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

Sunday, February 8, 2015

12-Week Get Healthy Challenge- Week 6

Wow! We are half-way into the 12 week Get Healthy Challenge! How are you going? I now have heaps of plants in my Plant Nanny garden, which means that I have kept up with my water goals over the past 5 weeks. Last week's goal was to include more wholegrains into my diet, and I think that I could still improve on this a little bit more at times, but overall, I think that I am meeting all of my micro-goals.

This week's challenge is to try a new vegetable, or try using an existing vegetable in a new way. Eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables is a great way to provide your body with a wide range of vitamins and minerals, and having flexibility with vegetables is a great way to keep your diet more interesting.

So how do I plan on completing this week's challenge?

There are a couple of options.

My first tip is that if you are going to try to use a vegetable in a new way, use a vegetable that you already have at home. This will save you money and help prevent you from letting a vegetable go to waste. For example, I have some broccoli in my fridge, so I might try to find a new, interesting way of using this.

The second strategy that I have is to do my research. There is no point in buying a vegetable that you have never cooked with before and then letting it go to waste in your fridge because you don't know what to do with it, or you don't have the right complimentary ingredients for it. Therefore, pick a recipe or two before you go out and get a new vegetable.

Let me know how you go with this challenge on facebook and share pictures of your great vegetable creations with me!

Good Luck x

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Chia & Oat Pudding

Hi everyone. How is your week of wholegrains going? I will admit that not every single grain-based food that I have eaten this week has been wholegrain, but I would estimate that around 80% has been, a balance that I am happy with. One of my wholegrain foods that I loved this week were some chickpea and quinoa patties from Donna Hay. Quinoa is a great source of protein, fibre and lots of other vitamins and minerals, so it really is a great wholegrain to try to include.

This weekend is Waitangi weekend, which means that we get an extra day of weekend. Yesterday we spent doing chores around the house, including sorting through the pantry (which is a great way to see what ingredients need using up in the next few weeks). Today we headed North up to the Matakana farmers market for breakfast. We found ourselves some Bacon, Egg, Chorizo and Veggie breakfast wraps which were delicious! After that we headed to a nearby Marine Reserve to go snorkelling for a few hours. It was amazing how many fish there were and how close you could get to some of them!

So on to today's recipe. I'm not the sort of person who can keep eating the same breakfast day after day. I like to mix things up a little, which means that I am constantly on the lookout for great new breakfast ideas (I actually judge a food blog primarily on its breakfast recipes).

I had seen lots of recipes around for chia puddings, but I thought that I would try and make a slightly more filling and interesting version. This recipe contains the wholegrain goodness of chia seeds and oats, and is the sort of recipe that you can customise with your own flavours and toppings. This breakfast was pretty easy to make, tasted great, and kept me full all morning.

Enjoy x

Serves 1, but easy to double or triple quantities.

2 Tbsp chia seeds
1/4 Tbsp rolled oats
1/4 Cup Greek Yoghurt
1 Cup Almond Milk
1 Banana
1 Tbsp Rice Malt Syrup, honey, or other liquid sweetener
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)

In a bowl place the chia seeds, rolled oats, yoghurt and almond milk. Stir to mix, cover and place in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, place the contents of the bowl in a blender or food processor, along with the banana and sweetener of choice.

Blend until smooth, thick and creamy.

Enjoy topped with your favourite fruit and nuts (mine had blueberries hidden in the middle).

Saturday, January 31, 2015

12 Week Get Healthy Challenge- Week 5 : Switch to Wholegrains

Hi Everyone. How did you go with the consolidation week of the 12-week challenge? At this stage I am still managing to follow the 3 challenges set so far, so it is time to move on to another for Week 5.

This week is about adding in wholegrains to your diet.

Eating lots of highly processed grains doesn't add much to your diet except pretty empty carbohydrates. I don't mind the occasional bit of white bread, or pasta, but some weeks I definitely think my diet looks a little bit too much on the white side. Wholegrain products tend to have more fibre and nutrients in them than their processed counterparts. However, just be sure to have a quick check of their labels to make sure that loads of franken-ingredients haven't been added (I practice this with most foods anyway).

Luckily, I tend to love the flavour of wholegrain foods, but I know that this isn't the case for everyone. That is why this week, I won't ask you to replace everything you eat for a wholegrain version, but instead just try to change 1-2 items.

Here are some examples....

If you eat white rice, try to swap in brown rice. Brown rice has a nuttier flavour than brown rice, but in a saucy meal, I don't actually notice the difference.  I also love brown rice sushi. Brown rice will take longer to cook than white rice, so if you think that this might be a problem for you, try the Quick Cook sachets or cups. To get some wholegrains into lunch, try making a brown rice salad.

Swap your white sandwich bread for a wholegrain loaf. I really love a loaf of Vogels or Burgen, but these are very dense wholegrain breads that are nothing like white bread. Look for an option that you think you can manage that has at least 5g of fibre per 100g.

Wholemeal pasta is much more readily available now and a great swap for standard white pasta. Wholemeal pasta is a little firmer than white and again it will take a little bit longer to cook.

And finally, if you like crackers, try to find a wholemeal option, or brown rice version of rice crackers.

If you can gradually swap the majority of processed foods for wholemeal alternatives, you will be doing something better for your body and hopefully notice that they help keep you feeling satisfied for longer.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Healthy Mango and Raspberry Iceblocks

How great has the weather been lately?! Although I am in an airconditioned office for most of the day, it is so nice to be able to go for some great evening walks and we have been making the most of the beautiful weekends by going swimming and just generally enjoying the sunshine.

On the other side of the world, my sister has been bunkering down for the New York snow storm, which seems hard to imagine when you come home to a 35 degree (celcius) house.

In some ways I find summer great for healthy eating, as I can eat heaps of stone fruit and berries, and salads are the perfect, light lunch food. One area that makes it hard though is when you are hot and need something to cool down. I'm all for the occasional ice cream or sweetened iced coffee as a treat, however, having these every day unfortunately is not the recipe for healthy living.

So I did what I always do when I encounter these problems.....

I made my own healthier version!

These Iceblocks provide a great treat on a hot summer's day or when you need that after-dinner sweet treat. However, the benefit of these is that there are no refined sugar in them and you can get in some fruit at the same time. They are also so simple (if not a little messy) to make.

If you have kids or just love iceblocks, I would definitely recommend investing in your own moulds. You can pick them up from homewares stores pretty cheaply (I saw some at Mitre 10 Mega for about $5), and you will be using them all summer long.

We are down to our last 2 iceblocks and I will definitely make some more this weekend!

Enjoy x

1 can coconut cream
1 ripe mango
1 cup raspberries (I used frozen)
1/4 cup honey or rice malt syrup (use more or less to taste. The unfrozen mixture will need to taste sweeter than you would usually prefer)

Peel and dice the mango (there are some great YouTube videos to help with this).

Using a blender, food processor or whiz stick, blend together all of the ingredients.

Pour the mixture evenly into iceblock moulds, or if you don't have any you can also use plastic cups with popsicle sticks inserted into them.

Freeze overnight.

To remove from the moulds or cups, run under lukewarm water for a few seconds and they should just pull out.


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