opportunity to teach them to eat healthily, such as by cutting back on oil

Today, she makes the dish every two or three months, especially after her family have had too many rich and heavy meals.

"The preparation is very easy, so it is convenient for those who are pressed for time," said Ms Chua.

This recipe, which uses mainly staple ingredients and condiments, also comes in handy on days when the fridge is low on ingredients.

The dish has also gone beyond her own kitchen - it was recently featured in the #SgEatWithUs project, a food movement held as part of the SG50 celebrations to encourage home cooks to share their recipes and love for cooking.

Ms Jaclyn Reutens, a dietitian at Aptima Nutrition & Sports Consultants, noted that this is a vegetarian dish with mainly carbohydrates and protein. To make the meal even healthier, she suggested serving it alongside vegetables as a side dish.

For those who wish to go the extra mile, swop the white rice with brown rice for more fibre, or basmati rice for a low glycemic index (GI) meal, said Ms Reutens.

Low GI foods produce a gradual rise in blood sugar levels, rather than a sharp spike.

Nutrition aside, preparing this dish at home is a good way to bond with the children, as it is simple enough for them to help out. For instance, Ms Chua's eight-year-old son would help to stir-fry and throw the ingredients into the pan. She and her husband, who is 39 and works in a contracts department, also have a daughter, aged three.

Getting her children involved also gives Ms Chua the opportunity to teach them to eat healthily, such as by cutting back on oil and salt.

"I believe that when you involve your children in cooking, they learn to choose and eat wisely, as they are able to appreciate what is healthy for them," she said.


TOFU RICE

INGREDIENTS

• 2 cups uncooked rice

• 1 tbs margarine

• 1 packet of tofu

• 6 cloves of garlic

• 1 knob of ginger

• 1 tsp salt

• 1 tsp sesame oil

• 2 cups water

Garnishes (optional)

• Cucumber slices

• Shallots

• Chilli

METHOD

• Heat the margarine in a pan, then fry the garlic and ginger.

• Add the uncooked rice. Fry until the grains are golden brown.

• Blend the tofu in a blender until it turns smooth, like thick soya milk. Add this to the pan. Stir-fry until the rice grains turn brown.

• Add salt and sesame oil to taste.

• Transfer the mixture to a rice cooker and add 2 cups of water. Cook it in the same way you would plain rice. Finally, top with garnishes of your own choice. • Serve warm.

SERVES SIX

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (Per serving)

  • Energy: 299 kcal
  • Protein: 8.3g
  • Total fat: 4.8g
  • Saturated fat: 1g
  • Cholesterol: None
  • Carbohydrates: 55.5g
  • Dietary fibre: 1.8g
  • Sodium: 445 mg
  • Provided by Aptima Nutrition & Sports Consultants
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2015, with the headline 'Quirky idea became healthy tofu rice dish EatRight'. Print Edition | Subscribe