Budget meals

Noy Pullen shares her budget recipes that she serves at the Agent for Change support group meetings.

Health starts with the health provider

As food prices rise so does the obesity rate and prevalence of diabetes. According to participants of the Agents for Change ‘Empowering the Patient’ courses, conventional health education counselling is not helping patients to change their habits.

The secret to the success of the Agents for Change project is that we have found that health starts with the health provider. Whether it be home-based care, the professional nurse, the pharmacist or even the doctor. When they decide to change their health habits, the patient also changes. It is a symbiotic relationship of mutual support and encouragement, where each takes a living interest in the other. When we recognise that we all have struggles, empathy sets in.

At Agents for Change, we do not preach about healthy eating. We make freshly-prepared platters during our courses so the participants can help and see how it is made. Then, they can taste this good food. We show that healthy food is much cheaper than regular processed food that is commonly used these days, such as cereals, refined carbohydrates and take-out.

Most popular dishes

Here are some of our most popular prepared dishes to try at home, or to demonstrate live at your support groups. There is no salt, sugar or oils, and most of the ingredients are VAT-free.

Beetroot salad

Less than R10 per bunch – VAT-free. This is enough for a family of five and is the healthiest combination of ingredients. Beetroot is one of the cheapest VAT-free foods you can eat.

  • Take a bunch of beetroots. Boil until soft. Peel after cooking and grate with a coarse grater.
  • Grate two medium raw carrots into this (with a fine grater).
  • Add two grated two apples (coarse grater) and the rind of half a lemon (fine grater) and the juice of half a lemon.
  • Mix together thoroughly and serve.

Cabbage salad

Less than R10 for half a cabbage- VAT-free. Cabbage is one of the cheapest fresh products on the market.

  • Grate half a small cabbage (coarse grater).
  • Add a handful of raisins and Ina Paarman’s Lemon and Black Pepper seasoning.
  • Mix together half a cup of full cream yoghurt (which gives a good flavour) and half a cup of regular mayonnaise.
  • Combine all the ingredients and leave to mature for a few hours.

Banana and apple salad

These are also VAT-free foods. This salad is very popular with the men during our training as it complements a braai.

  • Mix half a cup of mayonnaise with two tablespoons of curry powder and a dash of chutney. Add more if needed.
  • Cut up five bananas into slices and cover with the mayonnaise mixture to prevent them going brown.
  • Cut two apples into small blocks and add to the mixture. These lower the GI of the salad.

Fruit platter

This adds colour and variety, and is economical.

  • Choose any two fruits that complement each other. We love to use grapes (and introduce them to the children as balloons).
  • Stick a grape ‘onto a toothpick and add another small block of fruit – fresh pineapples, peach or pear. Another good combination is halves of strawberries and blocks of pawpaw.

Meat platter

  • Choose a good quality boerewors and grill it.
  • When cold cut into 2cm slices, and stick onto a toothpick with blocks of cucumber or/and mini tomatoes to make the meat go further.
  • Add a loaf of low-GI seed bread and you have a full meal.

Lunch boxes

These food items can be kept in the fridge and used in lunch boxes. It is best if you have small containers/compartments for each salad.

Note to support groups

Have the ingredients ready and give your support group members one of the recipes to make. They will remember it because they helped to make it and taste it. Change starts with a single step and the more real you make it, the more effective it will be.

Please contact Noy Pullen if you would like more information on the booklets: Rainbow In My Kitchen and Gardening is Child’s Play: [email protected] or 072 258 7132.



Eating on a time budget

We all need to eat, but sometimes our busy schedules don’t allow us to. Christine Manga shares tips on how to eat on a time budgetit all comes down to preparation.

Louis E Boone said, “I am definitely going to take a course in time management…just as soon as I can work it into my schedule.” Does this sound like something you might also say? We live in rushed times: sticking to work schedules and deadlines; chasing after children; and road travel as part of work. All of these factors impact what, when and, if at all, we are able to eat during the day. Then add diabetes to the mix.

Having diabetes is challenging, there are things which need to be managed: taking medication, exercising and eating properly. Adhering to these will help keep your diabetes under control. Eating a balanced diet throughout the day is vital, as it assists to stabilise blood glucose levels. This may prevent hunger pangs and cravings which can lead to binge eating in the evenings.

A regular complaint that I hear from people with diabetes is insufficient time to eat during the day. So how do you overcome this? Preparation!

Why prep?

Knowing what to eat will simplify this task. It is important that you get food from all the food groups; carbohydrates, protein, vegetables and fat. Low-GI (glycaemic index of <55) and intermediate-GI (56-69) foods are a good option. Low-GI foods are more slowly digested, metabolised and absorbed. They result in a slower and lower glucose rise than higher GI foods. This allows you to feel full for longer.

How to prep

Take time to prepare food that will be easy and convenient to eat between meetings, sitting at your desk and even on the road (subject to safety). This should help you from feeling the need to rush off to the vending machine or stopping for takeaways. Be aware when buying ‘diabetic’ products; even though these products may be sugar-free, they often contain more calories and/or fat than ‘regular’ food. They also often have a laxative effect and tend to be expensive.

Here are some simple foods that can be easily prepared and packed. They can be eaten separately or combined.

  • Cook extra dinner in the evening, leftovers can be used in salads or sandwiches for lunch.
  • Wash, cut and peel fruit and/or raw vegetables into bite size pieces/crudités.
  • Cut or grate a small amount of low-fat cheese. Alternatively, pack small individually wrapped cheese wedges, rounds or sticks that don’t need refrigeration.
  • Keep ‘Lite’ varieties of packet soup on hand, these are quick to prepare.
  • Pop your own popcorn at home, add spices or cinnamon. This is low-GI and high in fibre.
  • Buy or roast your own seed mix. Sunflower, pumpkin, flax and sesame seed. Keep handy in small amounts. These contain healthy fats.
  • Small pots of low-fat or fat-free yoghurt. Add fresh berries, some peanut butter, nuts or seeds.
  • Lean biltong, pre sliced for easy eating.
  • Pack a peeled boiled egg.
  • Make whole grain sandwiches or wraps with any of the following fillings (cut into small manageable portion sizes):
    • Cheese and tomato.
    • Cottage cheese and peppadew.
    • Egg and mayonnaise with peppers.
    • Grated carrot and sweetcorn.
    • Guacamole and beans.
    • Tuna mayonnaise, cucumber and diced tomato.
    • Leftover meat, chicken or fish.
  • These fillings could also be enjoyed with Provita biscuits.

All of the above options will be easy to eat if you’re rushed and not able to take a dedicated lunch break. Pack water that you have flavoured yourself by adding fruit or cucumber. If you prefer flavoured drinks, stick to the Lite, Light or Zero options. Avoid fruit juice as it is usually high in carbohydrates and has a high-GI.

The preparation time will be worth it. Put very aptly by Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

MEET OUR EXPERT - Christine Manga

Christine Manga (Post Grad Dip Diabetes and Msc Diabetes) is a professional nurse and a diabetes nurse educator. She has worked with Dr Angela Murphy at CDE Centre, Sunward Park since 2012.
Christine Manga (Post Grad Dip Diabetes and Msc Diabetes) is a professional nurse and a diabetes nurse educator. She has worked with Dr Angela Murphy at CDE Centre, Sunward Park since 2012.