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Heritage Month: Hacks to make deliciously healthy meals

During the Covid-19 outbreak, on Heritage Day, also known as a braai day, South Africans are encouraged to celebrate the great diversity of cultures, beliefs and traditions that make up our nation. Picture: Lee Myungseong / Unsplash

During the Covid-19 outbreak, on Heritage Day, also known as a braai day, South Africans are encouraged to celebrate the great diversity of cultures, beliefs and traditions that make up our nation. Picture: Lee Myungseong / Unsplash

Published Sep 2, 2021


In the spirit of putting a spotlight on our heritage, there is nothing that hits closer to home than healthy hearty meals to enjoy with your loved ones.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, on Heritage Day, also known as a braai day, South Africans are encouraged to celebrate the great diversity of cultures, beliefs and traditions that make up our nation.

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The day is characterised by friends and families getting together, cooking and sharing meals. It also serves as an opportunity to share and pass on cultural and nutritional knowledge and skills.

Wilmi Hudsonberg, a spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics, says “many of the meals we share are around a fire but are often accompanied by food that’s not healthy for our hearts”.

Hudsonberg advises choosing proteins wisely – lean meats, such as fish and skinless chicken breast instead of too much red meat. If you do opt for red meat, rather buy loin or tender cuts and remove any visible fat before cooking.

“Marinate or rub meat with salt-free spices and lemon which add amazing flavour and will reduce the need for salt, which heightens your risk of hypertension. Use chilli, cumin, garlic, cinnamon, black pepper, paprika, thyme or rosemary for a lip-licking taste.”

“Fill up your plate with grilled vegetables, salads and side dishes. The more colour you add, the better. In South Africa, we have a great selection of fruit throughout the year so be sure to add these to the braai menu. Meat and veg sosaties (kebabs) are always a hit. Add red, green or yellow peppers, butternut, baby marrows, eggplant, mushrooms and onions to the skewer and brush with healthy oil before grilling.

“When preparing salads or side dishes, don’t drown them in salty sauces or heavy store-bought dressings,” Hudsonberg said.

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Pick n Pay dietitian Juliet Fearnhead shares tips and hacks for healthy sides and veggies:

Wrap sweet potato and butternut in foil and toss them into the coals – these veggies are loaded with fibre, B vitamins and vitamin C.

Pre-boil mealies until just tender then place on the braai until charred on the outside, and sprinkle with chilli flakes.

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Take a bunch of trimmed asparagus, toss with a little olive or canola oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and pop on the braai for 2 – 3 minutes.

Asparagus is a nutrient-packed vegetable. It is a very good source of fibre, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium.

Add vegetables to kebabs – peppers, mushrooms, baby marrows and brinjals marinated in lemon juice and balsamic vinegar work perfectly. Remember to pre-soak wooden skewer sticks for 30 minutes to prevent the ends from burning.

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Consider healthy toppings over ice cream, such as chocolate bananas or fruit salad. Grilled fruit is also delicious! The natural sugars caramelise in the high heat, which makes it extra sweet and flavourful.

Healthy braai day does not need to be boring, here are recipes that are healthy that will make your braai day memorable.

Avocado Braai Salad

Some people may be looking for a cheat meal on their braai day. But that doesn’t mean that healthy meals should be sucked out of the window. This side is one of the perfect ways to stay healthy without feeling like you are eating rabbit food.

This salad is vegan and gluten free.

Serves: 4 – 6


¼ cup honey

¼ cup cider vinegar

¼ cup poppy seeds

Salad ingredients

1 red onion, sliced

6 ripe avocados, peeled & sliced

2 naartjies, broken into segments

100g caramelised pecan nuts


Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a screw top bottle and shake to combine.

In a small bowl marinate the red onion for 5 – 10 minutes in the dressing.

Arrange the avocado on a platter, with the naartjies and nuts, pour the dressing and marinated onions over the salad.

Serve immediately.

Recipe from South African Avocado Growers’ Association.

Colourful slaw with ginger & peanuts


¼ cup (60ml) olive or canola oil

3 tbs (45ml) red grape or apple cider vinegar

2 tbs (30ml) soy sauce

4 tsp (20ml) finely grated fresh ginger

1 small red chilli, seeded and finely chopped, or to taste (optional)

3 tbs (45ml) chopped fresh coriander or parsley

¼ cup (60ml) finely chopped unsalted peanuts lemon juice and black pepper to taste


500ml (2 cups) each shredded white and red cabbage (or more white)

1 large spinach leaf, shredded

2 carrots, peeled and coarsely grated

¼ cucumber, quartered and thinly sliced

1 medium pineapple, quartered and thinly sliced

1 celery stalk with the leaves, thinly sliced

½ red or green pepper, seeded, quartered and thinly sliced


1. Dressing: stir all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

2. Salad: mix all the slaw ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss well. Allow salad to stand for 10 – 15 minutes before serving it. This will allow the salad to marinate.

3. Serve slaw as a side dish at a braai.


1. This dressing can be used as a marinade for fish, chicken, pork or veggies.

2. Add toasted coconut to the dressing instead of the peanuts.

3. Serve with steak or leftover braaied chicken in whole-wheat rolls or pitas.

Recipes from Cooking from the Heart’s special braai edition

Chicken feet

by Nomfundo Mcoyi

Chicken feet have been loved by many South Africans over the years, but in recent years there has been a growing trend of using them as low calorie snacks. This trend has been made popular by many social media users who post chicken feet recipes on Keto and banting groups as inexpensive snack options.

One of Icebolethu Group, Nomfundo Mcoyi's favourite dishes to prepare is chicken feet with steamed bread. This is a dish that brings back strong memories of her grandmother, who used to prepare a similar dish whenever the family came to visit. Mcoyi finds that through this dish she not only relives her childhood, she passes those memories on while creating new ones with her children and family.


For chicken feet

1kg chicken feet

2 onions, finely chopped

2 tbs olive oil

2 tbs chicken stock

1tsp curry powder

1tsp turmeric

1tsp garam masala

1tsp paprika

3 tbs Worcestershire sauce

1 cup of water


Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry onions until brown.

Add dry ingredients – curry powder, paprika and turmeric.

Add chicken feet, chicken stock and Worcestershire sauce and combine. Allow to fry for 2 – 3 minutes.

Add a cup of water and boil for 35 – 45 minutes.

Bacon, Veg and Pap Skewers (Makes 12)


Chicken stock

2ml salt

330ml maize meal

125ml chopped fresh parsley

1 red pepper, cubed

1 red onion, cut in wedges

6 baby marrows, sliced in 1cm rounds

400g smoked pork rashers, cut in cubes

30ml olive oil, for brushing salt and pepper


In a pot, bring the chicken stock and salt to the boil. Whisk in the maize meal until smooth, add the parsley and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Allow to cool before rolling into balls.

Thread onto skewers with the prepared vegetables and pork rashers. Place on a baking tray, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast in a preheated oven at 180°C for 20 minutes until bacon is cooked.

Serve immediately