Tafadzwa Zimoyo Senior Lifestyle Writer

Early this week, Government announced that restaurants could now safely resume with limited operations, allowing them to serve sitting customers.

This is an exciting development, especially for many outgoing young people, the single in particular who are lazy to cook after a long hard day at work.

To them, eating out is one way of escaping the cooking and dish-washing routine.

Yanaya workers pose for a photograph at the food bar

Yet, when some people choose to eat out, they go for fast foods (junk foods) which are unhealthy and may result in non-communicable lifestyle diseases such as cancer, blood pressure, strokes and diabetes among others.

Many choose to ignore the fact that eating a balanced diet is fundamental to good health and well-being.

According to a 2017 report by Malabo Montpellier Panel, a group of international agriculture experts, Africa as a continent now has the fastest growing middle class in the world with current trajectories showing they will grow to 1,1 billion by 2060.

Yanaya —a healthy lifestyle bar

The agriculture experts point out that over the last few years, big fast food brands like Nandos, Burger King, McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Subway all set shop on the continent with the hope of taking advantage of the expanding middle class, who have disposable income and a palate for processed food.

Given that, an obesity epidemic is now unravelling in countries like Zimbabwe, Egypt, Ghana, South Africa, and Nigeria.

In the report, the Malabo Montpellier Panel further says: “Surprisingly malnutrition and obesity also co-exist in the same households sometimes, with stunted children living alongside overweight adults, who themselves manifest multiple micro-nutrient deficiencies.”

Yet, eating healthy has many benefits especially this time when the world is fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

Covid-19 has also changed the eating habits of many Zimbabweans.

In an effort to ensure those who prefer eating out maintain a balanced diet, 28 year–old Nyaradzo Dhliwayo, an acclaimed restaurateur has created a company dubbed “Yanaya” — a healthy lifestyle food bar situated at Joina City in Harare’s central business district.

But how did she come up with such an idea when some women her age are busy with fast life such as chasing trendiest fashion, hairstyles even busy with TikTok (a popular social media application that has made youths go wild)?

Who is she and why did she choose that profession?

The Herald on Saturday Lifestyle, traced the bubbly young entrepreneur and caught up with her at the prestigious food bar Yanaya.

Upon entering, organic fresh designs leave customers thinking the restaurant is an exotic garden. Inside, one can easily buy everything — the fresh aroma of ingredients and fruits which she uses to prepare is tempting.

Dhliwayo said her creative work and photography has caught the attention of local and international exhibitions.

Oh well, she is a professional photographer who holds an honours degree in design and photography from Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

“I have been a vegan for almost two years and vegetarian for three years. I struggled whenever I went out because there were no places that offered good vegetarian meals. I realised getting healthy, nutritious natural tasting food was a struggle not only for myself but many people in Zimbabwe,” she says.

That alone inspired her to create space for people who are health conscious to enjoy a meal out.

“I have also been to the gym of late and we are given the eating plans. Some did not know where to start from, so it was an opportunity for me to penetrate the market,” she explained.

Her goal was simple — to redefine what it means to eat well and promote a healthier happy lifestyle.

Ingredients she uses for her meals are 100 percent local produce.

“I am passionate about feeding people with nourishing meals made from whole ingredients that have a positive impact on their overall mind, body and health. I am a firm believer in supporting local producers and improving value chains,” she added.

According to Dhliwayo, the biggest hurdle for Zimbabwean farmers pertains to post harvest losses, and as such a lot of perishable agricultural produce goes to waste.

“This is because our farmers do not have many ready off takers like us who are willing to apply fair conditions when transacting with farmers. We make gourmet sandwiches, burgers, salads, detox smoothies, wraps and juices among others,” explained Dhliwayo.

And because of the lockdown, Dhliwayo’s Yanaya has been delivering orders to those who cannot access the facilities.

An application where customers can buy online and the food is delivered at their doorstep is also available with the creation of a website in progress.

With a menu that is highly nutritional as well as detox benefits, her hope is to see young people change their eating habits.

“We serve a niche space for healthy food as part of our mandate to promote healthy living. Though we have tried to narrow down our primary market to healthy lifestyle enthusiasts and those with varying health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, we have discovered there is a growing population that is aware of what they eat and how they live,” she said.

Surprisingly their smoothies are a hit with local celebrities who are endorsing the product line. The photographer-cum- restaurateur draws inspiration from her Christian values.

“I look up to Christ first for inspiration and guidance, said Dhliwayo.

The talented businesswoman said she loves to eat bun-less burgers, a burger with no bun but a patty with spread sauce over the top added with some onions, lettuce wedge and favourite sauce. She concluded that people should eat healthy every day, especially now in the era of non-communicable diseases.