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Fight the Christmas bulge: Chef Nzimande shares her thoughts

Chef Nzimande gives advice on how to fight the dreaded Christmas bulge.
Professional chef Jabu Nzimande believes that all meals can be delicious and healthy. (Photo: Supplied)
Written by Pamela Madonsela

It’s that time of the year when family members get together and cook up a storm and shop until they drop – all in the name of the festive season. Health-e News caught up with professional chef Jabu Nzimande for some tips on how to eat healthy without too many regrets while celebrating Christmas.

Nzimande said that it’s important to remember that we shouldn’t reward ourselves with food to begin with.

A time to be merry … and healthy

“The Christmas season is just a couple of days. We eat to live, we don’t live to eat. There is no need to indulge irresponsibly and then blame it on the season,” she explained.

“But, family gatherings aren’t complete without a hearty meal made with love. Most of the food can be amazing but still healthy and nutritious. From burgers to pizzas to baked goods – there’s always a way to make it beneficial to our bodies. We teach our students to adopt a lifestyle that doesn’t rob them of eating all their favourite meals. An emphasis is placed on the choice of ingredients before you make the food,” said Nzimande.

Meet the chef

Nzimande, who hails from the Mpumalanga township in KwaZulu-Natla, said her passion for food eventually led her to Capsicum Culinary studio.

“I enrolled at DUT to study accounting which wasn’t my first option. I really wanted to study performing arts and technology but my family didn’t believe it in. So, it didn’t end up well.

A spark which turned into a fire

Nzimande said her passion for cooking has always been there.

“Home Economics was one of my matric subjects which I loved so much and I’m so grateful it was an option. My favourite part of was anything culinary,” she said.

“I would always look forward to going home after practicals to cook or bake whatever we made in class. I would always try and add my own touch and it was very satisfying when it came out how I had planned. It wasn’t always possible because my mother would have to buy all the ingredients and our budget didn’t always allow for this. But, this didn’t stop me because I made do with what we had. This actually helped me become versatile which is a blessing now and a great skill.”

One healthy meal at a time

Chef Jabu’s ability to create delicious, yet healthy meals makes her stand out.

“My first thought is to think of the best and healthiest way of cooking or baking a dish. I realised that we as chefs, have the power in our hands to influence the decisions of many families. This can save generations to come,” she added.

She said one healthy meal at a time can avoid many unnecessary ailments that are caused by bad eating habits.

“It’s my wish for people to realise that healthy eating isn’t dull food with no flavour. Healthy eating is packed with flavour and leaves you feeling fuller for longer. It rewards your body with great nutrients which it needs.”

Spend the money now rather

It is widely believed that eating healthily is expensive. But Nzimande believes it’s better to break your pocket on healthy ingredients than on medication.

“It’s literally becoming a choice of what’s of value to you. Either way, you are leaving a legacy behind – healthy eating or a life sustained by medication? Kids grow up eating what’s being offered at home. The big question is: what are you putting on the table? Is it to give life or take life away?,” said Nzimande.

Think clearly when shopping 

Shopping malls are buzzing and Nzimande advices to not go grocery shopping when you’re hungry.

“Do your shopping in the mornings when the fresh produce has just been unpacked.  Don’t overspend, check the sell-by dates and remember shops stock up all the time so don’t buy for next month, this month.

She said eating healthily is each one’s responsibility.

“The right time to start taking control of your eating habits is now. It starts with a mindset, followed by plan, execution and consistency.” – Health-e News 

About the author

Pamela Madonsela

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