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From boerekos to plant-based

Mariza Ebersohn lived in France for six years with her rugby player husband, Robert, before returning to Bloemfontein last year. Here she chats about their French adventure and what prompted her to adopt a plant-based lifestyle.

We’re a family of four. Our son is five and our daughter two. We have very different personalities, but it has kept things interesting over the past few years, especially with moving back to Bloemfontein. We’ve seen them flourish around family and friends, which has made us so happy to see!

We moved to France in 2013 one day after getting married, ready for new adventures… not really knowing that this would be one of the biggest lessons of our lives. We moved four times, had two kids in a foreign country, no family, and no house to call our own. But, it’s been the biggest gift to experience it all, learn a new language, and make friends from all over the world.

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I initially became plant-based by cutting out dairy. After struggling with an ulcer, I instantly felt a huge difference. After visiting my sister in Geneva and eating a 100 percent plant-based diet, I knew I had to make the full switch.

I come from a proper boerekos background and when we moved abroad, I was making these recipes but missed them once I started to eat plant-based. Bobotie and melktert were one of the first recipes I tried to make plant-based and they taste almost like the real thing.

When we go to a braai, I’ll bring braai mushrooms or corn on the cob. I’ve learnt that I have to cater for myself and not expect others to cater for a life they’re not familiar with.

Robert has been supportive of me going plant-based. He eats 80 percent plant-based with meat on the side, while our son eats to live and our daughter lives to eat.

I started my Instagram page called lifeinthesouth.co because I needed a creative outlet. One can learn to speak French, exercise, shop and drink coffee for only so long before you need more. After realising that I love to cook, I thought this must be it! I then started to test recipes, bake, take photos, and my love for cook and baking grew.

I host demos for women. With a drink in hand, they enjoy time with their friends while learning something new. I also bake vegan cakes and goodies, and I can be booked to cater for events and provide consultation for plant-based menus.

In future, I’d love to have my own studio where I can shoot recipes and do content creation for brands. I’m also starting an online shop where I’ll sell products from my favourite brands. And, there’s definitely a recipe book in my future!

Mariza’s tangy lentil bobotie

2 cups canned/freshly cooked brown lentils (drained)

1 small red onion diced

1/4 cup chopped red or yellow pepper

1 cup cooked or frozen butternut or any other soft pumpkin

1/4 cup chopped dried apricots

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 heaped tbsp good quality or homemade apricot jam or chutney

2 cups vegetable stock

1 1/4 tsp Ras el Hanout curry spice

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1-2 garlic cloves or 1/2 tsp garlic flakes

1 tbsp tomato puree

salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil for frying

“Egg” topping

2 tbsp cornstarch

1 coconut cream

1/3 cup plant milk

2-3 bay leaves

1/3 tsp turmeric powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup pine nuts

Chili flakes (optional)

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Slice the red onion and red pepper, and fry in the olive oil, add the garlic, curry spices and the mustard seeds. Fry until fragrant and then add the lentils and pumpkin, and cook until soft; halfway through add the apple cider vinegar, apricot jam, and tomato puree. Lastly, add the dried apricots and vegetable stock, let it simmer, and then scoop into an ovenproof dish. Mix the “egg” topping and pour onto the bobotie, sprinkle over the pine nuts, and top with bay leaves. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Serve with fluffy rice, sliced banana, chutney, and shredded coconut.

Find Mariza at [email protected], or DM her on Instagram at lifeinthesouth.co

For catering and demos, go to Instagram bonapp_co or Facebook lifeinthesouth.co

Text: MARGARET LINSTRÖM. Photos: PIERCE VAN HEERDEN

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