Cook your way to better health

Cook your way to better health

Ready to make a fresh start in the kitchen this year? Louise Liebenberg shares her pick of four energy-boosting cookery books.
Simple nourishing fresh by Nirit Saban, published by Jacana Media, recommended price R330.

Saban is a first-generation South African born to Israeli immigrants. Her mother’s side of the family came from Romania and her father’s from Libya, and it is on this fascinating heritage that her love of food and cooking has been built.
Olami is the name of Saban’s popular restaurant in Cape Town’s Bree Street, a place known for its fusion of Middle Eastern and global cuisine, much of it distilled from Saban’s extensive travels.
Olami, a word used in Israel, means global, universal and worldly, and the exquisitely photographed recipes in the book are just that.
They are also simple and wholesome for the most part, making one feel fully inspired to dip into this treasure trove of a book for endless inspiration!

Food for sensitive tummies by Gabi Steenkamp and Cath Day, published by Tafelberg, recommended price R295.

Dietitians  Steenkamp and Day have achieved real gains in helping many of their clients overcome the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and other tummy troubles through carefully tailored diets.
This book is useful for those who regularly find themselves saddled up with annoying, sometimes painful, symptoms such as bloating, cramps, constipation, heartburn or diarrhoea.
It’s also encouraging that it has been written by South Africans, for South Africans.
About one-third of the book is devoted to chapters about understanding how your gut works, lifestyle basics, food that might annoy your tummy, and various tips on how and what to eat. There’s a useful shopping list for general tummy health and even one for those with super-sensitive tummies, among other inclusions.
The recipe section takes up the remainder of the book and here you will find good ideas for breakfast, light and main meals, as well as snacks and drinks, again for both sensitive tummies and super-sensitive tummies respectively.
The encouraging thing about most of the recipes is that your guests and other family members are sure to enjoy them too: no one is going turn their nose up at the colourful avocado and bean salad on page 70 or the delicious-looking chicken kebabs with satay sauce on page 90!

Sugar-free & carb-conscious living by Monique le Roux Forslund, published by Struik Lifestyle, recommended price R240.

Le Roux Forslund, a Montessori teacher and health coach who grew up in Cape Town but has been based in Sweden for nearly three decades, has been a devotee of sugar- and carb-free living since 2007.
Her story makes for inspired reading – back then she weighed more than 100kg and says she tried everything to shed the extra kilos, including sometimes at the expense of her health.
She then began learning about her body and realised “sugar was the enemy” – not just ordinary refined sugar, but the hidden sugar lurking in everyday foods – along with a reliance on carbohydrates for daily fuel.
The book contains healthy, easy-to-prep meals that are suitable for the whole family, though I did have a chuckle when I saw a recipe for boiled eggs and also one for scrambled eggs in the breakfast section.
Why do so many food writers patronise us by telling us how to boil eggs or make toast, I wonder?
I did make the hot brinjal and tomato salad with crispy bacon on page 80 and thought it was a worthy inclusion. There are other gemsk – the fish soup on page 88 looked promising, so did the beef strips with tomato-mustard cream sauce on page 121.

Delicious, healthy, sugar-free by Patrick Holford and Fiona McDonald Joyce, published by Piatkus, recommended price R387.

This book (previously released as Food, Glorious Food in 2008) is aimed at anyone who loves cooking and entertaining, but is trying to make the effort to consume healthier options both personally, and when cooking for family and friends.
Most of the recipes have a low GL (glycemic load), an approach that will help you keep your weight in check and boost your energy levels, the authors say.
The first section goes into quite a bit of detail about healthy, GL-focused eating, then starts what McDonald Joyce calls “the delicious bit”: mouth-watering recipes and a rundown of healthy foods from around the world. For instance did you know that shiitake mushrooms contain some of the highest levels of a powerful antioxidant called ergothioneine?


Aubergine with  greek yoghurt and chunky tomato salsa

The recipe for aubergine with Greek yoghurt and chunky tomato salsa is included in ‘Olami’, by Nirit Saban. The recipe can be turned into a starter or a main course depending on your dinner

Aubergines are the absolute favourite vegetable at Nirit Saban’s Olami restaurant in Cape Town.
“This recipe has the ultimate combination,” Nirit says. “There are a million and one different variations of this dish and it truly is up to you to pick your best, but this simple start will guide you there.”
The recipe can be turned into a starter or a main course depending on your dinner. It is enough for two adults as a main sharing or as a starter for four.


2 medium aubergines
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
12 Romanita tomatoes
1 small yellow pepper, diced
Handful of fresh chopped parsley
Handful of fresh chopped coriander leaves
1 fresh green jalapeño chilli, chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons Greek yoghurt
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Peel the aubergines completely and create a rough square when peeling. Divide the whole aubergine into three slices, keeping the shape of the peeled aubergine. Salt lightly and let it emit its natural juice for about 15 minutes. Then pat dry with a paper towel and get ready for frying.

In a medium-sized frying pan heat the sunflower oil and when hot fry the aubergine on each side for about three minutes on a medium heat until golden brown.
When pressing the middle of the aubergine lightly it should feel super soft and juicy. Remove onto a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.

In a small mixing bowl add put the tomatoes, some sliced in half and some in quarters, the pepper, the parsley, coriander, jalapeño, olive oil and the juice of half the lemon. Mix lightly, and season with the salt and pepper.

On a serving plate, place the yoghurt in the middle and then spread it out into circles half way around the plate. Place the aubergine, cut into chunks, in the middle – some flat and some on top of each other – then, either with your hands or a big serving spoon, lay the salsa on top leaving some gaps. Lastly, sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds, especially on the yoghurt parts, and drizzle with olive oil.