Home chef: the gatekeeper to your family's health

Home chef: the gatekeeper to your family’s health

Posted on Posted in health + fitness, parenting



Eggs.  Simple and versatile. Egg Benedict. Sunny side-up. Chawanmushi. Frittata. Idiot-proof hard boiled.

But I like the Japanese egg roll best. When done right, it's fluffy and light. When paired with the right filling like a very mild curry lobster, it made a superb omelette.

I made my first egg roll. Cut with ninja precision into eight slices and assembled onto little Lego blocks of rice to form tamago sushi. It was far from perfection. But it was good enough for a home cooked dish.


Home chef: the gatekeeper to your family's health
Homemade tamago sushi

Eight pieces of tightly packed rice is equivalent to two bowls of rice. The egg roll was made with three eggs.

Technically, wouldn't four pieces of tamago sushi be about the right portion size of grains and protein for an adult? I mean, that is equivalent to one bowl of rice and one and a half egg, isn't it?

But would we stop at four? Even the smallest tray of take-out contains at least 6 pieces.

Home chef: the gatekeeper to your family's health
7 piece sushi packed lunch takeout from the supermarket

So, what is the Goldilock's portion? 4, 6 or even 8 slices?

The nutrition experts at The Harvard School of Public Health came up with a simple logical guide to a healthy balanced meal. Following their Healthy Eating Plate, all you need to remember is half plate of vegetables and fruits, with more on vegetables, a quarter plate meat and a quarter grains. With good fats and plenty of water.


My Healthy Plate
Source: www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-eating-plate


The Healthy Eating Plate suggests a balanced proportion of foods on the plate. But what about the portion size for each individual? The size of the plate for your child would be different from yours?

You could use the amount of protein that your body needs as the benchmark for the amount of grains and vegetables and fruits for your plate (remember the 25%protein/ 25% grain/ 50% vegetables and fruits portion rule).

To calculate the recommended amount of protein, you could use the online protein calculator,  and the USDA Food Composition Database to convert its equivalence to meat, fish, eggs, and plant based protein foods like tofu and tempeh.

Yet another super easy method of estimating the portion size of protein to eat would be using our hands as the guide for serving size. Use your:

  • palm to determine your protein portions.
  • fist to determine your veggie portions.
  • cupped hand to determine your carb portions.
  • thumb to determine your fat portions.

How the heck are you going to protein compute or even calorie count when you don't have an inkling on what goes into the making of the dish?


If food is served like The Healthy Eating Plate whereby the proportions of grains, vegetables and proteins are so clearly distinguishable, it would be hard to go wrong on sticking to a balanced meal.

But it's not!

How would you use your palm to determine the protein content in three pieces of wings coated with salted egg sauce, like you could for a bare slab of steamed chicken breast? Or a small bowl of chawanmushi with ikura (steam egg with salmon roe)?

How would you possibly made a good estimate of the protein content by using a food calculator or database if you don't have an inkling to what goes into the making of the dish?

Answer: You won't be able to unless you cook.

It's only when you cook, you will be able to "eyeball" your meal and access the right proportions and portion size of the plate, especially when you are dining out.


Be the home chef, the gatekeeper to your family's health
Spinach: raw vs cooked. Half a plate of raw spinach wilted to a minuscule portion. Should I still fret if my child only manages two mouthful of cooked spinach?


Be the home chef, the gatekeeper to your family's health
Stir fried Pak Choy, sweet and sour chicken and a small bowl of rice. With a bowl of soup, it would have made a complete Chinese dinner. In such a setting whereby everyone shares the dishes, would you know how much to eat to have a balance meal of protein, vegetables and grains?


Be the home chef, the gatekeeper to your family's health
A healthy Korean bimbimbap, with lots of raw cabbages and lettuce, thinly sliced pork and white rice embedded at the bottom. With the grains hidden from view, would you feel that the meal is incomplete without any carbs? (The contents  on the plate and the bowl are exactly the same.)


Be the home chef, the gatekeeper to your family's health
Smoked duck with a healthy salad. Were you suspicious that the plate on the left has more pasta and the one on the right has more duck? ( The contents on both plates are exactly the same.)

Be the home chef, the gatekeeper to your family's health

Bring cooking back to your kitchen.
It is only when you cook, you'll be able to nourish yourself and your family with balanced healthy meals. You will be able to order smartly and have healthy meals when you dine out.

Get your children to help out in the kitchen. It's only when they learn to cook, even if it is the simplest meal, they will be in a better position to eat healthily when they are at school or out with friends.

Our children needs to inculcate healthy eating habits when young so that they can continue to make right food choices when they moved out for college or live on their own when they are older.


Pin this to your Pinterest board.

Share your thoughts and suggestions. Would you encourage your children to learn to cook as a life skill before college or stepping into the work life?  Email me. I appreciate and read every email that floats into my inbox.


Credit: Featured image from pexels.com


You googled. You read. A lot. You even cross referenced information on one site with another. Your brain is cluttered. You are too frazzled to even digest all that your brain has absorbed. When,

all you need is the half and half-of-half rule.

Download "What's for dinner?" template so that you can keep all you need to stay in sync with your balanced healthy meal on one simple page.

Liz Dju

Liz Dju

Liz has been a full-time homemaker and dedicated mom to a beautiful daughter for a major part of her adult life. And being so, her passion has naturally been navigated towards education, food and nutrition. 

She loves food - all food especially spicy authentic Asian dishes. She sometimes wonders if she eats to live or lives to eat.
As much as she is adventurous with food, she also likes to cook. A proponent for home cooking for better health, she believes that it's only when we start to cook that we become more aware of what goes into the food we eat and vigilant of our food portion sizes.

She's a relatively good home-chef and could make a mean Salt Baked Chicken. But she claims that her late mother-in-law was way much better and her only regret is, in her own words,"Darn…I wish I had written down her recipes."
Liz Dju

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