Archives May 2015

Online shopping for the health and fitness enthusiast

I’ve been wanting to buy some Clean Lean Protein for ages, but to be honest, I’ve been put off by the price!  Recently I found the best deal at Mighty Ape and within 24 hours, I had this box of Vanilla Clean Lean Protein sachets at the door.  Mighty Ape ships super fast, if you live in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, you can get same day delivery.  For the rest of the country, it’s overnight shipping.

I’m a bit of a bargain hunter and love hunting online for a good deal.  While I’ve always thought of Mighty Ape as being more of a store for games and DVD’s,  they actually have a huge range of products including a good health and fitness section and some amazing homewares. I had a voucher to spend which was lots of fun as there was so much I wanted to buy.

In the end I settled on the following:

The Clean Lean Protein  – This was only $26.99, compared to $39 at other stores.  If you want to try the Clean Lean Protein, you can buy it here.  This was on special, which has now finished, but check back often as they quite often have promotions. Now other brands of natural protein powders are on sale instead of this.

General Eclectic Canister – I’ve got a couple of these already and they’re great for food storage.  This small sized one was perfect for storing my nuts in.  This was  $12.99 compared to $16.99 in other stores.

General Eclectic Jug – this cute origami style jug was only $6.99 (It’s retail is $12.99)

There was lots of other things I wanted to get too, I think I might head back and buy a medicine ball for at home workouts.

All in all I was impressed with the service from Mighty Ape. The products arrived quickly (I ordered at 3.30pm and they arrived at 11am the next day), they were well wrapped and a good price.  Mighty Ape, I’ll be back 🙂

I was gifted a Mighty Ape voucher. This is an honest opinion of how I found their products and services

New food reviews (including the new Whittakers!)

Food is one of life’s great pleasures, and every few weeks I’ve been sharing with you some of my favourites, or giving you the low down on my taste and nutrition opinion on foods.  Here’s some things I’ve tried the past few weeks.

Organic Dried Banana Chunks

I’d been wanting to try a recipe with dried banana, but haven’t been able to find any and doing my own was a bit of a disaster.  Then I found these babies at Moore Wilsons.  They’re organic, and contain no added sugar or preservatives.  It’s just dried banana with a little lime.  I ate a strip before using them in cooking, they were really yummy, chewy and intensely banana flavoured.  Delicious!  Because it’s a dried fruit, it’s best for occasional use rather than every day. A bag of dried bananas is about equivalent to two fresh bananas – so if you want to eat them dry, half a bag would be a good serve.  A yummy sweet treat though.  These were $2.75 a bag at Moore Wilsons

In case you’re interested, for a 50g bag, the nutritional information is as follows.

Energy: 690kj/164 calories
Carbohydrates: 38g
of which is sugars: 22g
Sodium: 1mg
Potassium: 500mg
Fibre: 2.2g

 Whittakers Samoan Cocoa Chocolate

So the new range of Whittakers chocolates have hit the shelves and the flavours sound amazing.  I bought this dark chocolate for a recipe, but of course I tried a few sneaky pieces before I used it.  It’s divine.  Creamy, rich and flavourful, it’s got that great melt in the mouth feel.  I love the thin pieces too.  I also tried  a few pieces of the salted caramel chocolate and that was delicious too.  Has anyone tried any of the other flavours?  I really want to try the white chocolate with apple and vanilla!

This chocolate is 64% cocoa, so it’s dark, but not super dark.  The cocoa is single origin, meaning all the beans are sourced from Samoa.  It’s nice to support our pacific neighbours and if this is anything to go by, their cocoa beans are spot on 🙂

Go Healthy Manuka Honey

I was sent this honey by Health 2000 to try out.  It is definitely very yummy.  The UMF mark on this stands for Unique Manuka Factor and is a quality trademark and grading system for identifying manuka honey that has a special unique natural property found only in some strains of manuka honey.  Grades go from:

  •   0-4  Not detectable
  •   5-9  Low levels
  • 10-15 Useful levels
  • 16+   Superior high grade levels

Manuka honey contains an antibacterial component called methylglyoxal (MG). This is found in most honey, but only in small amounts. It’s higher in manuka honey because manuka flower nectar contains a compound called dihydroxyactone. This is then converted to metylglyoxal (1).  Manuka honey is delicious, but consuming it doesn’t protect you from bacterial infections.  Most of the benefits of manuka honey has been around assisting with healing wounds (this is a special medical grade of honey, not the stuff from your cupboard). You can read a bit more about medicinal uses of honey here.  My favourite use for honey is a hot lemon and honey drink. It’s very soothing on a sore throat – I’ll be using my honey for this purpose.   You can buy it online here.

The Muesli Hub Muesli

The Muesli Hub is a great concept.  You go online to their store and make up your muesli just as you like it – choose your favourite nuts, seeds and fruits to go into one of their specially crafted bases.  The base mixes include a gluten free mix, as well as a bircher, toasted and dry roasted blend.  After choosing your base you can add in whatever extra goodies you wish.  I’ve just been dreaming up a blend of brazil nuts, blueberries and mango with chia seeds.  As well as creating your own, you can buy some of their premix blends.

I was sent the Honey Roasted Bliss blend to try which is a blend of whole-grains, seeds and nuts in NZ honey to lightly coat them. This mix is then topped off with dried apricots, banana chips and yummy yoghurt coated cranberries.   It was very tasty, and not too high in sugar either. A 50g serve contains 5.4g of sugar, and also gives you a fibre boost, with about 4g of fibre.   I’ve been having mine with Greek yoghurt and feijoa – it’s a delicious combination.    This brand is $16 for 500g.  You can get your own here.

Have you stumbled across any new foodie finds this week?

How much water do you really need to drink?

Water is vital for life.  But how much water do you really need to drink?  If there’s one thing I often hear clients say is that they feel they need to drink more water.  While some  clients I see could do with a higher water intake, others are quite adequately meeting their fluid requirements and are just causing themselves extra stress trying to drink down loads of fluids when they really don’t need to.

Ditching sugary beverages for some good old water is an excellent way to improve your health, after all sugary drinks are linked to excess weight gain, poor glycemic control and gout, and ensuring adequate fluid intake can help with constipation.  But do you really need to be drinking 3L plus of water a day?  Does drinking lots of water help “flush fat” from your body, as I’ve read on some Facebook pages?  Does more water help you detox?  Below I’ll share with you why water is so important and how much you really need to drink.

What do we use water for?

You probably already know that water is a big part of our bodies (around 60% for adults).  It’s a part of every single cell within our body.    Water is used in many processes within our bodies, including the breakdown of the macronutrients carbohydrate, protein and fat.

Water plays a role in regulation of temperature. What happens when you get hot?   You sweat! Sweat is made mainly of water, as well as some electrolytes.  Sweat helps cool the body when it evaporates from the skin.

Water also plays an vitally important role in transportation within the body. This includes getting nutrients into our cells as well as removing waste products from cells (1).

Our blood contains water and adequate water is necessary for optimal blood circulation.  When you’re dehydrated, there is less water in your blood, making it thicker.  Your heart has to pump harder to get the blood around your body to carry oxygen and nutrients to your cell. That’s why you can feel tired when you are dehydrated.

Hydration is essential for every single organ and system within the body, from the brain, to digestive system to the reproductive system.  That’s why severe dehydration leads to death. While that’s the serious end of the scale, mild dehydration does effect your wellbeing. Research shows that  mild dehydration can effect your concentration, alertness, short term memory and increase feelings of fatigue. It also effects sports performance. (2)

How much water do we really need to drink?

Image found here

Our fluid needs vary depending on a number of factors including the temperature and humidity and physical activity levels.  As a guideline, 8 glasses of water a day should be sufficient, however if you’re exercising you will need more.   Higher water intake doesn’t have any additional health benefits (3).  It won’t help you ‘flush fat’, it won’t help you detox (your body does a great job of that already), all it will do is give you more frequent trips to the toilet and increase your toilet paper bill 🙂

Thirst is only a roughly accurate indicator for hydration status.  When you feel thirsty, you are likely already slightly dehydrated.   A simple way to tell if you are hydrated is to look at your wee. It should be a pale yellow colour.  If it’s dark yellow, you could do with some more water.  Be aware that vitamin supplements can influence the colour of your urine – so if you are taking these, this chart will not be as useful.

For those who are doing lots of high intensity, or long distance exercise, and sweating a lot, you may need to pay more attention to your fluid needs for optimal sports performance and recovery.  This page gives some guidelines.

Do other fluids count?

Yes!  Tea, coffee, herbal teas do count towards your fluid intake.  While caffeine is a mild diuretic (meaning it makes you urinate), you don’t actually lose more water than you consume (4).  Overdoing the caffeine isn’t a good idea though as it can affect your sleep and leave you anxious and irritable.  Stick to a couple of cups of coffee a day.

So while water doesn’t help flush fat, or detox your body, it is a vital component of keeping our bodies functioning optimally.   In general, 8 glasses of water should be sufficient, but you’ll probably need more on hot days and when you are exercising.  Use the colour of your urine as a guide to keep yourself optimally hydrated.

Berry Chia Pudding with Greek yoghurt

Chia puddings make it quite acceptable to eat pudding for breakfast. This berry chia pudding with Greek yoghurt is a new recipe I tried out recently and makes a delicious, filling breakfast.   Chia seeds are pretty amazing little things. They’re really nutritious, and a special chia seed feature is that they swell up and absorb lots of fluid. So with just a small amount of seeds and some other yummy ingredients, you get a big fluffy pudding that’s full of good nutrition.

When I first saw chia pudding it reminded me of sago which kind of grossed me out as a kid, but it doesn’t taste the same and I think the texture is nicer.  The good thing about chia puddings is they are simple to make and the only thing that is time consuming is letting the seeds soak up the liquid.

This recipe for berry chia pudding with Greek yoghurt is a source of calcium, fibre, plant based omega 3 fats and protein.  It’s a nourishing mix that is quite light but will help keep you feeling fuller for longer.  You can double the recipe so you’ve got some in the fridge for a few days too.

Here’s the recipe:

Berry Chia Pudding with Greek yoghurt

Ingredients (makes 2 serves):

3 tablespoons chia seeds
1  1/4 cup Greek yoghurt (I used Anchor Greek as it’s highest in protein)
3/4 cup frozen raspberries
1/4 cup coconut
3 tablespoons sliced almonds (or nuts of your choice)
2 teaspoons sweetener of choice (I used stevia, honey would be nice too)
Extra yoghurt, berries and nuts for serving.

Mix together all the ingredients and place in small glasses in the fridge for 2-3 hours minimum, preferably overnight.  In the morning, top with the extra Greek yoghurt, nuts and berries.  You could also add a sliced banana if you needed a more substantial breakfast.





Feijoa Cheesecake

Feijoa season is, in my opinion, one of best thing about autumn.  As well as eating these in abundance, I’ve created one of my one of my favourite recipes so far, a feijoa cheesecake.

We’ve got four feijoa trees at home, and while they are still small they have produced plenty of fruit.  I think the fact that feijoas are only around for a few months a year makes them even more desirable.  These sweet, tangy fruits are also known as the pineapple guava and are a source of vitamin C, potassium and soluble fibre.

This cheesecake cuts down on the cream cheese (1 tub instead of 2-3) and uses Greek yoghurt to create a lighter yet delicious taste and texture.  It’s sweetened naturally with the feijoa and a little honey, although you can use any sweetener you wish.  The base is made with wholesome ingredients instead of the standard biscuit base in traditional cheesecakes.  I’ve included two versions for the base, because I ended up making two feijoa cheesecakes to get the filling right and thought I may as well test a new base recipe.  I think I may prefer the oat one, but choice is yours.

Enjoy the feijoa cheesecake while the feijoa season lasts. You could even have my feijoa ice cream with it too!

Feijoa Cheesecake


1 cup of mixed nuts (I used almonds and cashews)
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup dates soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes
1/2 cup coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil (or butter)
1 tablespoon coconut sugar (or any sugar – optional)

(alternative base:  1 1/4 cups rolled oats, 1/2 cup ground almonds, 1/4 cup soaked, chopped dates, 1/2 cup coconut, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 4 heaped tablespoons melted coconut oil – simply blend all ingredients together, add more coconut oil if required )

For the cheesecake:

250g feijoa flesh (this is approximately 10 feijoas)
250g tub cream cheese
3/4 cup Greek yoghurt (I used Anchor Greek)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Juice and grated rind of 1/2 lime (optional)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon gelatine
2 tablespoons boiling water
2 tablespoons of honey or other alternative sweetener

Blend the mixed nuts in a food processor until the nuts are finely chopped.  Add the remaining ingredients and blend until the mixture is well combined.

Place a piece of gladwrap inside a 20cm round tin so it comes up and over the edges.  This makes it easy to pull the cheesecake out.  Alternatively, you can use a spring bottom tin.

Press the base mixture into the bottom of the tin.

Take the feijoa flesh and blend up in a blender until it is a liquid.  Set aside.

Place the cream cheese in a medium sized glass bowl and out at room temperature to soften for an hour.   Or if you’re like me and don’t want to wait, place it in a bowl and microwave for 30-45 seconds.  Add the Greek yoghurt, honey, vanilla essence and the lime zest/juice.  Add the blended feijoa flesh. Mix together with an electric mixer, or use good old muscle power and whisk until well combined.

In a mug, add the gelatine and boiling water.  With a fork, mix together quickly and stir until all the crystals have dissolved.  Add to the cheesecake ingredients and mix again well, until the mixture is smooth and well combined.

Pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the base and smooth the top with a spoon.

Place in freezer for 3-4 hours until set.  Store in the fridge.  To serve, top with coconut chips and slices of feijoa.