By Razeena Docrat
Photography by Raeesa Chothia
Make up by Ayesha Mather
Culinary décor by : The dish store .
Food blogger, caterer, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and ITV food personality Shazia Gaffar, lovingly known as “shazeats” on social media, was born into a home with a mother who loved entertaining. Shazia was her mum’s sous-chef as a little girl and at the age of 15 was able to make a pile of roti from start to finish, solo. Needless to say, besides the healthy chapattis void of ghee, Shazia’s food was as traditional as the rolling pin itself. “My mum wouldn’t call a curry a curry until you could see the layer of oil on top”, she says. “Nothing in the kitchen was bought and used out of a bottle. Everything was freshly made, including the ginger-garlic masala“. Shazia has over the years shifted from unhealthy eating habits, to being a fitness guru and healthy eating activist.
Her health journey started when she reached rock bottom in her life. She and her husband were unemployed and supporting two little children, the youngest having been born blind. “There were days when all we had was the food vouchers and prayers”, she says “We would wait and hope to see our name for a government home subsidiary”. Caught up in all the stress, Shazia let herself go- processed food was a quick and cheap solution in such a deep and difficult situation.
“It was my 30th birthday when a friend of mine took me out for lunch. She looked me straight in my eye and said she can’t go out with me anymore” Shazia tells me. “I was mortified. I asked her why and the answer was both shocking and life-changing“. Her friend simply stated: have you seen yourself lately? Unlike many of us who would most probably react defensively and cut that friend out of our lives, Shazia took a good look at herself in the mirror and who she saw staring back at her was a tired, haggard, greasy- haired, over- weight and sad woman.
One sleep later Shazia had her sneakers on and was on the road exercising. For an hour all she did was walked. Not long after, she was running in that same time, daily. She came to realize how much she loved to run. When she was denied running the Comrades marathon due to low iron levels, Shazia sought professional advice, refusing to accept a pill as a solution. “Iron and magnesium are in food. What you feed yourself is what you become. There had to be a better solution” Shazia explains her thought process at the time.
With a new set of rules and professional advice she discovered healthy eating, portion control and healthy living. “I was eating a lot more than what I used to and feeling so much more energetic “. The deeper Shazia went into health and nutrition, the more she began pondering over the idea of adding spices to healthy foods to create more tasty dishes and hence, making healthy eating more appealing and enjoyable. Traditional nutritionists don’t understand the flavours and tastes we are accustomed to, making their eating plans bland and unrealistic. The quality of a program isn’t in how well it works, but how sustainable it can be“. Shazia threw herself into searching for solutions and today is an approved Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and approved nutritionist. Shazia soon started improvising and experimented with well- loved Indian dishes. “Sometimes it didn’t work out as planned. When I tried to make a creamy mushroom sauce for steak using cottage cheese instead of cream, it curdled. I later figured out that the sauce base had to be completely cool before adding the cheese”.
Shazia doesn’t always follow the text book and although all studies show that honey is high in calories, she believes in its healing properties as stated in the Quran and uses it freely. Shazia enjoys following other food bloggers such as Tasneem Kadwa and Ayesha Seedat as they resonate with her childhood and encourage her to also share her culinary journey. She freely shares her experience in her kitchen.
“Be transparent”, she says “If things fall apart, say it fell apart. Don’t reinvent the wheel, take a recipe and make it your own. You don’t need to be Albert Einstein and concoct things from scratch” Shazia sees more women enjoying her social media posts and this encourages her to keep going. Today she hosts her own TV show on ITV and has recently become the brand ambassador for Zest for Life South Africa, a health- coaching society. Her recipes also featured in Women’s Health magazine.
“I always felt, even from a young age, that I was going to make a difference in the world. I want to go to schools and teach children from a young age the importance of eating healthy and looking after themselves in a way that can be tasty and fun”.
Both her daughters are very supportive of what she does and both share her love and passion in the kitchen. Her hubby of 21 years however, wishes for a basic toasted cheese and onion sandwich from time to time.
Shazia has generously shared with us her chocolate brownies recipe below!
Healthy, extra fudgy, and gluten free! This healthy dessert recipe tastes decadent but is made of simple, wholesome ingredients.
1 large avocado
2 large eggs
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup Bob’s Almond Flour
1 teaspoon coffee
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dark or semisweet chocolate chips
- Heat your oven to 180 degrees.
Spray and cook a brownie tray.
- In a food processor place the avocado, eggs, coconut sugar, maple syrup, coconut oil , and vanilla. Process until it’s completely smooth and combined, stopping to scrape down the bowl a few times as needed so that no chunks of avocado remain.
- To the food processor, add the cocoa powder, almond flour, coffee, baking soda, and salt. Process until smooth. Add 1/4 cup chocolate chips and pulse a few times so that the chips are roughly incorporated.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle over the remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is set and a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies comes out mostly clean with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Place the pan on a wire cooling rack and let the brownies cool for 30 minutes. If time allows, refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Slice and serve