Dad decided to do a seafood night for our latest dinner and wow, it was amazing. He and mum absolutely nailed it! We had chilli scallops and garlic mussels for an appetizer, then chilli hoki, green tea salmon, shrimp fried rice and salad for mains. Then came the amazing dessert, which was a fruit platter and a special treat... "Danoffee pie", which was a gluten, dairy and sugar free version of banoffee pie made by Dan and Anka (see what they did there...?)
This week I'm collaborating with my brother Dan, from Be a Better Human in a two part series about being a vegetarian!
A crazy thing happened to me about two years ago - I stopped drinking milk and my acne that had been bad for ten years disappeared within weeks.
I carried on slowly eliminating dairy from my life and, although it's sometimes a struggle because dairy is such a big part of New Zealand culture, it has been so worth it.
There is an abundance of a hormone called IGF-1 in milk, which is really good for baby cows but plays havoc with the human body. IGF-1 is one of several things that cause inflammation in humans, and will eventually lead to the ugly redness and swelling that makes acne so annoying and painful.
Milk and dairy products cause an insulin spike in humans that cause the liver to produce even more IGF-1, leading to even more acne. It also "glues" together dead skin cells inside your pores, so they can't exit naturally, leading to clogged pores and thus, more acne.
So in short, if you're struggling with acne, there are so many things you can do food and lifestyle-wise to combat it, but one of the best things you can do is get rid of dairy. But in this New Zealand culture where dairy is so ingrained, it's a struggle, so here is a list of dairy alternatives that are great for your health.
We love our themes, but this week Josh and I just decided to cook some yum food, and we did! Everyone said it was great, and I got to try out some recipes from my new cookbooks I got for my birthday so that was pretty exciting!
We were feeding 10 people because we had Josh's family over as well as mine, so it was quite a task and we stuck with a simple main and dessert.
For the main, Josh took charge of the meat, which was chicken wrapped in bacon stuffed with breadcrumbs, spring onions, feta cheese and sundried tomatoes.
I made a rice risotto, which was quite cool because Josh and I used to make risotto all the time when we lived at our parent's houses and made a mess of their kitchens on a regular basis. We also used to make the chicken occassionally - way back when I was a passionate meat eater. Anyway, the risotto had onions, leek and mushroom - or as dad described it, "The Welshman and the fungus", and I've gotta say, it was pretty good.
Then there was my favourite: chickpea, kumara and silverbeet stew which was a recipe from My Darling Lemon Thyme - I just replaced the pumpkin with kumara and kale with silverbeet for convenience sake.
It's been so cold lately that it was the best feeling chowing down on that stew and risotto because it was all just so warming!
For dessert, we had rhubarb crumble made by Josh's mum and pineapple and mango drizzled with honey, coconut oil and lemon juice from Petite Kitchen. Yum!
*The picture above was taken before dinner when Jinxy the kitty decided Josh needed help setting up the extra table... is she cute or what?!
You would think that making an Italian meal for six people that was gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free, would be a hard task with all the bread and pasta and cream that seems to dominate Italian food.
But oh so chilled little sis Cole made it look like a breeze.
When I arrived I expected to see her frazzled with the kitchen in a mess, but instead there she was just calmly stirring away with most of it organised. I was the one that made the kitchen a mess... but that's to be expected. You can't make pizza from scratch without getting flour everywhere!
All her hard work resulted in the most gorgeous meal. We had gluten free margherita pizza, buckwheat pasta with sundried tomato and pinenut pesto, lasagne, bruschetta, and a melon sorbet for dessert (which was the most amazing thing ever)
For our most recent family dinner, it was little sis Cole's turn and she decided to make Mexican food because our American sister Jess was in town from Arizona, and apparently they eat lots of Mexican food in Arizona. We met Jess in 2011 when her and Cole did an exchange program - she came to live here for five weeks, then Cole went to live with her in Tempe, Arizona for five weeks. Jess tends to come back every year or so, and she just fits right back into our family every time.
Jess took charge of the guacamole, despite many tears from cutting onions, and Cole spent ages perfecting a mixed bean chilli that we could wrap up in burrito tortillas. It was amazing! Then she made these weird/interesting/yum coconut pineapple ice pops for dessert.
A couple of weeks ago, my awesomely talented sister ticked off an item on her bucket list: to go busking. We spent about half an hour on the Wellington waterfront and it was an absolute dream sitting there listening to her play the guitar and sing - I could have sat there all day.
On our way back to the car, she told me that was something that was on her bucket list, and something she wanted to do before she turned 20, and I realised that, not only have I not looked at my own bucket list in years, I don’t even know where it is.
It’s not that I’ve stopped trying to achieve things, it’s only that I’m having such a great time living this life that I don’t feel like I need a list anymore to tell me what I need to do before I die, which, hopefully, is a long way away. My sister felt the same - it was more a realisation after the fact that she had ticked something off, instead of just doing something because it was on her to do list.
I don’t even have five year goals. Or ten year goals. I hardly know where I’m going to be in a year.
I used to have a bunch of grand plans. I remember when I was in my teens and my dad was super proud because I had this ten year plan. But then I changed my mind. Then I changed it again.
I am an ambitious person, I’m not one to sit back and settle when I know I can get more out of life, but I also know that things always change. New people come into your life, new experiences you never thought you would like come barrelling into your life and knock you off your feet. Your wants and your needs and your priorities change, so your goals are always changing with them.
I hardly even remember what that 10 year plan was - I think I wanted to be an interior designer or something. Then I went to art school and realised I didn’t want to turn my art into a career, I didn’t want to make it serious.
Then I met a random girl on a temp job I was doing who told me she used to be a journalist in Hawke’s Bay and the very next Monday I was enrolled in a journalism course because something just clicked and I knew that’s what I wanted to do at that time in my life.
Then I met someone who helped me clear up my skin with food, and that’s what led me here.
I had been with the same man for five years and envisioned a white picket fence kind of future where we both had 9-5 jobs, kids, a dog and a cat, and lived in Wellington, when his decision to join the army sent our future in a different, 10 times more exciting, direction
As a teenager I thought I had it all worked out, but I never knew that these different experiences and moments and people would cross my path. Often I would find myself disappointed that I didn’t follow the path I set out on and achieve the goals I wanted to achieve, but today I feel differently.
Today I believe that everything that you do, and everything that happens to you has led you to where you are today, and that nothing ever turns out the way you expect it to, but if you take your opportunities and keep striving for more, it turns out better.
So that’s why I don’t have a 10 year plan anymore. I have no idea what I’ll be doing when I’m 36, but I know it will be something amazing because I live for every day, I don’t just look to this goal and that goal, hoping everything will be better when I reach them.
But I do set daily goals, monthly goals, six monthly goals, occasionally yearly goals, because it’s the small steps that count, it’s the small steps that keep you grounded and keep you living well and soaking up every moment each and every day, because I am not living 10 years from now, I’m living today, and each step I make right now will lead to that future that’s just as awesome as today, even if I don’t know what that future is going to end up like.
What an invigorating thought, knowing that there’s so much adventure and excitement that you haven’t had yet.
We changed it up this week, with a bit of a twist on the whole "choose a country" thing. Dan recently discovered a healthy way to make fried chicken, his favourite food, and so he and Anka decided to run with that and make us a meal that looked like fast food, but tasted better and was super healthy. And, of course gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free!
We had pumpkin and kumara soup for starters, fried chicken/fish, fries, and salad for mains, and brownies and berry and banana icecream for dessert. So good!
This past year I have been so incredibly blessed, and I took a moment or two on my 26th birthday yesterday to reflect on just how great 25 has been. There have been the big events, like getting married, starting the IIN nutrition course and Keen Bean Wellness, and seeing my husband go and live a dream. Then there are all the wonderful things in between. The new people I've met, the new foods I've tried, yoga and tai chi, riding my awesome vintage cruiser to work, getting our cute crazy kitten Jinx, hanging out with so many of my great friends, and indulging in some amazing holidays. So much to love about 25! Now I think 26 is well old enough to offer some worldly words of wisdom, so here goes...
1. Don’t let the little things break you
Especially in relationships. The one good thing about having a long distance relationship this year is that every moment we’ve had together has been precious, so we fill those moments with love and respect, and the little things that used to irritate us and that we used to argue about seem so silly now.
2. If it feels good, do it
Get naked and jump in the ocean, do a pole dancing class, climb that mountain… life is for living!
3. Nothing is out of your reach
Don’t be jealous of others. If you want something, go get it.
4. Surround yourself with positive people
I’m sure we’ve all had that toxic friendship. The kind of friendship that sucks the life out of you, that does you more harm than good. It may hurt a little at first, letting go of those people (two years ago I let go of a 20 year friendship - it wasn’t easy), but when you do, you realise just how many great, positive, happy people you have in your life that you never fully saw before through the toxic smog.
5. Never stop learning
6. If people are rude or mean to you, it has very little to do with you
7. Practicing gratitude for the things you already have is the first step toward happiness
8. Pets make people happier
Our nutbar kitten Jinx is the coolest. She’s always waiting for me on the fence when I come home from work, she stalks you around corners and attacks your ankles when you’re not looking, she snuggles me at night, and she’s always purring, which makes me happy because I love how I’ve managed to create a life for her that makes her happy. The other night, in fact, I had an upset stomach and she came and slept on me - I swear the vibration of her purring healed my stomach.
9. Home is where the heart is
I know it’s a bit of a cliche, but it’s so true. In the seven years my husband and I have been together we’ve done the long distance thing for about two and a half years of that time, and each time my house has not felt completely like home. Right now I’m comfortable, sure, I like my house, but the only time I truly feel at home is when he’s there, or when I meet him at Waiouru and we drive to Taupo together. And there’s nothing sad about that, it’s the way it is and I’m embracing it.
10. Everything has a purpose
Everything that has ever happened to me in my life, good and bad, has lead me to where I am now. And I’m pretty damn happy about that.
11. It’s so important to live with passion, in every aspect of your life
I’ve never subscribed to the theory that you have to work your butt off your whole life at the expense of family time, your health and your energy, just to pay off your mortgage and retire. Especially in the last few years, I’ve learnt that it’s more important to live a life of balance, and to live a life you enjoy living every single day. Plus, I don’t plan on retiring. I’ll still be doing something at 100 years old.
12. Face your fears
There’s nothing more liberating than the knowledge that you can do anything.
13. Marriage is wonderful
I know, it’s cheesy, and we’re probably still in the “honeymoon phase”, and we’re also unique because in the six months we’ve been married we’ve spent maybe seven weeks together… but I get butterflies every time he calls me his wife, so it’s pretty awesome. Also, a meat obsessed man who (voluntarily - I told him he could order meat if he wanted) eats only seafood and vegetables for his pescaterian wife’s birthday dinner has to be a winner.
14. New Zealand is awesome
I just freakin’ love this place.
15. Grey hairs don’t mean you’re old
They’re streaks of glitter, shh.
16. Own your choices
Stick to your guns. Don’t let people convince you out of things you know in your heart are right for you.
17. Remember to breathe
Yes, it’s something we all have to do to stay alive, but guess what, a magical thing happens when you really focus on your breathing. When you stop for a minute and take a few deep breaths focussing only on breathing, the world can become a much less stressful place.
18. You don’t have to be good at everything
I don’t argue with Josh about directions. He doesn’t argue with me over spelling and grammar.
19. Vegetables are actually awesome
My siblings and I were all fussy eaters - I was the less fussy of the three of us - but I still hated veggies. If my child self saw me now, not eating meat and willingly adding spinach to pretty much every meal, she would probably die of shock.
20. Your inner child isn’t always right
As a teenager, I remember thinking, “Man, when I got outta home and I can do what I want I’m gonna have pasta with cheese sauce and piles of shaved ham all the time and no one can stop me!” Now I don’t eat meat, dairy or “conventional pasta”. I loved food back then just as much as I do now, but wow the food back then was so wrong!
21. Staying in on a Friday or Saturday night doesn’t mean you’re a loner. Or old.
Sure, I go out every now and then, but it’s not like when I was 18 and going out every single Friday and Saturday night and getting all stressed out if I had nowhere to go. I love a good Friday night snuggled up with Jinx on the couch watching a movie.
22. Yeah I watch Coronation Street, yeah I ride a funky looking bike to work, yeah I wear hipster reading glasses, yeah I make my family dress up in togas for a family dinner, and I live in my ugg boots in winter time.
Shame is a teenager’s game.
23. Live life at your own pace
The amount of time I wasted comparing my stage of life to others - when everyone else was buying houses, getting married and having kids - could have been way better spent. My time came, and it came at the right time, when it was meant to.
24. You’re never really ready… for anything
“It's a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you're ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There's almost no such thing as ready. There's only now. And you may as well do it now. I mean, I say that confidently as if I'm about to go bungee jumping or something - I'm not. I'm not a crazed risk taker. But I do think that, generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.” - Hugh Laurie
25. You really need to love yourself
This year, I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know myself. I’ve been without Josh for most of it, so that’s forced me to be ok with my own company. I have experimented with food and seen what different foods do to my body. I love every single part of my body because it is me and it’s the only one I’ve got. I have explored meditation and yoga and tai chi and discovered that I’m actually pretty great, and so are you.
26. There is only love and fear in this life
This is the big one, so I’ve saved it for last. This year I met a bunch of like-minded people, who have since become some of my best friends, and one thing we’ve all learnt is that there is no hate, or anger, or jealousy, or any of those nasty emotions, there is only fear, and if we smother that fear with love, life is a whole lot brighter. Love really does make the world go round, and it’s only fear that holds us back, that turns us nasty, that makes us upset people and do bad things. So go and hug someone, right now. They probably need it.
So, 26, if you’re anywhere near as exciting as 25, we’re going to have a good year!
Hello and welcome!
I'm Sarah and this is my space where I share my adventures in healthy eating, positive living and general dreaming with my little family in Wellington, New Zealand.