Facing cancer at 28 has made Mariam realise that there should be no delay when it comes to following your dreams and looking after your health.
Hi Mariam! Please tell us about yourself.
I grew up in Cape Town in a very tight-knit family. I adore my husband, Zaid, and our two boys, Isa and Radi. Cancer was never something I thought would touch our lives, but in 2008, at the age of 28, I was diagnosed with stage 3 lymphoma. I had a bulging growth on the side of my neck, but besides that I wasn’t sick at all.
I went to have the growth biopsied and I was a bit dumbstruck after the news. I would have to undergo six months of treatment every second week. The chemo went as planned and six months later, I was clear.
What inspired Cooked.inc?
While on my cancer journey, I started looking at alternative types of healing (reiki, laughter therapy and meditation). I also started researching how food can be used to heal. I started doing a daily beet and ginger juice (beet to help my blood count, and ginger to assist my liver with the impact of chemo).
After I was cleared from cancer, I continued eating healthy, whole foods, and this is how I discovered that I had a natural flair for putting balanced meals together that tasted delicious as well.
My passion for cooking healthy was birthed at this point. In 2010, I had the idea to start a meal-delivery device, but the unknown and fear was just too big. I had a comfy job and I was pregnant with my first-born. I eventually took the plunge to start my business, Cooked Inc., in 2014 while on maternity leave with my second-born.
Please tell us a bit more about Cooked.inc.
As a working mother, I saw the need for ready-made healthy meals. My target market is young families to help them free up time in the evening. At Cooked Inc., we take the guesswork out of what to have for lunch or dinner. Meals are ordered on a weekly basis and delivered to your door daily – it’s healthy, wholesome, tasty and convenient.
I have made it my purpose to educate people about the food they eat. It is not about cutting out food groups, but just to be mindful about what you eat and how it affects you.
I currently run cooking workshops as well, which sell out in three hours (the last one sold out in 12 minutes, which was a new record!). I have a teaching degree so marrying my love for cooking and teaching has been a natural progression.
Speaking of, your cooking workshops are a major hit…
Getting people to eat better and getting them back into the kitchen has always been one of my business essentials – teaching how to shop, prep and cook with minimal effort and standard ingredients.
Our lives have become so busy that adults do not have the time and patience to include kids in the daily cooking. To prevent another generation from lacking basic cooking knowledge I started teaching kids too.
You’re also a big proponent of Instant Pot. Tell us more.
My journey with Instant Pot started quite unexpectedly five years ago. I purchased my pot when it just landed in SA. I had been eyeing this gadget for quite some time, so I was overjoyed when it became available. I love sharing my live kitchen experiences with my Instagram audience, and I showed this product. Sales took off, Instant Pot noticed me, and now I’m an official brand ambassador for them.
I call it the ‘Hands-off Pot’. It leaves you to continue with life while cooking your food unattended and safely.
When you’re not making tasty meals or hosting educational workshops, what are you most likely up to?
When I’m not cooking, or hanging out with my family, then I’ll be at the gym lifting heavy barbells.
For more information on Cooked.inc:
ALSO SEE: Karen Dudley: A peek inside her kitchen
Compiled by Bianca Muller. Originally published in Food&Home Autumn issue.
Feature image: Supplied