Cooking healthy meals
Seniors learn and spread the message about healthy cooking to other seniors.
BY: Eleanor Yap
A Healthy Cooking Interest Group has sprung up at the Paya Lebar Kovan CC and the members are not all women. Initially a group of five women (four Chinese and one Malay) attended the Health Promotion Board’s healthy cooking class. Bonded by a common interest in cooking, the women decided to form the Healthy Cooking Interest Group at the CC in 2009 after attending a Health Promotion Board Workshop. They discovered others shared a similar passion for healthy cooking and they decided to meet on a regular basis to they could share and learn from one another.
Today, the group has grown to 25 members, with five of them being male. Seventy-two-year-old Wang Yan Sing is all too happy to be a part of the group as he has learned from the group that seniors should eat healthy food. “Just because it is healthy doesn’t mean the food has to taste bland. With the use of natural ingredients such as fruits and spices, the dishes will be just as tasty.”
Spreading the message
The group, which is one of three healthy cooking groups at the various CCs, has a simple mission – it advocates healthy cooking such as using more vegetables and/or fruits in their dishes and cooking methods that prevent excessive intake of fats, salt and/or sugar.
The members not only learn from each other, but they also take turns sharing recipes with fellow seniors particularly through cooking demonstrations during the sessions. For each session, existing members also take turns to bring along another senior as to spread the message of healthy living. After each session, members enjoy a pot-luck party with food that they have each brought along as well as food made by the group.
Sixty-six-year-old Ang Hui Lan (pictured above, left, with member Sim Lye Choon, who was the chef for that session and shared/cooked those dishes (shown in pictures above) with fellow interest group members), chairperson, Paya Lebar Kovan CC Senior Citizens’ Executive Committee (SCEC) and founding member of the cooking interest group, said that the “Healthy Cooking-cum-Pot Luck Gathering” provides opportunities for seniors to get together, make new friends and widen their social circle.
Asked to share five tips on healthy cooking, Ang noted:
• Include more vegetables and fruits
• Use less oil and seasoning
• Use fresh ingredients
• Use less preservatives
• Balanced menu such as a mix of fried and steamed dishes
More healthy cooking groups
The PA Active Ageing (AA) Council hopes other CCs will follow suit and start their own healthy cooking groups for seniors. David Ong, chairman of the PA Active Ageing Council, said, “We want to raise the awareness of eating right even for events organised by our grassroots organisations (GROs). At times food served at our GRO functions may not often be very healthy and we should look into serving healthier choice of food, which is balanced and of good nutritional value.
“Education is important for the food caterers, grassroots leaders and participants for the need to serve healthier food and the nutritional values in consuming them. The AA Council would like to spin off our Motto – ‘Age Well, Start Now!’ to ‘Age Well, Eat Right Now’.” The Council hopes to set up 50 health and nutrition-related interest groups that are targeted for the seniors within the next five years.
** The Healthy Cooking Interest Group usually meets every second Tuesday of the month (next one being August 3, this date is subject to changes, please call 6284 4261 to confirm) at 7pm to 9.30pm at Paya Lebar Kovan CC, Blk 207 Hougang St 21.
Another group, Geylang Serai CC SCEC Healthy Lifestyle Group usually meets every first Sunday of the month from 10am to 12pm (next one being July 4, the venue to be confirmed later, please call 6747 2919 for details). As of presstime, the third interest group at Queenstown CC has yet to plan their next gathering so no information could be provided.