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It is no secret that Malaysians live to eat more than they eat to live. Self-reward and indulgence would not be complete if food wasn’t in the equation. As such, we’re known to travel across great distances in pursuit of a bowl of authentic Penang asam laksa or a plate of east coast nasi dagang.
With this apparent obsession with our food, it is not surprising that Malaysians are amongst the most obese in the South East Asia region according to National Health and Morbidity Survey 2014 (NHMS). People often overindulge in the myriad of sumptuous but unhealthy local fare. It goes without saying that for many of us, giving in to temptation is a friendly foe that takes precedence over health.
On the other hand, healthy food has not enjoyed much favourable reputation where taste is concerned. It is viewed as too bland or too expensive to prepare.
“Throughout the course of advocating diabetes awareness for the past years, we realised that it is a mission impossible for Malaysians to barter-trade their favourite delights for health. The good news now is that they don’t really have to part with delicious food because there are ways to enjoy food in a health-promoting manner,” said Columbia Asia-South East Asia CEO, Kelvin Tan.
Committed to educating the community on the best way to eat healthy, nine chefs from across Columbia Asia’s facilities nationwide faced-off in the Columbia Asia Master Chef Challenge 2015. They worked closely with the in-house dietitian to reinterpret Malaysian favourites and recipes so that the output is a diabetic-safe meal plan without compromising taste.
“In the business of providing healthcare to diabetic patients, we are only too familiar with the challenges of living with diabetes and we always wanted to make diabetes less medical and less of a black-cloud diagnosis.”
“Therefore, in line with our campaign focus on healthy eating for World Diabetes Day 2015, we decided that the best place to start was from within our own kitchens. We want to show the public that it is easy to prepare a wholesome meal and it is possible for it to taste delicious,” Tan added.
The recipes that the nine chefs experimented and came up with range from nasi lemak to the ever crunchy apam balik.
“As our chefs prove with their creativity, healthy eating is not limited to vegetarian and gluten-free options. Many of our current dishes can be healthier simply by making serving adjustment as well as replacing the sweetened and rich ingredients, with more fibrous and less sweet alternatives,” said Columbia Asia dietician, Kong Woan Fei.
“It’s okay to eat your favourite nasi lemak or char kuey teow once in a while. The key is not to make deprivation as your mantra but rather, moderation and substitution. We as Malaysians need to learn to eat more balanced meals by opting for healthier alternatives,” Kong added.
At the end of the challenge, Chef Fauziah Pakwan Chik from Columbia Asia Setapak was crowned the champion by the judges for her stir fried brown rice ala kerabu with chicken roll and percik sauce while Chef Ravindran a/l Mathavan from Columbia Asia Seremban was declared the media’s favourite with his version of the ever loved nasi lemak.
In celebration of World Diabetes Day on 14th November, Columbia Asia opened its doors to all Malaysians who love to sample delicious yet healthy dishes. On top of that, they also get a chance to try appetising diabetic-friendly dishes. The chefs also held a cooking demonstration at their respective facilities.
Diabetics and in-house patients will get the chance to savour the meals for free while visitors can taste a diabetic-friendly dish or choose from 10 additional healthy meals for RM4. Proceeds from the meals will be donated to Diabetes Malaysia.
Recipes from the Columbia Asia Master Chef Challenge 2015 and other healthy recipes have also been compiled into a booklet. This recipe booklet is available for free on 14th November at participating hospitals. The participating Columbia Asia hospitals are Bukit Rimau, Cheras, Nusajaya, Petaling Jaya, Puchong, Seremban, Setapak, Shah Alam and Taiping.
Columbia Asia has always been championing the cause for diabetes awareness through its CSR efforts. Besides the cook-off, this year’s campaign also focuses on giving voice to the children with diabetes through Columbia Asia’s short story and poetry competition.
Diabetic kids under 12-years old are encouraged to express themselves in writing, sharing what it is like to live with diabetes. The theme of this competition is ‘My Life as a Diabetic Child.’ Cash prizes valued at a total of RM19,000 will be awarded to the winners.