Monday, April 13, 2015

12 Week Challenge Week 11- Meat-free Monday (or any other day)

Hey everyone. I hope that you had a fantastic easter! I'm sorry that I have been out of action for a few weeks. I ended up getting really busy with work and trying to get everything sorted up in Auckland before we went down to Dunedin for a week and a half. Then unfortunately, the day we got home I was hit by a cold and have been feeling less than fantastic this past week.

Anyway, I am back now and ready to get stuck into Week 11 of the 12 week challenge. This week, the challenge is to go veggie for a day. Why vegetarian? There are a few reasons actually.

1. Saves you money. Meat tends to be the most expensive component of a meal, whereas vegetarian forms of protein are often dirt cheap. Ditching the meat for one day a week is a great way to reduce your food bill a little bit.

2. It forces you to be a bit more creative. Sure you could just go with a simple pasta, but once you start looking, there are actually some really great vegetarian options out there. Some of my favourites are falafel, bean burritos and lentil-based soups.

3. The key to health is variety (of real foods of course), so mixing in some vegetarian is definitely a way to mix things up.

If you are already vegetarian then this will be easy! Perhaps instead you could challenge yourself to try a new vegetarian dish. On the other side, if you are paleo, then you can probably ignore this unless you are able to find a well-balanced vegetarian dish.

Here are some ideas from the blog to help you along:

Try a lentil-based vegetable soup:

This roast beetroot sub makes an easy, quick lunch or dinner:

In the mood for pizza? Try this veggie based pizza:

Stack these potato and parsnip fritters up with avocado and tomato for a delicious meal:

Lots a recipe books have a vegetarian section now and you can always use google for more ideas.

Monday, March 9, 2015

12 Week Challenge Week 9- Breath

Hi All! Another week, another challenge.

Right now you may be thinking "What is she on about? I breath all the time!". However, if you stop and think about it, do you ever take the time to stop and take some deep, relaxing breaths?

I thought not.

Unless you have been living in a bubble, you will have heard that stress is just downright not good for you. And you may notice that when you are stressed, you tend to take shallower breaths and tense up, and then you just end up feeling more found up.

That is why this week, I want you to take a minute or two to just stop and take some big, deep breaths. I get that meditation isn't everyone's thing, but if you are in the mood, it is a great way to pause and focus on breathing. For everyone else, pick a time where you have spare minutes. Perhaps you sit in a bit of traffic going to work, or you could do it when you are watching TV.

Just take in a deep breath, right down into your belly, and then let it out slowly and feel yourself start to relax.

That is all the advice that i am going to give you, because frankly, you don't need my instruction to know how to breath.

Good Luck and remember.....


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Apricot Surprise Muffins (Refined sugar free)

Hi All! I hope that you have enjoyed your weekend. I fit in a spot of shopping yesterday and got a couple of nice things. I managed to find a blouse for work and a striped dress from Valley Girl (gotta love cheap and cheerful). I don't expect these to last that long since they were really cheap, but they will be good for a season or so. I also got a nicer sweater for work from Farmers.

It is very hard to even imagine winter when it is still pretty consistently in the mid 20s up here in Auckland, but I don't want the colder weather to creep up on me and have nothing to wear for work!

I also got out for a bit of Mountain Biking yesterday evening. I'm still very much a beginner at this, and as a result my technique isn't that great. Because of this, I did take a bit of a journey off my bike and onto the ground. Ouch! Luckily I only have a couple of scrapes and bruises to show for this.

I realise that I have been a little bit slack with the recipes lately. It's not that I haven't been creating anything, but I just haven't been taking the time to photograph and document it. I promise to try harder in the future :)

As this week's focus for the 12-week challenge is cutting refined sugar for one day I thought that I should post a recipe that allows you to still enjoy sweet food without all of the refined sugars. I definitely have a sweet tooth, so anything that allows me to indulge in a healthier way is a winner in my book.

These muffins have been sweetened using brown rice syrup, as it doesn't play havoc with blood sugar like refined sugars do and it is a relatively natural alternative. If you don't have access to brown rice syrup, I definitely think that these muffins would work with honey. If you do try let me know! These muffins also feel a bit more like a treat thanks to the creamy 'surprise' that they have in the middle.

Enjoy xx

(Makes 12 regular-sized muffins)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup wholemeal flour (you could use all wholemeal but they will be stodgier)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
3/4 cup brown rice syrup
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup cream cheese
1 tsp brown rice syrup

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. and line a muffin tin.

In a large bowl, sift the flours, baking powder and baking soda. Stir through the dried apricots.

In a separate bowl, beat together the brown rice syrup, eggs and milk. Make a well in the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients, and fold together until just mixed.

In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese and brown rice syrup.

Fill each muffin hole about 1/4 full with mixture, then add 1 tsp of cream cheese mixture. Fill each muffin hole evenly with the rest of the mixture.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the tops are golden and the top of the muffin springs back when gently pushed.

Eat within 1-2 days, or freeze for later.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

12 Week Challenge Week 9- Cut the Sugar

Hi All. Another week, another challenge for you. Usually I am very much against cutting things out of your diet, as this kind of restriction is usually a sign of an unbalanced diet. This is why I why I won't tell you to completely cut refined sugars out of your diet. However, if there are two things that you should really try to eliinate as much as possible from your diet, it is overly processed foods and refined sugars (although both things tend to go hand in hand).

As noted before, cutting sugar completely from your diet just tends to lead to major sugar cravings and will probably get you nowhere in the end. There are programmes like the I Quit Sugar programme that do this, and if you can follow this and succeed, go for it! But I won't ask you to do this. Instead I prefer a more incremental approach.

Cut the sugar for one day per week.

Because sugar is addictive, the more you eat, the more you tend to crave. That is why occasionally I like to go a full day without refined sugars to help prevent this. However, doing this once a week would be even better, which is why I have included it in this challenge.

Here are some tips that I've come up with to help you out:

- Drink water. Linking back to the first week, make sure that you keep your water intake up. We tend to crave sugar around mid afternoon as we feel that energy slump, however, instead you may actually just be a bit dehydrated. Whenever you start to crave sugar, try drinking some water.

- Find some healthy alternatives. If you really must have a hit of sugar, find a natural alternative such as fruit. A find dates really great.

- Try to identify your sugar triggers. I know that I tend to want something sweet after lunch and dinner. I suppose that it is just a habit that I have developed. To help out I tend to grab a cup of tea. One good way to beat your sugar cravings is to know when they tend to happen and be prepared for  them.

- Watch your condiments. Chutneys, sauces and spreads can all have a lot of hidden refined sugars in them, so watch out for these.

These are just some of the ways that help me successfully cut sugar for a day. I will share some other tips on Facebook and Instagram over the week and please share any tips you have with me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Salad Jar Idea

Hi everyone. How is your week going? I'm feeling a little bit tired and I am definitely happy that tomorrow is Friday.

Because I was tired and had a bit of a headache, we took it a little bit easier tonight for our exercise and just went for a walk for around an hour. The warmer weather up here definitely makes getting outside for some exercise in the evenings or mornings nice, but not being used to it, the middle of the day is definitely too hot for me a lot of days.

Along with outdoor exercise, the warmer weather is also a great opportunity to pack heaps of veggies into your diet in the form of salads. I know that a lot of people aren't into the idea of salads for a meal as they are 'diet' food and not very satisfying. My belief is that, if you have this mindset, you just haven't tried the right salad. I make sure to pack mine full of protein and healthy fats and this way they are just as filling as a sandwich.

If you follow me on instagram (@libbysfood), you will now that this summer I have been very fond of my salad jars. They are a great way of transporting a salad, keeping the ingredients nice and fresh, and at the end of the day, I can just pop the jar in the dishwasher for easy clean up.

The trick with a salad jar is all about the layering:

  • Top Layers: Salad Leaves and Crispy bits. Basically all of the things that you don't want to go soggy, i.e. croutons.
  • Middle layers: Cheeses, nuts, tomatoes etc. In the middle layer go all of the things that can afford to get a little dressing on them if the jar tips over, but that you don't want to be drenched in dressing.
  • Second to bottom layer: Proteins and hard vegetables. These are the items that are going to absorb or be covered in dressing. Things like beans, chicken and carrots are great in this layer.
  • Bottom layer: In the bottom layer you put your dressing. 
When you go to eat it all you have to do is invert it into a bowl, or if you are short of a bowl, you can try to mix it up in the jar.

A salad jar to get you started...

  • Top Layer: Baby spinach and sprouts
  • Middle Layers: Cherry tomatoes, almonds and blueberries.
  • Bottom Layers: Avocado and feta (because I like it when it takes up some of the dressing), and of course in the very bottom was my dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, honey and a little sea salt.

I definitely suggest giving one of these a go!!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

12 Week Challenge Week 8- Consolidation Week

Hi Everyone! How is the 12 Week Challenge going for you? My water drinking did slip back a little last week, but I think this may be more to do with being a little bit lazy in recording it on Plant Nanny rather than not drinking my usual amount of water.

Since this week is week 8 of the challenge, it is time for some consolidation of the goals so far.

Here is what I plan to do to stay on track:

Week 1- Increase water intake: I got myself some Red Seal Tea Bags that brew in either Hot or Cold water. My plan this week is to add these tea bags to my water bottle to keep my water interesting and encourage me to drink it.

Week 2- Add produce in the morning: I haven't really been feeling like Smoothies much at the moment, but I might try to get in a couple of green smoothies this week to give myself a boost of nutrients in the morning.

Week 3- Get moving: This hasn't really been a problem as I have been doing heaps of exercise up here. I got a bike last week, so I will probably try to get out on this a couple of times this week.

Week 5- Switch to Wholegrains: My freezer is stocked up with wholegrain bread, and I have some quinoa and whole wheat in the cupboard, so it is just a case of choosing these over more processed alternatives.

Week 6- Try something new with a vegetable. I'm a little stuck on this one at the moment, but since corn is in season, I think that I will try and make something interesting with that.

Week 7- Stretch it out: Finding time for stretching can be hard when you're so busy going about your day, so my strategy this week is to try and fit in 5 minutes of stretching before bed.

This week is a great opportunity to try and develop these great habits, so make the most of it and pick one or two goals that aren't so great at the moment and improve them.

Good Luck.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

12-Week Get Healthy Challenge Week 7- Stretch it Out

Hi Everyone. Sorry that I have been a little bit absent on Facebook and Instagram this past week. Work has been pretty busy this week, but hopefullt this week I will be a little more on to it.

We have now reached Week 7 in the 12 Week Challenge! How quickly has that time gone. This week rather than food, I decided to focus  on an aspect of physcial wellbeing. More specifically, the focus this week is on the importance of stretching.

Quite often when you decide to start being more physically active, you jump into it with lots of enthusiasm the first week, but by a week in, you are feeling tired and sore, and the thought of doing even more exercise is more than you can bear.

It may not even be physical activity that is making you sore. After 6 weeks of working in front of a computer for 80% of my day, I can definitely feel it in my neck and shoulders by the end of the week. 

Both of these scenarios can be hugely improved with just a little bit of stretching. I definitely think that we brush it off too easily (myself included). You allow yourself thirty minutes for a run, but you are far too busy to fit in 3-5 minutes of stretching at the end. 

That is why this week my aim is to fit in at least 2 minutes of stretching a day.....

..... that's achievable right?

My goal for this is that it is a must after exercising! I also want to make time for a neck, back, or shoulder stretch everyday to counteract the strain my job puts on these areas.

Below I have provided some links to give you some ideas of stretches for particular areas or activities:

  • Cool Running have some great stretches to do if you're a runner
  • Mayo clinic have some good stretches if, like me, you work at a desk
  • Here are some general leg stretches from abc fitness
  • I always find yoga a fantastic way to stretch out. Here are some yoga poses to help stretch out your lower back.
So remember, just a few minutes of stretching every day and by the end of the week you should feel more comfortable and hopefully, without any tight muscles.

Good Luck


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