Melk Tart, a South African Classic

We love the sweet tooth satisfaction offered by this better-for-you twist on a classic South African dessert. Created by chef, Vanessa Marx, this Melk Tart recipe is a great family dessert.

Dietitian Cheryl Meyer says that seeds like pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds are easily incorporated into a variety of dishes. They not only boost flavour and crunch, they pack a nutritional punch loaded with fiber, protein and healthy fats.

For the crust:

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

20g sunflower seeds

20g sesame seeds

20g pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup unsweetened fresh apple juice

4 Tbl honey

1/4 vanilla pod

  • Preheat the oven to 160℃
  • Mix together all the coconut , seeds and oats
  • Cut the vanilla through the pod lengthways and scrape out the seeds
  • Put the apple juice, honey & vanilla pods and seeds into a small sauce pan and heat until infused and combined
  • Pour the apple juice over the oats mixture
  • Spread the mixture out onto an oven proof tray and bake until golden and crispy, stirring every 10 minutes, to make sure it is cooked evenly
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool
  • Line the base of your pie dish with the mixture to prepare it for the milk tart filling

For the filling: 

INGREDIENTS

3 eggs

80ml corn flour

½ tsp vanilla extract

2½ cup low fat milk

¼ vanilla pod, seeds removed

½ cup xylitol

Cinnamon for dusting

  • Mix together the eggs and corn flour in a bowl
  • Cut the vanilla through the pod lengthways and scrape out the seeds
  • Put the milk, vanilla pods and seeds, vanilla extract and xylitol into a saucepan and heat together until it comes to a boil
  • Remove from the heat and pour a little of the warm milk into the egg mixture, whilst whisking
  • Add the egg mixture back into the pot with the remaining milk, and whisk
  • Put the mixture back on the heat and whisk vigorously until it thickens and comes to a boil
  • Have your pie dish with the base ready, and pour the custard mixture into the pie dish
  • Leave the tart to cool at room temperature, and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours until completely cold
  • Remove the tart from the fridge and dust generously with cinnamon

Nutrition Information: per serving (recipe serves 12)

Energy: 825 kJ Protein: 6.8 g Carbohydrate: 25.4 g Of which, total sugars: 8.9 g Fat: 8.3 g Fibre: 1.3 g Sodium: 64 mg

 


CHICKEN SKEWERS, DIPS & SEED FLATBREAD

We love this recipe – it makes a delicious starter for summer entertaining. Making your own dips and marinade rather than using store-bought varieties gives you more control and means you know exactly which ingredients have gone into those dishes.

Not only are the chickpeas in the hummus rich in slowly-digested starch and fibre, helping to control blood sugar levels, but they are also a great source of plant-based protein, vitamins and minerals.

Using whole-wheat flour and oat flour in the flatbread adds healthy fibre, lowering the glycaemic index and aiding in blood sugar control. Because this is still a carbohydrate-containing food, people with diabetes should enjoy the flatbread in appropriate portions.

Homemade chicken skewers are a great lean protein option, and this protein further lowers the glycaemic index of the meal.

RECIPE (Serves 4 as a main or 8 as a starter/snacks)

Chicken skewers

600 g free-range chicken breast

2 lemons

1 Tbsp wholegrain mustard

salt & black pepper

30 g chopped oregano

8 sosatie sticks (you can cut them in half if you want smaller ones for snacks)

 TO MAKE IT

  • Cut the chicken breasts into cubes, about the size of an ice cube
  • Put the chicken in a mixing bowl, and add the zest and juice of the lemons, mustard, and chopped oregano, then season with salt and pepper.
  • Leave the chicken to marinade in the juices for an hour or so
  • Skewer the cubes of chicken onto the sticks
  • Put a pan onto a medium/high heat and add some canola oil
  • When the pan is hot, add your chicken skewers, and allow them to cook on the first side for about 2 or 3 minutes before turning them. Cook the other side for another 2 or 3 minutes and then check between the pieces of chicken to see that the flesh is white, and no longer translucent. You want the chicken to be cooked all the way through, but not dry. Remove from the pan and set aside until you are ready to serve.

Hummus

1 can chickpeas, drained

125 ml Extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 fresh lemon

salt & pepper

5 ml tahini

1 garlic clove, peeled

1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

 TO MAKE IT

  • Put the chickpeas, oil, lemon juice, garlic, tahini into a blender or food processor, and season with salt & pepper.
  • Blend together until smooth
  • Scrape the hummus from the jug with a spatula into a serving bowl
  • Top the hummus with toasted sesame seeds and drizzle with olive oil

Tzatziki

1 cup plain yoghurt

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

15 g fresh mint

salt & pepper

1/2 a cucumber

TO MAKE IT

  • Grate the cucumber into a bowl, and squeeze off the excess water
  • Add the yoghurt, lemon juice, mint, and season with salt & pepper and put into a serving bowl

 Tomato Pesto

100 g sun-dried tomatoes in oil

30 g roasted plain almonds

10 g fresh parsley, chopped

TO MAKE IT

  • Roughly chop the tomatoes
  • Put the sundried tomatoes with the oil into a blender
  • Add the roasted almonds & chopped parsley
  • Pulse the blender to combine the ingredients into a chunky pesto
  • Scrape from the blender into a serving bowl

Seed flatbread

100 g whole-wheat flour

100 g oat flour

150 g cake flour

100 g plain yoghurt

250 g water (lukewarm)

1 sachet yeast

2 tsp salt

50 g mixed seeds: sesame, flax, sunflower, poppy, pumpkin

TO MAKE IT

  • In a large mixing bowl, add the flours, yeast, salt and seeds and mix together
  • Mix together the water and yoghurt
  • Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture and gradually add the yoghurt/water mixture little by little and mix together to form a dough.
  • Stop adding liquid once the dough comes together, or add extra if you find the dough to be too sticky.
  • Knead the dough together to form an elastic ball of dough.
  • Separate the dough into golf ball sized balls
  • Put a griddle pan onto a medium high heat
  • Dust a clean working surface with a little flour, and roll each dough ball into a flat bread (about 3mm thick).
  • Place the flatbreads onto the hot griddle and allow to cook until a little golden and firm on the first side, and then repeat on the other side.

TO SERVE

On a large board or platter, place the flatbreads and drizzle with a little olive oil. Place your bowls of dips and you chicken skewers onto the platter and sprinkle with fresh herbs

 

 


What your dietitian wants you to know about diabetes

There were 2.28 million cases of diabetes in South Africa in 2015 according to the International Diabetes Foundation and around 1.21 million people with undiagnosed diabetes. Considering these numbers it remains vitally important to continue educating South Africans about diabetes and to address the myths that are often associated with this lifestyle disease.

Nasreen Jaffer, Registered Dietitian and ADSA (Association for Dietetics in South Africa) spokesperson has a special interest in diabetes. She debunks some of the myths surrounding diabetes and nutrition:

People with diabetes have to follow a special diet or have to eat special diabetic foods.

People with diabetes do not have to follow a ‘special’ diet. People with diabetes need to make the same healthy eating choices as everyone else. Healthy eating choices include vegetables and fruit; whole grains; fish, lean meats and poultry; dairy products; seeds, nuts, legumes and plant oils. Everyone needs to limit fatty red meats, processed meats, salt and foods high in salt, and foods and beverages with added sugar.

There are foods that should be avoided completely.

The answer, is ‘no’. Moderation is key, the minute you’ve banned a certain food entirely, you’re likely to start craving it intensely. Your health and weight are more affected by what you do daily than what you eat once or twice a week, so if you’re in the mood for a piece of cake once in a while, buy a small one and share. If you deprive yourself of something you’re craving, it’s just a matter of time until your binge on it and sabotage your motivation. However, crisps, chocolates, and sweets are high in saturated and trans fat, while sugar-sweetened beverages like soft drinks, iced tea and energy drinks contain a large amount of sugar, so these have to be limited.

 If I am diabetic, my diet is going to be more expensive.

It is not necessary to buy expensive foods marketed to diabetics. Healthy eating can be economical, and is often cheaper than buying unhealthy treats. Buying seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables is cheaper than buying fruit juices and sugar-sweetened beverages. If you replace sweets, chocolates, crisps, puddings and cakes with fruits, yoghurt and salads as your snacks and desserts, you’ll find you will save money. Legumes, such as lentils and beans, are cheaper alternatives to red meat, while providing numerous health benefits.

Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.

Too much sugar does not necessarily cause diabetes, but because foods and drinks with added sugar are often energy-dense (high in kilojoules), consuming too much of these on a regular basis can lead to weight gain. This can put us at risk for type 2 diabetes. Sugar-sweetened beverages seem to have the strongest link to type 2 diabetes. ‘Sugar’ doesn’t only refer to the sugar added to tea and coffee, but also includes sugar and sweetened products added when cooking and at the table. Look out for hidden sugars in pre-prepared and processed foods, like some breakfast cereals, sweetened drinks, dairy products, sauces and sweet treats. People with diabetes should limit or avoid adding sugar as it can have a negative effect on blood sugar levels.

 People with diabetes cannot eat carbohydrates.

No, this is not true. While all foods that contain carbohydrates will affect your blood sugar levels, people with diabetes can still eat carbohydrate foods. There are healthy types of carbohydrates that you do want to include in your eating plan, and the type or quality of carbohydrate foods is important. Therefore, for optimal blood glucose control it is important to control the quantity, and distribute carbohydrate foods equally throughout the day. For example, choose wholegrain or high-fibre carbohydrate foods as they don’t increase blood sugar as quickly as refined grains, and make sure that each meal is balanced, containing not only carbohydrate foods, but also protein or dairy, non-starchy vegetables or healthy fats.

People with diabetes should restrict their fruit intake.

Because fruit contains natural sugars, too much fruit can contribute to an increase in blood glucose levels. However, eating fruit also adds fibre, and essential vitamins and minerals to the diet, so while people with diabetes should not eat excessive amounts of fruit, fruit should not be completely eliminated. Portion control is important, and people with diabetes should choose whole fruit rather than fruit juice. It is recommended that you consult your dietitian to calculate the amount of fruit that you should include in your daily diet.

If one of my parents has diabetes, there is nothing I can do about it – I will develop diabetes eventually.

If you have a genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes, you have all the reason you need to embrace a healthy lifestyle. While genetics may contribute 30 to 40% to the development of any condition, including diabetes, environmental and lifestyle factors may have a 60 to 70% impact. If you maintain a healthy body weight, stick to a healthy eating plan, avoid tobacco use and keep physically active regularly, you have a very good chance of not developing diabetes.

If I have diabetes, I can’t exercise.

On the contrary, diabetes is a compelling reason to exercise regularly. The reason for this is that physical activity plays a very important role in lowering blood glucose levels. Exercise also predisposes your body cells to being more sensitive to insulin, and of course, it helps to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week, such as brisk walking, while doing some resistance or strength exercises at least twice a week. If you use insulin it is important to check your blood glucose levels before and after physical activity. If you get results below 6 mmol/l it is recommended that you lower your insulin dose or eat a healthy snack to prevent a hypoglycemic attack during or after exercise.

Early diagnosis of diabetes is vitally important. This year the theme of World Diabetes Day is “Eyes on Diabetes”, focusing on the screening for type 2 diabetes to ensure early diagnosis and treatment, which can in turn reduce the risk of serious complications. The sooner that elevated blood glucose levels can be treated and returned to normal, the better. If you are diagnosed with either pre-diabetes or diabetes, you need to start moving towards a healthier lifestyle that focuses on regular physical activity, good nutrition and weight-loss if you are overweight or obese.

Everyone over the age of 45 years should be screened for diabetes every 2 to 3 years, or earlier if you are overweight and have other risk factors for diabetes (such as a family history, high blood pressure or previous diabetes during pregnancy). If you haven’t yet been screened, visit a healthcare professional to find out if you are at risk.

Should you experience any of the following symptoms contact your doctor as soon as possible – sudden weight loss, hunger, blurred vision, tiredness, excessive thirst and frequent urination.

To find a registered dietitian in your area who can assist you with a diabetic-friendly lifestyle plan, visit www.adsa.org.za.

 


Navigating the journey to healthy living

adsa-spokesperson_alpha-rasekhala

We recently chatted to Registered Dietitian, Alpha Rasekhala, to find out why he became a dietitian, what he enjoys most about the work her does, the challenges he faces. Alpha is also a member of the ADSA (Association for Dietetics in South Africa) Executive Committee and looks after the Representation Portfolio (Liaising with the Association’s Representatives to obtain feedback from nutrition and profession related bodies on which they serve and to obtain and provide feedback from the Association to these nutrition and profession related bodies)

Why did you become a Registered Dietitian?

I grew up in Limpopo and severe acute malnutrition was a problem. I always wanted to find a solution. As subsistence farmers we had a good harvest of maize, wild spinach,  nuts and peanuts. During high school the marketing manager from University of the North came to my school to inform us about the new dietetic programme the university was running.  I knew then and there that dietetics was my passion and could help me find the solution to my community’s malnutrition problems.

What do you enjoy most about the work you do?

I work as a private practising dietitian. I love the fact that I educate people on positive diet changes and navigate the journey to healthy living with them. It is such a great feeling when I help a client to make a turn around turn from poor nutrition choices to better choices and experience the improvement in health.

What are the most satisfying moments?

I always have a big smile on my face when a client makes the connection between the chronic disease of lifestyle and the bad food choices. Helping a client find the missing piece of the nutrition puzzle and transform their relationship with food is so rewarding.

What have been your career highlights?

I have worked in government, industry and private health sector. I have done a full circle in dietetics. I have been honoured to serve on the board of dietetics and nutrition for 10 years. I have learned about governance and regulations. I am on the ADSA executive committee, for the second time. I have completed my masters in dietetics. I have met amazing people through my dietetics journey.

What are the most challenging aspects of your career?

Nutrition misinformation. There is a lot of advise out there and it can be downright confusing to sort through it all and make sense of it. Most people can cook and think that dietetics is all about cooking. The majority of people forget that nutrition is a science, and the advise given is evidence based. Poor nutrition advice has life implications which have serious consequences.

How do you cope after a day of nutrition disaster and bad eating choices?

I am never on diet. I enjoy food. My motto is moderation is key.

What are the three things that you think people should stop saying when they meet a dietitian?

  • Email me a meal plan as if we are in a business of issuing out meal plans. People do not understand that a lifestyle change is needed to achieve a goal.
  • What should I do to lose weight?
  • Are carbohydrates fattening? No magic food causes weight loss and no food is inherently fattening. Eat a variety of foods from leagues, meat, dairy, grains, fruits, vegetables and small amount of fat daily.

What should clients look out for when deciding which dietitian to work with?

Look for a dietitian who understands your cultural background, beliefs, socio economic status and eating habits. Someone who will listen to you and work with you and be a partner through your journey to a healthier you.

What is your favourite dish and your favourite treat food?

My favourite dish  is samp and beans, spinach and beef stew.

My favourite treat is strawberry cheese cake.

To find a Registered Dietitian in your area, visit the Find a Registered Dietitian page on the ADSA website. 


Lentil, Pea and Sweet Potato Curry

Food blogger, Taryn Littleton, created this delicious curry for us.

We love the legume and sweet potato combo – both are sources of low glycemic index carbohydrates, rich in slowly digested starch and fibre, helping to control blood sugar levels.

Also, eating dry beans, peas and lentils at least 4 times a week can help prevent chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and overweight, as well as improving gut health.

 

INGREDIENTS (serves 6)

  • 2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (crushed)
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped or grated
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite-size cubes
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 5 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup reduced fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup vegetable
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp honey or brown sugar
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

METHOD 

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and cook the onions for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the garlic, carrot, ginger, ground coriander, cumin, turmeric and chili and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the potato and lentils and stir to coat with the spice mixture.
  3. Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, stock, garam masala, salt and sugar, bring to the boil and cover with a lid.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. While the curry simmers, cook the rice.
  6. Add the peas to the curry and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from the heat and stir in the coriander and lemon juice.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

Tomato and onion salsa: Combine 2 tomatoes chopped and ½ onion finely chopped. Season, mix and enjoy served with your curry.

Serve on a bed of rice with a dollop of plain yoghurt and with a tomato and onion salsa.

VARIATIONS

  • Replace the coriander with fresh mint. Serve with naan bread instead of rice.
  • For more nutrients add in a cup of frozen veg.

NUTRITION INFORMATION per serving (excludes serving suggestions, recipe serves 6)

Energy: 1316 kJ Protein: 10.6 g Carbohydrate: 52.0 g Of which, total sugars: 9.4 g Fat: 8.2 g Fibre: 10.0 g Sodium: 302 mg

Source and image: Taryn Littleton for the Association for Dietetics in South Africa