Healthy snack ideas

When it comes to food, we tend to be creatures of habit. If our mid morning snack is a handful of nuts then often we’ll stick with that day in day out.  Variety is important when it comes to nutrition, so I’ve been looking at mixing up my in between meal snacks. Here’s some of my new favourites.

Prunes always used to remind me of old people and constipation! But the truth is they taste amazing and they’re good for you too.  A small serve is all you need – 3 prunes  (approx 26 grams) is perfect and it’s enough to tide you between meals.  Eat with a glass of water, and the prunes will swell in your stomach helping keep you full.  These are my go to snack when I feel like something sweet.  It’s 6g of sugar but gets rid of any sweet cravings I have.  Prunes are also high in antioxidants and potassium.

A 26g serve is just 67 calories, and provides 1.8g fibre.  It has less than 1g of fat and 6g of sugar.



Ceres Organics Trail Mix

This is a delicious blend of  almonds, raisins, papaya strips, roasted cashews, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. A small handful makes a nutrient rich in between meal snack that’s high in healthy fats.  A 150g bag is approximately $5.60 at Countdown supermarkets.





Vita Weat Crackers

Another favourite at the moment is Vita Weat 9 grain crackers spread with garlic and chives cottage cheese.  The garlic and chives cottage cheese has a really nice flavour and adds protein.  Between 2-4 of these spread with cottage cheese is a good snack option.

Grapefruit, beetroot and baby spinach salad

With a few days of sunny, warmer weather instead of grey skies and pouring rain,  I felt like salad rather than cooked vegetables. We’ve got a large very productive grapefruit tree at home, and most of the grapefruit go to waste, so I was also keen to start using them a bit more.  This combination is quite delicious and tangy and is even better with a a few walnuts on top.

Ingredients for 2 servings

One grapefruit, cut into slices
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1/2 can baby beets, drained of juice
feta cheese (as much or as little as you like)

Mix ingredients in a bowl and add a drizzle of the vinaigrette below. For a yummy dinner, serve with grilled chicken.


Juice and zest from half an orange
Juice and zest from half a lemon
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Ground pepper

Brussels sprouts, broccoli and almonds

For as long as I can remember, I hated Brussels sprouts, the pungent smell, the soggy sloppy texture.  This whole picture has changed.  I first tried them again after many years of avoidance in my mother in law’s beautiful stir fry, and was surprised that they actually tasted good.  Since then I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen, and have even bought a punnet to grow in garden for winter.

The key to Brussels sprouts is two things – buy them small and tight, and DO NOT over cook.  That’s what makes them soggy and smell horrible.

Here’s a yummy green vegetable dish topped with almonds that’s so simple it hardly needs a recipe.  Brussles sprouts and broccoli both belong to the brassica family. The good news about brassicas is that a high intake reduces your risk of cancer, and they’ve also been shown to limit cancer growth and the progression of the disease. Read more here

Here’s how:
16 Brussels sprouts
1 head of broccoli
1/4 cup chopped raw almonds
olive oil
lemon juice

Remove loose leaves from the Brussels sprouts, cut off the ends and cut in half.  Cut the brocolli into small floretes. Cook in a steamer for 8 minutes until cooked, but still slightly firm to bite. While this is cooking, pop the Brussles sprouts into a shallow pot of boiling water, and cook for no more than 4 minutes.  Drain.  Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a fry pan. Add the vegetables and toss in the oil.  Cook until sprouts are slightly browned.  Squeeze over lemon juice, and sprinkle with almonds.


Superfood Salad

You hear so much about ‘superfoods’ these days, but in reality the original superfoods are vegetables.   Vegetables are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals.  Did you know if all New Zealanders ate 5 plus a day fruit and vegetables, there would be approximately 1558 fewer deaths each year?  They really are vital for our health and wellbeing.

When it comes to vegetables, different colours means different nutrients, phtyochemicals and antioxidants. The compounds that give vegetables their colours are known as phytochemicals and they have a wide range of beneficial effects for our bodies.  I’ve included orange, red and green vegetables which makes it both pretty and nutritious 🙂

This salad provides a source of: fibre, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, potassium, phosphorus,  B vitamins including folate; and zinc as well as the following phytochemicals and antioxidants:

Lycopene – protective against cancer, especially prostate cancer
Anthocyainins – found in red/purple vegetables and fruit, they are thought to reduce the risk of certain cancers and diabetes and can help protect against signs of ageing
Betalins – a powerful antioxidant found in beetroot. A study ranked beetroot among the 10 most potent vegetables in terms of antioxidant activity
Isothiocyanates – thought to protect against cancer
Carotenoids – beneficial for eye health


1 large wedge of pumpkin
1 large kumara
1 potato, washed
3 zucchini cut into large chunks
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bunch baby beetroot (or to make it easier you could buy the Leader Brand prepackaged, cooked beetroot)
2-3 tablespoon olive oil
1 broccoli
12 slow roasted tomato halves (click here to see how to make these, or you could buy sundried tomatoes)
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
Handful of whole raw almonds

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Peel and cut the pumpkin into chunks, and cut the kumara and potato into similar sized pieces.  Place these plus the zucchini in a roasting dish, drizzle over the olive oil and rub in the garlic.  If you’re roasting your own baby beetroot, cut these in half and roast in a separate dish so not to turn everything pink!  Roast for 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through and slightly crisp on the outside.

While the vegetables are roasting, cut the broccoli into small florets and steam until cooked. Don’t overcook!   Set aside.

When there is five minutes left to go for the roast vegetables,  add the broccoli to the roasting dish to slightly crisp up.

When the roast vegetables are cooked, place in a bowl with the broccoli , baby beetroot and slow roasted tomatoes.  Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and whole almonds (I took my photo before adding the almonds, so make sure you add them – they add a delicious crunch plus heart healthy fats that help you absorb some of the vitamins in the vegetables).

Serve this with a source of protein to make it a meal.

Summer salad ideas

Salads are a refreshing way to get your five plus a day, especially in summer. However the usual lettuce and tomato salad can get a little boring.  Here’s some of my favourite ideas for delicious, fresh summer salads.

  • Lettuce, walnut, pear and a sprinkle of blue cheese
  • Whole baby beetroot, feta cheese, pear slices and sunflower seeds
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved; cucumber slices, black olives and feta cheese
  • Fresh mango slices, red onion, tomato, and rocket
  • Roast carrot, avocado, rocket, red onion and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds

Image courtesy of

What’s the best sausage for the BBQ?

Summer time means BBQ and it wouldn’t be a BBQ without a sausage. Sausages are a processed meat so are generally high in fat and salt.  While they’ll never be a health food, if you’re looking for a healthier sausage, here’s some options.

Mad Butcher Italian Sausages
If you live near a Mad Butcher, then their Italian sausages are one of the lowest fat, and lowest sodium sausages I found.  According to MyFitnessPal, 2 of these sausages contain 718kj, 5g of total fat, including 2g of saturated fat. They were high in protein compared to other sausages, containing 28g of protein and much lower in sodium with 330mg of sodium.


Hellers 95% Fat Free Beef Sausages

These sausages contain 70% beef mixed with wheat cereal and soy protein which I imagine would be used to bulk out the sausage and lower the fat content. Per  100g the sausages contain 593kj,15g protein, 5g of total fat including 1.5g of saturated fat and 800mg sodium. See the Hellers website for more information.

Bean Supreme Vegetarian Sausage

Ok, so it’s not technically a “real” sausage, but in terms of fat and sodium content, Bean Supreme vegetarian sausages scores pretty well in terms of the nutrition of sausages.  Made from tofu, these sausages contain 700kj, 9g of total fat, including 1.6g saturated fat, 15g of protein and 375mg of sodium. You can find more information on this product via the Bean Supreme website.




Hellers Venison Sausages
These sausages contain 60% venison mixed with pork. Per 100g, the sausages contain 836kj, 14.4g protein, 12.4 g fat, including 5.6g saturated fat and 778mg of sodium. See the Hellers website for more information.

Products we Love: Streets Chocolate Paddle Pop

With the weather warming up, it’s ice cream weather.  One of our favourite treats that isn’t too high in calories or fat is Streets Paddle Pop in chocolate flavour.  With 107 calories (449kj) and 3.5g of fat, it’s a great way to get your chocolate and ice cream fix.  Because it’s made from milk, a Paddle Pop also provides a source of calcium. See below for the full nutrition summary, taken from here.

Paddle Pop Chocolate

(per 68g serve) (per 100g) %DI (per serve)
Energy (kJ) 449kJ 660kJ 5%
Energy (kcal) 107kcal 158kcal 5%
Protein 2.6g 3.8g 5%
Carbohydrate 16g 23.6g 5%
Sugars 13.3g 19.5g 15%
Fat 3.5g 5.1g 5%
Saturated 1.9g 2.6g 8%
Calcium 92mg 136mg 10%

Garlic Hummus

Garlic hummus

In the weekend I made garlic hummus for the first time. I wish I’d done it earlier – it’s quick, easy and works out cheaper and just as tasty as my favourite store bought brands.   Hummus makes a great spread or dip and is high in protein and low in fat. I’ve been eating hummus on wholegrain bread with tomato and avocado all week for lunch. I’m addicted!

Hummus is a nutrient rich dip.  Made from chickpeas, it provides a source of vitamin B6 and folate, as well as dietary fibre.  Tahini is traditionally used in hummus, you can leave it out but I’d encourage you to buy a jar as it keeps for a long time in the fridge and it really adds to the flavour of hummus.   I used Macro Organics which was just over $7 for a large jar.  Tahini is made from sesame seeds and provides a source of calcium, as well as iron and magnesium.

Here’s how to make garlic hummus:


1 190g can chick peas, drained
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons water
8 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
bunch of parley and chives, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste.

Simply put all ingredients in a blender and blend till combined.  Add a little extra water to get the hummus to your desired consistency.  Taste, then add a little salt and pepper if desired.

Voila, you’ve just made garlic hummus.  Enjoy.