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More and more Sri Lankans are staying out of the kitchen, which makes it challenging to eat healthfully. The old ideal of families gathered around the dinner table for a wholesome, home-cooked meal seems to have gone by the wayside, as people lead busier lives and no longer relish the art of cooking. Thanks to the ease and convenience of apps like Uber Eats and Pick Me Food, it seems so much easier to order a meal with just a click of a button, rather than ‘spending hours in the kitchen’.

What’s so bad about eating takeaway all the time? Several studies have found that eating out more often is linked to higher body fat, body weight, and obesity. In particular, dining on fast-food meals is associated with consuming more calories, fat, saturated fat, and sugary soft drinks, and fewer fruits and vegetables servings.

Homemade food is not only healthier, it is also much cheaper and lighter on the wallet.

Surveys indicate that when it comes to selecting food, taste is the first priority for many. Unfortunately, for too many years, nutrition messages have not favored delicious food. There is, however, new recognition that nutritious foods—like olive oil, flavorful herbs and spices, and delicious ingredients such as avocados, nuts, dates, and fruits—are delicious.
If you are addicted to the hyper palatable fast foods which have been loaded with poor quality oils, refined flour, salt, likely MSG or other flavor enhancers and have little to no vegetables mixed, it can be really hard to turn towards home- made foods.

Here are a few tips and strategies to fall in love with home cooking again:
• Start small with baby steps if you are not familiar with cooking. Simple one pot dishes like soups and pasta dishes are the way to go.
• Develop a top 10 recipes list that can be made under 30 mins.
• Make sure to shop for or get delivered some good quality ingredients, like different spices, herbs like coriander leaves, mint and oregano and citrus fruits like lime which can add a punch to your food.
• Don’t be afraid to add some healthy fats to your meals, such as ghee to roast dosas, extra virgin olive oil on salads or just drizzled on multigrain toast.
• Tomatoes naturally have high glutamate content so you don’t have to be tempted by the artificial MSGs. Add plenty of tomatoes to curries, salads and chutneys.
• Flavour curries with sour, tangy foods like biling, tamarind (dried and fresh) for punchy flavours.
• Marinate chicken and meats overnight with spices and curd to bring out succulent and tender meat that you crave for at shops.

Here is a BBQ chicken recipe that is super easy to make and high on taste:

• 1 kilo of chicken
• 1/2 cup olive oil (or substitute with coconut oil)
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon paprika or chilli powder
• 1/2 teaspoon cumin
• 4 cloves garlic and 1 knob of ginger, minced
• 3 tablespoons chopped onion
• 1 cup of curd

1. Pour olive oil into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup.
2. Mix together salt, pepper, paprika and cumin and add to olive oil. Add garlic, onions, and parsley. Mix together well with a fork. Slowly add beer as it will cause the mixture to foam and bubble slightly.
3. Pour marinade over the chicken in the zip top bag. Remove as much air as possible from the bag and seal. Turn the bag from side to side to make sure all chicken has been coated with the marinade.
4. Place the bag flat on a small, rimmed kitchen sheet pan and into the refrigerator. Allow to sit up to 1 hour or overnight for best results, turning the bag over every few hours to keep the chicken coated.
5. Heat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.
6. Increase the oven temperature to maximum just for 5 minutes before taking out.
7. Squeeze some lemon juice on it.
Happy cooking!

Author: Dreamweight
This article was written for mums in colombo by Nazreen Nakeeb, a dietitian and nutritionist who qualified in Australia and returned home to open Dreaweight. Nazreen takes immense pleasure in seeing people stop dieting and instead, establish a positive relationship with food and their body. Her primary goal is to change the way people think about food which enables them to enjoy all food in moderation and feel more confident in their ability to manage their weight and take care of their health for as long as they live.
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