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Rice an inspiration during lockdown, says Zama Gcaba

Zama Gcaba at the office at Durban Transport, a public bus company.
Zama Gcaba at the office at Durban Transport, a public bus company.
Image: Photos Supplied

Rice is the secret weapon you're looking for. This is according to Zama Gcaba, a food, lifestyle and fitness influencer.

Gcaba says if you're fatigued by all the cooking you're doing during the national lockdown and you're trying for variety you should look to this grain for inspiration.

"I cook a lot of rice and then the next day, I add whatever vegetables I have to it [for the next meal]. If I've been eating green beans, I chop any leftovers and add them to the rice. The same goes for spinach, mushrooms and even coleslaw.

"There are so many variations of rice, it's not as boring as it was in the past," she says.

And she's right, consumers now have access to a lot of rice options - from basmati, to brown or wild and even jasmine rice, they're all in stores.

Different rice types offer more options for delicious dishes.
Different rice types offer more options for delicious dishes.

Gcaba, whose day job is as revenue manager at Durban Transport, a bus company, posts her recipes on Instagram and hosts private cooking lessons for couples, individuals and even large corporate groups. She has appeared on Somizi's show Living The Dream, as she acts as his private chef when he is in Durban. Gcaba says she's always had a love for food. When she was little, she would spent her time reading books about cooking that she borrowed from the school library, she says.

Her biggest influence in the kitchen, however, was her grandmother, MaSithebe.

"We used to cook together when I was younger but now she lets me cook on my own.

"She says I'm a better cook than her now. My grandmother is 88 years old and never suffered from diabetes or high blood pressure and I believe it's because of the way she used to cook food. "

She taught Gcaba all the traditional food she knows.

Fruit makes for excellent dessert.
Fruit makes for excellent dessert.

The Umlazi-born Gcaba says to curb those seemingly endless trips to the fridge, you should do the tried-and-tested method of eating six small portions per day.

"In the morning, I have porridge, then a full breakfast and then snack on some fruit or vegetables, then I have lunch, after that I snack again maybe on some nuts or fruit then have dessert."

She emphasises that we should be eating as much fruit and vegetables as we can just to bolster our bodies and also to help get essential nutrients as we "never know when we can get our multivitamins"

"[Food] should be tasty, replenish and rejuvenate our bodies."

The beauty who looks far younger than her 35 years, says protein is key in your diet, and you must avoid carbs for dinner.

Image: Supplied

"If I'm eating meat for supper I like to grill it in sheet pan, and add about half a cup of water in to allow the meat to cook in its own fat," adds Gcaba who also advises for roasting of vegetables.

"In winter, soup is a must. I like bone soup, butternut soup as well as mushroom soup. People must also try potato and leek soup."

She encourages the eating of meals with lentils, sweet potatoes, carrots because they too have vitamin C, and spinach.

"I am anaemic, my life revolves around spinach. I'm currently working on a brown rice and spinach recipe."

Keeping yourself healthy should of course be tackled in multiple ways, just as much as eating and preparing food in a healthy way is important so is exercise. Take care of your mental health as well as your image, she advises.

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