Guilt-free Beauty

I intended on getting this post up much earlier in the week, but changes have been occurring in my life. I’m moving up and onto bigger and better things (all will be revealed in due course). This post is not about food but rather my skin care regime. What many people don’t think about is, while it is important to think about the food you’re consuming, it is also important to think about what you’re putting on your skin.

What inspired this post was a few weeks ago I was given a sample to some shampoo and conditioner. I won’t name and shame but this product was something similar to what I used before I started caring about health and wellness. I didn’t want to see this go to waste, but in hindsight I should have given it to one of my flatmates. The difference in my hair was unbelievable, it lost that soft and silky feel and I needed to wash it at least 3 times a week.

A few years ago when I was living in the UK, I went to the hairdressers. I had recently started using a new shampoo and conditioner and it wasn’t agreeing with my hair. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but the hair dresser told me it was likely due to the silicon. I decided to research what else was in shampoo and conditioner. It shocked me to realise that what you put on your body is absorbed into your bloodstream. I read the back of my products; I could barely even pronounce half of those ingredients and I was putting it on my skin?! I can recommend this article to anyone else who is wondering.

Around the same time, I was taking a fashion marketing class and during my study I came across a protest by Lush against animal testing. At their flagship store in London, they tested products on a person as would be done to animals in a lab. If you’re brave enough watch here.

I decided enough was enough. All the products I would buy from this date, would be as natural as possible and not tested on animals. I didn’t throw anything away and now almost my whole beauty regime is filled with products that are much better for me, the environment and not tested on our furry friends. The only products I haven’t got around to changing are toothpaste and deodorant. However, as soon as my current tube of toothpaste runs out I will make the change, deodorant is something I will continue to work on!

On Monday, I begin Junk Free June. Junk Free June is a not-for-profit organisation that has been founded by the Cancer Society of NZ, you can check out my profile here. If you’re in NZ you should definitely sign up! I have pledged to give up all processed sugar and takeaways for a month (no more 80/20 for me). To keep myself motivated I have decided to blog through this month, with the additional challenge of attempting to eat mostly Paleo – wish me luck!

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Eating Primal

For the last two weeks, my flatmate and I have been getting ‘Primal Kitchen’ http://primalkitchen.co.nz/ meals delivered, opting for the 5 day plan.  These are basically paleo meals, except for a small amount of dairy.  The meals look and taste amazing.  Some of the meals we had (pictured) have included, lemon thyme chicken, Moroccan meatballs, chimichurri chicken and beef tagine.  I am not usually a huge meat eater, but I have enjoyed the change to less grains and more meat.

The best part about it is the convenience, my evenings are now ‘freed up’ – I had more time to chill out, take some time out for myself but also catch up with friends.  It was such a nice feeling walking home from uni knowing that I didn’t have to make dinner.  There is also no cleaning up, it’s simply heat and eat!

I have also done a better job at sticking to my weekly food plan – I haven’t really been buying lunch.  I made soups/salads for during the week and I prepped these either the night before or while making breakfast.

As I stuck to my food plan, I have also actually spent less on food than I expected.  While it doesn’t seem like the cheapest way of doing things, these meals have meant I snack less, I buy less meals out and therefore I am saving in the long run.

The only downside is when the weekend comes around, I lack any motivation to cook for myself.  So while I didn’t eat badly per se, I didn’t eat the best I could have.  But I take this as my ‘20%’ of treats as that’s what the 80/20 rule is about.  We have decided to order again this week, I think as long as I prepare my lunches carefully then I will have another successful week.

On a side note, I have also used this opportunity to incorporate more exercise back in.  I did 2 BBG workouts last week and for LISS I have been going to yoga and doing a fair amount of walking.  My thighs and bum were aching after BBG Legs & Cardio, I love that feeling of knowing I’ve ‘done something’ and am building up muscle again.  Here is hoping I can keep up with BBG this time around!

Eating Clean – Friday, Saturday & Sunday

Friday

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Day 5 – woo Friday, the last working day of the week. For breakfast I had 2 eggs on toast, with some preserved figs and a spoonful of coconut yoghurt – the idea was to fill myself up and only have a small snack between breakfast and dinner. But Friday was a stunning day in Wellington after about a week of grey and rain, so when my office mate suggested we all have lunch in the sun, I couldn’t refuse! I got a small amount of sushi – gee there has been a whole lot of eating out this week (this isn’t a normal week, I swear!)

Friday night is usually my weakness, but I was determined not to give in so I did the easy option. I went to my freezer and pulled out a portion of chickpea and coconut curries I had frozen and made some brown rice to go with it. It feels much better when you feel like you’re sticking to something.

Saturday

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Day 6 was a lazy Saturday morning – and for breakfast was two eggs, ¼ of an avocado and toast, easy and delicious. I also did my weekly shop, I went to Commonsense Organics – its my favourite shop

For lunch I went for my ‘Tasty Pot’ (I feel like they should sponsor me haha) and had a Green Goodness Soup before I went out to see Prince Harry! I went out for a few wines on Saturday, but I wanted to get a good meal in there, so I made the ‘Chicken Mexican Pot’ on a bed of polenta (recipes in this months Healthy Food Guide).

Sunday

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I woke up feeling like my cold had hit me like a ton of bricks. So I made ‘Paleo Mushrooms on Toast’, my Mum does the most amazing mushrooms and I didn’t have any cream so I substituted for coconut cream and it turned out perfect, so yum!

I completely forgot about taking a picture of my lunch, but I had some leftover Chicken Mexican pot (without the polenta). For meal prep Sunday, I made a loaf of gluten free bread, Julia & Libby Orange and Coconut Bliss Balls and a Black bean brownie for Sunday movie night.

I wasn’t too hungry when dinner came around, I think my cold is affecting my appetite, so I made some zoodles with my vege spiraliser with an avocado and basil dressing and halved cherry tomatoes.

To sum up, I think my week went pretty good – out of 21 meals I would only count 5 of these as ‘cheat meals’ – and I tried to get healthy options. I think ‘Tasty Pots’ don’t really count because on the whole they are a good meal and I generally plan for them. I haven’t really done a lot of snacking this week either so I think I did pretty well at sticking to the ‘80/20 rule’ this week.

My flatmate and I are also trying out ‘Primal Kitchen’ meals this week. We are getting 5 paleo dinners delivered I’m a wee bit nervous as I eat vegetarian (with the occasional fish/chicken meal) most of the time, so eating red meat will be a bit of a change for me. So join me as I see how I go when somebody else does the cooking for me!

Eating Clean – Wednesday & Thursday

Wednesday

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Day 3 was again did not turn out as planned.  I woke up with a sore throat and realised that I was getting a cold.  I made an easy breakfast, macadamia muesli with almond milk, a spoonful of coconut yoghurt and feijoas, but I couldn’t be bothered making lunch and as I didn’t eat at home last night I didn’t have anything I could easily take, except my snack of bliss balls.

I ended up going for Mexican for lunch (not pictured – I forgot sorry); a naked burrito with brown rice.  But by then, I was feeling very achy so I decided I would go home for the afternoon.  I made myself a lemon, honey and ginger drink and ate a couple of mandarins to increase my vitamin C intake.

I have also just started a yoga beginner’s course which is on a Wednesday evening.  I didn’t want to miss it because I would miss that week’s poses.  So I dosed myself up and braved the class, but resorted to eating my “cheat meal” aka my Tasty Pot before for dinner.

I am kind of disappointed that this week hasn’t been the best choice of weeks to do this blog but at least perhaps you can all see my struggles through the week and how I deal with them.  Plus, you can see how I experience the 80/20 rule in action…  I just take things as they come!

Thursday

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Day 4 was another funny day as I went to a yoga charity class which was raising funds for Nepal in the evening.  I made myself macadamia muesli for breakfast but this morning it was with figs.  But as I have a cold, I was too lazy to make anything to keep myself going during the day and I wasn’t going home before yoga, so I just had a mandarin for morning tea.

For lunch, I ended up having a Mexican baked potato from Kapai, with beans, capsicum, avocado, tomato salsa, cheese and sour cream, I also got myself a wee treat of peppermint slice.  Then on our way home from yoga, my flatmate and I were starving so we stopped by Burger Fuel (they have a 2 for 1 deal for students for a couple of weeks), and we got the low carbonator option again – it was so good!

Today will be the real test, I am determined to try make all three of my meals!  Friday night is usually the biggest challenge, especially if I end up doing something in the evening.

Eating clean – Sunday, Monday & Tuesday

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Sunday

Above is a picture of my groceries that I got for the week on Sunday. It may not look like much but I had some things left from the week before, so this is mainly just my fresh produce. What I got was:

  • Bunch of carrots
  • Bunch of kale
  • 6 mushrooms
  • 2 onions
  • 1 large beetroot
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1 avocado
  • Frozen berries
  • A dozen eggs
  • Hummus
  • Tuna in spring water
  • Can of kidney beans
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut yoghurt
  • 1 tasty pot (for that night when I don’t feel like cooking)

This all cost me about $50. I also made a big pot of coconut, chickpea curry (see below) – some for the freezer, some for my belly! I also made a gluten free banana loaf for my treat this week and I rubbed a chicken thigh in paprika and cooked this for lunch the next day. I don’t eat a lot of meat at home usually, but I got a great deal of 6 free-range chicken thighs for $6 last Sunday.

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Monday

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Day 1 was a success – there was no cheating involved! I had my macadamia nut muesli for breakfast with a spoonful of coconut yoghurt and 2 feijoas. This muesli is amazing because it is guaranteed to keep you full until lunch time.

For lunch, I had a small portion of the coconut, chickpea curry and a chicken, mango salad. Then banana bread for with my green tea in that afternoon slump.

For dinner, I decided to get experimental. I made ‘herby quinoa patties’ which are in this months Healthy Food Guide magazine. I was worried that they were going to be a little crumbly, but they held together well!

Tuesday

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Day 2 wasn’t as good as I hoped, I realised today this is because I am coming down with a cold so my appetite wasn’t the same. I had a soft-boiled egg on toast for breakfast. For morning tea, I drunk half of a green smoothie.

Then lunch was quinoa patties with salad and hummus and my banana bread as I was craving something sweet (In hindsight I think the hummus lifted my sweet craving as is quite high in sugar). At about 3pm, I drunk the other half of the green smoothie.  I also had a small chocolate bar – dark Whittakers chocolate.

I had a friends farewell drink that evening, so my flatmate and I went to burger fuel for dinner – we had the low carbonator option though (not pictured), which was surprisingly filling!

Eating clean on a budget

As a student I live on a reasonably tight budget. I am not great with money, if there is something I want, I will find a way to get it – even if it means putting off a bill payment. I don’t have a set amount that I spend on food each week, I’m flexible with myself and sometimes let myself splurge on more expensive ingredients on pay week. Other weeks I am on a strict budget and walking around the supermarket with a calculator.

To me, food is so important, it is my fuel and is what gets me through the day, it keeps my body and mind, happy and healthy. But it is important that I spend my money wisely, so I purchase the perfect amount of food – not too much that there is wastage but not too little that I am going to have to fork out for a mid-week shop. As if I do this I am spending more money I didn’t plan for and more likely to buy things I don’t need. I have the following tips for those who want to eat clean on a budget:

  1. Buy seasonally – I have a print out of fruit and vegetables that are in season and refer to this when planning my meals. Here is a link to the one I use: http://www.organicdelivery.co.nz/yk-files/52a071bf82026faaff1acde05f4bf7c6/Commonsense+Organics+Seasonal+Guide+.pdf
  2. Plan – I also have a schedule/planner for the week. I sit down and plan all my meals; breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
  3. Write a shopping list – From my meal planner I go through my cupboards and write down what I will need. I also write down things as they run out – I can decide based on my shopping list whether they will be needed for the weekly shop.
  4. Plan for nights out – on your meal plane, write in the nights when ou’ll be eating out and maybe factor in a night where you ‘can’t be bothered’ cokking. I buy a gourmet soup or two for these nights or for lunch if I am not eating at home the night before.
  5. Local farmers market – This is often the cheapest way to purchase fresh produce. You can generally also get things like eggs, honey and fish.
  6. Prep – I do my weekly shop on a Sunday as this is when the local fruit and vegetable market is.  Then on Sunday afternoon/evening I usually prep my ‘snack’ for the week, such as bliss balls and occasionally put a bigger meal together such as a soup or a ‘slow cooker’ meal.
  7. Be flexible – If you don’t feel like what you have planned for dinner one night, mix things up and eat what you had planned for another night or if your ingredients allow, make something slightly different.
  8. Get creative – I get out my recipe books/magazines for inspiration, it is always fun to add in new things to your usual meal cycle.

I have just come back from a two-week holiday, I spent more than I intended and therefore will be spending the next couple of week on a tight budget. So in addition to these tips, my plan is to post here my weekly meal schedule, my weekly shop ingredients and how the next week goes in terms of eating. I hope this will allow me some reflection in terms of quantities. I have a hard time knowing how much I should eat and if I’m eating enough (as I struggle to keep weight on). So feel free to post feedback or suggestions of what works for you.

Warming Kumara & Cauliflower Soup Recipe

In winter I pretty much live off soup.  It’s starting to get cooler here in Wellington, so I’ve started making a weekly pot of soup for lunches.

One of my favourite soups at the moment is ‘Kumara and Cauliflower Soup’ (Kumara is sweet potato here in New Zealand).  I love the slightly sweet taste from the kumara and the cauliflower makes it lovely and creamy – yum! (I also sometimes add tempeh as you can see in the picture).

Ingredients

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 head cauliflower

2 large sweet potatoes

1 carrot

1 onion

5 cups of vegetable stock (I make my own so I’ll share the recipe on here)

1 clove garlic

1 teaspoon

salt and pepper

dash of coconut cream

handful of cashew nuts

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius 
  2. Cut the cauliflower into florets, peel and dice the sweet potatoes and carrot.  Place in a roasting dish with olive oil.  Roast for 30 minutes until lightly browned.
  3. Just before the vegetables are ready to come out of the oven.  Heat the coconut oil in a pot and add the diced onion and garlic. 
  4. Carefully add the roasted vegetables to the pot. 
  5. Pour in the vegetable stock.  Bring to the boil and then lower the heat. Simmer for 30 minutes. 
  6. Put the mixture into a blender or mix with stick blender until you reach desired consistency. 
  7. Stir in cumin, salt and pepper. 
  8. Lightly crush the cashews in a mortar and pestle and toast with some coconut oil.
  9. Add cashews and coconut cream to the soup to garnish. 

Enjoy!