Another one of my ‘secrets’ is…having a fantastic chef for a Mother.
Like I said in my previous post, healthy eating is my family’s way of life. This makes it a lot easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
From when I was very young, sweets and chocolates were not something you were likely to find a lot of in my pantry. I was raised to make healthy decisions and I owe a lot of my eating habits and my lifestyle to my parents. I was never a child who craved sweets or drank fizzy cold drinks. In fact, I think I’ve maybe had 5 fizzy drinks in the last 5 years (champagne doesn’t count of course), and that is because we never had them in our house. In many ways this has made healthy choices a lot easier for me because it has been a habit for most of my life. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that I don’t like sweets or the odd choccie or that I don’t eat these things from time to time but it’s just not something we’ve kept a lot of in my house.
Those of you who have seen some of my pics of my nightly meals on Instagram or Snapchat might think that I a) live in a hotel or b) have a Michelin chef for a Mother but alas, my amazing Mother is a self-taught chef who has a passion for cooking and serving her family delicious meals every night. If you have had the privilege of eating dinner at my house you will know that my praises are well-founded, for my Mother is seriously good at all things cooking. She also claims to have only been able to make toast when she married my Dad, so there’s hope for me yet!
Other than attending some of Susan Greig’s cooking courses back in Joburg every now and then, my Mum has for the most part taught herself everything she knows and has adopted the philosophy of practice makes perfect.
As a family, we mainly eat chicken. I would say probably 4 nights a week on average. But if you are imagining plain chicken breasts, you would be mistaken. Despite eating a lot of chicken, my Mum finds new ways to prepare it which means that our meals taste different every night.
Whether she is preparing a risotto, a pasta or stuffing chicken breasts, she always finds healthy substitutes or simply prepares the meal in a very healthy way. This is especially true when it comes to replacing butter and cream. These two ingredients are often used to add flavour to meals, and let’s face it, they really do work but you can make a meal taste delicious without using either. So, in something like a curry where a recipe uses cream, my Mum will replace it with yogurt or with a low fat coconut milk. And in baking, she will substitute buttermilk or a low fat cottage cheese for butter. These are small changes that can be made to many meals but can make a massive difference in making your meals much healthier. You don’t need the extra calories that butter and cream add.
We also don’t eat a lot of red meat.
Although it is a favourite of mine, we don’t eat a lot of it due to it not being as healthy as a white meat option. (Chicken has approximately 14% fat, while a beef fillet has about 25% fat and is more caloric). We have a beef fillet once every 2 weeks (more or less), usually served with my Mum’s world class roasted potatoes, which she grills in the pan. The cut of your meat is obviously important too. I always go for a fillet because it is usually less fatty (albeit more expensive) but always tasty.
It truly is remarkable what small changes can be made to cooking in order to reduce the amount of unnecessary calories you are taking in. Gone are the days of healthy food being bland and unexciting.
So in summary, the secret is to care enough about what you are putting into your body to take the time to use ingredients that are healthy, or find healthier substitutes to recipes, or simply just replace cooking with butter for cooking with olive oil. Every little bit counts.
Amber Denae xxx