Many of us have fond memories of home-cooked meals - delicious, appetizing, feast for the eyes and taste. Yet, much as these were enjoyed, many young adults of today are intimidated by the notion of preparing more of the home-cooked meals and 10-minute food recipes. Traditional preparations of food they used to enjoy when they were young were laborious in preparation and required mastery in cooking techniques.

In today’s world where helpers are hard to come by and schedules are full, “fuzzy” preps have become impractical. Traditional dishes have become “Best for Sundays and Special Occasions”.

Contemporary living have fast adapted the “fast-food culture”, opting for deliveries, take-outs, or instant-cooking. Contemporary living has re-defined cooking needs, gravitating towards what is easy, convenient, and expedient.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), the fast food culture has raised the consciousness for the need of a healthier lifestyle, with healthy living as a norm. Recognition has been heaved to go green, live green. Many adults in urban areas have taken running seriously, shunning away from vices, adopting a healthier diet, and yes, opting for green designs inspirations. If you had the choice to let go of “fast food” culture, would you? Could you?

Healthy living with healthy eating tends to be difficult to sustain. Easy and healthy preps tend to be repetitive (maybe boring for some). Can healthy living be sustainable in contemporary living? Yes, with easy cooking that is made delicious and healthy.

1. Superhealthy Salmon Burgers

4 boneless, skinless salmon fillets, about 550g/1lb 4oz in total, cut into chunks
2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
thumb-size piece fresh root ginger, grated
1 tsp soy sauce
1 bunch coriander, half chopped, half leaves picked
1 tsp vegetable oil
lemon wedges, to serve
For the salad
2 carrots
half large or 1 small cucumber
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp golden caster sugar

1. Tip the salmon into a food processor with the paste, ginger, soy, and chopped coriander. Pulse until roughly minced. Tip out the mix and shape into 4 burgers. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan, then fry the burgers for 4-5 mins on each side, turning until crisp and cooked through.
2. Meanwhile, use a swivel peeler to peel strips of carrot and cucumber into a bowl. Toss with the vinegar and sugar until the sugar has dissolved, then toss through the coriander leaves. Divide the salad between 4 plates. Serve with the burgers and rice.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, October 2008, as cited by BBC Good Food


2. Easy Peach Crisp

1/2 cup low-fat granola without raisins
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large peaches, pitted and sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup vanilla low-fat frozen yogurt

1. Preheat broiler to high.
2. Place granola on a jelly-roll pan, spreading evenly. Broil 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute.
3. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add peaches to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sugar and cinnamon to pan; cook 1 minute or until sugar melts, stirring occasionally. Spoon about 2/3 cup peach mixture in each of 4 shallow bowls. Top each serving with 2 tablespoons granola and 1/4 cup yogurt.
Recipe from Cooking Light , July 2012 as cited by My Recipe

3. Kale Colada

1 Cup Coconut Milk
½ Cup Frozen Pineapple
½ frozen Banana
½ Cup Kale Leaves

1. Put all ingredients in the blender.
2. Add enough pure water so all ingredients are covered.
3. You can add more bananas for creaminess (optional).
4. Blend well.
Recipe from Top Me, May 2013

With these quick and no-fuzz cooking, you need not settle for fast-food fad. However, there are a few pointers to consider. Remember, a pleasant dining experience involves the different senses.

It has to be a feast for the eyes. Consider the cuts of the veggies, the colors of the ingredients. Imagine adding diced carrots, peas, and cashews to healthy brown rice. Keep soupy dishes perky by separating the meats and veggies from the soup and combine only when just about to be served. Soggy dishes are a soggy experience. Gustatory experience also involves the taste and the mouth-feel. Dishes can be made more interesting with different textures, crunch, and taste.

Aroma is the prelude to a mouth-watering experience. Shy-away from the microwave in heating dishes. Light up that stove and fill the air with the smell of cooked meal. One simple trick for some would also be sautéing garlic and letting its smell set the mood for dining.

If kids are to be considered in preparing dishes, note their favorites and consider having twists. Instead of their regular fast-food fried chicken dish, serve Baked Chicken and Potatoes. Enjoy the moist preparation of chicken, with its skin kept crisp and caramelized. You can have baked potato versus rice to further tempt the palate. Chicken is kept juicy and the family will take delight with its herbs and seasoning.

How can kids enjoy their veggies? Try bacon-wrapped veggie beef meatloaf. Crunchy feel of the veggies (carrots and celery) with the soft meatloaf. The addition of bacon is a pleasant surprise! Kids will love this dish with ketchup.

To further cap the experience, set-up an ambience. Green furniture inspiration creates the feeling of freshness. It is about adding elements of green in your living room or dining room. Small pots of plants for a natural feel of life also provide a breather for today’s contemporary living.

With a home cooked meal, a relaxing atmosphere, perfect company of loved ones—no doubt, you can have the best and healthiest staycation!