and guilt free food

The festive season is an excuse to indulge, to have that second helping of pudding or another mince pie. Then comes the regret and the New Year’s resolution to exercise more, stick to an eating plan and get healthier. Nutritionist Nicci Robertson has the book for this plan:

Thrive – Healthy recipes that break diet rules.

Dieticians, nutritionists and farmers are agreed that the current Western diet is not as nutrient dense or healthy as it used to be five or six decades ago.

The advent of mass production and processing might have made food more accessible and convenient but it’s not necessarily any healthier. Nutritionist Nicci Robertson is of the opinion that eating well should be one of life’s pleasures. Sadly, for some, this isn’t the case. Excess weight and health issues are linked to self-esteem being lost and an unhealthy relationship with food as a result.

The goal of her book is to harness her personal experience to change mindsets by using a different approach to nutrition – and guiding readers to improved health and wellbeing. Swopping bad food habits for healthier ones, the role of stress and anxiety in lifestyle diseases and grasping the role that carbs, fats, protein, fibre and water play in overall health is at the core of Thrive.

Her message is clear throughout: when you eat the right foods in the right quantities, your body will respond positively and you’ll thrive both physically and mentally. After all, Robertson is trained in neuro linguistic programming and functional medicine, something which viewers of DStv’s Real Health on the Home Channel will be aware of. Her advice is pragmatic and forthright – and it gets results.

The book includes over 80 tasty family-friendly recipes that are packed with flavour and nutritionally balanced. Whether the goal is weight-loss or improved health, Nicci’s recipes will have you rethinking the concept of ‘diet food’ and heading for the kitchen with enthusiasm! It’s all there, from breakfasts, salads, soups and main meals to mini-meal and snacks, desserts and bakes, smoothies and drinks, meal plans as well as marinades, dressings and spice blends.


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Thrive – Healthy recipes that break diet rules.

Nicci Robertson 



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Baked chicken with chorizo 

The entire family will love this dish and, best of all, it tastes even better the next day, so make enough for leftovers. Serve with a green salad or steamed green beans drizzled with butter.

Ingredients: Serves 6

6 free-range or organic chicken breasts on the bone

100 g chorizo or pepperoni

sausage, thickly sliced

6 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 large red pepper, sliced

1 can (400 g) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped

1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp dried tarragon

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

3 Tbsp olive oil


Moroccan-inspired chicken casserole

I often prepare this in a slow cooker (one of my favourite kitchen gadgets), but it can also be made in a wok or pan on the stovetop or in a tagine or casserole dish in the oven. Searing the chicken pieces first is the key to locking in flavour and moisture. Enjoy with utter abandon.


12 chicken thighs (deboned, skin-on)

4 Tbsp Moroccan spice paste, (Click here to see recipe)

Flour, for dusting

4 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp Moroccan spice blend, (click here to see recipe) 

1 large onion, finely chopped

500 ml chicken stock

1 can (400 g) tomato puree

1 can (400 g) lentils, drained

200 g dried apricots, chopped

½ preserved lemon (2 segments), finely sliced

Fresh parsley, finely chopped

200 g blanched almonds, for serving

Fresh coriander or parsley, for serving

Moroccan Spice Paste

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp crushed garlic

1 Tbsp crushed ginger

1 Tbsp crushed turmeric

1 Tbsp brown sugar

Makes ± 4 tbsp

1. Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix to a smooth paste. If not using immediately, store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Note Some packs of ready crushed aromatics include turmeric. If you buy fresh turmeric, which looks a lot like ginger root, a 2-cm piece should yield about 1 Tbsp when crushed or very finely chopped.


Moroccan Spice Blend

1 Tbsp ground cumin

1 Tbsp crushed coriander seeds

1 Tbsp smoked paprika

1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

1 Tbsp sea salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp dried thyme

Makes 5–6 tbsp

1. Place all the ingredients in a glass jar or resealable bag

and shake to combine.

Lamb and Feta Burgers

Makes 4 burger patties

1 kg lamb mince, at room temperature

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 large egg

1 large red onion, finely chopped

1 disk (± 80 g) feta, crumbled

¼ cup breadcrumbs

3–4 fresh mint leaves,

finely chopped

1 tsp dried origanum

Sea salt and black pepper to taste


Protein-packed Berry Ice Cream

Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and cherries all make delicious ice cream. The deep red, purple and blue pigments of berries are often associated with increased levels of antioxidants and the promise of healthy ageing.


(Makes ± 1.5 litres or 12 lollies)

300 g fresh or frozen berries

2 cups (500 g) double cream plain yoghurt

½ cup coconut cream

2 scoops (4 Tbsp) vanilla whey protein powder


Gochujang Dressing

5 Tbsp gochujang paste (Korean chilli paste)

3 cloves garlic, minced

2½ Tbsp white sugar

½ green apple, peeled

5 Tbsp rice vinegar

5 Tbsp soya sauce

3 Tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil

2½ Tbsp sesame oil

Fine salt, to taste

5 tsp sesame seeds

Place the gochujang paste, garlic, sugar, apple, rice vinegar, soya sauce and oils in the bowl of a food processor or blender and blend to combine.

Adjust for seasoning, adding more salt, soya sauce, or sweetness as needed. Stir in the sesame seeds.

Makes 1¾ cup