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Thefoodchapter’s experience as a guest judge!

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As shared earlier, I was guest judge at one of the semi final Healthy and Tasty Cook Off sessions organized by Health Promotion Board as part of the Healthy Lifestyle Festival SG on 10 October at Tampines Central! This annual event aims to promote the importance of a healthy lifestyle among the general public.

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Me, Denise (a nutritionist with HPB) and Chef from Café Melba!


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I arrived bright at early before the event officially started and got myself acquainted with my fellow judges and also the contestants for the cookout. Turns out, the general public was equally interested in the festival too, there were people already queueing up to get their BMI calculated and those hovering around the cook out area. This cooking competition challenges participants to create healthier meals in under 30 minutes, using wholegrain, vegetables and/or fruit, and products with the Healthier Choice Symbol. 

These semi finalists were handpicked from a host of applications received by Health Promotion Board and all teams had undergone a mentoring session previously. I was very interested to see their final creations! As the minutes ticked by, the stress levels were definitely mounting in the open concept kitchen.

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The flag off officially kickstarted the cookout and the flurry of activity that happened thereafter was invigorating! Participants were given just 30 minutes to cook their dishes!

In no order of preference, the contestants for that day included


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A mother and son pairing
Assorted pizzas

The youngest contestant in this semi finals round and he was supported by his mother who mused that he had been busy practise cooking for the competition and was showcasing a number of his personal favourites. 

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This was a simple yet delicious recipe that children can all learn, of course with supervision from parents when the oven is involved. There were 4 different flavours showcased – the all time favourite hawaiiwan, teriyaki chicken ham and edamame beans as well as mushroom pizza and the surprise came in the form of a cracked sunny side egg on the pizza.


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Husband and wife
Ayam Brown Rice Vermicilli

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This married couple admits that cooking brought them closer together and cooking with a loved one is bonding too! They created a storm in the induction cooker by stir frying aromatic spices alongside herbs like lemon grass and onions. We all agreed that the dish already smelt so good at that point!

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Husband and wife
Masala Chicken Wrap and Fruit Custard

Armed with a young son, things got hot and heavy in the kitchen with the wife focusing on the main and husband, on the dessert. From the start, I thought the wrap was storebought and turned out, it would be made from scratch – that got all our jaws dropping in awe. 

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Watching her cook was all action and no talk, very intense indeed despite a terribly clingy toddler. I thought the wrap was the end to it – surprise, surprise, there was another omelette to coat the wrap in! Gosh, the complexities involved and as time ticked, my heart was thumping so hard for them because the induction cooker almost failed them at some point!

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Mother and Daughter
Smokey and Tangy Prawn Curry served with Herb Butter Brown Rice Bread

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Their first mishap occurred in the form of a burnt pot and then a frying pan – another nerve-wrecking duo to watch. There was a ton of spices going into this colourful dish that was slowly turning out very beautifully. The mom was as cool as a cucumber throughout, ensuring the herb butter bread sticks turned out well. 

We as judges were as nervous as the participants throughout those 30 minutes that seemed way longer than it was. Finally 10 minutes was given for them to plate – and I spotted a number of restaurant quality presentations along the way!


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As a noob home cook myself, these cooks have shown me what 30 minutes can do – beyond the simply stir frys and one pot dishes I have been doing so far. Just look at the plated creations! The contestants were judged on creativity, usage of healthier choice symbol food items and even team work!

Deciding a winner is never easy – and in the most cliché manner, it was a close fight. We had an internal tug of war and was almost close to cat fighting to decide on the winner, just kidding! 

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Yes! It was the chicken masala wrap that won our stomachs and hearts over!

If you are in the area, do drop by to check out these other booths – 

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Turns out I wasn’t walking as many steps as I should be! Oh-oh!

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I learnt more about the health screenings available and suitable for women in general. 

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Which items on display do you actually know have the Healthier Choice Symbol in supermarkets? Visit this booth to be educated!

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And…who says eating healthier means cutting off sinful favourites like laksa and char kuay teow? Turns out I can still have my laksa and eat it – between choosing a 700 calorie laksa and 1000 calorie fast food meal, laksa trumps! Of course, there is a caveat – I need to walk 15,600 steps after consuming it to burn it all off. Word of advice: Exercise to eat what you desire to keep the pounds at bay!
 

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Did you know men and women need different calorie intakes? And turns out, a balanced diet does mean indulging in dishes like kaya toast and chicken rice too! 

There are a number of other roadshows ongoing till end of the month at these following locations -

Healthy Lifestyle Festival SG Roadshows, 10am-9pm:
Canopy at J-Link (Beside Jurong Regional Library) | 17-18 Oct
Hougang Central Hub (Beside Hougang Mall) | 24-25 Oct

Catch all the winners from the weekly roadshows at the final showdown during the Anchor Festival!

Healthy Lifestyle Festival SG Anchor Festival, 10am-9pm:
Singapore Sports Hub & Kallang Wave Mall | 7-8 Nov

A foodie born to eat, shop and travel. Forced to work.

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