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Winter Wellbeing Tip #9

4/08/2015 9:17 PM

Winter Wellbeing Tip Number 9


This is the last of the Winter Tip Series, but don't worry because I will continue to post some Winter warming meals in the coming weeks for you to try while putting all of the previous tips into action!

This weeks Tip: Save your Skin

Cold air, wind and heating will all dry your skin out, particularly when you are in and out of different conditions throughout the day. 

A good SPF moisturiser for your face is beneficial to protect from those UV rays which can still cause damage even with the sun isn't shining. 

It's not only your face that is exposed and can dry out in the cool weather - make sure you take care of your hands as well by applying a good quality moisturiser regularly throughout the day. 

This weeks recipe is a hearty classic and this recipe makes a good sized pie so will feed a large family or can be frozen for those days that you don't have time to cook!

Shepherd's Pie


1 kg potatoes 
30g butter 
2 tblsp milk 
1 tblsp oil 
1 large onion, finely chopped 
1 kg lamb mince 
1 carrot, finely chopped 
2 tbsp plain flour 
1 cup vegetable stock 
2 tblsp Worcestershire sauce 
1 cup frozen peas


1. Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks. Cook in a large pan of boiling water for 15-20 minutes, or until tender. Drain the potato well and return to the pan over low heat, and stir to evaporate any excess water. Remove from the heat, add the butter and milk, and mash with a potato masher until smooth. Season with salt and cracked pepper. Preheat the oven to moderate 180C.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and just beginning to colour. Add the mince, increase the heat and cook until browned, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon as the meat cooks.

3. Add the carrot to the pan and cook for a few minutes until just tender. Sprinkle on the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Slowly add the stock, stirring constantly. Add the Worcestershire sauce. Bring to the boil and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the gravy thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the peas and transfer the mixture to a 2L ovenproof dish.

4. Spoon the mashed potato onto the meat mixture and spread out evenly. Use a fork to swirl the surface. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the potato is golden.


Posted in Health & Nutrition By Lisa McAfee

Winter Wellbeing Tip #10

11/08/2015 9:12 PM

Well, last week I was beginning to think that the worst of the Winter weather was behind us - but this week has brought another cold snap and some strange happenings like heavy hail in Auckland!

Because of this extra cold weather and the fact that we are not quite in Spring yet,  I have decided to carry on with a few more Winter Wellness Tips.

Winter Wellness Tip#10

Take a break!

Yes, a holiday on a tropical Island sounds like bliss right now and some lucky people are doing just that I'm sure! However, for those of us that aren't lucky enough to be able to fly off somewhere warm - it is important to take a break from time to time. Taking time out to do something for ourselves is important in keeping ourselves stress free and happy. Often we don't realise that we are stressed, however symptoms such as difficulty sleeping, decreased appetite or trouble concentrating could be signs of stress and a sign that we need to take a break so take notice of what your body is trying to tell you.

This weeks recipe looks slightly unusual at first glance but give it a go and you will see that it is surprisingly good!

Bacon and pumpkin pizza


  •   400 g pumpkin, peeled, deseeded, chopped   
  •   1 medium red onion, thinly sliced   
  •  1 x 3 second spray(s) oil spray   
  •  1 medium pizza base, thin   
  •  150 g tomato-based salsa   
  •   6 slices of Bacon, excess fat and rind trimmed   
  •  80 g light cheddar cheese, or reduced fat tasty   
  •  12 individual black olives, drained, pitted, sliced   
  •   50 g rocket leaves   


  • Preheat oven to 200ºC.

  • Combine pumpkin and onion in a medium bowl. Spray with oil and toss to combine. Bake vegetables in oven for about 20 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Increase oven temperature to 220ºC.

  • Place pizza base onto an oven tray and spread with salsa.

  • Arrange pumpkin, onion and bacon over top. Sprinkle with cheese and olives.

  • Bake in pre-heated oven for 15 minutes or until base is crisp and cheese is melted. Scatter with rocket and serve.


Posted in Health & Nutrition By Lisa McAfee

Winter Wellbeing Tip #11

18/08/2015 7:56 PM

Winter Wellness Tip #11 - Kick the sugar habit!

I know that this may seem impossible at times, particularly when the waether is cold and rainy outside and you get a moments break in the afternoon - theres nothing better than a hot cuppa and something sweet! 

However, it may be time to think twice about this seemingly harmless habit. I have just finished watching 'That Sugar Film' and it was shocking to realise just how much sugar we are consuming, particularly hidden sugars in food that we think are heatlhy; not to mention the health effects this is having on us. One of the basic side effects is poor immunity.

I'm not saying to never eat sugar, I for one would struggle with that, but maybe think twice about reaching for that sweet afternoon snack and instead reach for something more natural such as a handful of nuts. Save the sugary sweets for special occasions and stay healthier for it. 


This weeks recipe is a lovely slow cooker beef dish which you can prepare before work and by the time you come home it will be ready to serve up.


Slow Cooker Beef

1 medium onion, sliced
900g cubed beef stew meat (about 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 red capsicums, stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup low-sodium beef stock
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup freshly chopped dill and/or parsley
Hot boiled egg noodles or potatoes, for serving

Spread the onions in the bottom of an 8-cup slow cooker. Toss the beef with the flour, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and place on top of the onions. Top with the capsicum and garlic. Stir together the stock, paprika, tomato paste and caraway and pour over the beef. Cover and cook until the meat is very tender, either on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.

Uncover and let stand at least 10 minutes. Stir in the sour cream and dill and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over egg noodles or potatoes.


Posted in Health & Nutrition By Lisa McAfee

Winter Wellbeing Tip #12

25/08/2015 11:25 AM

Winter Wellness Tip Number 12: Caffeine

Well, it is officially the last week of Winter! I'm not sure that we will see much of a change in the weather in the coming weeks, especially as Spring tends to bring a fair amount of rain with it, but at least we can look forward to some milder temperatures and take comfort in the fact that Summer is soon around the corner.

It is rather ironic that I have just finished a nice cup of morning coffee that I should tell you that too much caffeine can effect your immune system! 

One or two cups a day is fine, however if you have in excess of this (and remember to count any cups of tea and also energy drinks) then it could be putting extra stress on your immune system meaning that you are more susceptible to any bugs that are going around. 

I would suggest that you try and swap some of your caffeine heavy drinks with herbal teas. Red Seal have a new range out at the supermarket that are pretty tasty and there are some interesting looking flavours to try. 

This small change may go a long way in keeping you healthy, not to mention helping your wallet stay full, particularly if you are a cafe coffee drinker like myself!


This weeks recipe is a very simple breakfast or afternoon snack if you prefer. It does take some prep work the night before, but it is definately worth it. While it is a cold recipe, you can pop it in the microwave to warm it up slightly before tucking in. 

Overnight Oats:

1/2 Cup of Rolled Oats (not the quick cook oats)

1/2 Cup of Almond milk (or any that you prefer)

1 tsp chia seeds

Half a grated apple or pear

pinch of cinnamon

Handful of mixed berries


Mix all of the above ingredients in a mason jar or plastic container, making sure that the oats are covered completely. Put a lid on it and pop it in the fridge overnight and in the morning you will have a healthy, creamy, filling breakfast to get you started for the day. In the morning, give it a quick stir and if you want to you could add a spoonful of greek yoghurt and a sprinkle of nuts for a bit of crunch.

The combinations for overnight oats are endless and you can put in whatever types of fruits, nuts, seeds, coconut etc. you like, dried fruit also works well, just watch the amount as the sugar content in dried fruit is much higher than fresh fruit. As long as you stick to the same oat/milk ratio you are good to experiment away to your hearts content.


Posted in Health & Nutrition By Lisa McAfee

Spring Tips #1

1/09/2015 9:48 PM

Today marks the first official day of Spring and I don't know about you but I woke up to the sound of pouring rain this morning! Not to worry, I'm sure the better weather is just around the corner along with the spring flowers and lambs. 

Our first tip for the Spring Series:

Spring Clean!

I know, not very exciting or probably what you wanted to read, BUT dust can contribute to asthma and allergies, not to mention that clutter can cause anxiety in some people. 

Perhaps start small (one cupboard or room) and I guarantee you will feel better for it and you may even breathe easier this Spring!

We have to start off the Spring recipe collection with lamb of course! This recipe is from the Healthy Food Guide and is really tasty.


Moroccan lamb with orange-walnut couscous


  • olive oil spray
  • 8 lamb cutlets (600g)
  • 1 tablespoon Moroccan seasoning
  • 3/4 cup couscous
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 1 orange, segmented, plus 2 teaspoons finely grated rind


Spray a grill pan with oil. Heat over a medium-high heat. Sprinkle both sides of lamb cutlets with seasoning. Cook lamb, turning, for 6-8 minutes or until cooked as desired.

Meanwhile, place couscous in a heatproof bowl. Add boiling water. Cover and stand for 5 minutes. Stir with a fork to separate grains.

Add parsley, walnuts, orange segments and rind. Stir to combine. Stand for 1 minute. Serve with cutlets



Posted in Health & Nutrition By Lisa McAfee

Spring Tips #2

7/09/2015 1:15 PM

Hello Everybody!

This weeks tip should be fairly easy for you as I include a new recipe for you each week that I hope you are trying!

How many of you, come across recipes or buy food magazines and think to yourself that the recipes look great, not to mention not too complicated but then never actually try them?

Yes, I am also guilty of this, although I am trying to get better at this! 

So, my challenge to you is to find a healthy new recipe that you like the look of and actually make it....

You could start with the delicious recipe below:

Lemon and honey chicken salad

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high.

  2. Combine lemon zest and juice, honey, 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and chopped mint in a large bowl. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add chicken, stir to coat, then place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to marinate.

  3. Meanwhile, blanch broad beans in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold running water. Remove tough outer skins. Set aside.

  4. Place ciabatta on a baking tray and grill for 4-5 minutes until golden and crisp.

  5. Preheat a chargrill pan to high. Cook chicken for 2-3 minutes each side until caramelised and cooked through.

  6. Toss broad beans, ciabatta, baby spinach, chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley and whole mint leaves in a large bowl.

  7. Whisk together mustard and remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Season. Divide the salad among plates, pour over dressing and top with chicken to serve.

Posted in Health & Nutrition By Lisa McAfee

Spring Tips #3

15/09/2015 4:49 PM

Spring Tip #3 - Sign up for a 5K or 10K fun run/walk.

With the warmer weather just around the corner there are plenty of these types of fun runs or walk in the pipeline. Just pop whatever city you live in along with the words fun runs 2015 eg. Auckland fun runs 2015, into your search engine and check out which ones you would like to sign up for. 

If you sign up early, it gives you motivation to get out there and start training. Having an exercise goal is a great way to get in or stay in shape. 

As an extra bonus, many of these fun runs raise money for charities so you can do good for your community as well as yourself!

This weeks recipe may look like it has a lot of ingredients in it but it is definately worth it and doesn't actually take very long to prepare. It is also family friendly, although you may want to leave out the chilli if you have young kids. 

Beef and bean burritos

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Add mince. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until browned.

  2. Add cumin, paprika and chilli powder. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until aromatic. Add tomatoes, capsicum, tomato paste and stock. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until sauce is thickened. Stir in beans and coriander.

  3. Warm tortillas following directions on packet. Divide beef mixture between tortillas. Spread along centre of tortillas. Roll up to enclose filling. Place in a large, greased baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese.

  4. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and burritos start to brown. Serve with sour cream and salad leaves.


Posted in Health & Nutrition By Lisa McAfee

Spring Tips #4

23/09/2015 8:14 PM

Spring Tip Number 4 - Challenge your brain

Challenging your brain is such as important thing to do and is often something that we forget about. Of course we are challenging our brains to a point at work everyday, however it is recommended that we challenge it in different ways. ie. doing a crossword, sudoku or read a book. These types of activities stimulate our brains in different ways and studies have shown that they can help to prevent things like dementia. 

Also reading a book before bed is a much more relaxing activity for our brain than over stimulating it with an electronic device which I am sure most of us are guilty of using right before we turn off our lights at night. 

This weeks recipe is one of those healthy recipes that you honestly find yourself wondering how on earth can taste so good and be healthy and easy to whip up! You do have to do a little bit of prep before hand but it is minimal!

Healthy Ice-Cream (Yes it actually does taste like ice-cream!)

1-2 bananas, chopped and placed in the freezer for at least 2 hours or overnight

1/2-1 cup of frozen berries of your choice

2-3 Tablespoons of almond milk

Dash of vanilla essence.

Place the bananas and the berries in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the almond milk and vanilla essence to turn it to a soft serve consistency. Serve and Enjoy guilt free!

Posted in Health & Nutrition By Lisa McAfee

Spring Tips #5

28/09/2015 2:25 PM

What an amazing weekend we just had weather wise! The sunshine really does lift the mood and it made me excited about the upcoming summer filled with fun, friends, lazy Sundays, BBQ's and hopefully a few trips away somewhere beachy!

We made the most of the fantastic weather by going on a few walks, having coffee in the sun, having our first BBQ of the season and indulging in some yummy homemade ice-cream (last weeks recipe)

This week I want to touch on healthy snacking as this is where a lot of people fall off the rails of healthy eating and sometimes, particularly when we are not prepared we find ourselves reaching for a not so healthy snack between meals. 

Spending some time planning ahead can be very beneficial to staying on track and to keeping our appetites at bay. Often it is at work that it is the hardest, especially if you have a cafeteria or shops nearby that you congregate at during break times. Temptation can be hard! My advice would be to have that flat white coffee as a treat, but perhaps team it with a handful of almonds as a satisfying snack. 

And when stuck at your desk, try snacking on some items prepared at home such as carrot sticks and hummus, nuts and a small amount of dried fruit (be mindful of the high sugar content of dried fruit), even some dried cereal or a healthy homemade muesli bar for energy - the options are endless!

This weeks recipe is for a healthy homemade mueslii bar - whip it up on the weekend ready for office and school lunches throughout the whole week - easy!

  • 1¼ cups quick cooking oats
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • ½ cup chopped craisins (cranberry raisins) and a handful of raisins
  • ½ cup maple syrup or honey
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • (or any nut butter)
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. The mix should blend together well, but if too dry, add a bit of olive oil.

Press into a tin and freeze. After a few hours, cut up into bars while semi-frozen. Wrap the muesli bars in plastic wrap and keep in the freezer. 

Posted in Health & Nutrition By Lisa McAfee

Spring Tips #6

6/10/2015 2:20 PM

Spring Tip Number Six - Eat More Fish

Not everybody likes fish and seafood, however, if you do then it is a fantastic food choice in keeping our hearts and brains healthy. Fish is packed full of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

If you can, try and eat it at least once a week. It can be a relatively inexpensive meal option, or at least equivalent to any other meat that you may buy at the supermarket. I always buy my fish from the local fish market as I know that it is fresh. However, most supermarkets also have a fairly good range. 

One thing to remember when eating fish is that not all of it is a sustainable choice and if we don't want particular species to die out in the coming years, then we need to make concious choices about which fish we are eating. 

Forest and Bird NZ ( have put together a great guide of what the best fish choices are from a sustainability point of view. So be sure to check this out before you go ahead and buy your fish. 

If you dislike fish then try and have an Omega-3 supplement. Head down to your local health store and speak to them about which one is right for you and your lifestyle. 

This weeks recipe - Fish Tacos

This makes a nice change from the traditional way to eat fish (fish and chips - whether homemade or not!)

600g (approx) fish fillets such as tarakihi or gurnard

1 lime, juice, or 2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cumin


2 large ripe tomatoes

1 cob corn

1/2 ripe avocado

1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander

1 finely chopped spring onion

1 lime, juice, or 2 tablespoons lemon juice

pinch salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2–3 teaspoons olive or canola oil

8 reduced-fat tortillas

hot chilli sauce, to serve (optional) 


Arrange fish fillets in a shallow dish and sprinkle both sides with lime (or lemon) juice then sprinkle lightly with cumin. Set aside.

Meanwhile, to make salsa, halve tomatoes and scoop out flesh. Discard seeds then cut flesh in 7mm cubes. Remove husk and silk from corn then cut kernels from cob. Peel avocado half and cut in similar-sized cubes. Place tomato flesh, corn kernels and avocado in a medium-sized bowl. Add the remaining salsa ingredients and mix gently to combine.

Heat oil in a large non-stick pan. Add fish fillets and cook each side for about 2 minutes, depending on thickness, until just cooked through. Place in a warmed serving dish.

While fish cooks place tortillas in bag in microwave and heat on high power for about 1 minute or warm each tortilla briefly in a lightly oiled pan or on a hot plate. Wrap in a clean, dry tea towel to keep warm.

To assemble, break fish in 4-5cm chunks and place several chunks on a tortilla. Add a generous spoonful of salsa and roll loosely. Serve with plain or brown rice and a simple salad if preferred.


Posted in Health & Nutrition By Lisa McAfee

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