While it is incredibly tempting to stuff your pie-hole with all sorts of delicious treats during lockdown, now is as important a time as any to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Eating healthy will go a long way to helping you boost immunity and lower their risk of diseases of lifestyle, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Luckily, following a healthy diet doesn’t mean you have to forgo the enjoyment of a good old fashioned South African braai and all the trimmings that come along with it. Check out these heart-healthy recipes to enjoy along with your braai this weekend.

To make your weekend braai a delicious affair to remember, Pharma Dynamics has teamed up with cookbook author, Heleen Meyer and the Heart and Stroke Foundation (HSF) to bring South Africans the Cooking from the Heart cookbook series. The braai edition contains 30 recipes that cater for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike, including healthy, homemade marinades and seasonings, snacks, sides and salads, as well as vegetarian dishes and even desserts.

“Many of the meals we share are around a braai fire, but it is often accompanied by food that’s not healthy for our hearts. Our aim is to make people a bit more conscious of the nutritional faux pas they make when braaiing,” says Nicole Jennings, spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics.

Check out our favourite picks from the braai edition of Cooking from the Heart cookbook below:

Mealie Meal and Corn Bake

mealie meal and corn bake

3 cups (750 ml) coarse mealie meal
2 cups (500 ml) water
1½ cups (375 ml) low-fat milk
½ tsp (2,5 ml) salt
¼ cup (60 ml) olive or Canola oil
1 x 410 g tin cream style sweetcorn
1 small onion, cut into thin wedges
3 tbsp (45 ml) chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup (60 ml) coarsely grated cheddar cheese
1 corn on the cob, kernels cut from the cob or ½ cup (125 ml) frozen whole kernel corn, rinsed

1. Preheat oven to 180 °C. Place the mealie meal, water, milk, salt, oil and sweetcorn in a large mixing bowl. Stir well so that no dry meal is visible.
2. Lightly grease a 20 x 27 cm oven dish with oil and spoon mealie meal mixture into dish.
3. Arrange onion wedges on mealie meal. Mix parsley, cheese and corn and sprinkle evenly over onions.
4. Bake for 1 hour or until the mealie meal is cooked through. Serve hot.

Tips:

1. Serve with Barbecue sauce on page 45 of the Cooking from the Heart cookbook.
2. Bake the mealie meal mixture without the onion and cheese mixture until cooked. Mix 1 x 410 g tin onion and tomato mix with the parsley and onion wedges. Spoon onto cooked mealie meal bake, sprinkle with cheese and corn and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the tomato layer is heated through. Serve immediately.

Chocolate Fondue

chocolate fondue

1 cup (250 ml) low-fat milk
½ x 80 g good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
2 tsp (10 ml) sugar
1 tbsp (15 ml) cornflour
1 tbsp (15 ml) cocoa powder
¼ tsp (1,2 ml) ground cinnamon or more to taste
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla essence
2 small fruit skewers per person, made with seasonal fruit, like apple, pear, papaya, citrus, banana or strawberries
12 – 18 marshmallows, toasted over the coals, if preferred
12 – 18 tennis or Marie biscuits to dip

1. Place milk, chocolate and sugar in a small pot. Heat over a low heat, while stirring all the time, to melt the chocolate and dissolve the sugar.
2. Mix cornflour, cocoa and cinnamon with 2 tbsp (30 ml) water to form a smooth paste without lumps.
3. Add some of the warm milk mixture to the paste and stir well. Stir back into the milk mixture in the pot.
4. Stir continuously over a medium heat for 8 – 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Spoon into a warm bowl.
5. Dip fruit or some of the other suggested ingredients in the warm chocolate sauce.

Tips:
1. The sauce will thicken as it cools down. Just stir in a tablespoon of boiling water to thin it down again.
2. The chocolate sauce can also be served with ice cream. Only use 2 tsp (10 ml) cornflour and prepare as above. The recipe will then serve 8 – 10.

Tips for a healthier braai:

braai

Choose proteins wisely by opting for 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. Limit your meat intake (of any type) to 150g.

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.

For more tips and recipes visit the Cooking from the Heart website.

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