‘Veg-Up Chinese Meals’ resource launched

Chinese meals2

New Zealand’s culinary scene has changed radically over the last decade.  Of particular note is the range and quality of Asian food offerings now available to consumers both in the main centres and throughout the regions.  Strong on taste, the Chinese diet has long been viewed as healthy too, with small portions of flavourful lean meat typically cooked up wok-style with garlic, ginger and copious fresh vegetables.

However, recent research into the healthy eating habits of Chinese New Zealanders reveals a startling finding that only a small percentage of the country’s Chinese population are getting enough vegetables in their diet. The study entitled, ‘Asian Health in Aotearoa in 2011-2013: Trends since 2002-2003 and 2006-2007’, shows that consumption of fresh produce is worryingly low with more than half of adults and children not meeting the recommended daily intake of three servings of vegetables and two of fruit.

Rates of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease are also on the rise amongst this sector of the population and while a poor diet is likely to be one of the leading causes, many remain unaware of the importance of consuming sufficient quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables.

According to an online survey conducted in Chinese communities, many people lack cooking skills or the time to shop and cook meals from fresh ingredients, others simply lack core knowledge of how to incorporate healthy eating guidelines into their meal preparation.

Given this need for greater education, vegetables.co.nz has joined forces with New Zealand Heart Foundation nutritionist Kai Hong Tan and vegetable grower Allen Lim to increase awareness amongst Chinese New Zealanders of the central role fresh vegetables can play in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

A bi-lingual resource, “Veg-Up Chinese Meals” is written in Mandarin and demonstrates how popular Chinese meals can be given a healthy boost with the inclusion of a range of widely available colourful vegetables from carrots and lettuce, to kumara, tomato and bok choy.  Daily recommendations are emphasised to fit with traditional cooking and eating patterns.

The resource is the first of its kind and has received very favourable feedback from public health practitioners as well as being very well received at all levels of the Chinese New Zealand community with Kai Hong Tan interviewed on Asian Television Network.  Positive comments have also been fielded from as far away as Mainland China where similar issues relating to healthy eating are being tackled.

With so many exciting Asian vegetable varieties now available year-round to New Zealand consumers, it’s encouraging to see the wider population exploring new styles of cooking and ways of eating.  If through education programs, we can encourage our recent immigrants in their ongoing enjoyment of the wonderful fresh produce this country has to offer, then everybody has something to gain.

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