Everyone loves homemade Egyptian cooking! With a few tweaks here and there, it can really be more nutritious for you and your family. Lets find out how!
- Benefit from the wide variety of vegetables in our dishes such as Bamya (okra), Fasolya (green beans), Cousa (Zucchini) and Bisila (Peas) cooked with tomato sauce by substituting your tomato cans and paste with freshly chopped tomatoes without the added sugar, preservatives or chemicals. Tomato sauce is an excellent source of lycopene, which in antioxidant that is have shown to prevent cells from damage and play a significant role in preventing cancer.
- Substitute your white rice with your vegetables or in your Mahshee “stuffed vegetables” or warak enab “vine leaves” to brown rice. Brown rice contains more fiber that can help you feel fuller, balance your blood sugar levels to prevent sugar cravings and support the elimination of toxins from your body by keeping you regular.
- Switch your vegetable oils like corn oil or sunflower oil to butter, ghee or coconut oil when cooking on high temperatures since they do not contain trans fat (damaged fat) and have a higher smoking point.
- Avoid additives to your cooking like stock cubes and food colorings. Use fresh homemade chicken or vegetable broth for your soups, vegetables and Molokhaya instead.
- Overly processed table salt is stripped away from its goodness. Look for natural sources of salt in the market like sea salt, rock salt or Himalayan salt to benefit from the natural minerals it contains which are essential for the healthy functioning of our body.
- Imported is not always the better option especially when it comes to produce. We lose lots of vitamins and minerals from fruit and vegetables when they have been picked too early and unripe, shipped across the world to Egypt to sit in your supermarket for even more time until you use them. Look for a trusted local producer of fruit and vegetables and what a treat if they can provide you with chemical free or organic produce to avoid ingesting all the added pesticides.
- Replace your heavy cream sauces and béchamel with some grated mozzarella, ricotta or even a little Parmesan on your vegetables or wholegrain pasta!
- For your salad dressings, do not be afraid to add some tehina, olive oil, wholegrain mustard, lamoon balady instead of mayonnaise, ketchup, sugar and the heavily processed ready-made salad dressings.
- In a country where FUL, lobya (black eyed peas), humus (chickpeas) are a stable of our meals, benefit from their richness of fiber and protein by buying them whole not in cans. Did anyone read the label on their Ful cans lately?? If you do, you will find added food coloring, preservatives (anything with the letter E before it) and SUGAR. That is besides the aluminum you will be ingesting from the can itself! Look for a stainless idra (not aluminum) or a high quality cooking pan made from iron or stainless, soak your beans overnight and leave them to boil on low temperatures for a few hours and enjoy them without all the yucky stuff that comes in the can.
- For those of you who cannot stop the panee (fried chicken or meat in breadcrumbs), use wholegrain breadcrumbs to coat your veal, chicken, turkey or beef kofta and oven bake instead of deep-frying!
Finally, the best thing about Egyptian home cooking is enjoying your meal with family and friends. With small changes to your meals, you can be providing them with healthier versions of all this delicious food!
By Nadine El Alaily