Friday, October 24, 2014

What's been happening

Woohoo! Finally a blog post. After nearly 2 months of silence this feels quite momentous! I thought for my come back post I would just give you a bit of a personal update about what has been happening, the things that I am loving at the moment and just a general kind of catch up.

The Dissertation and Finishing Uni


I somehow survived and got this handed in along with about 6 other assignments. I am really pleased with how my uni has gone this year, despite the pace and chaos of it all! I am still waiting to hear back on 3 assignments and the dissertation, but I am currently sitting on an A average. My dissertation is worth around 1/4 of my overall mark, so things can change a lot, but at least at the moment I am on-track for first class honours.

Finishing off my honours year also means finishing off 5 years of uni. Where did 5 years go? While I am not ruling out further study, for now it is time for me to step out into the professional world (exciting and terrifying at the same time).

Catching Up on Sleep (Kind of)
I was pretty exhausted after finshing up my dissertation. I haven't quite had the lazy sleep-filled days that I initially imagined. I seem to still have quite alot on as I have picked up extra hours of work, as well as 5 full days of data collection work through uni. After handing in my dissertation I also had 2 blow-out weekends, which meant arriving back home in the early hours of the morning. I was actually quite excited by the fact that I didn't get home until 4:30am the other weekend. I haven't done that in years!! Luckily from about next week I should get a bit more lazy time (hello baking!).

New House, New Kitchen
One of the reasons Hungry Male and I moved back home this year (apart from the money savings and having some extra support) was the prospect of living in the brand new house that his parents were building. After set-backs and delays we are finally in! The entire house is absolutely lovely, but my personal favourite is this gorgeous new kitchen that I get to use!!



Getting back into the kitchen (properly)
I got to bake and ice these cupcakes in the weekend....

I made cookie monster cupcakes and one pretty rose one. The icing took about 5 minutes as you have to ice each individual petal, hence why there is only one of them. Over the weekend I also made a batch of American Shortcakes (like a cross between a scone and a biscuit). All I have to say is om nom nom. Not exactly real food, but I still believe that treats like these have a place in a balanced lifestyle. I also got to make these in a pretty, pretty new oven.

Loving Smoothies
I have developed a little bit of a sugar and caffeine thing over the past few months, so I am definitely trying to cut back now. My nutrition, while still pretty good wasn't always fantastic when I was tired a stressed. Because of this I developed quite a thing for smoothies in the morning. They were quick, easy and I new that even if the rest of the day turned to crap nutrition-wise, I was at least getting a nutrient dense breakfast.

One of my favourites was banana, berries, chia seeds, vanilla protein powder, vital greens and almond milk. So easy and so good.


Stress=Acne
Oh yes, one of the fun, fun side affects of stress (not!) is a flare up in acne. This has led me to a few other products that I love.

The first is my discovery of Epiology skincare. Using many acne treatments causes my skin to get really tight and flaky. Epiology is amazing as I have that perfect skin feeling afterwards of feeling clean yet soft and moisturised. It is also quite effective on my sore hormonal/stress acne.

I am also now in love with this Elf concealer. It has fantastic coverage without looking too heavy and the best part? It was only $5 from K-Mart. Bargain!

And finally, I'm not sure yet if it's a product that I am in love with, but it is something that 
I will keep you posted on. I have recently started taking Vitex to help balance out the hormones contributing to my acne. It is meant to take a couple of months to really see a difference, so as I said will keep you posted.

And Finally.....
I can now announce that Libby's Real Food is moving up to Auckland! I have gotten myself a graduate marketing role with Reckitt Benckiser, so Hungry Male and I are packing up and heading North in the New Year. This means that the blog may evolve a little bit further to include some more reviews as I attempt to eat my way around the North. Can't wait!


Well that is probably all that you need to know for now. I am getting working on some new recipes for you and I plan to really get underway with my Food 101 series.

Watch this space!


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Putting the blog on hold for study


As you may have noticed from the lack of blogging/facebooking and instagramming I have just been so busy lately!! By the time I have finished working on my dissertation, doing readings and completing assignments, all I feel like doing is crashing, or escaping in some trashy romance novel (while I love reading, this is all I can seem to manage at the moment). I'm finding that I barely have time to get good, nourishing food into myself, let alone try to be in my usual, creative food developing state.

While I hate to do this, because of my time constraints, I have decided to put the blog on study leave for the next month or so. But I promise that I will be back with a vengeance (and some delicious recipes of course!!)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Homemade custard


Whoops! I am so overdue for a post!! I have been pretty busy these last two weeks, first going on a field trip for one of my papers and secondly preparing and doing my experiment to collect the data that I need for my dissertation. Unfortunately I only managed to collect half of what I need, so I will have to do one more day of data collection. To make things scarier, we were told today that there are only 8 weeks left until we have to hand in our dissertations. Eek! 

But of course I can't let that stop me making good food....

Up until earlier this year, custard to me was going to the cupboard, finding the custard powder, adding milk and cooking it up. Sometimes, if I wanted a really nice and creamy custard I may even add a few eggs. Because I relied on a package that had lots of numbers on it, it didn't really factor in as part of my whole food diet, it was more of a treat. However, because I really love custard, especially when I get sick, it made me determined to find a better way of making it. So I went searching on the internet and came away absolutely gobsmacked that I have been making it from a packet for so long.

It is so easy to make!!

I really didn't find it any more difficult than using pre-made custard powder. What's more, making it from scratch I know exactly what is in it and can use a more natural form of sweetner. Now I don't feel bad about enjoying custard all the time and it most definitely counts as a part of a real food diet.

Ingredients
2 cups milk (full fat works best)
2 Tbsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla essence (or vanilla bean paste, which makes it taste awesome!)
1 egg
1/4 cup rice malt similar (or othe liquid sweet```ner)

In a small bowl whisk together the cornflour, egg and vanilla essence.

Place the milk in a pot and place over a medium-low heat unitl the milk gets nice and hot but not boiling. 

This next part you need to do quickly. Add the egg mixture and thoroughly whisk the mixture so that the egg white doesn't scramble. Keep whisking until the custard gets nice and thick.

Stir in the rice malt syrup, adding more or less to taste.

Serve immediately (Delicious with some grated chocolate)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Vanilla Mango Smoothie


I am now back into the full swing of my second semester. I'm pretty excited about a 3 day field trip up to the Central Otago wine region at the end of this week and I now have a date booked to do my experiment for my honours dissertation so a lot is happening! The three day field trip is essentially fend for yourself in terms of food so I have decided that to save money I am going to try to make my own breakfasts and lunches from home and just buy dinners. This has two benefits: 1) It will be far less expensive than trying to buy all 3 meals for 3 days and 2) It is much easier to eat healthier when all the food prepared for you is nutritious, real food. My plan at the moment is to make some whole wheat spinach and feta muffins to go with hard boiled eggs and fruit for lunches and to bring a chia porridge mix for breakfast. I tested the chia porridge this morning and it was fantastic!! I stayed full all morning. I will have a little play around with the flavours before I share it with you, so watch this space.

I have found that for some reason I am not responding to the cold weather the way I usually do. Usually first thing on a cold morning I want something warm to fill me up like porridge. However, for some wierd reason after not really craving them all summer I keep getting cravings for smoothies. At least it means that I have a great use for all the mangos I keep buying (2 for 1 was possibly getting ambitious). If I do forget about the mango and it starts to turn a little to the mushy side I can just slice it up and throw it in the freezer, ready for a tropical inspired smoothie that leaves me dreaming of lazing around in the sun somewhere.

Ingredients
1/2 medium mango, sliced and frozen
1/2 banana
1 Tbsp peanut butter or other nut butter
4-5 almonds, chopped in half (unless you have a really good blender)
1- 1.5 cups coconut and almond milk (or milk of choice)
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Make sure that you have skinned and chopped the mango before you freeze it. I find snack-size snaplock bags work well for this.

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until nice and smooth. 

*NB I found this sweet enough for me but if you like things on the sweeter side you could easily add in a chopped medjool date or two :)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Food 101: Water

Those of you who follow the blog know that I tend to try to follow a real food lifestyle. In general I try to eat whole, unrefined foods without all of the preservatives and additives that are found in too many foods now. I also try to avoid refined sugars. I do tend to follow more of an 80/20 kind of balance. Yes I do eat cakes and cookies etc.,  although most of the time these are home or cafe made so in general made from scratch (that fits with real food right?). And yes, I do sometimes eat McDonald's. Not often and not very much of it, but my perspective on this is to just let myself enjoy it and not beat myself up about it. Eating real food is all well and good, but it was a switch that I only really made when I started educating myself more about food.

I think food education is incredibly important for making informed food decisions. It makes me appreciate my food more and I think it was easier including heaps more fruit and veggies in my diet when I understood the benefits that I could get out of them (rather than just eat your fruit and veggies because they are good for you). This is the reason why I want to share some of this education with you in my Food 101 series. I aim to give you a little bit of information on different foods that I will hope will inspire you to give them a try. I will also show you a couple of my favourite ways to use different foods.



First up I thought that I would start off with something that is totally vital to our lives, water. By now you have probably heard a hundred times that you need to drink water and lots of it. But hey, its not always that easy! You get busy, you're out and about and other drinks can just be so tasty! If you have a moment, do some people watching. Just take notice of how many people walk past you with cans of coke, bottles of juice or one of those starbucks confections. It kind of puts into perspective just how much of these sugar-laden drinks we consume every day.

I am not telling you to not drink them at all, that is completely your choice. Instead, make a conscious effort to try and switch out some of these drinks for water. There are a heap of benefits to it:


  • Better focus and concentration
  • Increased energy
  • It can aid in weight loss as a lot of the time that you think you are hungry you might just be thirsty. You are also less likely to want to reach for other sugary drinks if you are well hydrated.
  • Better skin. I definitely notice a difference in my skin when I have been drinking lots of water. I get less of my stress acne and less dry patches.
  • Flush out toxins and increase immunity (because no one likes being sick)
  • Good digestion. While the last thing you feel like doing when bloated is to add more fluid, drinking water can actually help get your digestion functioning properly again.
.... and heaps more!

So what are some ways to include more water in your day?


  • Get yourself an app. I have been using the Waterlogged app and I love it! You simply tap of the water bottle and log how much water you have drunk. You can set yourself a daily goal (mine is 2000ml of PLAIN water, which doesn't include any hot drinks etc.) and set yourself reminders to drink a glass.
  • Make it taste good. There are heaps of things you add to flavour your water. Some of my favourites are apple slices and mint, cucumber lemon and ginger and frozen berries. Have fun and play around with adding different fresh and frozen fruits to the mix.
  • Fizz it up. I really like drinking soda water for a change HOWEVER there is still argument over the effect this has on bone health so I do try to limit having soda water to once or twice a week.
  • Have it warm with lemon. If you are not into cold drinks, try warming it up a little. Plus lemon is great for detoxifying your body.
The moral of this story? Just drink more water (at least 2 litres a day!). This might seem a lot at first but just having small glasses throughout the day can really add up!

What is your favourite way of drinking water?

Are there any other Food 101s that you would really like to see?


Monday, June 23, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie


Hi everyone, hope that your week so far is going well. After having a few quieter weeks to try and decompress after a crazy semester, I actually need to start getting some dissertation work properly underway before the next crazy semester begins! This means that I have been neurotically timetabling my days, but hey, it seems to work for me and I had such a productive day yesterday!!

This weekend I am heading to Queenstown to catch some of the Winterfest events. I think some of the planned action will be going to watch some ice hockey, ice skating, going to a concert and maybe heading up the mountain to watch the slope style competition. Should be heaps of fun and the place we are staying in is quite flash with our own spa!! I cannot wait! Since the weekend is likely to be not quite as healthy as usual, I am trying to balance out with lots of nutrient-dense foods during the week. I will also try to pack lots of healthy snacks so that I'm not eating junk all day long. Where we are staying also has a kitchen which makes it easier to have healthy lunches etc. I will document some of what I am eating via my instagram (@libbysfood) so check it out!

This smoothie recipe is a fantastic way to increase your veggie intake for the day. I will warn you that if you don't like pumpkin pie, do not go near this smoothie, but if you love it like me, this is a fantastic way to get all of the flavours without all of the sugar. Unfortunately in New Zealand, or at least Dunedin, we don't get tinned pumpkin that is already nice an pureed, so I just used some steamed pumpkin that we had from dinner the night before. You can easily play around with quantities to adjust it to your taste.

NB. Medjool dates are fantastic in smoothies, but if you don't have any you can sub in dried dates that you soak in boiling water for 10-15 minutes.

Ingredients
1 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin
2 Tbsp rolled oats
2-3 medjool dates
1 tsp maca powder (optional)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup milk of choice (almond would be nice)

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until really nice and smooth. Took me about 40 seconds all up.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Pear, walnut and blue cheese salad


We are getting chilly here in Dunedin!! I suppose that it is now June and we are nearing the shortest day of the year but I think I forget just how bitter Southern winter days can be. It also doesn't help that my best friend is currently sunbathing in the Greek Islands, so I keep seeing pictures of clear blue skies and picturesque white-washed walls. Oh that and my grandparents have just jetted off to Rarotonga. I suppose all a girl can do in these sorts of situations is dream of beautiful warm weather and eat some delicious warming food.

Oh and keep warm by going shopping. I do love winter fashions.

I am still on a bit of a break from uni at the moment working on my dissertation so it is easy to snuggle up on the sofa with a cup of tea and do some research. Today Mum had the day off work so we went out for lunch up to Coffee Culture in Roslyn. For anyone who lives in Dunedin or is visiting you should definitely check it out! They have converted an old fire station which has some amazing views out over the city, the food was tasty and importantly the coffee was excellent.

Speaking of warming foods, winter isn't exactly what I would consider salad time of year, but in my opinion it just means that you need to change up the type of salads you have. Pear, walnut and blue cheese isn't exactly a ground breaking combination, but they go so well together that I thought I would share my version of this winter favourite. The delicious pan-fried pears help to warm it up a little, while the raspberry vinaigrette adds a lovely tang.

I'll add a wee note that I used Raspberry Vinegar in my dressing. This is a little bit of an investment type vinegar as it is more difficult to find and a little more expensive, but I absolutely love it!! It really does make a great alternative to apple cider vinegar. I haven't tried it, but if you don't want to go out and find raspberry vinegar, apple cider vinegar should work in the dressing.

Ingredients
2 pears, cored and slice thinly
Approx. 1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup shelled walnuts, roughly chopped (or put in a snaplock bag and give them a bash with a rolling pin Jamie Oliver style)
Approx. 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (just use however much you like really)
Couple big handfuls mixed salad greens

3 Tbsp raspberry vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp olive oil
Grinding of salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a pan and lay the pear slices flat. Pan fry for around 4-5 minutes or until golden and then flip over. Fry the other side for a following 3-4 minutes adding a little more butter if needed. You may need to do this in 2 batches.

In a jar, shake together the dressing ingredients (vinegar, honey, oil and salt and pepper) until well combined.

On a large serving plate (or bowl if you prefer), spread out the salad greens. Drizzle with some of the dressing and toss a little to coat. Sprinkle over the blue cheese, add the cooked pear and then sprinkle over the walnuts.

Voila!

Store the remaining dressing to enjoy over the rest of the week. Just give it a bit of a shake up before you use it.

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