South Africans LOVE to eat. The list of dishes unique to South Africa can be quite extensive, as we are fortunate to have a range of delicious recipes, influenced by all the different cultures and cuisines that make us a true rainbow nation. What is your favourite traditionally South African dish?

Think of bobotie, breyani, bunny chow, braaivleis, bredie, bread and so many forms of baking and sweet treats – and that’s just thinking of the letter B!

And the best part is that we can enjoy all of these wonderful meals while still eating them in a healthy way. Many of our traditional favourites can be high in carbohydrates and South Africans love sweet flavours – whether in a salad dressing, sauce, side dish or dessert. By following a few basic guidelines and making good choices you can make sure that you are still serving wholesome meals to your family.

Even if you want to enjoy more than one carb at a meal, like potato salad or creamy potato bake and a slice of that ‘hot-from-the-oven’ bread, then just make sure that you dish up smaller portions. This way you don’t eat more than the recommended amount of starch in a meal and may even be able to enjoy a small portion of dessert. Remember that a portion of starch should not be more than a quarter of your plate.

To make sure that your meal stays balanced, fill your plate with a portion of meat and salad ingredients or non-starchy veggies instead of more starch. And how all these dishes are prepared is the one important aspect to focus on. Use natural flavourings, like lemon, garlic, ginger, fresh herbs and salt-free spices. Make the most of a cooking method to add as much flavour as possible. Avoid using sweetened shop-bought products and those high in added salt and chemical preservatives. With a few clever changes something like a potato bake for instance, can still be creamy and delicious, made with yoghurt instead of cream.

And the best and easiest way to do this, still enjoy your SA favourites and eat healthily? Use the recipes from all the recipe books in the Cooking from the heart series as your guide. There’s something for every meal of the day, even lunch box and snack ideas. Many of the all-time family favourites are in the recipe books, all prepared to be tasty, healthier, easy to prepare and affordable. Chutney chicken, samp and beans, potato salad, a creamy potato bake, bean soup, chicken pie, chicken and broccoli in various ways, beef stew and different curries are just some of the well-known dishes to choose from. Desserts and baking were definitely not forgotten, there’s an apple pudding, milk tart, mealie bread, muffins, chocolate cake and more.

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