This nurse’s thoughts on nutrition…

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 5.22.37 PM

Constantly improving…

The best part about no longer being in college (besides no longer being a broke college student) is being able to learn what YOU want to learn! This has given us the opportunity to listen to a ton of TED talks, documentaries, and read plenty of books. We have been trying to learn as much as we can about this incredible world. We have dabbled in politics, finance, and nutrition.

One thing we have recently learned more about are the benefits of plant based diets. Since both of us are scientists at heart, it was hard to ignore the research. We figured we would take all the information we have learned and try to incorporate it into our every day lives and diet. (If your looking for great educational resources on nutrition check out: TED Talk: Chew on this & Vegucated)

My rant on nutrition

With a degree in Nursing and many nutrition classes under my belt, I think I’m fairly educated on what a balanced diet should look like. I believe that balance and moderation is the key to everything in life: food, alcohol, indulgences, work, finance, ext. I don’t know if I believe it’s 100% necessary to eliminate meat quite yet. There are a lot of nutrients in meat (such as B12, Iron, B6) that are also available in vegetables, but easier to obtain from meat. That doesn’t mean that you can not obtain them from vegetables, it just means you have to be educated and plan out your meals more precisely.

I would be fooling myself if I thought for a minute I could convince my carnivorous boyfriend to give up meat completely, especially cold turkey. I am so thankful for how awesome and supportive he is of me and all of my ideas. We are continually striving to improve our nutrition and our quality of life. The information we learned has made us aware of how what we eat impacts our environment, animals, and ourselves.

Although we are not ready to swear off meat just yet, I have come up with another idea. Many nutritionists say that you don’t have to eat perfect 100% of the time, if you eat healthy even 80% of the time, the other 20% has little impact on your overall health. So I figured we could apply this theory to eating a plant based diet. If we eat a vegetarian diet 80% of the time, that gives us the flexibility to still enjoy foods we love such as certain seafood & meat. That means out of 7 dinners a week, 5 of them should be vegetarian. Out of 21 meals a week (3 meals a day x 7 days a week), 16 of them should be vegetarian. I figured this way we would cut back our consumer demand for animal products, increase of fruit and vegetable consumption, decrease our cholesterol intake, and improve our health.

I was feeling pretty good about myself and this BRILLIANT idea I came up with. While watching Netflix TED Talks, I came across this talk:

I love this TED talk! Even though I wasn’t the first one to come up with this idea, I’m super excited to incorporate it into our diet and share it with everyone. The only constant in life is change. My approach is to embrace change, and strive to incorporate change into our live to make them better.

I’m also excited for the challenge of learning how to cook new vegetarian meals!

EXTRA RANT: I believe everyone’s diet should be specifically tailored to that individual, and what works for one may not work for the other. I also believe that you can lead a happy healthy life by being a vegetarian, vegan, or meat eater. Actually, I think labels for the way we eat is silly. As long as we eat a healthy nutritious diet that provides the appropriate amount of macro and micro nutrients to our bodies, who cares what we label it! Eat whatever you enjoy (in a healthy moderation), and don’t shame anyone because they don’t share your same “label”.

A few of this past weeks favorite vegetarian meals:

Quinoa breakfast bowl with poached egg & avocado

photo

 

Beetroot, walnut, and goat cheese spinach salad

DSC06797

 

My (almost vegan) light and fluffy pancakes

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Advertisements

The beginning of 3 weeks of travel

First Stop: Hawkes Bay

We spent our first hot Christmas indoors watching Arthurs Christmas (which is our NEW favorite Christmas movie), making Christmas cookies, and drinking hot chocolate.

We began the three week trip the day after Christmas. First thing on Boxing Day, we packed our tiny Yaris to the brim and set our sights on Hawkes Bay. Before even moving to New Zealand, Hawkes bay was on the top of our list of things to do. We both love wine, therefore we had to taste some of the world famous New Zealand wine.

 

After driving approximately 5hours, the first thing we did was to head straight to dinner for some green tip mussels. Even if you don’t like mussels, trust  me, you will like these mussels. After dinner we wandered around the quiet deserted little town. I’m sure this little town is crawling with people on an every day basis BUT on boxing day it was a ghost town.

DSC06232

DSC06225

After dinner we drove up to Bluff Hill to watch the sunset. The view was absolutely lovely. On top of the hill there were an abundance of flowers and there was no shortage of views.

DSC06262
The beautiful view of Napier!

 

Wine Tasting:

The next morning we woke up early and head straight to “On Yer Bike.” Hawkes Bay is unique in the sense that it has bike trails constructed by the city that connect all the vineyards. The bike trails are separate from the road so they are safe and the trails are in excellent condition.

We picked up our bikes and hit the road!

The vineyards:

Sileni Estates– In 1997, Graeme Avery established Sileni as an export oriented producer, committed to crafting world-class fine wines. This was our favorite vineyard, we really enjoyed all of the wines here.

Favorite Wine: Merlot & Gewurztraminer

Favorite feature: Gift Shop

Abbey Cellars– Established in 2002 (woah! Doesn’t it feel like that was just yesterday?), Abbey focuses on making rich reds with smooth tannins in a middleweight style that is barrelled in 100 percent oak. This property is also a brewery. We sampled the beers here as well as the wines, which were also delicious.

Favorite wine: Riesling

Favorite feature: Outdoor area & live music

Alpha Domus– Established in 1991, “Alpha Domus winery produces world-class wines from a wide range of varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, Chardonnay, Viognier and Syrah.”

Favorite Wine: Viognier

Favorite feature: The quantity of wines available for sample.

Ngatarawa– In the union of two families, this vineyard was established in 1981. This vineyard makes a large variety of wines varying from reserves to softer every day wines.

Favorite Wine: Pinot Noir

Favorite feature: The barn like cellar room and the entire estate.

Te Awa– This vineyard has three sub-brands: Leftfield, Te Awa, and Kidnapper Cliffs. This was our second favorite vineyard, and a close tie with Sileni. All the wines here were exquisite, and the artwork on the labels was beautiful.

Favorite wine: Rose and Merlot/Cabernet blend

Favorite feature: The staff

Ash Ridge– The youngest vineyard we’ve ever been to, Ash Ridge was established in 2008. Not even a decade ago! Even thought the vineyard is fairly young, they just won New Zealand’s Young Winemaker of the Year award! Congrats!

Favorite wine: Premium estate Chardonnay

Favorite Feature: Outdoor restaurant area

 

G0031960.JPG

Recommendations:

Out of the 8 vineyards on the trail, we toured 6 of them! With over 100 vineyards and 70 wineries, there is plenty to explore. We are certain that the best way to go wine tasting is to do it via bike. You would be missing out if you came to Hastings and did not go on a vineyard bike tour. Thank you to the awesome Kiwi’s that gave us this recommendation!

If your looking for a company to use, we would recommend “On Yer Bike.” Their website is awesome, and the service couldn’t have been any better.

Also, don’t forget that this is only one of four tasting trails. If you don’t like wine, there are also other waterfront and scenic trails available. If your interested in exploring all the bike trails Hawke’s Bay has to offer, click here! 

Last recommendations: don’t forget to make some super cool friends & have fun!

DSC06339.JPG
Our friends from Holland: Miranda & Menno

 

 

A few extra pictures:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Surf trip to Raglan

Raglan has been on our to do list for EVER!

We are so thankful that we got the opportunity to go down to Raglan for the weekend. Raglan is a beautiful little surf town on the west coast of the north island of New Zealand. Raglan is world know for three surf spots: Ngarunui Beach, Manu Bay, and Whale Bay. Although the surf was a little bit on the small side when we went, my surfer boy had to get his toes wet regardless.

raglan towsn
Photo credit: Google

The town itself was a little strip of surf stores, art galleries, coffee shops, an ice cream hut, and a few little restaurants. Every time we drove into town, it was always populated.

The first thing that caught your eye when you walked onto the beach was the sunlight glittering off of the sand.  It was beyond majestic.  The whole west coast of New Zealand has black sand beaches and we are enjoying the opportunity to explore as many of them as possible.

Whale Bay

DSC05745.JPG

DSC05735

We started our trip by finding the campground we were staying in, checking in, and immediately heading down the road to check out the surf. The first place we went was Whale Bay. We walked down the steep hill and onto the charcoal rocks. The surf wasn’t to impressive at the moment, so we just wandered around the rocks and explored the shoreline. Out of nowhere, wandered over this old dog. He was well traversed in the  landscape and showed us the way around the rocks. He followed us around, and at times took the lead and showed us where to go. We named him “Melvin the mooch.” For a minute, we were concerned he might not have a home until he followed us to the end of the rocks and then said goodbye! There was no doubt that he was a very loved local dog.

DSC05755.JPG

 

Ngarunui Beach

DSC05777DSC05765

We then head to the biggest sandy swimming beach in the area, Ngarunui Beach. The waves here were a little bit better, so Chad grabbed his board and I grabbed the beach chair. Once again, to get to the beach we needed to hike down the massive incline. The hills are always worth it though.

DSC05794

After a little surfing, a little sunshine, and a little grub… we head back to the campsite to shower and get ready for dinner.

One of the local restaurants was having a Christmas party that night, so we head there for dinner. This was our meal at Rock-it Kitchen:

IMG_4789.JPG

I was a little taken aback when this guy came out, but it was so delicious that I got over the fact that my flounder was looking back at me. After dinner, we head back to the campsite and head straight to bed.

Manu Bay

The next morning we were awoken by the extremely load snoring  of our neighbor. We got a nice early start to the day, made some eggs for breakfast, packed up our tent, and head into town. We did a little shopping at the adorable surf shops, and picked up a cappuccino. Once we were caffeinated, we head to Manu Bay. The tide was receding, so we just hung out at the top of the hill and absorbed as much vitamin D we possibly could. Once the waves picked up a little bit, my man friend jumped at the opportunity to surf at a world famous spot.

DSC05797

Post surf, we packed up our towels and cooler then head back into town for some ice cream and fresh cold water. Shortly after, we embarked on our two hour journey home up the famous windy New Zealand roads.

 

As always, below are the bonus pictures:

 

Cheers!

 

Favorite foods: Breakfast edition

I love breakfast.

Sometimes, breakfast can become repetitive and boring (cereal, oatmeal, scrambled eggs). Although we still love our boring breakfast meals, we have been trying to be a little more creative with breakfast.

So I would like to share a few of our favorite breakfast dishes:

Reduced fat Quiche

IMG_4724

First I will start off with quiche. I didn’t realize how easy and healthy quiche could be! This is my version of a lower fat healthy quiche:

  • 2 whole eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup of low fat milk
  • 2/3 cup-1 cup of low fat cheese {whatever you prefer: parmesan, mozzarella, swiss, cheddar, ext.}
  • spices {salt, peper, oregano, rosemary, thyme, paprika, chilli powder, basil, and/or parsley}
  • 1 teaspoon of butter
  • A handful of your choice of veggie
  • A handful of meat {usually I make veggie quiche, but sometimes we throw some ham in there}

I buy frozen reduced fat pastry at the store. Then I mix 2 eggs and 3 egg whites with a little bit of low fat milk and low fat cheese (whatever we have on hand). I season the eggs with a variety of spices (I pick the spice depending on what we are craving that day.) I slightly butter my glass baking dish, place the puff pastry, and pour in the egg mixture. Lastly, I add our favorite veggies: broccoli, asparagus, spinach, carrots, zucchini, ext. I pop this into the oven for about 20-25 minutes at 350°. You know it’s ready when the top of the quiche looks solid and slightly golden.

Yogurt breakfast bowls:

DSC05705

IMG_4668

Oh the possibilities! I love things like this that change slightly with whatever ingredients you have on hand. Plus, I think this is an easy way to get a ton of your required of nutrients for the day. Here’s what I put in mine:

  • 1 cup of greek yogurt {we buy the plain light greek yogurt}
  • 2 teaspoons of honey {or brown sugar}
  • 3 teaspoons of chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • Toppings:
    • Any kind of whole grain {currently we have Millet puffs, and we use uncooked oatmeal as well, granola works great}
    • Any fruit that you enjoy
    • Any kind of nuts
    • Coconut flakes
    • Spices such as cinnamon

Mix the greek yogurt, honey, vanilla, and chia seeds in a bowl. Add your desired toppings, and ENJOY!

 

Coconut Rice & Pomegrante Porridge

DSC05728

So this recipe I actually found online. It was SO YUMMY! Also, it’s gluten free! If you want to check out the recipe click here  or click the picture.

Let me know if you have tried any of these before, or if there is something special you add to your food that we have to try!

Enjoy!

Hiking on a Volcano

This past Sunday we were craving a really good hike. We woke up with a ton on energy, opened the blinds, and it was pouring rain! Boo!

We kept ourselves busy while it was raining by going to the maritime museum. Once we were done with the exhibits at the museum, the weather had completely cleared up. Therefore, we grabbed an early lunch and the next ferry to Rangitoto Island!

600px-Rangitotopanorama

Rangitoto is a 5.5km wide Island visible off the coast of Auckland. It is the most recent volcano on the Hauraki Gulf, as well as the largest. The island was formed by a serious of eruptions, with the most recent eruptions being approximately 550 years ago. The hike up to the summit was 1 hour and 45 minutes. AGH! We are fairly new to hiking, so it was a little bit of a challenge.

DSC05702

What I learned about New Zealand: the steeper the hill, the more it’s going to be worth it! The views are incredible.

(Another fact I learned about New Zealand: all the hills around the island are actually extinct volcanos.)

DSC05669DSC05653

DSC05659

 

After about an hour and a half, we made it up to the summit!

DSC05668

DSC05679

We had a couple of protein bars at the top and took the opportunity to rehydrate. As we hiked back down the volcano, we digressed off the path and took the longer trail to explore the lava caves. I don’t know what more to say about that besides that the name is self explanatory. These are caves that were formed by the cooling lava.

I climbed down into one of the caves. It was a little claustrophobic the further in you went. Eventually the tight tunnel opened up into an area where you could stand up. A flashlight was defiantly required!

We then head back to port to catch the last ferry back to Auckland. After 4 hours & 9.5 miles of hiking, we were spent!

*Sorry it has taken us so long to post about this past weeks adventure. We came home from our hike on Sunday and our internet wasn’t working. It took a couple of days to get it back up.

Here is a few extra bonus photos from our hike:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

More Food!

Since this is my fifth post about food, I’m just going to jump into it!

Thanksgiving Dinner

This is a little late (considering it’s the second week of December), but this was our makeshift Thanksgiving dinner:

We couldn’t find turkey at our local grocery store, so we substituted it with chicken cordon bleu and  ham. We made a green bean casserole, carrots, mashed sweet potatoes with dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds, and regular mashed potatoes. Of course, the meal would not be complete without cinnamon apple sangria as a side.

 

Other meals we have been mastering include:

Lemon Chicken Piccata with whole grain pasta & capers

DSC05197

Our go to: Steak with mashed sweet potatoes and a veggie

DSC05562

We decided to take a try at the local fish: “John Dory”

DSC05170

Thanks for checking out our blog!

 

Auckland Zoo

Sunny Sundays are best spent at the zoo!

This past Sunday had the most perfect weather since we’ve been here. So we decided to spend it in the happiest place on earth, the ZOO!! Only a ten minuet bus ride from the city center, the zoo was a close and convenient place to explore. We packed on the sun screen and head in to see the animals!

DSC05485

I have never been to a zoo where the animals are all so happy and playful. Most zoo’s I’ve been to the animals just sleep most of the time and hide. This zoo, the animals were jumping, wrestling, and playing.

Chad got to see the Cheetahs he’s always dreamed about, and I fell in love with blue penguins!

DSC05488

DSC05514

DSC05504

We got to see giraffes, elephants, rhinoceros, monkeys, otters, birds, lizards, spiders, kangaroos, emu’s, ostrich, seals, and more. We got a chance to see kiwi’s up close and personal for the first time. Kiwi’s are night dwellers so their exhibit was in a dark cool cave. Therefore I was unable to snap any pictures or videos of them.

DSC05560

It’s difficult to describe how cute all of the animals are with just words.

The best way to summarize our trip is in the video below:

 

Enjoy!