For a person who suffered panic attacks in her first triathlon, Afiza Abdul Halin has come a long way transitioning from a runner to triathlete to now mother and a cooking advisor. Known as Fiza, the Selangor-born was enjoying an active sporting lifestyle till a debilitating knee injury put her on the sidelines.
In 2015, the 37 year-old’s love for triathlon was ignited by the ‘why not try tri’ feeling. Without any prior experience in cycling and swimming, Fiza signed up for the IRONMAN 70.3 Putrajaya 2015, three months before the triathlon! Her proudest moment was completing the swim leg for that virgin Putrajaya race, as she managed to overcome panic attacks with sheer determination, one stroke at a time.
Along the way, it’s the camaraderie and atmosphere, that got Fiza hooked to triathlon. Event day was always both, daunting yet exhilarating. She looked forward to the feeling of crossing the finish line – the big smile, the ‘I am not doing that again’ but ‘what’s the next event’ kinda feeling!
As Fiza took on motherhood, she also changed from a career in Information Technology, to ‘cooking technology’ inadvertently. By using the state-of-the-art Thermomix, she found that the multi-level cooking saved her a lot time when she was working and training, enabling her to make a full 4-course chicken rice meal in just 25 minutes. It has also inspired her to make her own bread, chicken stock, curry pastes and best of all, ice cream from scratch.
Throughout her fitness journey, Fiza has been inspired through various diets and her own experimentations. She also tweaks her recipes to be more healthy and shares her cooking shenanigans on her Intagram profile through #fizacooks.
Evidently, it’s still the camaraderie that keeps her in the sport, this time in the supporting role as her husband still races, although she misses wearing her own bib and crossing the finish line. She now shares cooking methods and recipes with the triathlon community.
“We like having people over, especially for post-race celebrations. Crowd favourites are chilli crabs, mantau buns and burnt cheesecake,” said Fiza.
She’s even experimented with a vegan menu for their vegan friends, which included vegan mushroom & spinach lasagna, tofu ricotta and vegan pesto all made with her trusty modern yet versatile gadget.
Top 10 food and snacks which her triathlete friends like to eat include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Fruits – especially banana, apple, dragon fruit, avocado
- Energy bars – granola or protein
- Juices, smoothies or shakes – go to are lemon & passion fruit juice and banana & dragon fruit
- Nuts – almonds & pistachios
- Chocolates – cause it makes us happy!
- Leftover Wraps – no food wastage & on the-go
- Soups – especially pumpkin or minestrone (very hearty)
- Roast or steam chicken
- Pesto pasta (I love to pair with seashell pasta)
Fiza also gets a lot of meal prep requests, especially the Korean Beef Bowl with sweet peas or quiches, while rack of lamb, bolognese, rainbow toasts and cheesecake are popular for celebrations.
Here, Fiza shares a simple recipe for pesto which doesn’t require any cooking but it is so versatile and healthy. You can have it with pasta, on toast, with roast or steam chicken or even salad. This Vegan Pesto recipe makes 6 portions, enough to last a week or made into a spread for one big lasagna.
Recipe: Vegan Pesto
110g extra virgin olive oil
40g nutritional yeast (or parmesan cheese for non-vegans)
30g flaked almonds (or chopped almonds)
20g fresh basil leaves
½ lemon – squeezed juice only
2 garlic cloves
½ tsp fine sea salt
Ground black pepper to taste
Preparation in Thermomix:
1. Place 10g of olive oil and all other ingredients into mixing bowl. Blend for 10 seconds/Speed 7.
2. Set to speed 3 and drizzle balance oil slowly through the hole in your mixing bowl lid until a loose pesto forms. You might not use the entire oil measured.
3. Season to taste & store in airtight container up to 1 week.
1. Place 10g of olive oil & all other ingredients into a food processor. With the motor running, drizzle olive oil slowly until you reach your desired consistency. So you might not use the entire oil measured.
2. Season to taste & store in airtight container up to 1 week.
Serving suggestion: Eat with pasta, on toast, with salads, on crackers, as a dip with celery, in soups, with steam or roast chicken, as a layer in your lasagna.