F45 Challenge 26: How to stay on track with the fail-safe F45 Meal Plan

Challenge 26 kicks off today and though it looks vastly different to what we have seen before (hello home workouts!) the cornerstone meal plan remains the same.

In 2019, Dave and I ‘participated’ in two challenges at our studio, F45 Massey. We basically signed up for the scans to establish benchmarks against which to measure our progress through exercise/class attendance alone. Those who know me will already be aware of how life-changing joining F45 Massey has been for me, so my final scans after each of last years 8-week challenges were always positive and moving in the right direction.

After seeing the epic results my training buddies had achieved by following the F45 Meal Plan, I swore to go all-in during Challenge 25 and combine my regular classes with the nutrition programme developed by F45.

Though we have been unable to complete our final scans at this point (NZ is on Level 4 lockdown due to Covid-19) Dave and I completed the 8 Week challenge and were able to commit 100% to the F45 Meal Plan – something I never expected us to be able to maintain. Our results, though unofficial, are bloody amazing! I had exceeded my body fat loss goal by the halfway mark and smashed my weight loss goal soon after. Dave didn’t do a half-way scan but he is coming up to 10kg lost and who knows what his body fat loss will end up at. We both feel amazing and LOVE this way of eating.

So, we’ve definitely learnt a thing or two over the past 3 months about how to make the F45 Meal Plan work for us, and we’ve done it together every step of the way. Something that has definitely helped on those tough days when motivation has been lagging!

F45 Meal Plan: How to Stay on Track

  1. Print out the weekly Meal Calendar and stick it on your fridge.
    But don’t stop there! Actually look at it, check out the proteins you need each day and get prepared. Does it make sense to switch some lunches around so your chicken meals are grouped together meaning you can cook in bulk? Dave and I like to bbq a bunch of chicken breast so it’s cooked and ready to use across a couple of meals.
  2. Do your shopping.
    Not going to lie. This takes a while. As the male/female dietary requirements are slightly different, I print a shopping list for each of us, then jot down the total amount required on one of the lists. Then I sit down and do an online shop, adding in extras for the kids. For example, if Dave and I need 1.7kg of chicken breast for the week, I’ll round this up to 2.5kg then the kids can eat the same protein we are having for dinner each night.
    Obviously, due to Coronavirus, online shopping is not an option for many of us so, mates, you’re going to have to suck it up and hit the aisles. If you’re having trouble finding any slightly obscure items, keep it simple. Can’t find freekeh, switch it to brown rice or quinoa etc. If you are having trouble sourcing ingredients go straight to The Source who are cleared for online shopping!
  3. Make it work for you.
    Go back to point #1. LOOK at the meal calendar and adjust if necessary. I don’t like pork so I’m not going to eat it simply because that’s what’s scheduled for Thursday night. I’ll generally cook the recommended meal but switch out the pork for chicken. This comes back to being prepared. Surprises will throw you, so preempt what you are going to need the day before.
  4. Portion your meat for the week.
    It’s much easier and less admin if you divide up your protein when you get home from the store into meals for the week. Even if you don’t cook ahead, it saves on waste and time to have pre-portioned and labelled containers or sandwich bags in the fridge or freezer. Just defrost and pop them out when you are ready to cook.
  5. Make your snacks FIRST!
    Snacking is a mental game guys. You’ve got to have your ammo ready. The snack recipes in the F45 Challenge Meal Plan are bloody delicious so get into them! Don’t be afraid to keep whipping up your faves either. You’ll find the meals and snacks are formulated with roughly the same calories each day, so if you’re a creature of habit like me, keep rolling out those bliss balls each week if that’s what works for you!
  6. Find an easy, emergency meal that can be your go-to.
    Some days just don’t go to plan but that doesn’t mean you have to cheat. There are heaps of recipes, particularly lunches, which don’t require a lot of cooking, or any! Our fave is the Tuna and Beetroot Bowl. 5 minutes to throw together, it’s HUGE and basically comes out of cans! Don’t give yourself an excuse to fall off the wagon.
  7. Drink your water!
    If you’re thirsty drink. If you’re hungry drink. Get your 2l in per day and you’re going to get through the first 2 weeks feeling good. I’m not a sipper so it’s easier for me to keep a 500ml glass on the bench and simply scull a glass four times a day. Figure out what works for you and stick to it.
  8. Ditch the wine and high-calorie beer.
    This challenge is all about making better choices, so if you like to enjoy a drink, do some research. Maybe try a low alcohol wine, or switch to an RTD such as Pals or Sero which contain natural ingredients and are very low calorie. Dave has ditched the craft beers for Pure Blonde which has a massive impact on those calories going in.
  9. Enjoy the process.
    I’ve found that being so hands-on in the preparation of every meal has meant that I’m massively invested in both the process and the challenge. This is a whole-food based diet. It’s fresh, delicious, nutritious and filling and it’s really satisfying sticking to the process when it’s SO bloody good for you!
  10. Expect to spend more time in the kitchen.
    Abs actually ARE made in the kitchen. I have learnt this to be true over the past 3 months lol. You are going to be spending more time than ever cooking and washing dishes. Factor this into your day or week and roll with it. The results will be worth it!

Leave a comment below if you have any questions, I’m always happy to help with the organisation side of meal-planning if I can. I’m no nutritionist obviously – that’s why I need a meal plan that works!

The best advice I can give is to stay the course and COMMIT to the meal plan. It’s a no-brainer, everything is figured out for you and it will work alongside your F45 classes to absolutely smash your challenge goals.

Good luck Challengers!

Cook, Eat – Vegetable Frittata Bake

Lockdown times are HEAVY am I right?

I hate food waste on any normal day but, when it’s literally dangerous to go to the store and a massive time suck (hello queuing for the supermarket) my food-waste policy kicks into overdrive.

We had a few courgettes (zucchini) that we needed to use asap and there was a Zucchini Slice recipe on our F45 maintenance menu for the week so, I decided to zhuzh it up and see what happened.

What happened was GOOD and it ticked the boxes for a good fridge clear out which makes me SO happy! So here’s the recipe, give it a go and mod as much as you want as I think it’s pretty forgiving.

Vegetable Frittata Bake Recipe

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium grated courgette
  • 2 medium capsicum, red and green, diced
  • 60g broccoli/cauliflower, broken up into small florets
  • 50g mushrooms diced
  • 100g shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 250ml liquid egg whites (or add 4 more eggs)
  • 50g flour
  • 50g alternative four, I used rice flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a baking dish with baking paper.
  2. Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and mix until well-combined.
  3. Pour into the baking dish and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until cooked through.
  4. Serves four as a standalone dish or divide into smaller portions if serving with a salad and sides.

Cook, Eat – Beef Brisket Sliders Recipe

Let’s get feast-ive! Here’s an easy to prep recipe for Beef Brisket Sliders that can slow-cook while you’re at work and will wow even the most hard to please Ladies-a-Plate aficionados.

Silver Fern Farms new cut, Beef Brisket is the star of these picture-perfect sliders, which can be assembled in 5 minutes and make a great family dinner as well as a delicious dish to share this holiday season.

Ingredients

Silver Fern Farms Beef Brisket 500g

Approx 10 Slider buns

3 tbsp paprika

1.5 tsp ground black pepper

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp Pepper & Me Man Grind

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp ground cumin

¾ cup BBQ sauce

½ cup chicken stock

1 tbsp worcestshire sauce

1 onion sliced

Method:

Mix dry ingredients then cover brisket in rub, wrap tightly in clingfilm and rest in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes – best to leave overnight.

Add sauce ingredients to slow cooker, stir to combine.

Add brisket on top of sauce. Cover with sliced onions.

Cook on high for 6 hours.

Taste sauce prior to serving as it can be rich! Remove from sauce and rest for 10 minutes before slicing or shredding, dressing with sauce to taste.

Stack up your sliders with whatever yummy combos float your boat! We used mayo, avo, red onion and Japanese slaw garnished with pickle and cherry tomato.

Enjoy!

Beef Brisket Sliders Recipe
Beef Brisket Sliders Recipe
Beef Brisket Sliders Recipe

Cook, Eat: The BEST Country Chicken Pie Recipe – Ever!

The seasonal rain hasn’t yet arrived here in New Zealand but there’s no denying that Winter is here. We are currently enjoying bluebird days but the temps aren’t playing around – she’s cold mate!

Along with buying too many jackets and woollen socks (my winter fashion weaknesses!), when the days get shorter I love, love spending time in the kitchen and cooking some classic, hearty meals. Rich gravies and casseroles, slow-cooked, large cuts of meat and traditional kiwi-comfort food like this beautiful chicken pie form the menu for our family over the winter months.

The original Chicken Pie recipe was shared with me by Stevens, I have adapted it a tiny bit to suit our tastes. The gorgeous stoneware casserole dish I used (kindly gifted) is from their Winter Cooking range – shop Oslo Casserole Dish – and as at time of publication is 50% off!

The BEST Country Chicken Pie Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 x pre-rolled sheets of puff pastry, big enough to cover your dish
  • 1 free-range egg beaten
  • 75g butter
  • Olive oil
  • 750g chicken breast chopped into 3cm chunks
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 300g carrots chopped
  • 15 button mushrooms sliced
  • 130g fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp crème fraiche
  • 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • Salt and pepper

First, cook the vegetables – melt half the butter with a tbsp of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the carrots and onions, and sauté until softened. Add the mushrooms and cook until the water evaporates, and they begin to brown on the edges. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the chicken to the pan and brown slightly. Next, add one cup of the chicken stock and return the vegetables to the pan. Simmer for around 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Spray the Oslo Casserole Dish with oil and line with the first pastry sheet. Remove the chicken and veggies from the pan and place this in the base of your pie dish, reserving the cooking stock in a bowl. Melt the rest of the butter with a dash of olive oil in the pan and sprinkle in the flour stirring gently to brown it slightly. Add the mustard and then the reserved and extra stock, stirring all the time to thicken. Finally, stir through the crème fresh and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir the spinach leaves through the hot sauce to wilt them, then pour the spinach mustard sauce over the chicken and vegetables, stir gently to combine.

Preheat oven 200°C fan bake.

Lay the second pastry sheet over the filling and using a fork go around the dish edges to seal. With a sharp knife cut two to three steam holes in the top.

Brush the pastry surface with beaten egg and bake for around 25 minutes or when the pastry is golden and crisp.

Serve warm with a green salad on the side.

Say Goodbye to Dinner Dilemmas – HelloFresh 2 Month Review

I’m a firm believer that meal kits are one of the greatest, most convenient marvels of modern living – at least for parents lol – we are hooked! However, choosing between the various subscription box options we now have in New Zealand can be a bit daunting. Our family has tried 90% of them but after purchasing HelloFresh since September it’s time to dish!

Before I get into it, HelloFresh have hooked you guys up with a discount code so you too can experience the convenience, variety and peace of mind that this awesome service had brought to our dinner table! For $35 off your first HelloFresh order, CLICK HERE – I can’t recommend it ENOUGH guys so give it a whirl!

Dinner doesn’t get any more convenient than this

I really can’t emphasise this enough. Our delivery arrives on a Monday, ready for the week ahead. Because we are not meal planning each week and shopping for dinner is excluded from our weekly shop, we are saving time (and stress) in other areas of our life – not just at 5pm every day when the “what’s for dinner/I forgot to get the meat out!” panic kicks in.

One point of difference between HelloFresh and its competitors that Dave and I LOVE is the colour coded paper bag system. Everything you need for each meal (except the chilled ingredients) is in ONE recyclable paper bag, saving time 2 ways;
I don’t have to unpack 5 meals worth of ingredients when our delivery arrives, I just pop the bags straight in the fridge.
Secondly, when it’s time to cook, I don’t have to refer to the recipe card and collect all the ingredients needed for the meal – everything is in the bag! Love it.Variety is the key to happy mealtimes in our house

Variety is the key to happy mealtimes in our house

Those of us who are responsible for preparing dinner for either ourselves or others have our go-to meals that pop up again and again, week after week – inspo is hard to come by at 5pm when everything is happening at once right? Guys, there is no need to exaggerate how amazing it is to flick through the HelloFresh recipes each week and literally be so stoked at the variety that you can’t decide which meal to make first. Not even joking.

The kids LOVE it!

I’m loving saying goodbye to second-guessing whether the meals arriving each week via a subscription service will be liked by the kids. If you’re a Classic or Family Box customer, it’s super easy to jump onto the HelloFresh site or the app and switch out recipes if they’re not quite right for you. The boys are also loving HelloFresh as the recipes are perfectly suited to family meals. In Mum-Speak, I’m not having to recreate every dinner to suit the tastes of our finicky five-year-old and stubborn teenager.

Rediscover the joy of cooking!

Our HelloFresh subscription has incidentally removed any barriers (real or perceived lol) that had been preventing Ethan (our 14yo) from getting more involved at mealtimes. He loves to cook, but stress levels in our kitchen around dinner time often mean that Dave and I don’t have the capacity to guide him through dinner prep or cooking. The HelloFresh recipe cards provide step by step instructions complete with photographs, that allow E to get started on dinner prep when he can and jump in and assist us on those busy days when another hand in the kitchen is always welcomed.  

My Recommendation…..

All in all, we are loving HelloFresh – can you tell?! Cooking, eating and sharing meals together as a family has chilled out so much over the past couple of months since HelloFresh arrived in NZ and in our kitchen – I can’t imagine life without it anymore. The service and quality of ingredients are outstanding considering how well priced the deliveries are and don’t forget, I’ve got a code to share which makes it even better value!

Try HelloFresh for yourself and you’ll definitely see what I’m talking about. Don’t forget to use the code BESTNEST for $35 off your first order and find a little more time in your day and out of your kitchen!

Easy Southland Cheese Roll Recipe

Get creative in the kitchen and recreate a classic Kiwi recipe using Best Foods Mayonnaise and you could be in to win $5000 with the Best Kiwi Recipe Challenge!  Hurry, competition closes 4/9/18.  Entry details HERE


I’d heard tales of the mythical Southland Cheese Roll, but as an Aucklander born and raised, I’d never seen one in the wild let alone tasted one.  

I was intrigued but also puzzled.  If you wanted to eat cheese and bread why not make a sandwich or a toastie?  These cheese rolls seemed like a lot of work for the combination of seemingly ‘simple’ ingredients rolled up in a piece of white bread! 

But then, enlightenment hit.  We visited a small cafe in Arrowtown and laid eyes upon a pre-made stack of cheese rolls and it was crunchy, gooey, carb + cheesey love at first bite.

Recreating a classic Kiwi recipe with the addition of our family’s favourite condiment EVER, Best Food’s Mayonaise, sounded fun, delicious and pretty much de rigueur at our house – Best Foods on everything, please.  I also knew exactly which Kiwi staple I was going to tackle for my collab – the infamous, region-specific, Cheese Roll.

So here’s the recipe guys.  We love it.  It’s been tradie tested, teenager tested, after-rugby tested, lunch and afternoon tea tested and I think she’s a beauty.

Enjoy!

Southland Cheese Roll Recipe

Ingredients

1/2 Red onion, finely diced

1/2 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup Best Foods Mayonnaise

250g grated cheese

1 packet of dried onion soup

1/2 tsp mustard powder

1 loaf sandwich sliced white bread

Butter to serve

Method

Preheat oven to 200°.

Combine all ingredients (except bread and butter) in a food processor and pulse until onion is finely diced and ingredients are well combined.

Roll out sandwich sliced bread even thinner, then spread one tablespoon of cheese mixture along an edge.

Roll into thirds and place on a lined baking tray, join down.  Pop in the oven for around 10 minutes until they are starting to crisp, but are still a little soft in the middle.  You should definitely see some oozing cheese!

Serve with a swipe of real butter and enjoy while warm.

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Home Decor Cheese Rolls Recipe NZ

 

Food to Share: The BEST Prawn Taco Recipe

Prawns are an ingredient that I think we shy away from a lot here in New Zealand, in fact, I don’t think I’d ever actually eaten one until I was well ensconced in my 6 year ‘OE’ in the states.  After living in both Florida and San Deigo where ‘shrimp’ are a dietary staple I’ve definitely come around to the fact that these bite-sized beauties are a perfect inclusion into many kiwi faves from summery salads to pizza and pasta.  They’ve got to be one of the most low-fuss, easy proteins to cook, which makes them even more attractive in my book.

Prawns, shrimp, whatever you call them, also pair beautifully with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc – incidentally, my favourite varietal, as well as the rest of the country – yes, it’s official, kiwi sav is our nations favourite wine variety!  I’m all about discovering and celebrating our wonderful local winemakers, so, after finding my own new fave in Peter Yealands Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2017, I decided to get creative in the kitchen. 

Taking my cues from the winemakers tasting note (I’m NOT a wine connoisseur btw, more like a devoted fangirl!), marrying the citrus aromas and finish of the Reserve Sauvignon Blanc with lemon, lime, garlic and seafood seemed a no-brainer.  The result?  A bloody cracker of a dish that’s so easy to prepare I cooked it on holiday in a minimally equipped AirBNB kitchen.

It’s International Sauvignon Blanc Day on May 4th so why not add some prawns to the grocery list this week and see what you think of my wine pairing.  There’s also a super fun comp running right now to celebrate our love of Sauv!

To enter; create a dish that you think pairs well with Sauvignon Blanc, upload your photo here, share with friends using the #ExpressYourSauv hashtag and tagging @Yealands and you’re in to win!  
New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Prawn Shrimp Tacos Recipe
Lemon Garlic Prawn Tacos Recipe

Ingredients

500g raw prawns, tails removed
2 tbsp butter
3 chopped garlic cloves
1 tsp brown sugar
Salt n Pepper to taste
Juice of one lemon
Juice of one lime

To serve

Corn tortillas
Undressed coleslaw
Chopped tomatoes
Chopped coriander
Chopped red onion
Spicy sauce (mix sriracha or taco seasoning with aioli to taste)
Lemon/lime wedges

Method

  • Melt butter in pan, saute chopped garlic over medium heat for a couple of minutes max.
  • Remove from heat and pour butter and garlic over prawns.  Add juice of lemon and lime, stir in sugar and salt and pepper.  Toss to coat prawns and add mixture to pan.  Cook quickly over medium/high heat until prawns are pink and getting some good colour on them.  Remove from heat.
  • Heat corn tortillas in a stack wrapped in foil in the oven, microwave for around 20 seconds, or sprinkle with water and warm in a clean pan.  Don’t skip this step as corn tortillas are more brittle than flour and will crack and rip when folded cold.
  • Layer tortilla with coleslaw, prawns, tomato, onion and coriander.  Serve with spicy aioli and a squeeze of lemon or lime.

Pairs perfectly with Peter Yealands Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2017.

Enjoy!
This post was a collaboration with Yealands Family Wines.

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Prawn Shrimp Tacos Recipe

PIN ME!

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Prawn Shrimp Tacos Recipe

Creating a Healthful Morning Routine

I’ve been working hard on improving my morning routine over the summer and I’m happy to share it with you in conjunction with Harraway’s new Oat-activ® range.


As we welcome autumn in New Zealand, we are well past the heady, New Year’s enthusiasm of resolutions, good intentions and well-meaning but (perhaps expensive?) ‘motivational’ purchases of workout gear, gym memberships and fitspo apps. Taking stock of which habits have ‘stuck’ over the summer months and which ones can be filed as a ‘flash-in-the-pan’ exercise is an excellent way to move into the season ahead and clear out mental clutter (and any associated guilt lol).

So how do you introduce positive life changes and healthy habits in a way that will ‘stick’?

I have NO idea.

Literally, I got nothing for ya lol.

What I do know is that I’m a 38 year old work-in-progress, constantly battling age, injury – and my old mates’ white toast bread and wine! Dividing my day into morning, afternoon and evenings has helped tackle the massive ‘overwhelm’ that is often associated with implementing any kind of lifestyle change. Putting some thought into small, positive changes I can make to my routine (or lack thereof) across the day has given me the headspace to realise what’s important at various key times, and how awareness leads to positive, lasting change.

My Healthful Morning Routine

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Breakfast Oats

Starting your day off right and figuring out how to do this is a goal across the board I’m guessing? Though this is going to look vastly different for everyone, I’ve found a couple of key tweaks and behaviour mods that have had a lasting impact on my mood, wellbeing and productivity throughout the day.

  • A great day actually begins the night before. Saying no to another episode on Netflix and spending time on a bed-time routine to actively unwind from the day improves my sleep immeasurably.
    What does this actually look like? For me that means TV off and device down at 9.30pm, 500ml of water + magnesium and vitamins, time spent removing makeup (mentally washing the day off), treating my skin with a night serum or cream, brushing my teeth, reading or a sudoku puzzle.
  • Rising early. Getting out of bed has never come easily to me I’ll admit, but over the past 4 months, I’ve discovered that initiating an earlier wake-up time using my phone and Fitbit alarms is paying dividends. I’ve got some mental space to myself before the boys wake-up, an extra 30 minutes does wonders for my productivity and waking of my own volition as opposed to a body slam to the head via Nixon works wonders on my mood! 
  • Getting breakfast right. Sometimes the wheels fall off throughout the day so starting as you mean to continue is an invaluable mental tool. I’ve long been a fan of oats for breakfast, they are delicious, satisfying, inexpensive and easy to prep. The latest oats to hit shelves, Harraway’s Oat-activ® range, can also add cholesterol reducing to their impressive list of health benefits with the combo of added LDL reducing plant sterol + the beta-glucan found in oats. Cholesterol is important to our cells but too much LDL, low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. Harraways Oat-activ® hits bad LDL cholesterol with a plant-based ‘double-action’ attack; beta-glucan forms a gel in the digestive tract, binding to excess LDL, blocking the re-absorption of bile acids and removing the mixture as well, while phytosterols extracted from plants are added to the Oat-activ® range in powder form get to work preventing absorption of LDL in the intestines. Busy brekkie is an understatement, right?
    Why stop at breakfast? We’re all privy to a little afternoon nibble, so I like to keep Harraways  Oat-activ® on hand for a convenient, nourishing snack or smoothie booster. For the best results, it’s recommended that you have two Harraways Oat-activ® sachets per day to lower your cholesterol*, so it’s a win-win in my book.
  • Water before coffee – ALWAYS.  My morning coffee is one part of my morning ritual I really look forward to but two tweaks I adhere to now are; 500ml of water before I even lift my coffee mug! Non-negotiable. Plus, I’ve never been a fan of milk so passing on the flat white and saying yes to a long black is now routine and I feel much better for it. 
  • Get outside in the am.  Natural light is the cornerstone of our daily rhythms and contributes massively to our physical and mental wellbeing. Late last year, after a couple of weeks of walking every morning, I noticed how amazing I felt – physically, mentally and emotionally. I was energised (sunlight triggers cortisol), I was happy, my anxiety had disappeared (serotonin stimulation lifts our moods), productivity was up and I was sleeping like a babe as exposure to sunlight was suppressing melatonin expression until I needed it in the evenings. Winning all round!

So that’s what’s working for me so far in 2018.  Five little steps that are easily accessible, require zero subscriptions or outside influence and combined, result in an easy, healthful morning routine that sets me up for the days of working and parenting.

Available in selected Pak N Save & New World supermarkets now in oat singles packs, Harraways Oat-activ® is available in Original or Original with Cranberry flavours. Find out more about the healthful benefits of Oat-activ® here.

*As part of your daily intake of 3g beta-glucan or 2g of plant sterols.

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Breakfast Oats

This post was sponsored by Harraways Oat-activ®

Parenting and Ice Cream: When simple things are the best remedy

I inadvertently taught myself a good lesson this week;  despite my best intentions not to work on Monday’s as Nix is home from kindy, I found myself a participant in a continuous string of phone calls for over an hour, whilst I madly multi-tasked, wrote a difficult email I’d been dreading and stressed about the next deadline.

This was not how my summery Monday’s with Nix were supposed to go, in fact, where DID my summery Monday’s with Nix go?

IT’S AUTUMN!!!

Not to worry, antipodean New Zealand weather patterns say NO to seasonal conformity and say YES to 28° in the first week of March.

Hallelujah.

In need of an instant Monday-itis remedy I told Nix to ‘load up’, we were off to eat ice cream by the river.  

“No, you don’t have to get changed” – he was wet from water play at home.

“No, you don’t have to wear shoes” – we live in New Zealand!

“Yes, you can pick any flavour you like” – even though you are a creature of habit little darling and choose the same flavour every time.

Overseas travel forgotten, birthday parties agonised over…….a nondescript Monday afternoon had become my four-year-olds Best Day EVER.

The simplicity of a memory made, for the cost of a Jelly Tip and a Popsicle, was a lesson for me in ‘less is more’.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Tip Top Ice Cream Kids

Food nostalgia plays an important role in shaping cultural identity and as New Zealanders, we have our own culinary cues which many of us hold dear.  After 6 years of living in the states, upon touchdown in Auckland back in 2006, I was positively pining for a mince and cheese pie, some quality bread and Tip Top Hokey Pokey Ice Cream.  Combine those homesick-hunger-pangs with the imminent joy of introducing my new husband and toddler to my kiwi faves and I was one hangry, home-again traveler!

Growing up in NZ where many of us come from a farming or primary industry background, it’s no wonder as a Kiwi I feel a pang of familiarity and that ‘this is HOME’ feeling every time I crack open that iconic blue 2L tub and endeavour to peel off the perfect scoop of ice cream!  New Zealand milk and cream is coveted the world over mainly due to the pasture-fed lineage of hometown heroes, the NZ dairy herd. When one of our most iconic NZ owned companies, Tip Top, only uses fresh New Zealand milk and cream in their ice cream, it gives me hope that such an enduring taste of NZ will continue on in our freezers to share with our friends and families, making memories together for another generation to come.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Tip Top Ice Cream Kids

And so, Nixon and I sat and enjoyed our ice cream, a perfect #GoodtoShare moment, and then we ambled along the river, talking about crabs and if eels attack ducks and he got muddy (and loved it) and clambered and danced and sang and generally revelled in the peace and open space that is so easily forgotten (even though this spot is only 1.5km from our house!).  And as I felt my not-enough-hours-in-the-day anxiety begin to dissipate I quietly laughed at the knowledge that I had just proven a meme correct and how entirely 21st century Digital Mum that was of me;

“Ice cream solves everything”.

And Nixon wholeheartedly agreed.

This post was brought to you in collaboration with Tip Top!  For more info head to: https://www.tiptop.co.nz/education/

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Tip Top Ice Cream Kids

Recipe for Summer – Fruit and Ice Cream

Waitangi Day is the line in the sand when it comes to New Zealand summer I reckon.  The big stuff all happens ‘Pre-Waitangi’; the massive 6 week school holiday kicks off for the kids, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, road trips, tropical cyclones………….

Come Feb and the return to school – ‘Post-Waitangi’ summer kicks in.

It’s just my opinion but this is where the best summering happens as we all begin to savour every last sunshine-y Sunday, every after school beach-dash and every balmy BBQ dinner.  Shaking every last grain of sand out of summer in New Zealand is our duty as Kiwis.  Much like our ‘no man left behind’ attitude to summer stonefruit or our ‘eat ALL the berries’ culinary philosophy, making the most of these golden days is in our blood and helps me survive the extreme hardships of winter……in Auckland :::::::shudder::::::

Forget your kiwifruit or Navel Oranges, or any other fruit growing without a stone, bramble or vine.  I’m a summer fruit girl from way back.  As such, a snatched glimpse of a laden Christmas Plum or Golden Queen tree has always been a bit of a trigger for me (I’m sure many of you can relate right?).  I can remember a very blurry summer holiday when I was around 12 and had the good fortune to be invited away with my besties family.  The bach we were staying at had a marvelously overgrown and steep backyard that wound its way uphill towards the neighbouring fence line.  Exploring in the shade of the afternoons once we returned from the beach yielded a marvelous discovery – a Golden Queen peach tree, surely as ancient as the Kauri, (I mean, it was definitely as BIG as a Kauri wink wink, I was 12 remember!) literally groaning under the burden of its fruit.  The dilapidated fence separating us from our golden prize was merely a challenge, and not of the moral kind, unfortunately.  The lack of houses in any direction simply reinforced the fact that this ripe token of summer was ours for the taking, and besides, pilfered fruit always seemed to taste a wee bit better when you were 12!

Fast forward more than 20 years and some of the first things I purchased when we bought our house were fruit trees.  One Golden Queen peach tree, one heritage black plum and one nectarine tree.  To be honest, my mini-orchard was on the back-foot from day one with its care in my decidedly less-than-green hands so we are struggling, but, I’m picking the 2019 harvest will be a beauty, ie we might get some fruit we can eat!  My lack of peach-prowess could, of course, be due to the fact that we do not live in the Hawkes Bay.  They’ve got that peach growing on lockdown there which is why another kiwi fave of mine, Tip Top, keeps it local and uses real fruit grown by real NZ farmers in their Peaches & Cream Ice cream – no dodgy fence jumping going on here either, tsk tsk 12yo Melissa lol.  When we’re growing so much amazing produce right here in NZ we should absolutely expect that our local suppliers are sourcing FRESH ingredients from those growing it locally.  Combining one of our most beloved summer fruits with the goodness of New Zealand milk and cream is a taste of summer I hope my boys will remember as synonymous with growing up in New Zealand.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Summer Tip Top Ice Cream

The iconic Boysenberry is another kiwi fave that takes me back to pinching fruit from the vine on my Nana’s farm. Its incarnation into the multiple award-winning Boysenberry Ripple ice cream from Tip Top has made boysenberries a generational obsession in our family.  If there was a momentous stop for a scoop of ice cream when I was a kid,  I don’t remember my Mum ever (ever, EVER) selecting any flavour other than Boysenberry.  Habit or heritage, whimsy or some other romantic hankering for the past, the fruit and flavours of New Zealand are freaking awesome and play a huge role in how I remember the 38 summers of my life.

Nelson farmers have taken up the reins and for years have been supplying Tip Top with enough kiwi boysenberries to keep that famous ripple in the freezer year round – but I reckon ice cream always tastes better in summer, yeah?

Keeping it real and, real kiwi is a big deal to Tip Top, one of the bit-players in each of my summers.  Recognizing the importance of legacy ingredients in our lives, it’s rad to see that using REAL fruit grown right here is just as important to the big guys as it is to would-be-backyard-mum-orchardists who might one day grow enough peaches for each of us to have one simultaneously.

This post was made possible by the good peeps at Tip Top!

PS Find our waffle recipe here

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Summer Tip Top Ice Cream
Ethan and one of his best friends planned a Waitangi Day Waffle cook-off and nailed them! They were pretty stoked when I whipped some surprise toppings out of the freezer – Peaches and Cream and Boysenberry Ripple ice cream from Tip Top.