Thursday, May 21, 2015

Turning Your Real Food Shop Into Nutritious Meals

It is easy going to the supermarket and buying healthy ingredients. You walk in and you grab all of the items that are whole foods. You stock up on lots of fresh fruit and vegetables (preferably ones in season). You go to the chillers and buy your milk, butter, cheese etc. Wander past the bakery and then head into the aisles.

As long as you follow a few simple rules then shopping isn't hard;Buy foods in as whole a state as possible
  • When buying pre-packaged, buy those with as few ingredients as possible
  • Avoid refined sugars
  • Opt for whole grains
However, eating real, nutritious food on a day-to-day basis is not so easy. I often find myself getting all enthusiastic at the supermarket, coming home with lots of great, nutritious food and then......... blank.

I have no idea how to use alot of it.

One of my friends has requested that I make up a meal plan with a shopping list that would essentially eliminate this problem. While I don't yet have one of those ready, I thought instead that I could try to inspire you a little with how I turn my weekly shop into real food.

Here was my shop:

First up are the essential fruits and vegetable. In this shop I had celery, beetroot, bananas, avocado, lemon, apples, lettuce, zuchinni, tomatoes and carrots. Here are some of the ways I use them:
  • Celery: I love celery as a snack. Dip it in some hummus or fill it with cottage cheese and raisins or peanut butter (my personal favourite is obviously peanut butter).
  • Beetroot: You may or may not know, but beetroot is really delicious raw as well as cooked. I love to grate raw beetroot, mix it with balsamic vinegar and salt and serves it with other salad ingredients. You can also roast your beetroot up with other vegetables for roast vege salads or a side dish.
  • Avocado: I absolutely love avocado!Mash it up for guacamole, throw it in a smoothie, eat it on its own coated in Dukkah or drizzled with lemon juice. You have no reason to throw out avocado!
  • Apples: I eat apples every day. Often as is, but I also chop it up with yoghurt for breakfast, dip them in peanut butter for a snack, or cook in the microwave with some cinnamon as a healthy treat.
  • Lettuce: Nothing out of the ordinary here. I use this in salad and sandwiches
  • Zuchinni: Or courgette, whatever you want to call it. I quite often use a wide vegetable peeler to make zuchinni pasta, topped with a lentil bolognaise, or I toss it in some balsamic and roast it
  • Tomatoes: Like the lettuce, nothing really out of the ordinary. Salads and sandwiches.....
  • Carrots: Another favourite of mine. I use carrots in stir fries and casseroles, throw them into salads, grate them and stir them into mince meals, or simply eat them raw as a snack.

Next up we have meat and dairy. I used to be the sort of person who only ate low-fat dairy, but I gave up on that over a year ago, and to be honest, I don't think it's made one scrap of difference weight wise. I also get lots of benefits from it like making me feel fuller. In this shop I had chicken, mince, steak, ham, milk, sour cream, greek yoghurt, yoghurt pots, and feta.
  • Chicken: This is a weekly staple for me. Sometimes I pre-stuff it in the weekend, so I have an easy throw in the oven weeknight meal. I also love it in stir fries, in pasta, marinated and grilled. It is a really great base for your "real" meals.
  • Mince: I tend to go for a premium mince as I just don't really like the taste and texture of the fattier mince. With mince I make slow-cooker meatballs, mexican style mince to top baked potatoes or in wholegrain tortillas, or cook it up traditional bolognaise-style.
  • Steak: I'm pretty uninventive. I tend to rub it down with a little oil, pepper, salt and smoked paprika and then grill it.
  • Ham: I don't eat a lot of processed meats, but sometimes ham comes in handy for on pizzas or for in sandwiches.
  • Milk: I don't drink heaps of cows milk as I prefer almond milk for my smoothies. For me, milk is most often used in my cups of tea or for in baking. I still tend to go for full-fat as I just think its better (and it makes a much better bechamel sauce!)
  • Sour Cream: Mexican-style food needs sour cream! Again, I don't use it heaps, but it's the sort of thing that is handy to have in the fridge.
  • Greek yoghurt: Plain, full-fat greek yoghurt is a staple for me!! I often have it for breakfast with fruit and oats, I stir it into my porridge, I eat it with nuts and fruit as a snack, or I use it in baking. I just really love my greek yoghurt.
  • Collective Yoghurt Pots: If you follow me on social media, you will know that I really love The Collective products. They tend to be low in refined sugars and these ones also had grains in them. These were used for my mid-afternoon snacks.
  • Feta: Feta is great to add a bit of flavour to things and a little goes a long way. I crumble it over salads, over vegetables, smush some into a sandwich, or make a delicious spanakopita (Spinach and feta filo roll). 

And finally we have all of my other cupboard staples. This included tinned tomatoes, beans, peanut butter, spices, tomato paste, muesli bars, pasta and a quinoa-rice blend.
  • Tinned vegetables: I always keep some beans or chickpeas in my cupboard so that I can add them to my lunch salads for protein, or use them in casseroles or soups. I also use tinned tomatoes lots for pasta sauces or other tomato-based sauces. 
  • Peanut Butter: I could probably go on for pages about my love for peanut butter. I use it on toast, melt it with coconut oil and honey for a sauce, spread it on crackers, have it on toast with bananas......
  • Muesli bars: These are processed so I don't eat them alot. These particular ones were for hungry male who tends to be a bit fussy, but when I buy ones for myself, I buy ones with as few ingredients as possible and with a small amount of refined sugar.
  • Quinoa-rice blend: I cooked this up as a nutrient-packed alternative to plain rice for stir-fries, curries or as a base for lunch salads

So that is the most of it. I'm not going to pretend like I am perfect and never touch processed foods, but I find that if I do some pre-planning before I shop then it is much easier to stick to eating and using up my real-food shop (because I really hate wasting food!).

Hope this inspires you to get into the kitchen and make some great real-food meals.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Super Green Smoothie

It's been so long since I last posted!! If you follow me on Facebook and Instagram then hoefully you won't feel forgotten, but if you only follow this blog I apologise for neglecting you! A lot has been happening in the last few weeks, including one of my best friends coming up to see Singing in The Rain together. The cast did an amazing job and the water curtain was so impressive! It somehow made me want to go and dance in puddles and I tend to hate rain!

I have been having some pretty delicious food in the past few weeks! We went to some awesome little Japanese place before Singing in The Rain (no idea what it was called but it was across from the Civic Theatre in Auckland). I always love a good Donburi. On Monday this week, I had a work Dinner at Depot. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures, but we got a bunch of share plates of delicious things like Turbot sliders, lamb ribs and Fig and Goat's cheese toasties. Pretty much everything was amazing and I would definitely recommend it (if you can get a seat).

Not all of my meals have been out of course. When my friend was up we attempted to cook our way through the bags and bags of Feijoas that i had from the trees in my back garden. We made Feijoa jam and stewed Feijoas, both of which are delicious. Another great thing I made is this smoothie.

After a pretty jam-packed week last week, including a night of only 3 hours sleep (it was conference alright!), I was feeling in need of a bit of a nutrient boost. This is when I think smoothies really come into their own, as you can jam so much into them, and they are so tasty and easy.

My rule of thumb with smoothies is to include a fruit, some healthy fats, protein and if possible some form of vegetable. This one checked all of the boxes. I had frozen banana, as I love how cold and thick they make the smoothie, coconut oil for some healthy fat, almond milk and protein powder* to keep me full, and baby spinach as the vegetable. To top it off, I added some Vital Greens powder to up my vegetable-based nutrient content.

It's pretty much a power smoothie.

*NB: With Protein powder, aim for one with no refined sugars. I use a Whey Protein Powder that is sweetened with a little bit of Stevia, but plain Whey or plant-based protein powder will also work.

Makes 1 Smoothie

1 banana, chopped and frozen
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp coconut oil
1 scoop protein powder
Handful baby spinach
2 tsp Vital Greens powder
1 tsp pure maple syrup (optional)

Place everything in a high-powered blender or food processor. Blend in two 30 second bursts, or until everything is completely blended together (no one wants chunks of spinach in their smoothie!).

Serve immediately.

Enjoy xx

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Fantastic Feijoa Smoothie

Hi everyone. I am finally back with a recipe! After a great Easter break away  I have been feeling a bit more inspired in the kitchen lately, so hopefully I'll get some great recipes up for you over the next few weeks.

I had a really nice Anzac weekend. On Saturday we went mountain biking at Woodhill mountain bike park. It's a really great nearby park full of great mountain biking tracks, however, it turns out that it is actually quite large so we ended up biking for around 3 hours! My legs were complete jelly at the end.

Sunday we went and got a couple of things in town as I wanted some things to put on the wall in our bedroom to make it feel more like 'ours'. Monday the weather wasn't very great, so we mooched around in the morning and then wandered around some more shops.

I came up with this recipe as a way to try and get through some of the dozens and dozens of feijoas that are covering a part of my lawn at the moment. There are four feijoa trees in our back yard and teamed with this year being a bumper season, I have quite the feijoa problem on my hands. I think this weekend I might have to try preserving some.

I love smoothies for breakfast as they are a great way to pack nutrients into a meal and they are nice and portable, so if i'm running late I can also take them along to work with me. I used a frozen banana in my smoothie, but if you don't like the taste of banana, a frozen apple would also be really nice! Haven't pre-prepared frozen fruit? You can always use fresh and add some ice cubes to the mix.

Frozen banana (or apple)
3 medium feijoas
1 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1-2 tsp honey
Scoop protein powder (optional)

Halve the feijoas and scoop out the flesh. Add all of the ingredients to a blender and whiz until completely smooth (I did around a minute all up). Enjoy nice and cold.

So here is one way to use up my feijoas, now to just find about 20 more. Let me know of you have any great ideas for how to use up my feijoas!

Monday, April 20, 2015

12 Week Challenge Final Week- Be Body Confident

This week is the final week of the 12 Week Challenge. This week is also possibly one of the most challenging weeks. It is easy to change what you have around you to help you eat better, but changing what your brain is telling you... well that is a different story.

Think of your morning routine; you shower, get dressed, do your hair, do your makeup and then go and check yourself in the mirror. What is it that you say to yourself? Do you compliment yourself, or do you find yourself pointing out all of your flaws?

I believe that part of being healthy holistically, is having a positive mindset. So here are my tips on being more body confident:

1. Focus on the positive: A few months ago we had a great speaker come into work who spoke about the influence having a positive mindset can have on your mental wellbeing. So when you look at yourself in the mirror, rather than immediately pointing out to yourself what it is that you don't like, instead find two or three things to compliment yourself on. Focusing on the positive aspects will become a habit and in time, you will find that you notice the positive more than the negative.

2. Don't be a slave to fashion: Not all styles of clothing will suit you, it as simple as that. As much as I love the look of loose, draped layers, between my chest and butt, they tend to look like unflattering sacks on me. While sometimes its frustrating, I just have to remind myself that there are lots of clothes that can look great on me. Rather than following the latest fashions to the letter, you are far better picking out the pieces that suit you and make you feel good and making your own style.

3. Find the little things that make you feel good: Sometimes something little is all it takes to perk up your day. I like to put on bright lipstick when I'm feeling a bit low as I feel like it helps brighten the rest of your day. I also feel better about myself if I've gone for a good run etc. Make time for these little things.

4. Dont try to change what you can't: Sometimes you just have to make peace with what you have. You cannot physically change the length of your limbs, or give yourself an entirely different body shape. So stop wishing you could!

I'm not saying that I am completely body confident, I sadly don't believe that many people are, but it is something that I think that I can constantly be trying to work on.

What are your body confidence tips? What do you do to make you feel brighter?

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.


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