Archive | What I Eat RSS feed for this section

Banting Snacking

17 Mar

Kale Crisps by Earthshine.

Kale Crisps by Earthshine.

When people hear about my weight-loss success following the #LCHF or #Banting diet they always ask about my missing carbs. The truth is I don’t miss them.

What I miss is the freedom of just eating what I want to eat without thinking carefully about what’s in it.

Recreational eating is where I struggle the most: there are times when, against my better judgement, I just want something to nosh. Not out of hunger but simply because that’s what I feel like at the time.

Caesar's Salad with chicken at Tasha's.

Caesar’s Salad with chicken at Tasha’s.

My go-to snack of choice are roasted, salted nuts. I manage to avoid peanuts which means that not only is it a costly collection of almonds, walnuts, cashews, Brazilians etc but I’m never satisfied with just a few at a time. When the nut hunger arrives it is usually only placated after eating far, far too many of them.

My friend Natalie Reid started a raw food business some years ago and was in touch about her Earthshine Kale Crisps. Kale, I’m sure you know, is a superfood and I use it as the basis for my green smoothie – kale, celery, broccoli, avocado and ginger which gets me going in more ways than one. A 35g bag of Kale Crisps has, according to Natalie, 250g kale which has been dehydrated. She’s added vegan flavouring to give it a cheesy taste which tastes just the way I remember Sour Cream and Chives Pringle chips tasting.

Although most restaurants nowadays offer low-carb items we frequently head to Tasha’s for the best, imho, Caesar Salad. I add chicken and leave the croutons and always ask for my poached egg to be soft.

Pulp is another regular spot and I love their pesto chicken salad – I leave the carrots and tomatoes out and drench it in the supplied olive oil. On days when the psychological hunger needs to be fed, I order the HUGE Village Table Salad from Ocean Basket. This is one dish that takes me 30-minutes of active eating to finish and then I’m truly stuffed on the collection of olives, feta, cucumber, onions and tomatoes. At R70 it is brilliant value, in my opinion.

I was also thrilled to find Beluga still offering half-priced sushi – even the rice-free kind!

Rice-free sushi at Beluga

Rice-free sushi at Beluga

LCHF prawn & Avo salad

16 Mar

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASuccess in the kitchen has more to do with planning than it does with creativity or skill.

My biggest culinary lesson was how to prepare basic essentials in advance. The french call this mise en place but I call it being prepared.

This dish, smart enough for company at short notice, requires the following:

A batch of Banting Mayo

Chopped garlic

A packet of sun-dried tomatoes in oil

A packet of leaves

One Avo per person

Frozen prawn meat.

Olive oil

Hot sauce

Malden Salt and pepper

Here’s how you do it:

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.

Toss the still frozen prawns (10 per portion if they’re small) on a baking sheet, douse in olive oil, salt and pepper and liberal amounts of crushed garlic to keep vampires away.

Just as soon as the oven has reached 180, bung them in and roast for four minutes. Remove the tray, turn them over and roast for another four minutes. They should be coral in colour and firm but cooked through. Try one and add a minute or two more if they aren’t cooked all the way through. Prawns overcook easily and become mealy so take care.

Save the cooking juices.

Again, quantities here depend on the number of people you are serving, but prepare the avo by cutting them in half and removing the pip. Sprinkle with a drop of something acidic – lemon/vinegar etc or rub with an onion to prevent them going brown while oxidising. Arrange the lettuce leaves that you’ve tossed with olive oil and a splash of vinegar, on a plate with the two halves looking upward.

In a food processor or with a hand-held blender blitz the drained sun-dried tomato and now add, a tablespoon at a time, to the mayo and then the cooking juices and a dollop of hot sauce, if you can take it to make the sauce.

Tumble the warm prawns over your avo and top with a generous mount of my version of Marie Rose sauce.

Add more prawns and another avo to turn this into a main course. I like to serve bowls of Banting mayo and blitzed tomato on the side along with Tabasco or whatever your poison might be.

This dish can be made and eaten in 30 minutes if needs be.


Roasted fillet recipe – perfect LCHF

23 Feb

Was great to see my #LCHF recipes in Die Burger newspaper. If you missed it, here is the recipe for my roasted fillet.

All Recipes serve six with leftovers.

Roasted beef fillet.
1 Whole grass-fed beef fillet
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Maldon salt
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns 

Preheat your oven to its hottest temperature or prepare a hot indirect Weber fire.
Take the fillet out of the fridge one hour before you plan to cook it. Either slice the raw fillet into three so that the thickest part stands on its own or tie it up so that the whole piece of meat has a similar width once tied.
Dry the meat with kitchen paper. Grind the salt and pepper into a fine powder and make a paste of it with the oil. Cover the whole fillet with the paste and place it on a baking tray.
Roast for 25 minutes, removing the smaller cuts after 14 minutes for rare.

Cover with foil and allow to cool before slicing as thinly as you can and arranging, overlapped, on a platter. Garnish with  sprinkles of pomegranate seeds and a bunch of green herbs. Serve at room temperature.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Banting while travelling.

25 Nov

The great news is that if you also follow a #Banting or #LCHF diet you can now travel with impunity knowing that your culinary needs will, with advance notice, happily be taken care of.

That was certainly my experience on our recent Kwa-Zulu Natal visit, the highlight of which was our Pretoria to Durban Safari on board Rovos Rail. Our cuisine and accommodation highlight was our stay at Fairmont’s Zimbali Resort while our biggest disappointment, not of their making but of the weather’s, was our visit to Rocktail Bay to see the Rocktail Turtles.

If you’re staying in Durban our first choice is Suncoast Towers and in Pretoria we choose to stay at Protea’s Pretoria Manor Hotel while sanctuaries at the airports must be the SLOW lounge. Bon Voyage.

#LCHF PR-Net Trade event and #Banting while out

18 Aug

The conversation around Prof Tim Noakes’ 25g or less of carbohydrate a day with quality fat from olive oil, fish and meat in every meal and the hash tags  #LCHF and #Banting seems to be as angry as our world at war.

Rather than refute his theories in a constructive way that also educates us all, his naysayers describe him as criminal. For me the truth of his diet is irrefutable. I know that I can continue to eat pretty much what I like while maintaining my healthy weight but just slightly increasing my carb intake – from 100g of cashews, for example, reflects heavily on the scale the very next day.

Because I’m never really hungry doesn’t mean that I eat tiny portions – I wish I did, as it may be better for me. I still eat more than I need to because I enjoy the pleasure of it. I still eat emotionally when I feel overwhelmed. I’m behaviour hasn’t changed so very much. What has changed is what I eat and I continue to be disciplined in selecting low-carb foods that are sugar free.

I don’t mind engaging a server, like I did recently at Woolworth’s Willowbridge and Tasha’s at the Waterfront recently, to ask the kitchen to adjust a dish to meet LCHF.

There is regular news of new restaurants and suppliers joining The Banting Bandwagon and the high fat, but flour-free Gravy Train. As wonderful as it is to know restaurants are offering LCHF menus, we must remain vigilant. When it comes to maintaining my weight nothing is more important.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m not sure how some of the items on Bread & Butter’s  Sunningdale LCHF menu got there. A liberal sprinkling of cashew nuts and apple slices is not what the doctor orders nor is the addition of fresh peas to a dish for people on low-carb, low-sugar diet.

PR-Net Trade, a JV between Andrea Desfarges of PublicitySA and I, recently hosted Prof Noakes and LCHF suppliers to a meet-the-media event. It was great to see many that are already entrenched in my kitchen like Crede (say kra-day)  and Lancewood but a wonderful treat to connect with Cold Gold Ice Cream and fab yogurt supplier Curds & Whey and my school friend Denise of Caring Candies, who first introduced me to xylitol.

Janine van Zyl, of Cold Gold Ice Cream also helped the chef at the stellar Coopmanshujs Hotel and Restaurant create a #LCHF dinner for us Saturday. What a treat and proof that with advance notice and a willingness to accommodate fussy diners, miracles can and do happen.

Brownie points: #LCHF grain free, low-sugar chocolate brownies

8 Jun

Brian's brownie

Brian’s brownie


Good chocolate can satisfy the craving for something sweet, even when it isn’t. I spike these with chilli so that endorphins are released from both the choco and chilli. I restrain the Xylitol purposely as the goal is to want sweet-tasting things less and less.


400g unsalted butter

400g 70% bitter chocolate (buy the best you can)

6 tablespoons brewed espresso

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 teaspoons Maldon salt

3 teaspoons smoked chilli flakes

100g Xylitol

100g coconut flour

100g raw almonds

6 large (more than 51g) whole eggs

6 large egg yolks


Brownie points

Brownie points

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees c. I use the fan setting.

Melt the chocolate, espresso, butter and vanilla either in the microwave or over a double boiler. Take care not to overheat the chocolate as it will seize and be wasted.

Beat the eggs and beat in the melted but cooled chocolate/butter mix to incorporate well.

Mix the coconut flour, salt and chilli flakes together and add to the egg and chocolate, mixing well.

Spread evenly onto a baking sheet that you have lined with silicone or baking paper. Bake for 20 minutes if you have used a baking sheet or for 25 minutes if you are using a pan that is deeper (with less surface). Cool and refrigerate overnight before cutting into squares. I think these are better when they are luscious and soft in the centre so I err on the side of under baking these. Also note that the xylitol causes these to darken quicker than you expect.

I experimented adding lime zest to the recipe but I think orange zest would work better. Also consider dried berries, (cranberries or goji berries for preference) instead of the nuts or use half nuts, half berries but be aware of the sugars, albeit natural, in the berries.

I consider these practically sugar free but I haven’t succeeded in finding good chocolate that contains no sugar at all. Please let me know if you do.

Perfect #lchf no-sugar cheese cake

3 Jun

Cheesecake blog

500g (two packets) firm cream cheese at room temperature. I use Lancewood or Philadelphia

2 vanilla pods, seeds scraped or 2 teaspoons best vanilla extract

The finely grated zest from four limes

The juice from two limes, or two tablespoons of lime juice

6 large egg yolks

2 large whole eggs

150g or scant 3/4 cup xyletol

large pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. (I use the fan setting).

Line the base and grease the sides of a 20cm spring-release tin. Using two pieces of heavy foil, wrap the base of the tin so that no water will penetrate it during baking.

Have a larger roasting pan at the ready to place the wrapped tin into and use it as a water bath. Take care that once the cake tin is placed in the roasting tin that you are able to fill it with just-boiled water to at least half-way up the tin (but not so much water that it spills into the cake batter).

Mix all the ingredients together so that it is one perfectly homogenous batter. A rule in baking is that all your ingredients must be at the same temperature. This is even more essential here and your cheese must be soft or you must soften it first by beating the hell out of it. I leave it out the fridge overnight. I mix this in my food processor, fitted with the steel cutting blade.

Bake the cake in its water bath for 55 minutes.

The top should be a burnished golden and it should feel set to the touch. It will continue to set as it cools and even more so when refrigerated. Wait for it to be chilled before carefully removing it from the tin. I turn it upside down onto a plate to make removing the base of the tin easier and then, using another plate, turn it right side up. Sometimes I only bake it for 50 minutes and then the centre is more like a mousse. It doesn’t slice as well this way.

I think it is at its best taken out the fridge 30 minutes before eating it.


Eating #LCHF while travelling The Garden Route.

27 May

We’ve just returned from 10-days away. My biggest anxiety when I travel is that I won’t be able to keep my weight stable and that it will be difficult for me to make good food choices.

I’m very pleased to report that I remain at 81kg which should help reduce my anxiety about getting fat again, the next time we travel. I’m also amazed that while many places provided special #lchf dishes for me, I was also able to successfully order from a menu and ask for substitutions.

This trip I was able to do things not previously possible: I hiked and climbed the Witsand route in the Robberg Reserve; went zip-lining over the Kleins River; did the full heritage tour of The Cango Caves and, enjoyed being active and exploring our beautiful environment. Oh, and I’m getting really comfortable on horseback.

I can have my cake and eat it!

23 Mar

No carb no sugar cheese cake.

No carb no sugar cheese cake.

Totally stoked to have devised a recipe that I can bake without fear that I’m pushing sugars and carbs onto addicts.

For my no-carb, no sugar berry cheese cake I made the “biscuit” base by blitzing desiccated coconut, a few unsalted almonds and coconut oil until it clumped together. I added a drop of vanilla extract for flavour.

I baked the base in a spring-release tin for 12 minutes at 180 degrees.

The filling is cheese, cheese, cheese and egg yolks. Usually I only make cheese cakes with Philadelphia-style cream cheese but I didn’t have enough in the fridge to I mixed one block of Philly, one tub of mascarpone and one tup of smooth cottage cheese in the food processor with a table spoon of vanilla extract. I added eight egg yolks and a table spoon of xyletol.

Bake in a water bath in the oven for 1 hour at 180. Unmould once chilled,  top with Greek yogurt and arrange berries prettily.

The next version will have three table spoons xyletol and the  zest and juice of a lemon.

I came up with this recipe after reading a similar one in Lose It magazine, the new magazine dedicated to shedding weight the “Tim Noakes way.” You can download the magazine by following this link.




Quality ingredients and eateries that cater to fussy tastes impress over “smart” spots

5 Feb

With money ever tighter there have to be compelling reasons to invest in dining out. When I wrote reviews about dining out I’d often suggest saving three or four ordinary meals to enjoy an extra-ordinary food experience believing instead that more value was delivered at the top end. Following a recent experience at Waterkloof Restaurant on Waterkloof Estate in Somerset West I’m no longer of that opinion.

The cured trout at Waterkloof was the only dish that impressed me.

The cured trout at Waterkloof was the only dish that impressed me.

A table for three was booked in writing. With a week’s notice I let them know I followed a no sugar, no starch, low carb, no alcohol diet. When they confirmed the reservation they also generously noted that they’d recorded my dietary requirements.

With one of the most dramatic tasting rooms and restaurant locations, Waterkloof has every right to bill a premium and I knew it was R350 per head for three courses (R40 is added if you order cheese) when I booked. Beverages and tips are extra.

However, when what’s on the plate doesn’t match up to the view or the price I feel cheated. The fact that they had us down for two and not three when we arrived was irritating but not the end of the world. Despite me telling the waiter about my limited diet they still, unthinkingly, served a sorbet between courses and my monk fish main arrived with the advertised samp despite me asking the waiter when I ordered it to provide an alternative.

I left the restaurant very disappointed by an experience where I feel that my fussy requests were ignored and, to add injury to insult, the monk fish was overcooked.

By contrast, two recent meals at little, unassuming bistros, impressed me.

Salmon, cream cheese salad at Just Pure Bistro

Salmon, cream cheese salad at Just Pure Bistro

At Just Pure Bistro, attached to Just Pure cosmetics in Hermanus, the quality of the ingredients and flavourful dressings make an ordinary-sounding salad something delicious. Great sea views didn’t hurt either nor did a under R100 for lunch bill.

Treat at Hertex Fabrics in Durbanville impressed me when I  enjoyed cakes and pastries and it continues to now. As a temple to sugar and carbs, if anyone had a right to return attitude when asked for no-carb no-sugar options they do but requests are met with the same genuine affection offered to all clients. Despite being busy they were open to serving the pulled pork sandwich as a salad instead and wow, was it delicious – juicy and flavour-packed pork with Tex-Mex attitude and condiments. For under R100 a person we each had a main dish and cappuccino.

Pulled-pork salad at Treat

Pulled-pork salad at Treat


Look, I’m not naive. Obviously the overheads at an establishment like Waterkloof are many times that of a regular restaurant but if their business model is based on the income of a plate of food from the restaurant alone it is doomed to fail.

As more of us change the way we eat those restaurants that don’t make the effort to happily accommodate the fussy eater may find a To-Let sign in the window in time to come. If you’re also a fussy eater I’d certainly recommend you have four meals at Bistro and Treat before you have one at Waterkloof.