Monday, January 31, 2011

New Zealand Recap: Hiking, Glaciers, and Black Swans

When we planned our trip to go to Australia and New Zealand, I had no idea what to expect when it came to New Zealand.  Not that I'm not worldly, but when I think of New Zealand, I think of The Lord of the Rings and not much else.  It turns out that there is so.much.more.  Of the 700 photos we took, I wanted to share a few things that stood out to me.  I won't drag you through the daily activities- you'll thank me later.

Most of these were photographed by the hubby, and he'll be doing a guest post to share more of the scenery and his photos with you.

We arrived in Christchurch, the main 'hub' to the South Island.  All of the water is this gray-blue color and extremely peaceful.

While it was summer time, it never really gets hot in New Zealand.  The weather hovered around the low 70s the whole time we were there- and this is what one day at the beach looked like.
Apparently the hydrangea flowers brides pay gazillions of dollars for in the US are a common garden plant.  I loved the color here- they also came in purple and other vibrant shades.
Black swans are the norm in New Zealand.  It is rare to see white swans there.
You can drive on a road for hours without ever hitting traffic.  The clouds are so close to the ground it looks like you can jump up and catch one!
We (I) stayed in a hostel for the first time ever.  You can buy food and cook it there and you share and do your own dishes...and meet lots of travelers.  I like hotels better :)

Kea birds are scary. That is all.  This one tried to open our cooler and take our food.  I ran into the car and locked the doors to hide from this dinosaur.
One of the trails we walked on had completely different 360 degree views- mountains, bush, and lots of squishy mud for me to walk through.
Two hours later on this hike we hit the top and sat on this branch to eat chocolate and trailmix.  No other food will work for recovery. Yum!
In New Zealand, once you finish a track, you have to take a picture.  Here is us with our post-hike apples in our hands and in my face.
We got pretty good at posing near tracks.
 Really, really good at it.
The pancake rocks, named for the shape of their formation were so cool.  The only thing that would have made them better would be a stack of pancakes to eat on the trail.

This blowhole went off every 10 seconds or so- I counted down so we could get a good shot of it.
See? Pancakes!  I'm not sure why I am so excited in this picture, but it was pancakes, guys.

The trails we walked on had New Zealand rain forest plants and tons of ferns.  Ferns were everywhere and I kept calling them little palm trees.
The most intense walk?  We went to see a glacier.  Walking to the glacier was an intense experience.  It was raining sideways all over us as we walked through a valley and it felt like you were walking into a refrigerator.  If it were not for this view (and my husband telling me to 'be a man') I don't think I would have made it.  I whine a lot when I'm cold and rained on.

After we walked to the glacier, we frolicked in the valley.
Everything about this trip showcased and played on the nature that makes up New Zealand.  It's hard to not be impressed by the diversity of plants, animals (except for the kea birds), and scenery and we only saw a small part of the island on this trip. If you are looking for cosmopolitan glamour and amazingly snooty food, then this is not the place for you.  However, if you want to see some crazy spectacular views, humble friendly people, and get your hike on...bring your sunglasses and a rain jacket (which will permanently be attached to you at all times) and have a great time. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

2 Week Recap on the Eats and Fitness Update

Happy almost weekend!  There is something so hopeful and fabulous about Friday that makes me all giddy for the weekend!  Don't you think so?

As promised I wanted to give another update on our new eating plan since it has been 2 weeks.  I am proud to say that I am 2 weeks sober today- no chocolate or coffee in.2.weeks.  That is insane for me!  Would I jump into a pot of coffee and a dark fudgy brownie?!  Heck yes, but I haven't yet!  This week has been fairly easy.  Overall I'm happy with how things are going and looking forward to seeing if this lifestyle is something I can maintain.  Here is a short recap and a few highlight of my favorite eats:

Highlights of the week:
  • Planning, planning, planning!  All lunches, dinners, and snacks were packed for hubby (and me most of the time) and I also made a lot of progress pre-cooking for the week (go me)!
  • Trying new foods and snacks (like my new beloved millet)
  • I've kicked my coffee habit and feel great
  • Eating lots of almond butter and avocado
  • My vacation ice cream weight is gone and I'm holding stable at my happy weight
  • We have been eating so.many.veggies- I have gone through 5 pounds of carrots this week and will soon be orange.   My favorite dinner is this millet, mixed greens, kale, onion, garlic, and sauce-filled salad:
This bowl is a gigantic mixing bowl.  Please don't hate on me. I get hungry.

Things that can use some improvement:
  • While planning for hubby has gone fabulously, I have found myself a little unsatisfied.  I had to resort to buying these before the gym so I wouldn't pass out, my snack was missing, and that's just stuuuuuupid.  Ya gotta do what ya gotta do, right? These were yummy!
  • I should make my own juice.  I bought this kale, cucumber, lemon, celery, apple juice for the price of a down payment on a condo.  No bueno.  I need to stop being lazy and make my own.  It was so good though!
  •  I'm not sure if I'm getting enough protein because I get hungry pretty quickly after meals.  I'll be sure to monitor this week
  • I'm probably mixing up some foods in the wrong combos and in the wrong blood type, but I'm flexible and this is not meant to be restrictive
Fitness Update
In my last post, I also mentioned that I would do a quick fitness update. I haven't been accountable lately and I think now is the time.  I'm still LOVING my yoga classes. Loving them!  However, while on vacation and hiking, I did notice that my cardio was not where it was before and I have decided to incorporate more cardio into my routine.  This may be the first time in my life that I'm eating and exercising for health and I want my fitness to reflect that too. 
My goal for now is 3 yoga classes and 3 cardio per week.  I tend to lean towards yoga, but the gym has been fine and I have had a chance to zone out, people watch, and listen to some ghetto fabulous beats while I pretend I'm in a music video in my head.  Am I the only one?  I am still not running like I said I would, but when my new shoes come in, I might give it another try.  Always time to try something new, right?

Questions for you:
1. What kind of music do you prefer to listen to when you workout? Rap and a little Euro trash house for this lady
2. Do you have any new exercise plans going on right now?  I'm adding in some cardio for my ticker.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It Sounds Like Mullet But Tastes So Good!

In an effort to not eat the same thing over and over again, I have been making some new foods to keep my mind off of the lack of chocolate and other refined sugars.  One food that I am really enjoying that I never thought I would is millet.  Millet is an ancient grain, gluten free, and overall good for you!  Here are some of the benefits I found by searching these sites:
  • easy to digest
  • gluten free
  • high in magnesium, calcium, fiber, B vitamins, and antioxidents
  • an alkaline food
  • feeds the 'good stomach bacteria'
  • great source of protein
I enjoyed some millet today topped with almond butter.  It tastes kinda like a mix between polenta and corn bread...which are essentially the same thing, but better.  I can't wait to make a salad with it and enjoy it for breakfast later this week.  I highly recommend it.  I purchased the Eden Organic brand from Whole Foods for $3 and the bag should last me at least a month.

Coming Up on One Healthy Apple:
Look at me planning for more than one post at a time!
  • Food from our vacation
  • Photography from Down Under (a guest post from hubby)
  • Recap of New Zealand
  • Week 2 progress report on our cleanse
  • A workout post
Since I now write for more than my mom and husband, I wanted to ask you guys for your preference and to see why you come back. 
Is there anything else you would like to see on my blog?  Recipies? Workout/fitness posts? Ramblings?

Monday, January 24, 2011

How to Look Like You are Missing Teeth: Or My New Favorite Snack

There are very few things that I can really do to look less glamorous at work.  We have a very business casual (with an emphasis on the casual) dress code and most days I am wearing nice jeans with boots and a sweater.  I only really dress up for client meetings.  The rest of the time, I put my fro in a bun, put on minimal makeup to not look 'tired' (code for looking like death), and show up.

Today I was enjoying my snack of TJ's Seaweed and minding my own business. 

Have you tried this before?  My roasted seaweed snack allowed me to have some savory salty goodness while getting through the things that stimulate me at work, including status reports and timelines.  The whole package is only 60 calories, contains dried seaweed with a little bit of oil and salt, is on my food plan, and takes long enough to eat to distract even me.  Sea veggies are really good for you!

The only problem?  I got up to use the bathroom for the 37th time today and I had a piece of seaweed covering an entire tooth.  Not just a little stuck in my teeth, but the whole high-school-drama-freak missing tooth look.  I can't remember who I may have talked to after I finished my snack, but I had reached a new low in my casual appearance.  I also had seaweed crumbs on my shirt, so I was looking pretty hawt.

Next time, I'm placing a mirror at my desk when I enjoy my snack.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Leaning Tower of Food

I hope you guys had a nice weekend.  Mine was spent shopping, grocery shopping, cooking, watching enough football to not completely fall behind in current events, and spending time with friends.  Can't ever complain about a weekend, right?  This post has no structure, no matter how much I tried so here is my brain spill for the day.

As we are following our new eating plan (cleanse? diet? food combining system?- I hate labels) this weekend was filled with some whole, tasty foods.  I made sure to replenish our stock with a lot of pre-cooking for the week.  I use to pre-game in college.  Now I pre-cook.  Meet our leaning tower of food that will sustain us for about three days:

Some of our essentials include:
  • buckwheat kasha
  • brown rice
  • roasted brussels sprouts
  • roasted squash
  • brown rice
  • baked cod
  • beans (I made pinto beans- only took me 48 hours from start to finish)
I also baked up several small sweet potatoes.  I heart them.  My new favorite lunch (well, part of it) has been baked sweet potatoes topped with avocado, salt and pepper, and hot sauce.  The avocado acts like buttah and it's so good!

Another new snack?  I panicked when I ran out of food at work (this happens all the time) and decided to get a juice.  I was intrigued by this ALO aloe drink.  I am not being paid for this review and paid for it myself.
I still am not sure if I liked it or not, because my mind could not forget that it has aloe- and aloe goes in lotion- which goes on dry skin and stuff, but it was good.  The drink has no artificial ingredients (I could read and pronounce them all) and the aloe pulp was like those tapioca pearl drinks.  If you like to chew your juice, give it a try.  The biggest health benefit is that it promotes a healthy digestive system, and helps the body absorb some vitamins more efficiently.

Question for you: Do you like juice?  Have you ever tried aloe juice...wheat grass...anything unusual?

Friday, January 21, 2011

What We're Eating These Days

Hey Guys!  Thank you for your sweet comments about the photos.  While I am still getting my act together (i.e. teaching my brain cells how to function while doing actual work) and getting my photos together for other posts that will come in the next few weeks, I wanted to put those on hold while I dive head first into the nutrition changes that have been taking place at Casa de One Healthy Apple since we got back to the U.S. and A.  I hope to share some of the details with you, including a progress report and our plan.

First- a caveat: I am not a health professional and this is not to be taken as health advice in any way.  This is all written from personal experience and my short stints of research only.  Of course this is an open forum and I welcome any questions and discussion.

When we were in New Zealand we stayed with our friend's mom, who happens to be a certified holistic medicine specialist.  One of the things included in her practice is nutrition counseling to alleviate health problems and underlying issues.  We learned a lot and one of the things that stood out to me is that while Western medicine usually treats the symptoms, Eastern medicine attempts to treat the cause of the symptoms. 

As a health freak myself, I thought I was on top of health knowledge but there is so much that my smug self did not know until we stayed for this lady for several days.  More importantly, we learned how my hubby can alleviate his chronic allergies by altering his diet with the ultimate result of reducing his exposure to a consistent stream of medicine.  Also, after several months of poor food planning and feeling generally low levels of energy myself, I wanted to give it a try.  Sounds good, right?  I thought so.

Our nutrition counseling consisted of the three following parts, which I will describe below:
  • Food combining
  • Blood type diet elements
  • Candida cleanse (I'm not participating in this)
Food combining helps regulate the way food is digested and how quickly is flows through the system.  There are many theories and methods that can make it complex, but here is my quick synopsis:
1. Eat fruit separately, or 30 minutes before your meal.  It digests quickly and if it is in your stomach with other foods, it will ferment.  The only fermentation I like is in my wine thanks.
2. Starches can be eaten with veggies
3. Protein can be eaten with veggies
4. Fats are neutral and can be eaten with starch, protein, or veggies
5. You may eat the ancient grains with protein i.e. quinoa or amaranth
6. Beans, grains, and nuts must be soaked before preparing/eating.

The goal is to aid digestion and give your body a break.  This completely counteracts what I have known to combine grains with protein to stay full, but does NOT eliminate any food groups- just the order in which they are eaten.

The Blood Type Diet is a 'diet' if you let it be.  Based on Eat Right for Your Type  there are certain foods that are good for certain blood types and this method of health counseling has been used to help people lose weight and feel better overall.  As my hubby and I are at healthy weights for our height/age/etc. we are following elements for health reasons.  Here are some of the practical elements that we have taken away from the method:
1. We are no longer eating chicken and instead eating fish, beans, eggs, and nuts for protein sources
2. We have taken out cow's milk products (both of us), while I have been eating some goat's milk dairy once or twice a week
3. We are both gluten and wheat free
4. Alcohol and coffee are out but green tea, veggie and fruit juice, and lots of water are in.

The Candida cleanse is designed to help get rid of the bad stomach bugs that mess with digestion and could bring our systems to a state of disorder.  During this cleanse, overly starchy foods, animal proteins, refined sugars, and most sweet veggies and fruit like corn and grapes are to be avoided.  I am not participating in this part, but it is meant to help restore a state of order to the body with replacement of good probiotics at the end of the cleanse for my hubby.  I hope this works!

The Game Plan:
We will attempt to do this until the end of February (my birthday!) to give ourselves ample time to see if this works.  I hope to gain more energy and lower my dependence on sugar.  Hubby's goal is to alleviate his allergy symptoms.

Progress Report:
So far, it has been a week without coffee (gasp) and into our meal plan and everything is going relatively well.  I noticed that I am sleeping better and feel like I have more energy.  The food has been great- I have not missed anything except for chocolate and the smell of coffee wafting out of Starbucks makes me cry a little bit.  I have had a couple of days of poor planning when I had to scramble to find food, but I am flexible and things have worked out.  We also went out to dinner last night, and while it was a bit of a challenge, we were able to enjoy our food and the company without looking like freaks.  We have each noticed a slight weight drop, but it should level off soon.

I hope to provide updates as well as some of the new things I cook, although I have been able to enjoy my favorite foods as I have before.  And I brainwashed hubby into the world of almond butter.  I look forward to any feedback and questions along the way too!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Trip Recap Part 1: Sydney

Well it took me a while, but here goes!  Our trip was an unforgettable experience and luckily we have 700 or so pictures to remind us of our time.  I promise I won't share them all but will try to recap the highlights, starting with Sydney.  We were able to share our trip with our friend, who lived in Sydney and New Zealand and he showed us around so we were really able to get to know the places and people we traveled to. 

We arrived in Sydney on a rainy day and took a ferry to the apartment we would be staying in with our friend.  It was a little rainy, but something we had to get used to for our trip.
We immediately unpacked, changed and set out on the first of many, many 'walks' we would go on. What my hubby and his friend failed to tell me is that their definition of walking is different than mine.  In many cases it involved my short legs speed walking to keep up with these speed demons for several hours.  This was no glam trip.  The flat iron was sadly left behind and yoga pants and rain jackets were the new black.

 The views were beautiful and it was an opportunity to do a little warrior 2 overlooking the beach.

We set out for a city tour the next day and spent our time exploring the city on a red double decker bus.  If you are in a new city, the city tour is a great way to get a general sense of the place and then you can find out what you want to get a closer look at and where to spend more time- like the ice cream shop at Bondi Beach.
In between bites of sugar we hopped on and off the bus, admiring the mix of old and new buildings and gorgeous architecture in the hilly city.

We ended our day bonding with the natives.  The famous didgeridoo was really cool and I'm sure this was a highlight for the hubby.
There were many, many more highlights of our time in Sydney.  The Sydney Harbor Bridge was stunning.
The Sydney Opera House was pretty from far away-
But not so pretty up close!  It's the impressionist building of the city.
The city is incredibly green and has beautiful parks and gardens throughout.  This tree was so unique and pretty.
Some of our best times were had outside of the actual city.  The day we took a train to Bondi Beach was so much fun.  We walked a path that took us from the main beach to a smaller beach where hubby surfed and I hid from the sun.
Another memorable trip was two hours outside of the city to visit and hike the Blue Mountains.  Below is the series of small peaks called The Three Sisters- you can see why.
The best part was looking down- it was like a miniature version of the Grand Canyon and breathtaking.
So is this- but I'm easily distracted.
One of the most amazing things we noticed is how the terrain changed- a long dry walk led us to a large rainforest section.
So did we do anything but hug trees this part of the trip?  We did go out to check out the Sydney nightlife a couple of times.  New Year's Eve was spent watching fireworks at Darling Harbor while listening to DJ Frankie Knuckles spin and drinking lots of bubbly.  Sydney knows how to party VIP style and they listen to a LOT- a LOT of house music.  Here is a picture of one of the times we went out.
This was also the beginning of our trip and a chance to use our new camera to capture the sunsets.  The sunsets were one of my highlights.  My wise hubby says we never appreciate the sunset while racing home from work.  On vacation our senses are heightened and it doesn't hurt when everything is bathed in a gorgeous golden glow.  Gorgeous.  Here are a few shots.

While I'm supposed to be a FOOD blogger, the food will have to wait.  I'm going to devote a special post to the food we ate on our trip because really, what else matters?

What do you appreciate most while on vacation? For me it's nature, learning about different cultures, and of course new foods.