How To Be Healthy When You’re Busy

I see a lot of people who struggle with their health during busy seasons and often claim to be too busy to be healthy. While I understand how being busy makes eating healthy a bit trickier, I also think “busy” easily becomes an excuse to not care enough about our health – including what we eat, and how much we sleep and move. The fact is that it is during busy seasons, with added stress and exhaustion, we need to care the most about our health! By being organised and investing a bit of time to plan ahead, healthy is not hard. On the contrary, you’ll feel better, be more motivated and have more energy to cope with the stress – physically and mentally. You can’t put a price on good health!.. So get ready, take charge and make your health a non-negotiable priority.

Here are my top tips for being healthy & busy…

1. Make Breakfast A Priority

No, coffee does not count as breakfast. If you have coffee, it is better to have later in the morning after you’ve had some real food.

Smoothies make a quick breakfast and are packed with energising nutrients that set you up for a good start. I always base my smoothies on primarily vegetables (frozen spinach, chard, romaine, cucumber & zucchini are great in smoothies) combined with a whole lemon (peeled or juiced) and 1/2 a banana or a small green apple to sweeten. You can add in a tsp of chia seeds, flax seeds or coconut oil for extra health benefits and up the protein by including a tbsp of protein powder if you like (I use unsweetened pea protein). I prefer my smoothies very green to reap the most nutritional benefit while avoiding too much sugar… but if you’re new to green smoothies, you may want to include some more fruit and gradually up the veggie to fruit ratio. (Why include greens in your smoothie? Read more about that right here).

Smoothies Made Even Easier…

  • Have organic frozen berries and spinach in your freezer. Not only does it work out cheaper – it also lasts longer. I always keep a bag of spinach in the freezer to use for smoothies. It makes it so much easier and there’s no need to wash.
  • Freeze your bananas. I like to freeze them in halves or 1/3 pieces as I like my smoothies with minimal fruit for a lower sugar content.
  • Peel or juice your lemons in advance and store them in an airtight mason jar in the fridge (keep in mind that freshly peeled or juiced is better though, as the vitamin C content decreases rapidly!)

Other quick, healthy breakfast options you can prepare in advance and have ready to go include…

how to be healthy when you're busy

2. Drink Enough

Hydration is key for your health, digestion and energy and in a lot of cases, thirst is often mistaken for hunger. Keeping a large water bottle on hand throughout the day is key and make sure you get at least 1 1/2-2 litres a day. Also remember the more coffee you drink the more water you need!

3. Eat Regularly

It is a well known fact that will power goes out the window when you get too hungry! Plan to have healthy snacks on hand to avoid getting so hungry that you lose the ability to choose healthy main meals. Eating every three hours will keep your blood sugar levels steady and will decrease overeating at meal times.

Healthy Office Snacks…

4. Avoid Alcohol

Alcohol might be nice way to wind down after a long day, but be cautious. When alcohol is consumed it gets priority in our digestive system – meaning that all the food in your stomach is pushed aside until the alcohol is metabolised (hello weight gain!). If you have alcohol at night after your meal, this means that your body will be trying to digest and process your dinner while you’re trying to sleep… leading to poor quality sleep and more exhaustion the next morning.

5. Be Smart When Dining Out

Be smart about ordering your restaurant meal. When ordering meat, look for words like steamed, baked, poached, roasted, broiled or grilled and do your best to avoid foods with the words fried, au gratin, crispy, escalloped, pan-fried, sautéed or stuffed, which are good indications that the foods are high in fat and calories. If an item calls for the one of these options, ask the food item to be grilled, steamed, or baked instead. Also make a habit of ordering a side of steamed vegetables or a side salad – and always ask for the dressing on the side so you can control how much you put on, if at all.

6. Avoid Eating Too Late

Your metabolism slows down at night so you can count on anything you eat within four hours of bedtime sticking to your bones! Eating before 8 pm will allow your body to properly digest your meal before you rest – so it can focus on repairing cells and getting rid of unnecessary weight while you’re sleeping. Allowing your body to digest your food before bedtime will also enhance quality of sleep, giving you a better chance of waking up feeling rested and energised. Have a sparkling water with fresh lemon/lime juice, or even better, a cup of herbal tea instead.

7. Light Late Meals

Building on the previous point, when you do end up having to eat late, make it a light meal. Stick to something like soup, steamed fish and veggies or a salad. I always keep a batch of homemade dressing or vinaigrette in a mason jar in the fridge so it is easy to quickly whip up a tasty salad. Top it off with some nutritious add-ons like nuts or toasted pumpkin seeds and/or a sprinkle of feta cheese or nutritional yeast.

If dinner is a constant challenge, investing in a slow-cooker can be a life saver. A slow-cooker will have your meal cooking while you’re away at work all day. Just throw the ingredients into the slow cooker in the morning when you still have some energy, and you’ll return home to a finished meal. The recipe options are truly endless when it comes to a slow cooker!

8. Sneak In Some Exercise

Physical movement, in any way, shape or form is a great way to release stress from the body. It balances your hormones, improves your sleep and stabilises your blood sugar levels – making it easier to eat healthier. Whether you are able to hit the gym, go for a run /walk outside or simply do some pilates or strengthening exercises on your bedroom floor… it is all going to benefit your body. If you need a guide, there are numerous online guides and videos ranging from 10 minutes to hours. All you need to do is make a decision.

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Apple + Almond Muesli Bars

Apple + Almond Muesli Bars

So, life with a baby (who’s already 9 weeks!) is gettin’ pretty busy! On top of that, we’ve had family visiting from Australia + Denmark for just over a month, so I haven’t had much time to blog… on the upside though, I’ve had plenty of time to play in the kitchen while grandparents have been busy doting over the kids.

The recipe I’m sharing today is a result of me trying to make my own healthy muesli/protein bars for my 2 year old, who really loves his snacks. Naturally, I wanted something without any refined sugars, but packed full of wholesome ingredients, fibre and filling protein that he would be satisfied by and enjoy as much as store bought varieties. These bars fit the bill and were polished off within a few hours at our house, which I consider a good sign. They instantly won the approval of everyone in the house, including grandparents (I’m sure the chocolate topping helped). I did debate whether or not to decorate them with dark chocolate, but I went for the 85% dark chocolate without much sugar and thought it made them look so much better for the photos… so I leave the choice of chocolate topping completely up to you. They are delicious without as well!

Apple + almond muesli bars

They are very easy to make, granted you have a good food processor on hand or own a Vitamix or other high speed blender. I have left the protein powder as an optional ingredient as well, as I know not everyone is a fan. I don’t use it much, but when I do, I opt for organic unsweetened pea or hemp protein powder. The protein powder helps up the protein content, making them extra satisfying without altering the taste.

You can cut your muesli bars into whatever size you prefer and keep them stored in the fridge. They are also great frozen and I sometimes cut each muesli bar into several smaller squares for a candy-like frozen treat for my son. I love seeing him enjoy this homemade variety as much than the store-bought ones. And although they are more time consuming than picking up a box at the shop, they are nourishing and nutritious and saves you money too!

Apple + Almond Muesli Bars
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Recipe type: Snack
Author:
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: makes 12-14 bars
Ingredients
  • 80 gm (approx. 1 heaping cup) dried apple
  • 8 soft pitted dates
  • ½ cup (120 ml) sliced almonds
  • 3 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 3 tbsp toasted hazelnuts
  • 1 cup (240 ml) oats (gluten free if needed)
  • pinch sea salt
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla powder (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 2 tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (alternatively you can use honey or agave)
  • 3-4 tbsp water (or more if needed)
  • 2-3 tbsp protein powder (OPTIONAL - I prefer hemp or pea protein powder)
  • 30 gm (1 oz) organic 85% dark chocolate (OPTIONAL - I used Green & Blacks Organic chocolate)
Instructions
  1. Place dates, dried apple, maple syrup, salt, vanilla and coconut oil in a food processor with an "S" blade (or a vitamix) and process until it forms a sticky, yet roughly chopped mixture.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and process again until a dough-like mixture forms.
  3. Remove from food processor and form a big round ball using your hands.
  4. Press the dough onto a piece of non stick parchment paper and flatten into an even square in the size you want your muesli bars to be.
  5. Fold the parchment paper around the square and place in fridge to set for 30 mins.
  6. Cut the muesli bars into long squares and place on a tray.
  7. Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler.
  8. Once melted, drizzle the chocolate over the muesli bars and place the tray in the fridge for the chocolate to set.
  9. Serve chilled and store in an air tight container in the fridge.

Apple Almond Muesli Bars

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

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Nourishing Body Butter

Meet the moisturiser that changed my life! And get ready to be blown away by how quickly you can whip up your own batch of your new favourite moisturiser, so natural you can eat it…

Nourishing body butter

With cooler temperatures approaching, dry skin is inevitable – especially if you, like me, are prone to dry skin. I used to struggle to find a proper moisturiser that would keep my skin moisturised all day, and as I learned more about natural skincare and started paying attention to all the ingredients in my skincare products, this became even harder. Until I tried raw Shea butter (I sound like a bad TV ad, but seriously!)

Shea butter is a common ingredient in many commercial body butters and is an incredible moisturiser. The unfortunate thing about commercial body butters is that most of them are also full of chemical toxins – namely parabens, preservatives and perfumes – all of which are readily absorbed into the body where they bank up over time and cause trouble. Being such a large surface area, I always recommend using an all natural moisturiser  and this homemade nourishing body butter is as good as it gets! A simple combination of raw unrefined Shea butter, virgin coconut oil, jojoba oil + cold-pressed sweet almond oil, this moisturiser is completely natural and free of any offensive ingredients.

It effectively locks in moisture and deposits its beneficial fatty acids deep into the skin, leaving it incredibly soft and healthy looking. It is equally as amazing for hands and feet and has done wonders for my skin all over. In the process of experimenting with the perfect recipe I have handed out little sample tubs to several friends and the feedback has been amazing, with some reporting diminished appearance of sun damaged skin and stretch mark scars.
For a little home pampering, I like to scrub hands, feet and body with my Vanilla Lime Body Scrub followed by a generous layer of this body butter for subtle and amazing looking skin. I also use this on my children as a body moisturiser and a bottom balm to prevent and treat nappy rash, and I used it all throughout my 2nd pregnancy (I used almond oil during my 1st pregnancy) and have not had a single stretch mark! While genetic predisposition does play a big role in whether someone get stretch marks or not, proper moisturising is essential, as it helps improve skin elasticity. More over Shea butter, jojoba, almond and vitamin E oil are all known to help diminish the appearance of existing stretch marks as well as other scars.

vanilla body butter

About the ingredients…

Shea Butter is sourced from the seed of the Karite tree. Karite literally means “Tree of Life”. It has anti-inflammatory properties, protects against sunburn, aid in healing of minor cuts and abrasions and is incredibly moisturising. Shea butter is also perfectly edible – but not tasty so I don’t recommend trying.

Coconut oil is the oil extracted from the meat of matured coconuts. It is not only very moisturising, but also anti-viral, antimicrobial, antibacterial and help protect against sunburn – blocking about 15-20% of harmful UV rays. Coconut oil is completely edible and very tasty.

Jojoba oil is a liquid wax (not really an oil) derived from the seed of the jojoba plant. It has antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It seals in the skin’s moisture without clogging the pores and helps balance the skin, making it suitable for most skin types. Jojoba is also the oil that most closely resembles the skin’s natural sebum (oil secretions) and is one of my favourite beauty products. It is edible, but non-caloric and non-digestible.

Sweet Almond Oil is widely used in natural skincare products and is rich in vitamin E and A, both of which help maintain healthy skin. Almond oil also helps soothe irritated skin and is excellent for preventing signs of ageing by renewing skin cells and invigorating the skin, giving a fresh glow and more radiant complexion.

Recipe inspired by this site

Nourishing Body Butter
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Recipe type: Skin care
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • 150 gm unrefined raw shea butter
  • 50 gm virgin coconut oil
  • 50 gm sweet almond oil (cold pressed)
  • 50 gm jojoba oil (argan oil or avocado oil can be used instead)
  • 1 tsp vitamin E oil (natural preservative)
  • 20 drops grapefruit essential oil (optional)
  • 20 drops vanilla essential oil (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place the raw shea butter and coconut oil in a double boiler over medium to high heat and leave to melt.
  2. Once completely melted, remove from the stove and transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Add the almond and jojoba oil and combine well using a spoon.
  4. Place in the fridge for about two hours (or in the freezer for 20-30 mins until it becomes semi solid. The mixture should be harder but not completely hard.
  5. Using a kitchen mixer or a hand mixer (as pictured), whip the mixture well until it resembles a thick smooth cream and becomes white in colour. Add the vitamin E oil and essential oils of your choice and whip again.
  6. Transfer the whipped body butter to an air tight container. The body butter can be used straight away but will continue to set properly in the next 12 hours or so.
  7. Shelf life: 2-3 months

nourishing body butter

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Asian Carrot + Kale Salad

Asian carrot and kale salad

Another salad… I know I know. But really… this is the sort of salad that will make you want to eat salad every day. It takes me back to all my travel adventures through Asia some 8 years ago and the flavour reminds me of all the beach restaurants we used to eat at, typically while sitting in these half broken plastic chairs planted in the sand overlooking the ocean.
The vinaigrette dressing brings a great flavour to the simple mix of raw vegetables while the fresh mango adds a great touch of exotic summer. In case you hadn’t noticed, I am all about adding nuts and seeds to my salads, and in this case I love the salty crunch the tamari roasted almond flakes add.

I recently discovered toasted sesame oil. I’m not sure what took me so long, but this oil is perfect for anything and everything Asian flavoured – be it stir fries, sauces, dips and salad vinaigrettes. The sweet and nutty aroma immediately makes you think of far eastern cooking as sesame oil features as a staple in many Asian dishes – both as a cooking oil and a condiment. The oil from toasted sesame seeds is both stronger in flavour and fragrance than plain sesame oil so I definitely recommend using a toasted oil for this particular vinaigrette dressing. Nutritionally sesame seed oil is high in calcium, manganese, iron, zinc and magnesium and effectively promotes healthy skin, vascular function, and healthy bones. Its high concentration of powerful antioxidants makes sesame oil very shelf stable and resistant to rancidity and heat, making it a great oil for cooking and frying.

Asian Carrot + Kale Salad
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Recipe type: Salad
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
Salad
  • 2 cups kale, finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, grated
  • 30 gm raisins
  • ½ cup mango, cubed
Topping
  • 30 gm almond flakes
  • ½ tsp tamari sauce
Asian Vinaigrette Dressing
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp brown rice vinegar
  • salt pepper to taste
  • ¼ tsp honey/agave
  • pinch minced ginger (optional)
Instructions
  1. Warm up a pan over medium high heat. Place almond flakes and tamari sauce on the pan and roast the almonds for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.
  2. While the almonds are cooling, chop all the raw vegetables and combine in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl (or in a blender) whisk together all the ingredients for the Asian vinaigrette dressing and combine until smooth.
  4. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix until all the vegetables are covered.
  5. Sprinkle the tamari roasted almonds on top just before serving.

DSC_7142

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