Cooking for the heart - recipes

Durban - Cardiovascular disease is rampant in South Africa. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, deaths caused by the disease in people of working age, from 35 to 64 years, are expected to increase by 41 percent between 2000 and 2030.

There is also a significant rise of the disease among those living in poorer communities – suggesting that a westernised diet of cheap, unhealthy fast foods is overtaking traditional diets.

Masala chicken with potatoes. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

With this in mind, the Heart Foundation, with help from the industry, has gathered thousands of local recipes from South Africans. Many of these were carefully adapted by award-winning cookbook author, Heleen Meyer, and foundation dieticians, to make them more heart-friendly, without compromising on the taste.

The recipe book carries the approval of the Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and deputy minister Dr Gwen Ramokgopa and contains more than 70 traditional South African A recipes, including soups, sides, meat and vegetarian dishes and even sweet treats, which have all been made heart-healthy.

Cooking from the heart also forms part of a national research project which aims to identify barriers to healthy eating.

The outcomes of these focus groups have been fascinating with findings suggesting that South Africans do not see the link between bad diet and chronic disease.

The book is available free.

To get a copy, visit the website at or call 021 403 6450.

Here are two of the recipes:

Masala chicken with potatoes

Serves 6 to 8

1 tbsp sunflower oil

6 chicken breasts on the bone, halved and skin and all fat removed

2 large onions, thinly sliced

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

1cm piece fresh ginger, grated

3-4 cardamom pods

1 large cinnamon stick

1 tbs ground cumin

2 tsp chilli powder or to taste

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp each turmeric and garam masala

3 tomatoes, finely chopped

1 tbs tomato paste

2 cups water or home-made stock

3 potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 tsp salt

½ cup buttermilk or plain low-fat yoghurt (optional)

Heat oil in a large pot and fry chicken until golden brown. Spoon out and set aside. In the same pot fry onions, garlic and ginger for a few minutes. Stir in all the spices.

Add tomatoes, tomato paste and water and simmer for a few minutes. Add chicken, potatoes and salt to sauce and simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes or until chicken and potatoes are cooked.

Stir in the buttermilk and serve with small portions of brown rice. Garnish with fresh coriander.

Spicy samp and beans

This dish needs a bit of planning as you need to soak the samp and beans overnight. Recipe serves eight.

1 cup uncooked samp

1 cup dried sugar beans

2 bay leaves

2 tsp sunflower oil

2 onions, chopped

4 carrots, sliced

1 tbs curry powder or to taste

3 tomatoes, chopped

¼ medium cabbage, cut into strips

4 spinach leaves, cut into strips

lemon juice and black pepper to taste

Soak samp and beans overnight in enough water and drain well.

Place in a large pot with bay leaves and cover with 4 cups fresh water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat.

Cover with a lid and simmer for 2 hours or until tender. Add more water if necessary.

Heat oil in a pot and fry onions, carrots and curry powder. Add tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes.

Drain samp and beans if necessary. Add cabbage, spinach and salt to onions and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Season to taste with lemon juice and pepper and serve warm.

Guidelines for healthy eating

A healthy lifestyle helps to prevent and control chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Healthy eating is one of the most important things you can do for a healthier life. Remember to exercise regularly and avoid smoking.

The following tips will help you and your family to eat healthily…