Haley, Recipes

Spaghetti squash is one of those vegetables that people know or hear about but never seem to get to know. We think pumpkin or butternut, but never spaghetti variety.

Well, it’s time we broadened our cooking horizons and introduced a new player to the team. 

Spaghetti squash is literally as its name suggests, a squash, that when cooked turns into spaghetti-like noodles. Ideal for those with a gluten or wheat intolerance and pasts is a no-go. Or those that are wanting a lower-carb option for their bolognese. 

In this recipe, however, I have modified a pretty popular home-style dish by swapping out one carbohydrate for another. Don’t get me wrong, stuffed, baked, potatoes are great, but it’s autumn and the spaghetti squash is in season. Plus it’s a perfect way to try out a new ingredient. So let’s get to it.

Serves 2-4 | Prep time 15 minutes | Cook time | 60 minutes total


1 Spaghetti squash
1/2 C water
1 Tbsp Olive or coconut oil
1/2 red onion, diced
1 C kale or cavalo nero, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves. chopped fine
1/2 red capsicum, diced
1/2 C peas
1/2 fresh chilli, chopped fine (optional)
1 C grated cheese
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
2 Tbsp fresh herbs of choice
Himalayan salt and black pepper to season

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190c.  
  2. Slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthways and season the inside with salt and pepper. Place seasoned side down in the baking dish and pour in the water. Place in pre-heated oven for 50-60 minutes or until tender when pierced.
  3. While the spaghetti is cooking prep your vegetables. 
  4. To a pan over medium heat, add in oil, onion and garlic and saute for one minute. Add kale and capsicum then saute for a further 2-3 minutes until softened. Season with a little salt and pepper. Remove from heat and into a large mixing bowl. Add peas, fresh herbs, 3/4 of the cheese and wholegrain mustard then mix to combine.
  5. once the spaghetti squash has cooked, remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
  6. Once cool to the touch, use a fork to scrape out the spaghetti strands and add them to the bowl of ingredients. Mix everything together.
  7. Spoon the mixture evenly back into the squash skins and top with the leftover cheese. 
  8. Place them back into the same oven for 10 minutes or until cheese has melted. Top with more fresh herbs and a side of pesto.


Our Western world is brilliant and bustling. Full of colour, convenience, creativity and, just to continue my alliterations, consumerism.

We consume, we hoard, we overeat and we do it all VERY quickly. Now don’t be offended, I might not be talking to you, so read on, as far removed as you need to be of course!

Across the board: from clothing and shoes to homewares and houses. From newest season products to latest restaurants. And yes there is great pleasure and beauty in change + experiencing the food/clothing that people have made for us to enjoy. But take care of how it affects you + your body. That body you only have one of.

The Blue Zones is a concept by Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain who collected data regarding the lives of centenarians (people who live over 100 years) in certain geographical areas of the world. Furthering the studies, Dan Buettner, a National Geographic discoverer, named these Blue Zones to be in Okinawa (Japan), Sardinia (Italy), Nicoya (Coast Rica) and a seventh-day Adventists community (Loma Linda, California).

japanEach Blue Zone area showed us a moderate energy intake diet or a non-indulgent food culture. The Okinawa of Japan know it as Hara Hachi bu, (Hara hachi bun me 腹八分目/はらはちぶんめ). This comes from a Confucian teaching that tells people to eat until they are 80% full. This translates to “eat until you are 8 parts out of ten full.”

The Bible instructs us to not be gluttons, to be mindful of ‘too much.’ There are accounts of young prophets becoming the strongest of the kings’ men only eating fruit and vegetables and not excessive meats/wine as the other young men did.

It seems Ancient traditions through many cultures tell their people to eat less, to not over-indulge or over-consume. Whereas ‘more, excess, consume, surplus’ are words we are drawn to more often in the West.

Many traditional diets, such as the Okinawa focus on vegetables, fruits, legumes, soy foods, whole grains, fish and limited red meats and believe these to be a basis for health + healthy ageing.

These simple diets were found to reduce cardiovascular disease, heart disease and minimise free radical production (cell-damaging molecules that are created via our bodies metabolising energy we get from food).

What does that mean? High antioxidant diets are essential for longevity and found in plant-rich diets. Simple. They also experience lower stroke rates, healthy cholesterol levels and optimal blood pressure levels. Cancer rates? You guessed it, lower. 50-80% lower in fact, across breast cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer and prostate. These Okinawa Japanese are fighting fit! Hip fractures and dementia cases: rare.

Now, eating until you are 80% full decreases the risks of obesity. It teaches you to appreciate your food + not indulge in a way that constantly consumes.  The strategy itself is a discipline that teaches the stomach to tell you how full it really is. 20 minutes after stopping is when you feel the fullness. How many of us stop, rest and wait? (In any area of life?!)

When younger generations from the Okinawa people embraced the Western style of eating (lots and processed), their heart disease risks rose to match those in the United States and their life expectancy decreased by 17 years.

I believe it’s important to take a leaf out of these older cultures. Sure, we have amazing technology + convenience. Plus our world is becoming so ‘in reach’ ; we from south pacific island countries can enjoy Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines, we can buy Alaskan Salmon through to Italian vintage wines. Everything is available to us. It’s both beautiful and a lesson in being a bit thoughtful of how we consume.

You might wonder then, how do we enjoy the options that we have here yet take the disciplines on that these cultures have perfected. The practice of Hara Hachi Bu is exciting to me – that I could train myself to need less. I want to take the time to embrace this way of eating and I think it will take habit breaking to make it happen, so join me!

Start with mindfulness – how do you know when you’re full?? Well, we never give ourselves time to ask the question. We have usually crossed the line way back.

Fullness being the opposite of emptiness happens as you eat and drink. The human stomach can grow from 50ml to 4L!!! Surely, we should stop before reaching that capacity? As you become fuller, the empty feelings are replaced with a gentle pressure or a lack of a hollow feeling. As you feel this pressure, stop eating. Makes perfect sense right?

The following are more ways to help you retrain your head and stomach. It might take time to Hara Hachi Bu my friends. It’s worth it.

1. Serve yourself less. The easiest way to start this change: instead of leaving a bit on your plate each meal (which I find is wasteful and requires more discipline), try serving a little bit less than you usually would. Then before going back for seconds. Think am I hungry? Sit, have a sip of water + chat and see if you are actually satiated. If you need to serve more, try the veggie/salad part of the dish. instead of round two of the meat and carbohydrates.
2. Ask for small or medium portion size – not large. This goes without saying particularly with fast food options as they don’t satiate no matter the size!
3. When shopping for meats + pre-portioned foods, think do you NEED the bigger sizes or are they just a want?
4. Buy new plates that are smaller. If you look at glass + plate sizes now compared to 50yrs ago, the difference is massive. Literally.
5. When at functions and events, can you avoid the starter dishes? You can end up eating the equivalent energy of 2 meals just in 5-6 canapes + 2 glasses alcohol. Try one only + wait to enjoy your main.
6. Order entrees. You might find you keep nice and full.
7. When cooking, serve the portions up and then place leftovers straight into fridge containers so that you don’t pick later.
8. Think back to when you had packed or homemade lunches. They were generally a good portion. Now we have big lunches with all the trimmings and then do it all again at dinner time. Our normal is bigger. Eat big breakfasts, medium lunches and conservative sizes dinners.
9. Always have a snack after dinner? Do you actually need it?
10. Put your knife and fork down each time you take a bite of your meal. You’ll find you take longer and noticeably don’t over eat. Even better – try eating with chopsticks.
11. How often are you eating out at indulgent eateries? Save your pocket and waistlines by limiting to occasions not weekly (daily?!) activities. Your body will thank you.

As always, if you’d like to find out more about Hara Hachi Bu or if you have any nutrition questions, you can email Bess, or you can read more about Blue Zones and Okinawa.


I purposely did not entitle this piece “Gut Health” because literally every nutrition article I see on social media surrounds this topic at the moment and shows you where to buy probiotics + overpriced kimchi. Cool. Okay. What is this gut health thing? Sounds popular and on trend in the health world. And it sounds better than ‘bowel health’ that is for sure.

There 101 reasons why you might struggle with bloating, gas, sore stomach, heartburn, IBS type symptoms, constipation, diarrhoea and other glamourous GIT (gastrointestinal tract)-related issues. It could be stress, too much-processed food, high fat/protein diets, intolerances, full-blown allergies, excessive or restricted eating, coffee, alcohol, the list goes on!

We are going to focus on just one wonderful factor that may be the answer to many of your life problems… Well, the gut related ones. 
That is not enough roughage or dietary fibre. We have all heard that fibre helps us ‘frequent the bathroom facilities’, but oh it does so much more than that- what exactly IS fibre? Well firstly, fibre is ONLY found in plants, not animal products. So that means vegetables, grains, fruits, seeds, nuts, sea plants, legumes, pulses etc. And there are two types of fibre that are pretty simple to remember: Soluble Fibre: this acts like a sponge + absorbs fluids making ‘excretal’ contents softer and therefore easier to move. Insoluble Fibre: this one acts like a ‘filler or bulking agent’ which also helps in keeping us regular.

Easy? Well, another word to bring to the party is Prebiotic. You have heard of probiotics, right? (If not – these introduce good bacteria to your gut). Well, prebiotics promote the growth of BENEFICIAL intestinal microorganisms that the probiotics introduced. Fibre is PREBIOTIC, acting like a fertiliser for good bacteria that already exists. Keep that in mind if you don’t remember anything else from this! We (male + female adults) need between 28-35g per day. Many clients that I see are barely reaching 18g per day. They are wondering why they are struggling with gut related bloating, pain, ‘IBS’ symptoms. I believe some of the answers lie right here.

We do not ONLY need fibre so that we have happy regular toilet visits. I mean, sure, this is tremendously important + relieving. BUT going a little deeper into the wonderful world of your microbiota (all those communities of little organisms that are sharing your personal space very closely – inside you) is much more beneficial long term for your internal health. 

A study done last year by the American Journal of Physiology found that a diet missing or severely lacking soluble fibre promotes inflammation in the intestines + poor gut health, with leads to weight gain. There is also speculation that inflammation caused by altered gut microbiome (from low fibre intake) may be linked to obesity-related diseases + diabetes.
Another study has found that bad bacterial changes to a person’s gut microbiome are linked to IBS, gastrointestinal disease + metabolic disease (not mention all those symptoms I mentioned at the beginning). The intestines of dietary fibre-deficient guts are found to be thinner and in some cases, over stretch due to hard waste just not moving through. Ouch.

Please don’t be too alarmed – the GREAT thing is that introducing more soluble fibre to a lacking diet CAN restore gut health. Feed the good guys battling for you! Prebiotics + a great balance of the right bacteria benefits not only your guts + the glamour of bowel regularity, but also the positive health impact on other physiological functions could be huge. We have already mentioned lower incidences of diabetes, obesity related illness and gastrointestinal diseases (such as diverticular disease or haemorrhoids) with high prebiotic diets. We also find better control of blood glucose levels, strong immune systems, increase calcium + magnesium absorption and lower blood cholesterol levels. Even mental health!  We see fewer issues of anxiety, depression + stress in individuals who consume high fibre daily + have a strong, healthy gut microbiota. In saliva testing in such individuals shows lower levels of cortisol. For those who don’t know: high levels of this hormone contribute to many stress + anxiety related health issues.

What am I saying here? Fibre might not cure all your ailments, I certainly see lots of true allergies + issues that aren’t magically going to disappear by eating some extra prunes, HOWEVER, a high fibre diet MAY truly have an amazing impact on the vitality, energy + chronic health of many people who currently struggle with any gut problems.

Feed on these Fabulous + Fibrous Foods: 

– Soluble: oats, legumes (lentils, beans, etc), vegetables such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, carrots, potato, kumara + fruits such as apples, pears, citrus, stone fruits + berries.
– Insoluble: the most unprocessed + whole grain bread you can get, brown rice, wild rice, grains, corn, polenta. Most fruit + vegetables have insoluble fibre too.
– Water! It’s not fibre of course, but essentially for fibrous foods transportation + in helping to get rid of waste from your body.

If you currently have a very low fibre diet, I encourage you to slowly introduce fibrous foods to the diet, your body might take a little while to figure it out. There is so much to learn + so many interesting studies being done on this big topic of gut health. It’s worth getting right and it feels so much better too.

*Please note – I would love to talk to you further about fibre and your diet so please feel free to email me to find out more. Or you can find more information here, here + here.

For more info on pro-biotic foods have a read of this great article from our friends at Health Ambition… click here to read!




steve-jobs1 We all need a reset sometimes. Life is busy; we slip into comfortable habits. We no longer think about why we’re doing what we’re doing. It’s just habit. This can be great for some parts of our life. Lots of successful people (take Steve Jobs for example) wear the same outfit every day to save them time in the mornings. It helps to give them more brain power to spend on other things. More important things. But in some cases, before you know it, you’re sticking with a habit which seemed like a good idea when you picked it up but that really doesn’t serve you now. Maybe it’s even holding you back from being your most authentic you. And this is where a reset can come in, shake things up, make you reassess things and then build up some new habits that do serve your lifestyle now. At Wellness HQ we definitely slipped into a bad habit trap around food recently. Full-time jobs + side hustles + training + time with friends. Excuses arose and before we knew it, it was the same staples for dinner all the time or the dreaded takeaways. Once you’re in there, in that space of bad habits, it can be really hard to make the shift away. Sometimes you need that extra push; something to help make that mental break so that you can start afresh. There are lots of ways to creating a reset.

– Pledge to do something every day for a month. Hold yourself accountable and let others know so that they can support you in this. Knowing that you’ve only got to get through a month, that your new habit has an end date, can make things seem more much achievable rather than stating that you’ll do something every day for the rest of your life, or never again forever. Most likely once you’ve made it through the month it will have stuck enough that you can keep going.

– Start small and manageable. By achieving small wins you can help motivate yourself to take bigger steps. Want to stop spending so much money on takeaways? Pick a night that you know you have the time + energy to cook and start there. Once you see how easy + fun it is one night a week, look at adding another night.

– Get outside of your comfort zone. Physically removing yourself from the spaces that cause the bad habits can help create that mental shift. Maybe it’s a weekend away so that when you come back to your home you can look at things with fresh eyes. Maybe it’s taking a different path to work so that you’re not tempted by the coffee shop with those delicious brioches.

– Get the support you need. Find out what is holding you back (what is really holding you back) and address that. For me recently it was a lack of inspiration about what to cook. I know that the internet is full of great recipes but that was too much for me to take in. So we started getting My Food Bag to help give me more inspiration around new food to cook (like that delicious looking salad just there). Or perhaps it’s a new Keep Cup to inspire you to make coffee at home.

We all need a fresh start sometimes. Here’s hoping you start building a new, amazing habit today.



Winter means gentle snowfall, roasting chestnuts around the fireplace + children laughing with their little sleds in pompoms and mittens… right? Maybe somewhere that happens, but right here it is feeling a bit more like cold + damp feet, sniffing noses + a bit too much red wine on Friday (or every!?) night… I have always found winter tough and I would preferably hibernate the whole season through. My health, desire to move + food choices can deteriorate during the colder months. I definitely thrive in the summertime and maybe you are the same. I have had to learn for myself (and also as a health professional) ways to get through winter with glowing health, not just surviving until the first sign of the Pohutukawa. Here are some quick nutrition + health tips to help you stay on top of your health this winter:

Plan your attack.
It’s pretty difficult to stick to a plan when you don’t have one. There are enough distractions in life to throw you off: chocolate around the office, last minute 5pm drinks, Saturday brunch. Why not plan your meals and at the same time, plan your exercise for the week? Sounds simple, but if you plan 100% + achieve 80% then you’ve just taken a big step towards a healthier you. I would suggest that is a pretty darn good reason to take the time to plan, purchase + make food ahead for the week.

Tighten up home + snacks.
I try to make sure that 80% of my food is as homemade, fresh + plant-based as I can. When I say that, I’m not trying to be pretentious. I just look in the fridge, figure out when I can get to the grocery store, start my meals with vegetables and build in protein, fat + flavour from there. This way, when I do go out for social food or drinks, it’s more of a treat because I haven’t allowed constant high energy foods + alcohol to become my norm. Be mindful where it matters.

Bulk up on Vitamin C, typical.
We think Vitamin C when we think ‘winter health.’ Well, Vitamin C is a powerful superhero. It can protect against immune system deficiencies (very important against attacking colds + viruses), at the same time Vitamin C can help heal wounds: we need this vitamin for growth and repair. Vitamin C cannot be stored in the body, hence the ongoing need for it in our diet. A powerful antioxidant that can protect your cells from ongoing damage. Vitamin C can support adrenal function by increasing your metabolic energy AND decrease elevated stress hormones. Not bad hey? Whilst eating those zesty little orange pills tastes awesome + reminds me of my childhood, one can EASILY get enough Vitamin C from the diet… Citrus fruit, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kiwifruit, capsicum. Smash these daily to get your kick.

garlicFirst factor: you won’t be getting many kisses if you follow this, meaning you won’t receive any of those nasty germs floating around. Not sure if that is a win or a loss actually. Second factor: allicin is a compound found in garlic that is found to have antiviral + antibacterial properties. Allicin also increases natural killer cells in the body that go around destroying pathogens. Garlic is a great defense to attacks on your immune system, especially when eaten raw. So that first factor might come into play even more so now…

Challenge yourself + also high five yourself.
The health you desire will not come overnight if you haven’t kept on top of it. And that’s okay. Start now. Have a goal or two. Maybe it’s a 4-8 week goal or one simple regime you will stick to. Maybe removal of a certain food for the addition of a healthful one. Applaud your achievements + get a supportive person to get alongside you. We have pretty full lives these days – busy is the new cool. But really, you will likely do so much better physically, financially, emotionally + socially if you take care of your body. Not selfishly, but so your wellness + strength is a tool.

Have a selection of HEALTHY comfort foods.
tomyumsoupThis is my favourite, probably because I just love food. I have a few comfort foods that I turn to that are nourishing, warm, tasty + filling. And they don’t drip with cheese, oil or sugar icing. Write your own list – here’s one of my winter favourites Tom Yum Soup, to get you started.

Don’t skip over this one! Even I am hesitant to write it because I do not want to be a hypocrite. Your liver does so much overtime work when you constantly pour alcohol through it. It draws water from other body systems to do so. Alcohol leaves you sluggish, tired + saps your vitality. I find this especially noticeable in winter when a few too many red wines by the heater take place. Nice temporarily, but I challenge you to take up the challenge of Dry July. You might find an upsurge in energy, an easier weight loss + more dollars left at the end of the month too.

I’ll do it if you do it.

Find movement you LOVE.
DR danceIn summer I love to swim, run, paddle board + frolic in the fields, but in winter I am more similar to a slothful bear. What happened? Outside becomes a lot less pleasant to be out in + our bodies are colder – they need more motivation to move (don’t insert the logical “but your body will warm up” answer here please). Nights come quicker, mornings brighten later. So for all these excuses, find a movement you love. I love dancing – an indoor activity! Barre, yoga, pilates, gyms, exercise classes + dance classes are EVERYWHERE. You can often just do a 3-month membership at many health clubs. Maybe you are still keen to run, but need the motivation: grab a friend to exercise with (there’s a cafe on every corner if you need a hot drink afterwards) or sign up for Run Squad with Stu Ross (no, I am not being paid to mention this!). We always think “let’s get fit for summer”, but why not stay fit all year round? Your mind + body will thank you. Dopamine + serotonin levels are increased with blood pumping exercise; don’t let winter depression beat you. I just did a 60min barre cardio workout. I wanted to die, my face was so red, but gosh I feel like I can sucker punch this day with a smile on my face.

These are just simple tips, but when you put them together they become a solid resource kit for you to keep well over the winter.



Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAt Wellness HQ we spend a lot of time thinking and talking about what ‘wellness’ means to us. And that’s a really big question. It covers what we put in our mouths, how we move our bodies, the thoughts we think, the work we do, how we treat other people… the list goes on and on. Because this list can be so exhaustive, making you question all sorts of things in your life that you consider normal, it’s easy to shy away from the big questions.

Instead, we justify the decision we make.
“I sit at a desk all day long, because that’s what I’m meant to do.”
“I don’t go to yoga because that’s just for flexible people.”
“I eat fast food because I don’t have time to cook.”

For me, wellness means starting small and manageable. There’s no and then getting unmotivated when it all gets too much.

stu-run-ironman2Just ask Stu. He didn’t wake up and decide he wanted to do an Ironman. He did some short distance triathlons, three 70.3 events (half Ironman races) then decided he wanted to take on the next step. By that stage he’d already built up a routine around his training; he already knew what the six weeks before a race felt like; he knew that he had the basic building blocks in place to take on the next challenge. Small and manageable then builds up to conquer things you didn’t know were possible.
I think that a great place to start is our plates.

The old saying, “you are what you eat” is so true. We use the food we eat to build new cells. So why not give yourself the healthiest building materials? But how do we know what is best? There are so many options out there – vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free, vegan, fasting, cleanses, high-fat-low-carb, no sugar, raw… All purporting to have the science behind nutrition down. They finally made the breakthrough and this time they really have got the understanding as to what to eat. Until the next round of ‘science’ comes out with the newest discovery.
I think just taking a step back, taking a deep breath and being conscious about what we’re eating is the perfect place to start though. Do you ever stop to read labels? To find out what’s actually in your food? To see what a portion size of your favourite snack really is? To see where your meat came from? To listen to your body to see when you’re actually full? For me personally, doing this means that I’m meat free and sometimes vegan. For Stu when he’s training, that means good protein and chocolate milk. Maybe for you, that means something completely different. But stopping to think about what you’re ingesting can only lead to being happier + healthier as you’ll be giving your body what it truly needs.


It hits me around 10:36am + 3:39pm. I look up from my screen or my eyes glaze over when I am talking with a client. A snack. Something. Anything. If I am not prepared I will usually end up dreaming of things my body thinks it needs: chocolate, crisps, doughnuts, highly fatty, salty, sugary + sweet things. Is snacking okay? Well firstly, even if it wasn’t, we would do it ANYWAY right?! So here are a few snippets of advice regarding snacking and how to do it so that it enhances, not depletes or overloads, your body.

doughnutWHY WE SNACK Our bodies are actually very well created to regulate and tell us when we are hungry and also tell us when we can stop because we are full. The brain reads the changes in levels of hormones and also nutrient levels in the blood. However, things that get in the way of eating what we actually need are habits, cravings, emotions, visuals (doughnuts are so shiny), stress, anxiety + convenience. I bet you nodded to each of these. Most of us need a bit of a snack between our general three meals and this may not be a problem. Snacking is useful. Actually, it can be great if it adds to nutrients into our body, stabilises our blood sugar levels and keeps us focused. It can control appetite, increase your metabolism + control body weight (NOTE: if it’s wholesome). If you are getting hungry and let it continue “hanger” (or “starvaguing” as I like to say) decision making surrounding food might be compromised + the temptation to grab anything highly salted/sweetened is much higher.   Snacking is less useful if it’s fuelling our cravings or filling our sedentary desk job bodies with unneeded sugar, fat or additives galore. These kinds of snacks spike your blood sugar + often bring the blood sugar plummeting down again afterwards, leaving you wanting more very soon. They also pack a lot of energy into your body. If you are not moving, then all that extra energy gets stored, aka FAT (not beating around the bush am I?).

WHOLESOME FOOD VS JUNK FOOD Simply this: If you want your body to run well, work awesome for you and give you energy – why would you put junk in it? Junk means “articles that are considered useless or of little value”. Maybe it is time start putting some things of value into our bodies. Don’t you agree?

CHOICES TO MAKE, PLANS TO CREATE The honest truth is that we choose those high fat/sugar/salt options because we know they taste nice and will make us feel good for 10, 20 or even 30 minutes. We justify it because we are busy, stressed and think there is no time for a ‘better’ option. It takes time to get it right when it comes to training yourself to FUEL so you can keep going, have energy + focus. But I believe the benefits will influence your vitality, mood, performance and weight.

almondsCOMBINING Macronutrients are fat, carbohydrate and protein. We need ALL of these in various quantities for optimal body function and weight.  Carbohydrates give us energy, proteins satiate us + build us, fats help with cravings + decrease hunger. They work better as a team. You may notice that if you grab for an apple, you’re quite hungry 30 minutes later. Combining an apple (a great carbohydrate) with a small handful of nuts or in a bowl of good yoghurt will sustain you much longer. Not only as it is more food but the fat + protein of the yoghurt layered with the carbohydrate of the apple help to satiate your appetite, give energy balance your blood sugar levels + can stop cravings. You also get a better nutrient density in a variety of macronutrients. I could eat chocolate all day every day, but I don’t crave it when I plan my meals + snacks well. When I am ill-planned or figure ‘I’ll just wait until dinner’, that is when I have no guilty conscience in slamming a chocolate bar (ahem, block)… Until after that is. Then everyone around hears my whining of how unhealthy + guilty I feel. Honestly. When will we learn? Junk is junk. Our bodies run well with REAL FOOD. They are designed to consume REAL FOOD. Our bodies malfunction with excess and processed junk. The essential key to being able to snack well is PLANNING! Yep, boring and not trendy. I might be speaking for myself, but I rarely make a wise food choice when I’m busy, stressed + on the run. However, if I planned my food prior, I’m awesome! It takes the pressure off me. Take the pressure off yourself + have a look at the following suggestions:

popcornDelicious snacks that are easily transportable.

1. Fresh pear/apple sliced with a few teaspoons of your favourite nut butter + why not sprinkle cinnamon or cocoa on top? (Carbohydrate + Protein + Fat).

2. Edamame beans, steamed with a sprinkle of salt or chilli. Can buy these powerful vegetarian protein plants frozen in most supermarkets (Protein + Trace Minerals).

3. Persimmons, kiwifruit + citrus are all in season (Carbohydrate, Fibre and Vitamin C). Grab 1-2 + 1 small handful of MIXED nuts – you get a greater variety of trace vitamins + minerals. Nuts are fabulous but you don’t need cupfuls. High good fat is still high fat. I would say a small handful is around 15 nuts.

4. Bowl mixed berries or cherries with a tsp of cocoa + a big glob of yoghurt is a perfect dessert.

5. Homemade rice paper rolls: fill ’em up with veggies, herbs, tofu or a favourite protein + a small pinch of noodles. Make a whole batch + they last in the fridge for a few days.

6. When you just need to stuff lots of savoury bites into your mouth but know buying crisps won’t make you feel awesome, why not make popcorn? Cheap + simple to do at home and stores well for days in a sealed container. I add 1 splash of sesame oil, a sprinkle of paprika, chilli, cumin + coriander. A few cups worth in my work bag are perfection when I need a moreish kick. And it’s a health-filled whole grain, instead of a trans fat-filled chippie. 

7. Grab a jar, put 2 spoonfuls of hummus, a sprinkle of sesame seeds + pre-cut veggie sticks sticking out. Twist the lid and off you go.

8. “Cup of Soup” not from Continentals but if you’ve made a pumpkin soup or veggie broth – why don’t you take thermos to work or reheat at 3pm? Much tastier than hot salty powdered mixes.

9. If you have access to a blender or Nutri-Bullet: 1 handful of spinach, ½ banana, some coconut water, ice + 1 small spoon of your choice of seeds is a beautiful smoothie option without excessive sugars (Iron, Potassium, Fibre, Fat and Totally Delicious).

10. An easy one for work: crack 2 eggs into a mug + microwave with some chilli + a few spinach leaves for a protein hit. So easy, cheap + tastes fab.

11. If you want my recipe for peanut butter truffles – contact me. Sweet salty kick.

12. Try a milk-based hot drink from spices, cocoa or turmeric. Comforting + warming.

For more information, snack ideas or recipes: please contact Bess at Tailored Nutrition.


IMG_0243When I read a health article or a recipe blog, I want to know something about the writer. That maybe they don’t always live this blissful, perfect, food-focused life; that there is more to them than mountain top experiences. I am sure there is… but sometimes I think, “Far out, I cannot even manage my time and make a piece of toast for breakfast let alone photograph, post + scribe poetry about my gluten free kale granola with vegan activated buckwheat milk from Panama.” So I thought it was worthwhile sharing a little about myself so that I seem like a real person that has a past, present and hopefully exciting future. And by the way, I do like buckwheat and would probably love Panama.

I’m an Australian born and bred Nutritionist who loves her home in Melbourne and the people that make it just that: home. I’m also very happy with my Kiwi husband working in a private health clinic on the North Shore in Auckland. I grew up dancing which influenced my mindset for food/nutrition quite negatively before it became positive. The industry mostly calls for skinny and if this is not your natural physique, don’t eat until you get there! It was actually when I stopped a full on dance regime and finished University that the unhealthy mindset became action, as opposed to just the negative thoughts. A few health complications took hold and I realised skinny did not equal healthy. Thankfully love and good, patient people jumped in. Mum taught me to cook and to love experimenting with food, which turned me into a foodie before I stop myself. I adore being in the kitchen with a killer recipe and delicious ingredients.

thai foodThis was pre-New Zealand. I studied both an exercise science degree and postgraduate nutrition studies in Melbourne, I danced a whole bunch, worked at numerous cafes/organic stores, taught food education in primary schools and wondered, what does one do with all this? Well, one from my generation goes abroad, don’t they? Yes. And sometimes, it is insanely life-changing. I had the opportunity to go to Northern Thailand and work for Destiny Rescue, a Christian NGO who rescue children from sex- trafficking. I started up a café for this organisation + trained young rescued girls in hospitality skills, confident customer service, both English and Thai cooking as well as language while running a full six day a week, 7am-11pm operation with them. I taught some dancing on the side as well.  It was so much more than I could have ever expected. I was challenged out of my boots, not just over there to use some skills and help some cute kids. These girls became my life whether I had wanted them to or not. I became the big sister, boss, youth worker and gave my all trying to help these kids on their journey forwards from pretty dire + traumatic situations. Tiny girls with huge pasts + presents. You kind of get over yourself when you spend time with amazing people who have not known the education, comfort, security, wealth, opportunity, love and health that you have. It is remarkably humbling. The only thing more humbling is how quickly you revert back into a Western mindset “I can’t believe the organic store no longer stocks my favourite almond butter”. We can be so ridiculous sometimes, can’t we? There is nothing wrong with almond butter, but maybe we need to get some perspective sometimes. Thailand is a stunning backdrop for all its harsh undercurrents. The vibrant food markets, the chillis, the food! The girls taught me a thing or two in the kitchen and I taught them a thing or two in return. I realised the therapy in cooking + being able to create. I think it was pretty big healing for these tiny Thais and for small-to-medium Bess too.

limesthaimarketFast forward about 2-3 years and here I am. Living on the North Shore, I miss many things in other parts of the world but adore the ocean so close to my front door, the freshness of the fish my husband has been catching off his paddleboard and the hike-able hills all around. I enjoy working as a Nutritionist as I get to see people from all walks of life with all sorts of needs! Nutrition is one part of the whole deal. A perfect diet will fail if your body never moves or your mind never stops. You are much more useful if all of you is working optimally. I am passionate about food education: from primary aged kids learning to enjoy broccoli, to adults who want to prioritise cooking a meal for the family. It’s awesome. In an age of immediate and convenience, learning to take time with our food makes it taste better and feel better.

As a Nutritionist, I guess I should give some advice?! My wellness advice is, don’t be pretentious about your health + food, be real about it. Embrace it, look after it and enjoy it. But remember that there is more to life than the latest trainers + food trend. There’s a big wide world out there that might just be better off if you add to it with your time, heart, healthy choices and your blessed circumstances. Until next time, here’s a yummy and simple Thai dish for you to make.



No one enjoys being challenged in the area of excess do they!? I’m sorry to say I might be adding to the cacophony, however, do take your time to read on as it may explain some missing energy + vitality in your life.

The following are some honest facts about our internal powerhouse, the liver. And just before you roll your eyes at the healthy kid who probably has never overindulged in her life (incorrect judgement!), I’ve had liver inflammation/damage that has caused me to become a little bit serious about the following.

So here we go…

The Liver. What does it do?lemon-detox-diet

Your liver is one of your most important organs as it has a support role in each system inside you (digestion, hormone production, etc). It filters everything that we eat, drink and inhale and can convert all this energy into a storage form (glycogen) for later use. It’s a great system. And it can cope with a lot of what we throw at it. You definitely don’t need to subscribe to any special well-marketed detox magic diets, your liver can do all the detoxing that your body needs!

Makes sense that we should put useful things through the liver system as opposed to detrimental things yes? So how…

How we hurt it

The liver works pretty darn hard and is quite easy to clog. The stresses that we put into it don’t help, these even include environmental stresses such as pollutants + toxins. Another article for another day (and not by me!), but it is suggested that the toxic cigarettes that we still see around us might not just be affecting the lungs.

Psychological stress is a biggie, more and more research regarding stress impacts show direct relations between psychological stress + “hepatic disease” or, liver problems. In the brain’s ‘liver’ control area, stress can impair blood flow to the liver (not ideal) + subsequently the workload placed on the liver. Stress also produces cortisol + adrenaline and this causes the liver to release glucose into the bloodstream, spiking blood glucose levels. Basically, you are not fighting ninjas or running from prehistoric wildlife, you are likely sitting at your work desk with body systems working at 200%.

Another huge impactor on liver health is indeed, our favourite fermented friend, alcohol. The annoying truth is that it’s toxic for our body, so it gets sent straight to the detox room, the liver. The liver can cope with a small amount of alcohol. However, only a small amount at any given time. So if you drink more than the liver can deal with, drink too regularly or too quickly your liver cells struggle to process it. AND they put other jobs, such as detoxing + filtering EVERYTHING ELSE that enters your body, on the backburner.

Hmmmm.. Are you struggling with never-ending lethargy? Sluggish feelings? Hormonal mood swings? Weight gain? Tenderness near your stomach/chest? Plus alcohol is a diuretic, dehydrating us. It forces the liver to get water from elsewhere – generally another body system. Having headaches? Regular issues with constipation? I’m suggesting that if alcohol (alongside stress + caffeine excess) might be causing great pressure on one of your most important organs.

I haven’t even mentioned processed + high trans fats foods yet… I’ll leave you to mull over this information before overloading you with that!

How we heal it

Like most living things, being well looked after is the best way to heal + strengthen the liver. Your lovely liver is vital for your well-being.

Stressed? Maybe it’s time to decrease the coffee (an adrenaline promotor!) and get some herbal teas and fresh water through your body. Perhaps a new hobby in 2016? Perhaps it’s time to add some yoga, stretching, swimming, deep breathing + REST to your life. Mental + physical rest please my friends!

Maybe drinking too much? Moderate alcohol is essential for your liver health. I recommend less than 4 nights per week that have alcohol in them and no more than 4 standard drinks in one session. Maybe 2016 is the time to break some habits.

Liver Loving foods

The best way to look after this guy is to feed it properly, with real foods. Here’s some to get you started:
– Beets + green tea both have antioxidants + increase efficient liver function.
– Avocados have properties that help the filtering process in the liver.
– Lemons + grapefruit are awesome for vitamin C, a powerful vitamin in liver health. Grapefruit can also help to flush carcinogens from the liver system.
– Leafy greens, walnuts, garlic + turmeric are all foods with detoxing, cleansing + support roles in the function of your liver.

Take a moment to consider the health of your liver, keep it happy + healthy and you’ll find it does the same for you.


bess-kirkpatrick-mason I feel sympathy for the old carbohydrates. They are so badly reputed that they often get put into the ‘cannot’ category before they can even defend themselves. Believe me, I’ve had my fearful days, months – years, perhaps – about carbohydrates. It’s taken time and research to help me understand how to utilise carbohydrates as fuel for my body. But I would like to share some truths that may be fresh and encouraging information. Dare I say it? Whole intact grains, tubers, legumes, rice and even potatoes are all foods that I now eat more regularly, and enjoy more than ever before. My health and vitality are better for it. Truly, with more words to spare I could share my personal account! Carbohydrates, in a nutshell (or should I say in a wheat husk), are the most efficient source of energy for your human body. Your body breaks carbohydrates down into glucose (blood sugar) and your body NEEDS this glucose for energy for your organs, your tissues, your cells. This is so important to remember: It is impossible to survive without (the right amount of) glucose in your blood and in each body cell! To make carbohydrates, plants trap the sun’s energy inside molecules of glucose. When you eat plants, your digestive system breaks the carbohydrate back down into glucose, which travels through your bloodstream into your cells. The cells then process this glucose, releasing the captured energy and to use for fuel. What lovely efficiency! For those of you who have a fear of carbohydrates, think of it this way: you’re eating sunshine! In essence, this is the sun’s energy in a form we can eat. Oh, bless. Ponder this, especially if the word ‘carbohydrate’ strikes fear into your very soul… ALL PLANTS are carbohydrate sources. YES, ALL. This means that an extremely low-carb or a no-carb diet means an extremely low- or no- plant diet. And I hope that the majority of our readers esteem whole, plant-based eating. A thought or two further: a serve of our much-loved kumara contains more carbohydrates than the humble potato, as well as more than 2 slices of wholemeal bread. This information is not intended to make you tremble, but to embrace the Kiwi favourite (and all root vegetables) in a balanced amount. Stoke your digestive fire, friends. Whole wheat, rye and barley are gorgeous pre-biotic foods that increase good gut bacteria. The very serious issues of coeliac disease aside, grains (many of which are gluten-free) are nutritional powerhouses with their vitamins, mineral, fibres and even proteins! Let me be clear; I am the last person in the world to recommend highly processed carbohydrates. There are many imposters that give good carbohydrates a bad name. For example – white refined flours, sugars, lists of preservatives that no-one can pronounce, are all highly refined carbohydrates with very minimal intact nutrients. These are a tremendous force leading to epidemic obesity, chronic disease and decreased quality of life. I love good fats; I love quality protein; I don’t eat a high carbohydrate diet; I eat moderate amounts to fuel my body optimally. Close-up of buckwheat noodles with aubergine, beans and sesame So, what next? Firstly, let’s stop going nutty when we hear ‘carbohydrates’. They will not kill you! Instead, eaten appropriately, they can boost your energy, sustain your focus, increase digestive health and give you a greater appreciation for the wide variety of beautiful whole foods available to us. I feel saddened by diets that remove food groups from the mainframe of a person’s intake. No food group is wholly bad. It’s how we achieve balance. Imagine the fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and the plethora of good food from this earth you are avoiding that can truly be great fuel for your body. Pointers for Carb-Appreciation: – Beautiful sustaining whole grains and complex carbohydrates are great energy sources: explore them! – Prioritise the real and untainted options. For example, your body doesn’t need 10 pieces of commercial white bread in a day. Maybe it does need a few slices of homemade wholemeal bread, though. (Try to make some! It’s a fun and creative way to get yourself back in the kitchen!) – Eat carbohydrates at each meal. Steel-cut oats for breakfast with fresh berries and coconut yoghurt! Wild rice salad with Asian greens, chilli and poached chicken for lunch! Or perhaps baked kumara at dinnertime with some white fish and greens. – Eat slowly, and allow your body to digest what you have fed it. – Move and utilise your fuel! We weren’t made to be sedentary beings. Fuel well to move well! – Mindfulness, balance, variety and joy are the perfect blend that will sustain and optimise your energy. Be balanced, not scared! Till next time, Bess x
  • I am happy to discuss quantities further, as well as carbohydrates for individuals with coeliac disease and for different lifestyles. We all have a different body to fuel and so I have not given average quantities for this reason.
  • Carbohydrates and food security: a quick note for those concerned with food sustainability and looking after our earth. The environment cannot keep up with grain-free demands. A worthy conversation. If this spikes your interest, please feel free to contact me!

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