Chef Benny’s tips for healthy pension diet

Happiness is food: MasterChef SA judge Benny Masekwameng says preparing your own food is a rewarding experience
Happiness is food: MasterChef SA judge Benny Masekwameng says preparing your own food is a rewarding experience

BORN and raised in Johannesburg’s Alexandra township, MasterChef SA judge Benny Masekwameng believes once your body has done a lot of mileage at the time you retire, you have to be particular about the fuel you choose.

Executive chef at the Tsogo Sun, Masekwameng – who has been cooking since the age of eight – says his passion for food and creating fun and exciting dishes comes from hours in the kitchen with his mum.

“I have always been inspired by my mother. She used to cook meals for the local construction workers to supplement her income. I still credit my mum as the person who has most influenced the food I cook.”

As an Africa.com Culinary Council member, Masekwameng – who spoke at the retirement planning conference Ready Set Retire, hosted by Alexander Forbes at the Boardwalk Convention Centre in Port Elizabeth this week – says a balanced diet filled with fresh fruit an d vegetables is the key to healthy living, especially at retirement age.

“For people who are retiring, their bodies have taken a lot of knocks with high mileage and they really need to take care of themselves.”

As an executive chef, Masekwameng gets a lot of requests in terms of events that relate to feeding different people.

“You have to understand what they need to come up with a creative dish or a creative menu for them that would suit their requirements.”

With the current food price hikes and more doom and gloom on the cards after last week’s budget speech, Masekwameng believes in “proper shopping in terms of sourcing your ingredients”.

“The fresher they are the better, but you are also going to be living on a budget [in retirement] so you also have to be considerate of that.

“Not compromising on quality but also getting your value by comparing prices and knowing the people who are your suppliers, where you shop to get the best and if you get it at cheaper prices. Then prep ahead and freeze. You can do that and save money but also know exactly what you are putting into your body.”

Masekwameng is a firm believer in the power of fresh ingredients and how beneficial this is for the body.

For this top chef food brings happiness and preparing your own meals is a rewarding experience. He has several tips for food on a budget and his main piece of advice is, use leftovers.

“Buy a whole chicken instead of chicken breasts – then you can use the carcass the next day to make a nice chicken stock for a soup you can keep and freeze.”

Other useful tips include using leftover chicken to make a light salad for lunch or a chicken pita sandwich.

-Devon Koen 

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