Healthy Family Meals
1. Why did you, Gnanamany and Lai Keng write Simply Good?
We wanted to help families plan and prepare healthy meals in a short time, as many find home cooking challenging and resort to convenience food, which may not provide a balanced and nutritious meal.
We also hope that this cookbook will encourage more families to enjoy the benefits of cooking at home, and enjoying the pleasure of eating, sharing and connecting with each other.
2. What was the process behind the co-writing of the cookbook?
I worked with [Dr Teo] Li Bee and Lydia [Sng] to produce the cookbook—Li Bee cast the vision, Lydia managed the provisions and I worked with the team of passionate cooks and with God’s grace we made it happen.
The challenge was in choosing which recipes to include. We received more than 70 recipes! They were all very interesting but we had to, together with the Working Committee, whittle it down to 30 recipes that would capture the interest of the reader.
3. What’s so special about these 30 recipes?
They are nutritious, delicious, simple to cook, and the ingredients cost under $10 for four people.
Gnanamany, Lai Keng and I worked on Chinese, Indian, Malay and other recipes that are familiar favourites. These traditional recipes have been streamlined for fuss-free preparation and were tested by friends to ensure they work. A dietician, Liow Min Choo, and a nutritionist, Ralph Ong, verified that the recipes are nutritious and healthy. We also had invaluable inputs from Eck Kheng, our producer from Landmark Books.
4. Which is your favourite recipe, and why?
The sweet sour chicken: the ingredients are easily available; it looks great on the plate; and it’s such an incredibly tasty dish that’s good for you—even children love it! And it’ll take you just 40 minutes to get it on the dining table.
5. What does being a Methodist mean to you?
My father was a local preacher at Pentecost Methodist Church. I thank God I was raised by a strict Methodist parent. As a worshipper in the Methodist church I was given the opportunity to experience God in so many wonderful ways, especially during service to Him in WSCS for more than 40 years. The WSCS in the Methodist Church is not just an organisation—I see the women as living organisms to know Christ and to make Him known.
1 chicken breast, skin removed, cut into 3-cm cubes
¼ tsp salt
½ cucumber, pith discarded, sliced into 3-cm wedges
2 tbsps vegetable oil
1 tsp chopped garlic
2 big tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 small bowl diced fresh pineapple
1 big onion, quartered
1 yellow capsicum, sliced into 3-cm lengths
1 stalk coriander leaves, plucked
- 2 tbsps vinegar and ½ tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsps plum sauce and 3 tbsps tomato ketchup
- 1 tbsp cornflour, 2 tsps light soya sauce, 2 tbsps water
- Marinate chicken with salt.
- Marinate cucumber with seasoning A.
- Pan-fry chicken with oil and garlic until chicken is brown on all sides.
- Add the tomatoes, pineapple, onion, capsicum and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add marinated cucumber together with its seasoning, and seasoning B. Stir-fry for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Thicken the gravy with seasoning C. Stir-fry for another 2 minutes.
- Taste and adjust to your preference. Dish out and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot with brown rice.
Laureen Ong-Tam served as President of the General Conference Women’s Society of Christian Service (GCWSCS) from 2000 to 2008. She is a fifth-generation Peranakan cook, a mother of three and a grandmother of two. She teaches Peranakan cooking and healthy cooking in the community. / Photos courtesy of WSCS