Izelle Hoffman is on a mission. A mission to help every single person in our beautiful country change their perception about food. Plus, she shares a delicious Asian-style chicken recipe you’ll definitely want to make to help warm up a cold night.
You might have seen Izelle Hoffman … well, just about everywhere. This local lifestyle chef is a mover and shaker with more than 61 000 followers on her Instagram account. A firm believer that eating the right food and choosing a life focused on health and wellness is the way of the future, she’s also author of the incredible new cookbook Mindful Eating.
Izelle has always had a passion for food and cooking, something for which she credits her landscaper mother and farmer father. She grew up on a farm just outside Bela-Bela and speaks lovingly about her mom’s and grans’ luscious vegetable gardens, which she enjoyed investigating as a kid.
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‘Growing vegetables and experimenting with different flavours was part of my upbringing. With both grandmothers and my mother boasting world-class vegetable gardens, and an aunt who was the moderator of home economics for the North West province, my development into a ‘conscious foodie’ was inevitable,’ the bubbly blonde lifestyle chef explains.
‘Once you’re aware of all the time and nurturing that goes into getting the perfect vegetable onto your plate, you appreciate and enjoy it so much more ¬– you can almost taste the love and care,’ she adds.
With growing vegetables and experimenting with different flavours being part of her life from a very young age, Izelle is a firm believer in quality over quantity. ‘Focus on the quality of your ingredients rather than how many ingredients you use when preparing a meal. And always start with the right ingredients. If you do, whatever you make will be a healthy masterpiece,’ Izelle says.
‘I grew up in a household where most family time was spent in the kitchen or outside around the braai, preparing and cooking amazing food … comfort food like goulash and potjie, festive food like roast chicken and leg of lamb, snack platters that still remind me of rugby on Saturdays and Christmas Eve with close family, and scrumptious baked goods that recall my aunt’s visits from faraway Rustenburg or my grandmothers’ baking days, when all the grandchildren were invited,’ she explains.
Izelle’s love of life and healthy living also stems from her own health story. She was born with congenital hip dysplasia and after 14 operations this ‘conscious foodie’ changed her life and eating habits to help ensure she stays fit as a fiddle.
Although the ever-smiling Izelle has never been formally trained as a chef, she’s hit the foodie and health scene like a force of nature and is one of the most loved and passionate lifestyle chefs out there. She’s already proved to be a formidable businesswoman and keeps finding creative ways to combine her twin passions for food and people. She’s the lifestyle chef on Die Groot Ontbyt as well as the Home Channel’s Real Health.
‘Invest time in your health – it’s the best investment you’ll ever make. I urge you to always strive to be the best version of yourself, not only for yourself, but also for your loved ones,’ Izelle says.
In her recipe cook, Mindful Eating, Izelle encourages foodies to rethink what they put into their bodies. Eating healthily doesn’t mean you have to stick to boring diets. She shares recipes for healthy and energising breakfasts, quick weekday meals, sweet baked goodies and favourite family classics with a healthy twist.
Sounds delish? Turn to page 8 to read more about the book.
A few of Izelle’s favourite ingredients:
We all have our reasons for preferring certain oils, but without doubt my choice is olive oil, specifically for its amazing health benefits. Olive oil helps reduce inflammation and prevent osteoporosis, and is essential for bone health because it assists in the absorption of calcium and the mineralisation of bones. These are all qualities I look for in a product, given my hip dysplasia and related joint pain.
Onions are a natural antibiotic and antiseptic, so they’re a big YES, especially in winter. They purify the blood, regulate blood sugar levels and improve digestion. They’re also anti-inflammatory. In addition to fresh onions in my pantry you’ll find dried onion powder and flakes.
Why do we add salt during cooking? It’s to enhance flavour, right? So why not start by using a good quality salt to do the job? Sun-dried and unrefined, with no additives, it brings out the best in your food in the healthiest way possible.
Ground black pepper
Why do we add pepper to our food? When I ask this during cooking demonstrations, I always get interesting answers, but most people can’t tell me why they do it. My reason? It increases nutrient absorption and improves digestion, so you can get the most out of every meal, every time.
Salt needs sweet and vice versa to enhance taste and flavour. So when you add sweetness, choose something that has a healing effect on your body and health. Raw honey is antiviral and antifungal, and contains powerful antioxidants. It helps ward off allergies, stabilise blood pressure and balance blood sugar levels. It also boosts the immune system and promotes digestive health.
Antiviral, antifungal and anti-inflammatory, garlic assists in detoxification and boosting the metabolism and is a natural dewormer that kills parasites. I use black as well as white fresh garlic and keep dried garlic powder and flakes in my pantry.
Sweet peppers are anti-inflammatory, loaded with antioxidants and a great source of immune system-boosting vitamin E. I always have pimento and bell peppers in my fridge.
Which is also known as cilantro, is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal.
My go-to reason for using ginger is that it relieves pain caused by arthritis, but it is also anti-inflammatory and antifungal, and boosts the immune system. I always have fresh and dried ginger to hand. I also drink hot water containing freshly grated ginger, lemon juice, raw honey and cayenne pepper to give my immune system that much-needed boost if I start feeling ill or a bit rundown.
Sesame seeds are anti-inflammatory and high in protein. They improve bone health, help prevent osteoporosis and aid digestion.
Although themselves acidic, citrus fruits such as lemons and limes have an alkalising effect on the body. They are also loaded with vitamin C. Vitamin C content is always highest when the fruit is freshly cut. A squeeze of love in the shape of a lemon or lime, who knew?
Asian-style chicken recipe
Want to give mindful eating a go? Then this delicious Asian-style chicken recipe from Izelle’s recipe book is a must-try.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
2 large spring onions, diced; 1 small red bell pepper, deseeded and diced; 1 small yellow bell pepper, deseeded and diced; 1 small green bell pepper, deseeded and diced; 5–6 chicken fillets or 9 drumsticks and thighs; 2 Tbsps olive oil; ¼ cup hot water; chopped fresh coriander and spring onions for garnishing
Juice of 1 lime; ¼ cup soy sauce; 2 Tbsps raw honey; 2 Tbsps olive oil; ½ tsp crushed garlic; 1 heaped Tbsp sesame seeds; ½ tsp Oryx desert salt; ½ tsp ground black pepper; ½ tsp crushed ginger (optional); handful of chopped fresh coriander
Preheat the oven to 200°C and spray an ovenproof dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Spread diced spring onions and bell peppers on the base of the greased dish. Brush the chicken pieces with the olive oil and place on top of the onions and peppers. Pour the hot water around the chicken.
Mix the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the chicken pieces.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake uncovered for a further 15 minutes, occasionally basting the chicken pieces with the sauce in the dish.
Garnish with chopped fresh coriander and spring onion before serving.
Ideal with a side salad, roast vegetables and basmati rice or quinoa and long-stem broccoli florets, of course.
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