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"Breakfast: Must it be Nasi Lemak?"
Written by Siti Norlela, Nutritionist & Certified Aerobics Instructor, Public Education Department, National Kidney Foundation of Malaysia
(Diploma in Diet & Nutrition, Oxford College of London)

No thanks to hectic lifestyles, busy mornings of beating traffic jams to work – more often not we tend to forget the importance of having a good, healthy breakfast is the best way to kick-start the day.

For many people, one of the most preferred breakfast choices is the infamous ‘Nasi Lemak’ – which is found to be sold at food stalls, restaurants, kopitiams etc. along our way to the office in the mornings. With the fragrant rice topped with eggs, anchovies with nuts and a generous serving of spicy sambal – many find it to be a rather filling and satisfying meal in the mornings.

It will be rather unfair to say having nasi lemak for breakfast is unhealthy but the truth is we keep telling ourselves that this is ‘once in a blue moon’ but by the time we realize it – one might have had bought nasi lemak for breakfasts for 3 times a row in a week! And yes, we tend to forget about the moderation of food intake and balanced diet while we were at it.

Gone were those days when nasi lemak was a simple dish with rice cooked with ‘santan’ (coconut milk), topped with hardboiled egg and sambal ikan bilis – and few slices of cucumber. Today, it is no surprise that creative vendors often provide many side dishes to go with the nasi lemak, such as fried eggs, fried chicken, ‘rendang paru’, ‘sambal sotong’, ‘chicken rendang’ which is usually high in saturated fats and contributes to the high-levels of bad cholesterol in our body!

If one meal of nasi lemak provides 400 – 550 calories and that our common calories intake for a day should be less than 2500 – 2700 calories; this would have mean that one serving of nasi lemak has taken up about 20% of the day’s calories intake! And what of our lunch and dinner, and snacks such as candies, chips, biscuits and cookies intake from time to time?

Preparing a Healthy & Hearty Breakfast

How about having fruits to start off your day – an apple or a banana? Then try the premix cereal drink that is available in the market (it’s a healthier breakfast and it is quite filling till your next meal!)

Cook up something authentic from leftover curry or sambal in less than 15 minutes – one can mix it up with canned sardines and turn it into a spicy spread which will go well with bread for a wonderful and filling breakfast! Put more salad to create a crunchier texture and as a great way to increase one’s fiber intake!

Preparing fruit juice or smoothie will only take an additional 10 minutes. Blend up yoghurt and fresh fruits to get wonderful benefits of both ingredients – use low fat yoghurt and pop in your favorite fruits; you can also use dry raisins or pumpkin seeds as toppings for your homemade smoothie. Pumpkin seed has high insoluble fiber content and poly-unsaturated fat which is beneficial to the cholesterol levels in the body.

How about some savory French toasts? Use whole meal bread instead of white bread – explore your healthy Malaysian toast with fresh chillies, chopped parsley and chives, shred onions into egg batter – use a healthier spread for the bread such as low fat canola spread too!

It is just a matter of time management and commitments when it comes to having a healthy and hearty breakfast to kick start our day! Everyone should take charge and practice healthy food intake at all times so as to ensure a healthier lifestyle.

Remember: You Are What You Eat!
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