Vegetables may be good for you, but not if you deep-fry them in batter and plenty of oil.
That is how Japanese-style vegetable tempura are prepared, which makes the dish, while delicious, a bit of a let-down on the nutritional front.
Baking, on the other hand, can help to retain the crisp goodness of tempura, but with significantly less oil, as shown in this vegetable cutlet recipe.
"Only a little oil is used to stir-fry the vegetables," said Ms Kala Adaikan, principal dietitian at the department of dietetics at Singapore General Hospital.
This recipe, which first appeared in a cookbook published by SingHealth in partnership with agencies in the intermediate and long-term care sector, also avoids large chunks of vegetables like the Japanese do.
Mashed potatoes, chopped mushrooms and bits of corn and carrots - from a bag of frozen mixed vegetables that are usually found in supermarkets - make the vegetable cutlets easy to chew.
"With its chopped and smoother consistency, this dish would be more suitable for the elderly experiencing dentition issues," said Ms Kala.
"The vegetables used in the Japanese version are usually not chopped and can sometimes be stringy, such as in the case of long beans or okra."
Getting enough fibre in the diet is important for the elderly, who are advised to consume two servings daily. "They commonly experience constipation as their intestinal muscles generally become less active," said Ms Kala.
"Having adequate dietary fibre, fluids and exercise could help to counter constipation."
1. Keep the sesame oil bottles in a cool, dark place to prevent loss of flavour or aroma.
2. Use cooking oil that is rich in unsaturated fat, such as canola, sunflower or soya bean oil, instead of those rich in saturated fat. This helps to lower your risk of heart disease.
Baked vegetable cutlets
80g frozen mixed vegetables
1 dried Chinese mushroom, soaked to soften and finely chopped
Coriander leaves, amount as desired, chopped
200g potatoes, cooked and mashed
½ tsp canola oil
½ tsp sesame oil
1 slice ginger
A pinch of pepper
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp cornflour
Heat the canola oil in a pan. Add the sesame oil and ginger. Fry until fragrant. Discard the ginger.
Add the mixed vegetables, mushroom and coriander leaves. Fry well.
Add the mashed potatoes. Season the mixture with pepper and salt. Cool to room temperature.
Divide the mixture into eight portions.
Shape each portion into a round "cutlet". Sprinkle them with cornflour.
Preheat the oven to 200 to 250 deg C. Grill the cutlets in the oven until they turn golden brown. This should take about 30 minutes. Serve warm.
Saturated fat: 0.5g
Dietary fibre: 4.5g
This article was first published on June 11, 2015.
Get a copy of Mind Your Body, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.