A recently bumped into Darren Meltz and when he mentioned that SecretEats is back, I honestly couldn’t contain my excitement. SecretEATS is every foodies little piece of heaven.
SecretEats! Simply put is an exclusive underground dining experience. The concept brings together top chefs and young, rising stars with outgoing, adventurous food and wine lovers in unique, unexpected and absolutely breathtaking spaces. Pretty much ever foodies happy place.
This invitation only experience sees guests being treated to an exclusive, intimate dinner party featuring course after course of gourmet food, and premium wine pairings from some of the country’s top wine farms.
Do any of the names ring a bell … Brad Ball, Bertus Basson, James Diack, Vicky Crease, Michelle Theron, Kobus van der Merwe, Vanessa Marx ? SecretEATS has has the pleasure of working with some of these top local and international chefs.
The intrigue and mystery of SecreatEATS lies in the unique and wonderful concept. The Secret chef and menu are only unveiled upon confirmation of your password at the secret location on the day of the event. From wineland homes to stunning art galleries, private gardens, ancient milkwood forests and anywhere in between, our evenings are always hosted somewhere guests can’t simply go and make a booking.
As always, every dinner hosted helps raise funds for a local charity in need, an important aspect of the SecretEATS brand. This has allowed us to support and give back to the local community where we – and our guests – live, work and play.
Chat time with Darren Meltz
What does it mean to you to be the Regional Events Director?
I could not be more excited to embark on this new journey with SecretEATS. Being Events Director gives me the freedom to come up with the dinner events not only of my dreams but those of our guests. I am able to make the concepts I’ve had in mind for so long come alive in the most beautiful way.
Why should South African foodies be requesting an invite to a fabulous SecretEATS dinner?
SecretEATS dinners are one of a kind and no two dinners are the same. We bring together the best chefs in the most unique locations. If you miss a SecretEATS you truly will miss out.
Have you attended any of the previous SecretEATS dinners and if so, name your greatest highlight?
My time with SecretEATS started right at the beginning. I was the photographer for the very first Joburg dinners so I’ve been lucky enough to be part of quite a few dinners. My favourites were definitely the red and white rooftop picnic and our collaboration with the Bombay Sapphire Imagination room.
Moments are shared and friendships are made. I am beyond excited to bring the enchantment of SecretEATS to our guests.” – Darren Meltz, Events Director JHB/PTA
When I entered the Woolworths#startswith challenge, little did I realise that I would find inspiration, motivation and best of all … friendship. The #startswith challenge brought the most amazing and inspirational women into my life and for that I am truly grateful. One of those inspirational and remarkable women is Dil Pillay. She is a woman of love and sheer strength. She has overcome so many obstacles in her life and that’s what makes her a real life superhero. She is humble and probably one of the kindest people I have ever met. We recently met up for a picnic in the park and got to chatting.
Who is Dil Pillay?
I am extremely passionate and diligent about everything that has been laid on my heart. I thoroughly enjoy sharing what positively impacts my life. My world pretty much revolves around the love of my life, my little four-legged boy- Chow. I have developed a passion for creating new and delicious healthy foods. I especially love surrounding myself with people who love to eat, laugh, pray and who unconditionally give of themselves.
You have a rather impressive story to share in terms of your weight loss, would your care to elaborate?
My weight fluctuated on an ongoing basis from 2011. I weighed in at an impressive 110kg at the end of 2015. I couldn’t bear to come face to face with the harsh truth of the scale so I avoided it at all costs and didn’t weigh myself. For some unknown reason I lost the weight and when I finally mustered up the courage to hop onto the scale I discovered that I had lost 20.1kg. At the time I was living with depression, PCOS and type 2 diabetes which put a huge strain on my life and my weight, so in Feb 2017 I made the decision to commit to a lifestyle change. It was time to stop making excuses and commit to myself.
Tell us more about your change in diet as a result of your food allergies.
My body and skin were reacting badly to the types of food I was eating, so I had no choice but to make several huge changes to the way I was eating. The fact that I was diagnosed with PCOS compounded the situation further, so I made the decision to become a Pescatarian. I hear you ask, “Pesca what?” A Pescatarian is someone who does not eat red meat at all but does eat fish. Therefore my diet is just plant-based foods and seafood. In addition to being Pescatarian, I also do not eat gluten, dairy, refined sugar and certain nuts due to allergies. This change in diet has transformed me into an absolute foodie who spends an insane amount of time whipping up healthy dishes for myself.
What is your approach to exercise?
I initially had a gym contract but due to being uncomfortable about my weight, I cancelled it. So the workout aspect of my journey started with me walking my little boy. I gradually increased the distance and began walking him every morning and afternoon. Walking him around the park several times progressed to jogging, which in turn progressed to running. Eventually I felt ready to do more than just walk or run, so I used the internet to research exercises that would best suit my needs. I bought a yoga mat, just one 10kg weight and a skipping rope. These items became part of my work out routine. My current routine involves me running on the spot mixing it with high intensity training 3 times a week for 45 mins. I also mix things up by adding some yoga, squats and lunges to my routine.
Did you try losing weight prior to this?
Oh yes I did! In the past I attempted losing weight by just trying to eat healthy without proper information about my body type and what my body needed. I jumped into diets and failed within a week. I now know that my mindset wasn’t ready for this journey.
What was different this time around?
This time around I realised I needed to make it a lifestyle change, but before that I needed to educate myself about my condition. I spent hours on the net researching exercises and healthy eating alternatives. I was in the right frame of mind and I was ready to commit to myself, my health and my life. I started cooking more from home, creating healthy dishes rather than buying take-out. I learnt to make healthier choices when I ate out and before I knew it, those changes had become a lifestyle for me.
What does faith mean to you?
Faith is what keeps my mind at peace in the midst of many life situations as it reaffirms that there is always hope. Faith gives me reassurance that as long as I keep my faith I will certainly overcome all obstacles. During my journey having being diagnosed with depression at one stage in my life and having gone through a divorce I have been challenged emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Faith has helped me stay at peace and motivated me to move forward. My faith in God is what led me into getting my body right, knowing I was created not to have these health barriers and that healing was for me which is evident in my life right now .
How do people react to your transformation?
It has been an amazing journey and more people are inspired and curious as to what it is to be a Pescatarian. People want to know what my secret is and want to know what diet i’m on. I’m blessed with the support and love of so many people, many of whom are people I have never met in person but who make up my support system.
Has there been a downside to losing weight?
There definitely are downsides. I now suffer with low blood pressure and the main downside is the excess skin. Losing 50 odd kilograms is an unbelievable amount of weight and unfortunately or maybe fortunately, I have all this excess skin around my tummy area. I say fortunately as it is a constant reminder of a place I never want to find myself at ever again.
Any words and advice for people wanting to lose weight?
Make a mindful choice that you want to change to be better, feel stronger and achieve your best health possible . Don’t be hard on yourself but at the same time I urge you not to give up. Get up and get moving. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to embrace yourself for who you are. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals. You can do this no matter what your struggle is . I am living proof it can be done.
Dil Pillay is indeed proof that we can step outside our comfort zones, tackle the obstacles life throws at us and still come out on top. I’m extremely grateful and honored that Dil has allowed me to share her story with you and I’m extremely blessed to call her my friend.
Chia seeds (salvia hispanica) have become one of the most popular superfoods in the fitness and health community. They’re easy to digest when prepared properly and a very versatile ingredient that can be easily used in recipes. The benefits of chia seeds are indeed plentiful.
History of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds were originally a best kept secret but has gained popularity in recent years. These tiny black and white seeds have a long history. They were grown in Mexico and South America, chia seeds are said to have been used by Mayan and Aztec cultures for supernatural powers. Chia means “strength” in the Mayan language. They were also known as the “Indian Running Food” because runners and warriors would use them for sustenance while running long distances or during battle.
Benefits of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a concentrated food containing healthy omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, antioxidants, and calcium. Chia seeds are an unprocessed, whole-grain food that can be absorbed by the body as seeds.
They give you tons of energy but also won’t keep you awake at night and are supposed to be great for weight loss. This is apparently due to the fact that they can absorb many times their size/weight in liquid. Chia seeds are also excellent for avoiding dehydration during exercise or exposure to heat.
But Wait, There’s A Down Side
Chia seeds contain compounds called phytates that block the absorption of certain nutrients. These anti-nutrients are the reason that many ancient cultures soaked and fermented grains and seeds prior to eating them. There is also some evidence that soaking and rinsing the seeds may help reduce the levels of these compounds. The good news is that when used in moderation there isn’t a need to worry too much about their phytate content.
Uses For Chia Seeds
Depending on the required texture, there are several ways to use them in the kitchen :-
Thicken gravies and sauces
Homemade energy gel
Bread chicken or fish
Grain free crackers
My Fav Chia Seed Recipes
These are just a few of my fav chia seeds recipes, but pop over to my Instagram account to see why my cupboard is always stocked with Chia Seeds
Seeing as I’m not the greatest fan of H2O, I occasionally enjoy drinking something other than water. So after much research, I really struggled to find something to drink that fitted my healthy lifestyle and eating plan … that was until I came across Über Flavour Craft Ice Tea.
This locally manufactured brew is made with Rooibos grown north of the Mother City and the natural flavours are added during the brewing process. Über Flavour states that there is “no lingering aftertaste, just a refreshed palate” and I totally have to agree.
What’s in the bottle?
This 100% Natural Craft Rooibos Ice Tea boasts
No added sugar
Rich in antioxidants
Benefits of Rooibos
Aids in Digestion
Helps You Lose Weight
Improves Heart Health
Keeps Skin and Hair Young
May Prevent Cancer
Packed with Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Properties
Supports Strong Bones
Treats and May Prevent Diabetes
Über Flavour Craft Ice Tea comes in four blends that consist of caffeine-free Rooibos tea, freshly squeezed juices and other natural flavours. Seeing as my kids are my reference point when it comes to healthy alternatives, I conducted a little experiment. We did a craft ice tea tasting where they got to rate the different flavours. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my kids loved the ice-tea as much as I did. The Honey & Lemon, as well as the Apple & Cinnamon were a hit with the boys and I, while my hubby’s favourite was the Berry & Buchu.
Yes, the packaging makes it look like a craft beer, but that’s probably what makes this the ideal festival drink for non-drinkers. No more FOMO that’s for sure when you are out partying up a storm with your friends.
What I failed to mention earlier is that I actually hate tea and that included ice-tea, but this craft ice-tea is just something else. With a taste so refined and jammed packed with wholesome goodness, it’s no wonder I have been converted.
I absolutely love that it fits into my lifestyle and that it’s healthy enough for my kids too. Über Flavour Craft Ice Tea has definitely brought guilt-free variety into my life. Best of all I love supporting local brands and this Proudly South African one is uber cool indeed.
My latest health obsession is most definitely Apple Cider Vinegar (also known as ACV). I’ve recently began including ACV to my diet at the start of each morning.
What’s it made from?
ACV is made by extracting the liquid from apples. Bacteria and yeast are added to the liquid to start the alcoholic fermentation process, and the sugars are turned into alcohol. In a second fermentation process, the alcohol is converted into vinegar by acetic acid-forming bacteria.
Why is it good for me?
ACV contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids, organic acids and polyphenolic compounds (micronutrients known for their role in preventing disease). Basically, it’s a concentrated liquid filled with a lot of beneficial ingredients, that will aid in keeping your body healthy.
The Many Uses of AC
Acne – ACV is used for clearing breakouts, reducing pores, more even skin and reducing acne.
Local antiseptic – Acetic acid (one of the main ingredients), is used to disinfect wounds.
Blood sugar – Studies have shown that the use if ACV can reduce post-meal blood sugar levels, as well as suppress your appetite.
Candida – It can help you rid the body of candida (thrush) as it makes for a great probiotic drink.
Cholesterol – Some research suggests that consuming ACV can be good for your cardiovascular health.
Common cold – Diluted with water it can help alleviate a sore throat. The ACV will also fight against germs that might be making you feel sick.
Cooking – It can be used to make salad dressings or as a tenderiser when you are cooking meat or poultry.
Detox – As part of balancing your pH, ACV creates an overall detoxification of the body.
Flea repellant – A mixture of one part vinegar and one part water can be sprayed on your pets’ fur to eradicate fleas.
Hair – To boost your hair’s body and shine, rinse with ACV after shampooing. It can also be used as a dandruff treatment.
Heartburn – Studies suggest that ACV works by correcting low acid, hence reducing heartburn. (Note that this will not give relief if you have an ulcer)
Householduse – Use it to clean toilets and leave a bathroom smelling fresh and clean. It can also be used in dishwashers as a substitute for dish detergent. Also use it to clean microwaves, kitchen surfaces, windows, glass and mirrors.
Laxative – Loyalists swear by it, but I couldn’t find more proof of this but its worth a try.
Lymphatic system – It helps to reduce mucus and sinus congestion.
Massage treatment – Try using ACV to relieve tired hands and feet by rubbing it onto the affected area.
Sunburned skin – Soaking in a mixture of water and ACV can eliminate discomfort from sunburn.
Teeth – It can remove stains from teeth.
Warts – A cotton ball soaked in ACV, then place over a wart with a Band-Aid overnight will help remove a wart.
Weight loss – It can aid in weight loss if taken consistently as part of your daily diet.
Weed killer – Use it as an organic weed killer which is kinder to the environment
Not all ACV are created equal
There are several options available but if you are looking to get the best option then choose raw, organic, unfiltered, unpasteurized and has the mother intact. “The MOTHER!!!” I hear you say. In French, the word vinegar actually means sour wine. Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegaralso contains “mother” strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria that give the product a murky, cobweb-like appearance.
Consuming ACV in small amounts is considered to be safe. It is important to follow the directions on the bottle and not exceed the daily amount. People with diabetes should proceed with caution as ACV can lower blood glucose levels. It is also wise to consult your doctor if you suffer from any chronic diseases. Truth be told I drink a shot of ACV straight every morning but it is also recommended that you don’t drink it straight due to the fact that it is very acidic and can therefore harm your oesophagus and possibly contribute to tooth decay. Make sure that you dilute it before ingesting it or putting it directly on your skin (unless you are removing warts).
As a woman who’s all about women empowerment, education and living our best lives, I absolutely love attending events that aim to do exactly that.
Yesterday fellow blogger Nadia, the mama behind The Non-Adventures of a Stay-at-Home-Mom and I attended The Women’s Wellness Event The event was hosted by the charismatic and uber-talented Sarah Graham and super inspirational and energetic Jeanne van Zyl in Pretoria.
Sarah Graham, the well-known food writer and TV host, along with nutrition and wellness expert, Jeanne van Zyl joined forces to host this years women’s event. The event was held with the aim “to help you cultivate a lifestyle that promotes balance and inside-out beauty, and that gives you quick tips and tricks on healthy eating that is actually attainable”.
Here’s what our morning entailed
Shortly after our arrival and check-in, I was fortunate enough to have the pleasure of meeting and having a quick chat with Sarah. Okay, so my day was made there and then. I love her approach to food and I’m definitely a huge fan. She’s as sweet and friendly as she comes across on television, and is also rather candid and funny about her journey.
After grabbing a quick coffee (because we needed to warm up due to the cold rainy weather) and welcome, we went straight into the pilates session with Jeanne. I’ve never tried pilates before so I was looking forward to it. Firstly, don’t let Jeanne’s petite physique and bubbly personality fool you. She took us through our paces and dished out a killer workout that not only left me sweating up a storm, but I had pains in places I didn’t know I had places. Nadia on the other hand looked as fresh as a daisy.
At the end of the pilates session we made our way downstairs and took our seats, so that we could enjoy a super healthy brunch. We had beetroot smoothies, mini egg quiches, banana bread, an OhMega Nut Butters almond butter and Nature’s Choice fruit bar. This was accompanied with Nature’s Choice coconut water, and Dr.Toms Kombucha both of which are my drinks of choice. Sarah went on to tell us a bit about herself and her journey. She then taught us a few healthy eating hacks that I am so going to include in my cooking shenanigans. She really made it look so easy. Another round of food arrived and this time it was chicken skewers in a tahini sauce, pancakes drenched in chocolate and tumeric milk.
Next up was Jeanne and she discussed wellness and nutrition. She kept it real and stressed that there are no quick fixes. That nutrition and fitness go hand in hand, so instead of crash dieting and extreme challenges, that we should take the approach of just living simply by making small changes. She suggested that each and everyone of us develop our own action plan to a achieve a balanced life. Here are her 4 step to creating that tailored lifestyle plan :
Identify obstacles, hindrances and/or boundaries
Have a vision
Take small steps
The event was sponsored by the following awesome brands:-
Capital Hotel School
The recipes for the delicious and healthy brunch we ate can be found in Sarah’s new book WHOLESOME, which was unfortunately not available. Sarah and her team however promised to get our signed copies to us once the printing issues were resolved.
All in all this was a fantastic event which highlighted that a balanced life is the key to good and sustainable fitness and health. I absolutely related to everything these ladies had to say and in some way it was the validation I needed, to say that my plan of action is in fact the correct approach.
While Nadia and I both have fitness and health goals, what we are truly striving for as mamas and wives is a balanced life. Our fitness and health goals do differ and so to does our approach. For instance, Nadia enjoys yoga and pilates and I’m inclined to gym and running. She likes tumeric lattes and me, not so much. The point I’m trying to make is that it’s vital that your action plan suits you and your life. That you find solutions that both appeal to you and that you enjoy, as this is the key to a balanced lifestyle.