Healthy South African dishes to indulge in this heritage month

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With so many cultures in South Africa, Heritage Month presents the perfect opportunity to experience the various cuisines enjoyed by the different cultures found in our diverse country. “This September embraced all South African cultures and cuisine but remember to keep it healthy, and to practise portion control,” says Renny Letswalo, Non-Executive Chairperson at Cambridge Weight Plan. “Also these foods should be eaten earlier in the day, so that your body has enough time to digest them, and has enough time during the day to use up the energy,” adds Letswalo.  

So, which are some of the healthy traditional food you can indulge in without increasing the bulge?


Usually made from beef, ostrich or kudu meat, this savoury snack can be enjoyed plain or served with a tangy parsley puree.  Meat is a major source of five of the B-complex vitamins namely thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. 


Morogo is a Setswana word for vegetables and refers to a group of at least three different dark green leafy vegetables found throughout Southern Africa. Also known as wild or African spinach and used to prepare traditional South African dishes. Morogo leaves have lots of protein. The ultimate vitamin content is dependent on the age of the plant and method of preparation; the plants contain vitamin A and vitamin C and complement the low levels of calcium, magnesium and iron in maize.


This Cape Malay dish comprises of spiced lamb or beef, topped with an egg-and-milk layer and browned in the oven. You could even add apples, raisins which work well with the curry powder and turmeric lending to the golden colour of the dish. Include coconut cream and almonds for an extra kick. Coconut milk is a good source of several vitamins and minerals such as protein, vitamin C, folate, iron, magnesium, potassium and selenium.

Mogodu with ting

Enjoyed all over the world from Spain to China, stewed tripe is also a popular comfort food on the southern tip of Africa. Slow cooked for hours until soft, decrease the amount of fat in the mogodu to make it healthier. Ting, is a soft porridge made from fermented mabele/sorghum. Did you know that sorghum helps manage diabetes, aids in improving heart and digestive health and is beneficial in maintaining healthy bones?


A tasty species of mackerel that populates the seas around South Africa, snoek can be tricky to eat due to all its fine bones but get through the bones and you will be rewarded with the taste. Snoek is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which are known to lower harmful cholesterol.


This dish pairs samp with beans to make a filling and nutritious side dish. Umngqusho tastes delicious with any slow-cooked stew. Beans offer several nutrients such as zinc, iron, magnesium and fibre.

Just make sure to listen to your body, listen when your body tells you it has had enough and know what it can tolerate adds Letswalo.