Build a better sandwich

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Craving a BLT – but not the kJ?

Makeovers aren't just for the cosmetics counter. Some of the most popular lunch choices are high in fat, sodium and kilojoules – and could benefit from some sprucing up.

So how can you have your sandwich and eat it too?

Rather than using fresh veggies as the secondary element, make them the star, says dietitian Jennifer Nelson. "A plant-based diet can help control weight and decrease your risk of heart disease stroke, diabetes and some cancers.”

So, besides the obvious, try working beetroot, red cabbage, sprouts and grated carrots into your daily bread. In other words, lettuce is just the tip of the iceberg.

The secret’s in the mix

Wondering whether to follow high-protein or low-glycaemic index diet?

A combo of the two may be best. Danish researchers found that dieters who got up to a quarter of their kilo-joules from protein (think lean meats and fish) and most of the rest from low-GI carbs (like sweet potato, beans and rolled oats) lost an average of 8kg in just a few months. They speculate that protein helps keep you full, while low-GI foods prevent the hunger spikes that can spark overeating. If you're serious about keeping off the weight, aim to cut out finely refined starch, such as white bread, biscuits and other baked items. A balanced meal should ideally be made up of a portion of both lean protein and lower GI (higher fibre) starch and lots of colour from nature's colour palette for optimal blood glucose and weight control.

A Pro Touch

If this coffee-table cookbook doesn't inspire you to climb into your kitchen, then nothing will. 32 Inspirational Chefs: Taste of Relais & Chateaux is an African-inspired cookbook that serves up a unique collection of menus. It brings together the styles and techniques of some of the most highly regarded chefs in Southern and East Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands. Recipes are clearly laid out, so following the methods will help to ensure a flawless result. Every dish is mouth-wateringly photographed and captures a taste of the exotic location it originates from. Find it at leading bookstores. See relaischateaux.com for info.

Prevent Burnout

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Garlic sizzling in a pan is our favourite foodie fragrance. But don't let it burn as it turns bitter. To prevent this, place oil over a low heat. Gently increase the heat until the cloves turn a buttery yellow colour.

Or try this: Wrap whole heads of garlic in foil and nestle on a bed of coals on the side of your fire. Allow to cook slowly for anything up to one hour. Remove foil and squeeze the gooey garlic paste out of each clove. Enjoy with any dish.


A pinch of salt

Tamsin Snyman , SHAPE’s food editor, shares her cooking tips and styling trends with you.

• 1 teaspoon of sea salt in a bottle of milk prevents souring.

• A pinch of sea salt in coffee garlic cloves in a little canola enhances the taste.

Our bodies need a daily intake of pure, natural salt as well as water. Unprocessed salt promotes healthy cell growth and maintains the electrolyte balance inside and outside of the cells.

5 of the best salts – Gourmet salts have become the essential prestige cooking ingredient. We’ve selected the healthiest for your table.

V17 Vital Vegetable salt: With 27 percent less salt, V17 is a great substitute if you want to reduce your sodium intake while keeping the flavor. It contains a blend of dried yeast, lucern powder and celery seed powder, and is free from preservatives.

Khoisan Natural Unrefined Sea Salt: Switch to an environmentally responsible salt with a low carbon footprint. It’s solar hand-harvested sea salt and comes from a 400-year old brine in St Helena Bay in the Western Cape. Due to the filtering process through shell beds, the salt is higher in calcium content and lower in sodium.

Woolworths Rosemary & Olive Flake Sea Salt: These delicate flakes from the Mediterrariean are formed through natural sea water evaporation. They’re hand-harvested and blended with rosemary, olive and garlic to create a delicious flavor. Crush them into a baked potato with fat free cottage cheese or add them to your mashed potatoes.

Rickety Bridge Shiraz Sea Salt: Made at the history Rickety Bridge wine estate in Franschhoek, this gourmet salt has no colorants, additives or preservatives. Sprinkle over a baked potato or onto vichyssoise. Also great for seasoning baked or braaied fish.

Oryx Desert Salt – Mini-Flake: This 100 percent natural salt is harvested from a sustainable underground brine lake in the Kalahari. It contains vital minerals and trace elements. The salt also helps to keep your body alkaline due to its magnesium and potassium content.

Fish Finger

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They may be a hit with kids but store-bought fish fingers are not always nutritious.

Here's my healthy, home-made take on this fast favourite.

The success of this recipe stems from the days I had my own catering company and a pick-up-and-go ready-made-meal division that dictated a demand for fish the whole family could enjoy. Over a seven-year period, this became my most ordered menu item.

These fish fingers go beauti­fully with soft garlicky mash (which I make with fat-free milk and Dijon mustard — and no-one knows the difference!). They're also great lunch-box nibbles for kids or pack per-fectly for picnics on the beach or in the park, satisfying both the yum factor and mum's healthy check list.

The fish finger was invented in the 1920s to help fishermen find bigger markets for their increasingly large catches of cod. Now most types of whitefish will do — and even Jamie Oliver has enthusiastically climbed on the fish-finger bandwagon. When making these, double or treble the recipe and freeze uncooked fish fingers for a rainy day.

Makes 25-30

·           4 T low-fat mayonnaise

·           ½ C fat-free creamed cottage cheese

·           1 T wholegrain mustard

·           Zest and juice of half a lemon

·           Pinch paprika

·           Cooking spray

·           ½ C flour

·           Pinch milled black pepper

·           4 T low-kJ beer

·           1 T wholegrain mustard

·           1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

·           2 large egg whites

·           1 large egg

·           2 slices stale wholewheat bread

·           4 T pumpkin seeds, toasted

·           1 T ground coriander

·           450 g hake fish fillets

1.    Dip: whisk together the first 5 ingredients. Cover and chill.

2.    Set the oven to 180°C.

3.    Lightly grease a baking tray with cooking spray.

4.    Mix flour and pepper in a shallow dish. Add next five ingredients to another shallow dish. Whisk until foamy.

5.    Pulse bread, seeds and coriander in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Place in a shallow dish.

6.    Cut fish into fat fingers. Sprinkle with salt. Dredge each piece in the flour mixture, then dip in the egg mixture. Finish by coating each piece of fish in the breadcrumb mixture.

7.    Place fish on baking tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Turn fish once during cooking time. Serve immediately with the dip and lemon wedges.

Nutrition score per serving:12.6 g fat, 30.4 g protein, 4.6 g fibre, 223 g carbohydrate, sugar 2.9 g

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