Picture: Supply Siba Mtongana is a television personality and food enthusiast
Siba Mtongana is a television personality and food enthusiast who has brought style, flair, and charisma to the South African food industry.

She made her debut on our television screens in 2013 with her show, Siba’s Table on the Food Network.

In her show, now in its third season, she shares recipes on how to give traditional food a modern makeover, gives food styling secrets, and tips on how to be the perfect host to friends and family. Many of her social media followers love and celebrate her for being family orientated, for her faith and her signature “Sibalicious” spin on recipes.

With January, otherwise known as the New Year resolution season, in full swing, we spoke to her on what food trends to expect in 2018, and how we can spice up our kitchen with flavour and good health.

Where are you in terms of your career?

I am a proud mummy and wife, a passionate business woman, a culinary expert, an adventurous fashionista, and with all of this, I am deeply committed to my faith, trade and to my wonderful family.

My career is at such an exciting phase. I have a new series of Siba’s Table, titled Sibalicious, airing on Food Network from February 15, with some potentially exciting new television content expected to hit screens later this year. My cookbook, My Table, which was published through my company, The Siba Co, is still on shelves nationwide and continues to be in demand. Man oh man the Siba Co. has some exciting stuff in the pipelines, you will have to watch this space.

What are some of the food trends we can expect in 2018?

Less or no protein, and more plant-based diets are making huge waves this year. Home meal kits are going to be massive in 2018, people want to serve their family and guests home cooked gourmet meals, with none of the fuss.

Florals and flowers will continue to be even bigger and there will be rose water everywhere not only in desserts or beverages but in savouries like soups and sauces. Craft spirits are going to overtake the popularity of the craft beer. Cool beverages like beetroot coffee will be a thing. Carbs are back baby, but healthy, all grain carbs, but one should take them in moderation of course.

The health and wellness trend is pushing forward still, and people will be cutting down on the alcohol this year. Expect to see the mocktail section of your favourite cocktail bar increase. In South Africa, saving water in restaurants and other food services will be made a cool thing and will give a competitive edge.

What are some of the healthy trends that we can expect in 2018.

The vegan movement is expected to increase in 2018, for health as well as environmental reasons, #MeatlessMondays are becoming trendier even amongst the biggest of meat lovers.

Root to stem meaning we are looking to reduce wastage and increase the health benefits by using the entire plant think broccoli stem soup. Gut friendly produce and ingredients such as Kiamichi, miso and kefir are going to be huge this year, try adding some extra love to your morning smoothies.

How do you incorporate your kids into the kitchen?

It’s so important to include my little ones in the kitchen! If they have been involved in the process of making food I immediately have their buy in. I give the kids fun tasks, such as beating the eggs, shaping the meatballs, popping the berries on to the fruit skewers. But I’m careful not to have them close to knives, glassware or drives as safety comes first.

What is your family cheat day?

We do not necessarily have one specific cheat day. We are all about creating harmonious balance and teaching our little ones to make good choices on a daily basis. Dessert every day, why not? Instead of dishing up a bowl of ice cream, we indulge on frozen berries skewers, or home-made frozen yoghurt.

What’s the one thing you would never feed your kids and why?

There are certain junk food I completely don’t allow as I don’t want them to get accustomed to it or even put such food on their radar for consideration.

Do you follow a specific eating plan-?

I actually do not follow an eating plan. I believe in making healthy choices and doing everything in moderation. If I feel like chocolate, I’ll have two squares, and always 80% cocoa. As a family we always look for those healthier alternatives, so when we do indulge a little bit from time to time, it is not the end of the world.

What is your current exercise routine?

Life is chaotic. I have my series on Food Network, I run my own business, I have three little ones and a hubby, who is my fourth baby. I am definitely kept on my toes so I really try to squeeze in at least 30 minutes of exercise four to five times a week.

Whether it is a run on the promenade, or a ride on my home bike, or a skipping session in my garden.

I am blessed to be able to call Cape Town home, so as a family we also spend allot of time outdoors, being active and it hardly feels like exercise.

Do you have tips on how people can have a healthy diet with food that still tastes good?

I think people generally shy away from healthy food because they think it is boring and tasteless. For me, I see this as an opportunity to get creative in the kitchen, think of your healthy ingredients differently, and use them in “unconventional” ways.

Provide a few easy lunch tips.

Use your leftover proteins from the night before to create the base of a beautiful fresh salad the next day.

I love making fluffy egg muffins on weekends. Freeze them and heat them up when ready to eat. You mix eggs and cheese, and I personally love to add roasted tomatoes, and mushrooms. Then bake until ready.

Throw any fresh produce you have into a cooler box and construct your salad at work, I always check to see what’s about to go off in my fridge and use those ingredients. It forces you to be creative and use ingredients in your salad that you normally would not, who knows you might find beautiful new taste combinations. Freeze fruits and berries the night before, and you will have guilt-free tasty snacks throughout the day.

If you want to get fancy, pop them onto a skewer and va va voom! I love combining leftover vegetables and meats with cous cous the next day. It is light, and healthy, and best of all it only requires a kettle and a few minutes, which makes it perfect for the office meal.

What can people expect from you in 2018?

I am expecting a very busy, yet fruitful year. My fourth season of Siba’s Table, Sibalicious is set to hit screens from February 15, and as mentioned we have some very exciting stuff cooking in the Siba Co kitchen.

On a personal and professional level I want to make 2018 my year of growth, I have been in the game for over 10 years, and this year I am looking for fireworks!

Any parting words?

Ladies, do not be so hard on yourselves. We all have lumps and bumps, not all of us can run 10km, or hike up a mountain. Be kind to yourself, love yourself, and treat your body like the temple it is.

Highlight your strengths, embrace and work on your weaknesses and push forward. Do not let any negativity darken your glow.