Traditional Asian cuisine is built around foods that can help prevent serious illness, such as plant-based proteins and oils; green, leafy vegetables; fresh fruits and whole grains. Even the flavoring of the food is enhanced with herbs, not condiments (which are often high-calorie).
A cuisine staple, fresh fruits (like lemons, oranges and mangoes) provide a healthy dose of vitamin C (the antioxidant responsible for boosting immunity to flu, colds and coughs. Dried fruits (such as dates and raisins) contain great amounts of germ-fighters, like potassium, zinc, calcium, iron and magnesium, to name a few.
For a healthy heart, Asian cooking often includes peanut and canola oils (they contain unsaturated fats), which keep the arteries clear of plaque buildup. Tea-particularly green tea-is rich in phenols, which breaks down cholesterol. Seafood is eaten regularly by most Asians instead of red meat; the seafood’s rich in plaque-busting omega-3 fatty acids. Green vegetables, nuts and soy products contain alphalinolenic acid, which controls cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Whole grains, especially in the form of brown rice and buckwheat (noodles), are usually eaten in some form by many Asians daily. These grains contain complex carbohydrates, which means they’re dense-you will get full- which in turn, will stop any cravings. And they also help you to “eliminate” better!
Asian cuisine always strives for four types of balance; most dishes pair salty or bitter foods with sweet, and/or sweet with sour.
Saltiness in a dish is often balanced with both sweet and sour ingredients. For example: When making a marinade, combine soy sauce (salty) with a small amount of sugar (sweet) and a dash of rice vinegar (sour). For texture, add chopped scallions or cucumbers.
One of the most popular sauces in Asian cuisine is the world-renowned sweet-and-sour (used for pork, chicken and vegetable dishes). For your own sweet-and-sour sauce: Combine sugar and vinegar, then thicken with cornstarch. Add bell peppers and pineapple chunks for color and texture.
In an Asian salad, the pungent, bitter flavors of watercress and dandelion are balanced by sweet orange sections and a honey, orange or lemon juice dressing and oil. Toss together ingredients and sprinkle with chopped peanuts.