SINGAPORE - Gratin is food that is traditionally topped with breadcrumbs and cheese which is baked into a golden crust - a French culinary technique.
Baking is a healthier cooking method than, say, deep-frying, as it typically uses little or no oil.
But gratin is typically not considered as healthy fare because cheese is usually high in fat, especially saturated fat.
After saturated fat is consumed, it is converted into low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or "bad" cholesterol. This is distributed through the bloodstream to tissues to produce hormones.
However, when in excess, it is deposited on artery walls, narrowing the arteries and raising the risk of heart disease and strokes.
Still, cheese and milk are good sources of bone-strengthening calcium and body-building protein.
So using low-fat alternatives of these dairy products can mean the best of both worlds.
Cauliflower and broccoli also make the dish nutritious.
Vegetables contain fibre, vitamins and beneficial plant substances called phytochemicals, which reduce the risk of some types of cancer.
Mr Yen Koh, regional executive chef at the food solutions department of Unilever Singapore, has created his cauliflower and broccoli gratin with the help of the Health Promotion Board (HPB).
It is among 150 healthier dishes that the HPB and several chefs came up with, either by adapting from existing recipes or developing from scratch.
Mr Koh said: "Instead of cooking these vegetables in water, cook them in milk for more nutrition."
Cauliflower and broccoli gratin
320g cauliflower florets
200g broccoli florets
80g onion, thinly sliced
½ cup low-fat milk
Pinch of salt
Pinch of nutmeg
70g low-fat mozzarella cheese
Grease the base of a deep casserole with olive oil.
Line the casserole with florets of cauliflower and broccoli, and onions.
Mix the milk, cream, salt and nutmeg together.
Pour this mixture evenly into the casserole.
Top the vegetables and mixture with mozzarella and parmesan.
Bake the casserole in a pre-heated oven at 180 deg C for 30 minutes.
Remove it and serve it hot.
Nutritional Information (per serving)
Energy: 125 kilocalories
Total fat: 4.3g
Saturated fat: 2.4g
Dietary fibre: 2.6g
Cook and serve vegetables just before eating to retain the maximum amount of nutrients.
Use fresh ingredients, herbs, spices or low-sodium seasoning as flavour enhancers, so less salt is used.
Consumption of high levels of sodium, found in salt, has been linked to the development of high blood pressure.
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