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Cooking Health

At 1:30pm, the table is set, and a variety of freshly cut ingredients are laid out nicely on the table in the Day Rehab Centre (DRC) Kitchen. Senior Dietitian Lock Poh Leng is carefully checking the cooking wares and the recipe printouts, making final preparations for the Healthy Cooking Demonstration for three special guests.

At 2pm, the guests – Uncle Gan, Madam Lee and Madam Jasmine Ng – arrived in wheelchairs with the help of three volunteers. They are recuperating patients at BVH who suffered bone or hip fractures.

Poh Leng gives the patients a warm welcome and hands outs the Healthy Bones Recipe. She starts off with a quiz on bone health, followed by a cooking demonstration and a Q&A session. Occasionally, she cracks jokes with the guests and the kitchen is filled with laughter of the staff, patients and volunteers.

Senior Dietitian Lock Poh Leng conducts Healthy Cooking Demonstration at BVH DRC Kitchen on 10 April 2018

Madam Ng says: "Well, this is something very different from our hospital routines."

The Healthy Cooking Demonstration such as this is an initiative by BVH Dietetics and Nutrition Services Team. It aims to increase patients' and caregivers' awareness of the many facets of healthy eating, with a focus on the importance of cooking with a wide array of ingredients for good health. 

Adopting 'The Recipe for Healthy Ageing' from the Health Promotion Board, the team has come up with five recipes, featuring various themes such as 'Healthy Bone', 'Eat Well – Meeting Your Protein Needs'; 'Heart-healthy Cooking' and 'Less Salt, More Fibre – Better Health'.

Each theme is specially designed for patients with different medical conditions. For instance, the theme for today's demonstration is 'Bone Health – Prevention and Management of Osteoporosis.

"In the context of a well-balanced diet, an adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D is needed to build strong bones and help our patients heal from fractures," Poh Leng explains. "The recipe we presented today is Cheese and Vegetable Omelette. It incorporates food that contains sources of calcium and vitamin D, such as cheese, green leafy vegetables, milk or soy milk, egg and shitake mushroom."

  Poh Leng gives out tips on how to maintain bone health through eating healthy food

BVH Dietetics and Nutrition Services Team started the cooking demonstration in January 2017. They conduct the demonstration every quarter, with both English and Mandarin sessions for each theme.

Dietitian Edward Chan comments: "Through the cooking demonstrations and practical lessons, we can equip our patients with the nutritional knowledge that they need, so that they can better manage their conditions by eating healthy food when they are discharged."

Each session lasts about one hour, consisting of an evaluation of patients' knowledge about their nutritional needs, tips on how to recover better through eating healthy food, and a step-by-step cooking demonstration of a healthy meal. There is also a Q&A session at the end to make sure the participants take home the useful tips shared during the demonstration.

The preparation for such a session, however, takes almost a day.

"It is a lot of effort to prepare the demonstration. We always buy the ingredients on the same day of the demonstration to make sure everything is fresh, and that takes some time," Poh Leng shares. "Our volunteers help us a lot and we are very grateful to them."

To prepare today's session, the three volunteers Caral Goh, Joanna Tan and Nicole Ow came to BVH at 9am to attend a briefing. BVH dietitians then gave them a shopping list. After getting everything from the supermarket, they also helped the dietitians with the food preparation, such as washing and cutting.

But it is certainly worth the effort. Nicole says: "The demonstration is very interactive and fun. I picked up a few things about healthy recipes myself!"

And their hard work has paid off. Madam Ng enjoyed the session and shared: "I have never been to such a demonstration before at other hospitals. And frankly, I didn't even expect there would be such services."

Madam Ng's husband Mr Edward Teo who also attended the demonstration complimented the whole team: "This session has opened my eyes. I'm touched by the passion and the commitment that the hospital staff and volunteers have shown to the patients. Things like this make a lot of difference in patients' lives."

  Madam Jasmine Ng and her husband Mr Edward Teo at the Healthy Cooking Demonstration at BVH DRC    kitchen on 10 April 2018

Asked if she will cook the dish using the recipe she just learned, Madam Ng smiled: "Definitely! The recipe is so simple. It is easy to cook. The best part is that it also tastes so good!"  

About BVH Dietetics and Nutrition Services Team

The Healthy Cooking Demonstration is an additional service that BVH Dietetics and Nutrition Services Team provide to patients. The team is focused on educating patients on their nutritional needs. They see patients at the ward every day, accessing their conditions and advise on their food choices. Taking into consideration the cultural background, religion and lifestyle of patients, they devise individualised meal plans based on patients' medical conditions and food preferences, with the aim to improve patients' clinical outcomes.

The team is also involved in setting the guidelines for hospital diets, and specialised in planning tube feeding regimes for patients who cannot eat orally.

Why do we need calcium and vitamin D for healthy bones?

Our body uses calcium to build and maintain strong bones and teeth. Older adults need more calcium because bones lose calcium as we age. Adults aged 51 years old and above need 1,000mg of calcium daily.

Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium.


What types of food have them?

Food sources of calcium:

  • Low fat dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese
  • Canned sardines with bones
  • Ikan bilis with bones
  • Taukwa
  • Soybean milk
  • Green leafy vegetables, such as kailan, chye sim, etc.


Food sources of vitamin D:

  • Fatty fish
  • Egg
  • Oyster
  • Shrimp
  • Shitake mushroom