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The smell of the charcoal, the hiss of the flame, the fun of a braai. Mayo-laden side salads, mystery meat hot dogs and greasy hot chips are all staples on a braai day, which can make navigating a braai a little tough. Think beyond the traditional favourites. So, in the spirit of heritage day I’ve decided to share with you my top 3 secret recipes and tips for a delicious and nutritious braai day.

Even the most veggie-averse guests will enjoy grilled vegetables because the intense heat from the braai brings out the natural simple sugars in the veggies. Put them on kebab sticks for convenience and to reduce cooking time. Use mushrooms, onions, squashes, asparagus, cherry tomatoes and mixed peppers. Be sure to cut the veggies into similar size cubes and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, freshly squeezed lemon juice and herbs before grilling.

Be careful not to burn! There are reasons not to char your food that go far beyond Gordon Ramsey’s culinary concerns: two compounds found in charred and overcooked meats called heterocyclic amine and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are known carcinogens (cancer causing substances). The fix? Make sure to clean the braai properly to get rid of pre-existing charred food bits. Next, marinate your food before you grill it. Many spices, herbs and flavours, such as rosemary, turmeric, onions and garlic have been shown to reduce the presence of these carcinogens. And of course, don’t overcook your foods.

Spring has sprung, which means its time to take advantage of all the fresh produce the seasons has to offer. Swap out your chips for salads and get creative with your ingredients. Think pomegranate seeds, corn, beets, avocado and radish. Swap butter lettuce for watercress or baby spinach. And mix up your salad dressing with chillis, poppy seeds or basil. This braai day I’ll be serving my favourite refreshing Asian pickled cucumber salad. Oh, alright! I’ll share the recipe with you:

What you’ll need?

  1. 2 English cucumbers

  2. 1 cup rice wine vinegar

  3. 2 tablespoons olive oil

  4. 1 tablespoon sesame oil

  5. 1 dessert spoon xylitol

  6. 1 red chilli thinly sliced

  7. 1 teaspoon crushed garlic

  8. 1 teaspoon crushed ginger

  9. 1 dessert spoon coriander

  10. 1 avocado sliced

  11. 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

How to do it?

Slice the cucumbers into long ribbons, preferably not including the seeds. Place the sliced cucumbers in a zip lock bag. Add the rice wine vinegar, olive oil, sesame oil, xylitol, chilli, garlic, ginger and coriander. Close the zip lock bag, and massage the cucumbers. Leave in the fridge for about an hour (the longer you leave it the more powerful the flavour of the cucumber). Before serving, cut the avocado into cubes, mix into the cucumbers and sprinkle over the sesame seeds. YUM!

Quick and easy!

My most important tip? Be realistic and enjoy yourself. Hey, you’re entitled to taste all that a braai offers. Remember, that one bad meal isn’t a deal breaker. Stressing too much over what to eat can actually ruin an otherwise enjoyable braai and good company. Here’s to a braai day well done – Chill and Grill! 



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