HomeFOODAll Things FoodTasty heart-healthy braai recipes to try

Tasty heart-healthy braai recipes to try

During the COVID-19 outbreak, South Africans are encouraged to eat healthily to boost immunity and lower their risk of diseases of lifestyle, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

For those who love braaiing, Pharma Dynamics has teamed up with well-known food consultant and cookbook author, Heleen Meyer and the Heart and Stroke Foundation (HSF) to develop heart-healthy braai recipes as part of its popular, Cooking from the Heart cookbook series.

Nicole Jennings, spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics says the braai edition contains 30 recipes that cater for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. “The recipes include healthy, homemade marinades and seasonings, snacks, sides and salads, as well as vegetarian dishes and even desserts.

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“Many of the meals we share are around a braai fire, but it is often accompanied by food that’s not healthy for our hearts. We aim to make people a bit more conscious of the nutritional faux pas they make when braaiing.”

The recipes are all easy to make, affordable and consist of essential ingredients, which make them ideal for cooking during the lockdown. It even carries Jan Braai’s stamp of approval!

Try some of these recipes from Cooking from the Heart’s special braai edition:  


These skewers are delicious braaied over the coals.


125 g button mushrooms, halved

3 baby marrows, thickly sliced

200 g baby tomatoes

1 green, yellow or red pepper, seeded and cut into large cubes

15 – 20 bay or fresh lemon or lime leaves (optional)

8 – 10 metal skewers or wooden kebab sticks, soaked in water for 30 minutes

¼ cup (60 ml) olive or canola oil

3 tbsp (45 ml) lemon juice

1 tbsp (15 ml) finely grated lemon rind

2 tsp (10 ml) each chopped fresh thyme, origanum and parsley

1 clove of garlic, crushed black pepper to taste

½ tsp (2,5 ml) salt


  1. Place mushrooms in a shallow dish and cover with boiling water. Soak for 8 – 10 minutes to prevent the mushrooms from breaking apart when skewered. Drain well and pat dry.
  2. Thread mushrooms and veggies onto skewers or kebabs sticks, alternating the different veggies for a colourful result. Add 1 – 2 bay, lemon or lime leaves in between veggies.
  3. Mix oil, lemon juice and rind, herbs and garlic together and season with pepper.
  4. Brush oil mixture onto skewers on all sides and marinate for 30 minutes. Season skewers with salt.
  5. Grill over medium to low coals or until the veggies are just cooked, but not too soft. Brush with more of the marinade, while braaiing, if necessary.
  6. The kebabs can be served with the Pea & yoghurt dip or Cottage cheese dip on pages 48 and 49. Serve with a protein-rich vegetarian dish for a balanced meal.


  1. Add pineapple to the skewers for a sweet flavour – it is delicious with pork or chicken.
  2. A pinch of cumin or paprika or a chopped chilli can be added to the oil mixture if preferred.
  3. For a different flavour add 1 tbsp (15 ml) finely grated fresh ginger or add 1 tsp (5 ml) mild mustard to the oil mixture.  




¼ cup (60 ml) olive or canola oil

3 tbsp (45 ml) red grape or apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp (30 ml) soy sauce

4 tsp (20 ml) finely grated fresh ginger

1 small red chilli, seeded and finely chopped, or to taste (optional)

3 tbsp (45 ml) chopped fresh coriander or parsley

¼ cup (60 ml) finely chopped unsalted peanuts lemon juice and black pepper to taste


500 ml (2 cups) each shredded white and red cabbage (or more white)

1 large spinach leaf, shredded

2 carrots, peeled and coarsely grated

¼ cucumber, quartered and thinly sliced

1 medium pineapple, quartered and thinly sliced

1 celery stalk with the leaves, thinly sliced

½ red or green pepper, seeded, quartered and thinly sliced


  1. Dressing: Stir all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
  2. Salad: Mix all the slaw ingredients in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss well. Allow salad to stand for 10 – 15 minutes before serving it. This will allow the salad to marinate.
  3. Serve slaw as a side dish at a braai.


  1. This dressing can be used as a marinade for fish, chicken, pork or veggies.
  2. Add toasted coconut to the dressing instead of the peanuts.
  3. Serve with steak or leftover braaied chicken in whole-wheat rolls or pitas.



3 cups (750 ml) coarse mealie meal

2 cups (500 ml) water

1½ cups (375 ml) low-fat milk

½ tsp (2,5 ml) salt

¼ cup (60 ml) olive or canola oil

1 x 410 g tin cream style sweetcorn

1 small onion, cut into thin wedges

3 tbsp (45 ml) chopped fresh parsley

¼ cup (60 ml) coarsely grated cheddar cheese

1 corn on the cob, kernels cut from the cob or ½ cup (125 ml) frozen whole kernel corn, rinsed


  1. Preheat oven to 180 °C. Place the mealie meal, water, milk, salt, oil and sweetcorn in a large mixing bowl. Stir well so that no dry meal is visible.
  2. Lightly grease a 20 x 27 cm oven dish with oil and spoon mealie meal mixture into the dish.
  3. Arrange onion wedges on mealie meal. Mix parsley, cheese and corn and sprinkle evenly over onions.
  4. Bake for 1 hour or until the mealie meal is cooked through. Serve hot.


  1. Serve with Barbecue sauce on page 45.
  2. Bake the mealie meal mixture without the onion and cheese mixture until cooked. Mix 1 x 410 g tin onion and tomato mix with the parsley and onion wedges. Spoon onto cooked mealie meal bake, sprinkle with cheese and corn and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the tomato layer is heated through. Serve immediately. 



1 cup (250 ml) low-fat milk

½ x 80 g good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces

2 tsp (10 ml) sugar

1 tbsp (15 ml) cornflour

1 tbsp (15 ml) cocoa powder

¼ tsp (1,2 ml) ground cinnamon or more to taste

1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla essence

2 small fruit skewers per person, made with seasonal fruit, like apple, pear, papaya, citrus, banana or strawberries

12 – 18 marshmallows, toasted over the coals, if preferred

12 – 18 tennis or Marie biscuits to dip


  1. Place milk, chocolate and sugar in a small pot. Heat over low heat, while stirring all the time, to melt the chocolate and dissolve the sugar.
  2. Mix cornflour, cocoa and cinnamon with 2 tbsp (30 ml) water to form a smooth paste without lumps.
  3. Add some of the warm milk mixtures to the paste and stir well. Stir back into the milk mixture in the pot.
  4. Stir continuously over medium heat for 8 – 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Spoon into a warm bowl.
  5. Dip fruit or some of the other suggested ingredients in the warm chocolate sauce.


  1. The sauce will thicken as it cools down. Just stir in a tablespoon of boiling water to thin it down again.
  2. The chocolate sauce can also be served with ice cream. Only use 2 tsp (10 ml) cornflour and prepare as above. The recipe will then serve 8 – 10. 

For a healthier braai:

  1. Choose proteins wisely by opting for lean meats, such as fish and skinless chicken breast instead of too much red meat. If you do opt for red meat, rather buy loin or tender cuts and remove any visible fat before cooking.
  2. Marinate or rub the meat with salt-free spices and lemon, which add amazing flavour and will reduce the need for salt, which heightens your risk of hypertension. Use chilli, cumin, garlic, cinnamon, black pepper, paprika, thyme or rosemary for a lip-licking taste.
  3. Limit your meat intake (of any type) to 150g.
  4. Fill up your plate with grilled vegetables, salads and side dishes. The more colour you add, the better. In SA, we have a great selection of fruit throughout the year so be sure to add these to the braai menu. Meat and veg sosaties (kebabs) are always a hit. Add red, green or yellow peppers, butternut, baby marrows, eggplant, mushrooms and onions to the skewer and brush with healthy oil before grilling.
  5. When preparing salads or side dishes, don’t drown them in salty sauces or heavy store-bought dressings. Rather make your own healthier condiments. Refer to the www.cookingfromtheheart.co.za for a variety of healthy salad dressings.
  6. Opt for wholegrain bread, rolls or wraps, which provide additional fibre, instead of white carbs.
  7. Consider healthy toppings over ice cream, such as chocolate bananas or fruit salad. Grilled fruit is also delicious! The natural sugars caramelise in the high heat, which makes it extra sweet and flavourful.


The Cooking from the Heart initiative forms part of Pharma Dynamics’ overall wellness campaign, to promote healthy eating among the South African public in a practical, affordable and tasty way.

Go to www.cookingfromtheheart.co.za to download any of the 100+ heart-healthy recipes – free of charge!

For more tips on heart-healthy cooking during the lockdown, follow Cooking from the Heart author, Heleen Meyer on https://www.facebook.com/CookingFromTheHeartSA/


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