CLP Power generates healthy lifestyle thanks to new menu

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 October, 2007, 12:00am

Low fat, low salt, low sugar but high fibre principle draws positive response from company's Tai Po staff

It's a fact that any company will benefit from a healthy and motivated workforce.

To better look after its staff, CLP Power Hong Kong has launched a healthy diet initiative - Healthy Kitchen - at its system control centre in Tai Po.

The scheme, introduced at Strafford House in mid-July, comes under the company's Quality Work Life programme, which was launched in 2003.

About 100 staff working in the centre are enjoying the meals, which are based on the low fat, low salt, low sugar but high fibre principle at the centre's canteen.

Mak Chai-ming, system operations manager and team leader of the Quality Work Life work team, said the launch of Healthy Kitchen had been triggered by a survey last year into the quality of food at the centre's kitchen.

The survey indicated there was a need for changes in the menu after staff complained about the flavour of the dishes and said there was too much meat in the meals.

Earlier this year, a professional nutritionist was invited to design healthy menus and train in-house chefs and kitchen staff about healthy cooking methods and making dishes in appropriate portions. The nutrition expert also offered practical advice on the beverages in the coffee bar, suggesting the elimination of high-sugar items such as evaporated milk, honey, and orange and lemon powder.

The two Chinese and western-style dishes, provided for in every meal, are now cooked using the methods recommended by the nutritionist. For instance, while fish is the most popular ingredient on the menu, lean meat is used to lower the intake of fat. Brown rice is mixed with polished rice to increase the fibre content and nutritional value of the staple food. Oil is skimmed from the Chinese-style soup and no margarine is added to western soup.

'The response from staff has been positive which is beyond our expectations. The staff have welcomed the new healthy menu,' Mr Mak said. 'They are satisfied with the taste and appearance of the healthy dishes. Some think the dishes are tasty. Staff, preferring stronger flavours in their food, have also accepted the lighter dishes since they understand the reasons behind them.'

Before embarking on the six-month trial of Healthy Kitchen, the nutritionist hosted seminars during which the concept and significance of a healthy diet were explained.

'At an early stage, we received feedback from colleagues about the texture of the mixed rice. They thought it was too rough and hard. After we adjusted the ratio of one brown rice to one polished rice, to one brown rice to three polished rice, staff have been happy with the improved texture,' he said.

To illustrate the benefits of a healthy diet, facilities such as a blood pressure gauge, weight and height gauge are available in the canteen for employees to monitor changes in their blood pressure and body mass index (BMI).

Mr Mak said since the feedback of Healthy Kitchen had been encouraging, the programme would be extended beyond the six-month trial. 'We won't go back to the old menu,' he said. 'We will share our experience and continue promoting a healthy diet.'

He said the company, which has about 4,000 staff, would try to extend the programme to other departments with kitchens.

However, for departments working in city offices and without kitchen facilities, they will share the knowledge of a healthy diet and provide the more than 100 healthy recipes to employees instead. 'We hope they can bring that knowledge back to their families,' Mr Mak said.

CLP has been running a series of programmes such as stretching exercises in the workplace, including health talks and physical fitness assessments to promote a healthy lifestyle and a better work-life balance.

Research has shown that poor work-life balance leads to low productivity and stress-related illnesses.

Mr Mak believes staff will be more efficient at work by eating healthier. 'Staff will feel better as their health is improved through a better diet,' he said.

He thinks staff will have better morale and team spirit if they feel the company cares about them.

'It also helps create a caring culture within the company as staff are inspired to care for each other,' he said.

Cooking Style of CLP's Healthy Kitchen

Tips for Healthy Cooking

Categories / Suggestions

Grains / Mix polished rice with some brown rice for cooking; Use fresh tomato sauces and less oil to take spaghetti

Meat / Choose lean meat; Meat with fat should be cooked alone, avoid cooking with any vegetables or mushrooms; Oil and sauces left after cooking meat should not be reused

Vegetables / Add less oil and sesame oil

Soup / Skim oil from soup after it is ready; For western soup, no margarine, less floor, butter and cream but evaporated milk with low fat; Avoid ingredients rich in sugar, such as potato (with too much starch), candied jujube, dried longan pulp and Chinese yam; Avoid ingredients rich in fat, such as pork bone, spare rib and chicken

Meat marinating / Season mainly with salt, pepper, black pepper, sesame oil, soy sauce and wine; Less sugar and corn flour; No oyster sauce and chicken powder

Oil / For low-heat cooking methods (boiling, stewing and salad), use rapeseed oil and olive oil; For high-heat cooking methods (pen-frying, deep-frying ad stir-frying), use peanut oil and corn oil; No margarine

Healthy lunch with attractive appearance, aroma and flavour

Grilled lamb shoulder and Waldorf salad

Noodles with sole fillet and mushrooms in fish soup

Baked macaroni with seafood in garlic and tomato sauce

Beef with tomato and onion

Grilled pork chop and American salad

Steamed hairy cucumber stuffed with mushroom and chicken dices

Braised beef with radish

Mushrooms with crabmeat

Steamed rice with beans wrapped in lotus leaf

Curry chicken with carrots

Baked fillets with mashed garlic and lemon sauce

Fried chicken and sweet pepper with fermented soyabeans

Source: CLP Power