The clocks have changed and our days are getting longer, signaling summer is not far away!
So it’s time to stop hibernating on the couch and eating winter comfort foods. It’s the perfect season to start being more active and enjoying fresh, lighter meals.
We’ve got 40 fabulous food and fitness ideas to help you step into a healthy summer plus some breakfast in a jar inspiration and healthy meal ideas from a nutritionist.
Nothing says summer like firing up the barbecue. But get out of your sausages-and-steak rut and try a different healthier protein on the hotplate. Grilled salmon, calamari or tuna are all great low-calorie, protein-packed options.
Give disc golf (sometimes called frisbee golf) a go. This fun, cheap game the whole family can play involves throwing a concave plastic disc into a series of metal baskets on an outdoor course. New Zealand has more than 100 courses, most on public land, and 37 leagues if you really want to get serious. It provides upper and lower body conditioning, aerobic exercise, and promotes a combination of physical and mental abilities that allow very little risk of physical injury.
Don’t just throw berries and banana in the blender - add greens to your smoothie this summer. Chuck in some spinach, lettuce, celery or kale. These greens contain protein and iron and are full of cell-protecting and repairing antioxidants, vitamins C and A, as well as B vitamins and fibre.
Bounce into summer fitness – trampolines aren’t just for kids. They are a great way to exercise the whole body - including legs, thighs, arms, hips, and stomach – and they improve agility and balance. Plus, you will burn as many calories as you would jogging for the same length of time.
Grow something edible. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you are more likely to enjoy fruit and vegetables if they are from your own garden. If you don’t have enough space to dig up a plot, there are lots of fruit, vegetables and herbs that will grow in pots.
Exercise outdoors – whether you take your yoga mat onto the deck or set up a backyard weights and cardio circuit, it’s much nicer to be out in the fresh air than in a gym. You don’t need lots of expensive equipment – plastic bottles filled with rice make great hand weights and a skipping rope will get your heart rate up fast. Go online for workout inspiration.
Make staying hydrated more fun by freezing water bottles (don’t overfill them) overnight and having ice-cold water most of the day. Another good trick is to have fruit-infused water for low-calorie flavour – citrus such as lemon, orange or lime slices work well or try strawberries or cucumber and mint.
Get everyone off the couch (and off their devices) with a game of nature bingo. Make your own cards with squares such as ‘find a Pohutukawa flower’ or ‘find a perfect shell. Spider webs, butterflies, daisies, feathers, ants, snails and birds also make good discoverable items. Players have to mark each thing off and the winner is the first person who manages to mark off every box.
Fall in love with lettuce wraps. Good old iceberg lettuce makes the best wraps although Cos leaves can work too. Fill them up with your favourite taco or burrito mixtures or anything else you like for a healthy low-carb lunch or dinner.
Indulge your sweet tooth with the bounty of fresh in-season fruits such as berries, melons and stone fruit available in the summer months. The ultimate healthy dessert!
Hire roller skates or rollerblades for an afternoon of fun fitness. You will be so busy keeping your balance, you won’t even realise you are working out. Remember to get a helmet and knee and elbow pads to avoid injury.
Have a go at making your own poke bowl – this recipe has all our summer favourites such as sweetcorn, avocado and lime juice
Become a picnic pro – if you are heading out for a day at the beach or a festival or sporting event, you are more likely to eat healthy food if you take it with you than look for options to buy. Pack a cooler with ice, bottled water, sandwiches on whole grain breads, pita chips, hummus, yogurt and lots of fruit. You’ll feel healthier and happier at the end of the day.
Set up a summer sports tournament – whether it’s a competition with your extended family or you get a group of friends together, it’s a great way to get in some fitness and have fun at the same time. Beach or backyard cricket, rounders or swingball are all good options. Even set up hopscotch on the drive with chalk. Google the rules before you start to avoid fights as everyone may remember them differently.
Develop a taste for tomatoes: Slicing one cup of raw tomato for your lunch salad gives you as much as 40 per cent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C and 20 per cent of your daily vitamin A.
Meet a friend at a café, but instead of grabbing a table, grab a takeaway drink and set off on a walk. You can catch up on all their news and get your steps in at the same time.
Make your own ice blocks or frozen desserts. You can puree fruit and low-fat yogurt and freeze them into ice block molds or dip bananas in melted dark chocolate and put them in the freezer.
Set up an obstacle course in your back yard or at a local park. Whether you aim to beat the clock and improve your time or whether you compete against a workout buddy or your kids, you can exercise your whole body in one session.
Drink ginger water. If you like ginger tea as a hot drink, you should also take advantage of the tuber’s positive properties during the summer. This is because a ginger drink (just make ginger tea and let it cool down) is not only super refreshing, it also provides you with vitamin C and valuable minerals. Go bush – instead of walking your usual route around your neighbourhood, do some research and find a local bush walk. New Zealand natives provide some much-needed shade in the hottest months so it will be cooler than pounding the pavement. You can even go further afield and make a day of it.
A breakfast in a jar is a great option to start the day in the summer months. They can be made ahead of time and combine Te Atatu Toasted cereals with seasonal ingredients. See our recipe inspiration below.
Make your own keto-friendly crackers – they are a great savoury treat on their own or with your favourite topping.
If you have a sedentary job, it can be hard to find ways to exercise during your work day. See if you can convince your colleagues to have a walking meeting. Thrash out decisions while strolling around the streets.
Perfect a fruit and vegetable salsa recipe. They are light and fresh and can be spooned on grilled fish instead of butter, used as a fat-free salad dressing or eaten with corn chips instead of high calorie dips or guacamole. You can use mango, melon, strawberries, tomatoes, chilies or whatever you prefer. Add some coriander if you like the flavour and a squeeze of lime.
Dance your way to feeling fit and fabulous. You don’t have to wait for a night out to get your groove on. Just crank up your favourite tunes and boogie in the lounge for half an hour. Kids love an impromptu dance party too!
Water sports are a great way to add variety to your exercise routine in the hot summer months. Swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and even water walking will help tone different areas of your body.
Smarten up your snacks – go for nuts and seeds or hummus with vegetables (carrot sticks, capsicum strips or celery). Replace potato chips with pea crisps or brown rice crisps. If you are a cheese addict, opt for feta – it’s full of flavour so a little goes a long way and you will eat less than if you choose cheddar, brie or camembert.
Dust the cobwebs off your bike and head out for a ride. Cycling is fun for all ages, it’s easy on the knees and hips, improves your circulation and is good for the environment because it get you out of the car.
Love green tea? Try an iced version for summer. It’s packed with antioxidants and is great enjoyed straight out of the fridge as a change from plain water. Make your own by letting hot green tea cool down, then refrigerating it. Commercial versions can be full of sugar.
Trying making vegetable kebabs. It’s a great way to up your vege intake and they can be cooked on the barbecue or in a grill pan. Zucchini, capsicum, mushrooms, onions and cherry tomatoes all work on a vegetable kebab. If you have leftovers, you can add them to filled rolls or pasta the next day.
Book lessons for something you have never tried before – surfing, golf, tennis, rock climbing, pole dancing, pilates or martial arts might be a great new hobby.
Make your own dukkah – it can be enjoyed as a snack with specialty bread and olive oil. And it’s great sprinkled on chicken, fish or roast vegetables.
Have some low-calorie alcohol-free drinks you love in the fridge – kombucha, your favourite juice mixed with soda, or all the ingredients for a virgin Mojito. That means you can still relax with a drink at the end of the day without reaching for a wine or beer.
Organise your own Amazing Race. There are loads of ideas online to help you plan the route and clues and you can set it up to be suitable for adults or children or both, depending on your teams.
Zucchinis are in season in summer – grab them while they are cheap and make them into low-carb noodles for pasta or stir fry. Or check out this recipe for Mediterranean stuffed zucchini boats.
Look out for fun run/walk events in your local area. There are usually loads scheduled over summer and signing up for one is a great way to stay motivated to meet your exercise goal. Most events have a variety of distances so they are a great option regardless of your age or fitness level.
Ten quick healthy meal ideas for busy days
For many people, life seems so busy - between work, kids, commitments, family, friends, commuting, the first thing to go can be deliciously heathy meals because it is easier to open jars or get takeaways. Or maybe you have the same five meals on rotation and you just want some new inspiration. We asked nutritionist Kate Walker fromLifespark Nutrition for her tips for easy meals that are yummy and nourishing., here's a few healthy, quick-to-make, tasty meal ideas from her for you
Cuisine Edamame Fettuccine is a winner in our house as it only takes five minutes to cook and because it has the same protein as a chicken breast per serving, you don't need to cook protein with it. Just add some vegetables such as baby spinach or sautéed mushrooms or steamed broccoli and add some pesto.
Our favourite meal at the moment is made by adding a touch of salt, pepper and cumin to a bowl of Te Atatu Toasted GF porridge, then coating our chicken loins, thighs or breasts with it and baking it in the oven. It's like homemade KFC! A real hit with the family.
Scrambled eggs and bacon or feta with vegetables in a wrap is another of my favourites.
Add tinned tuna and salad to rice – if you are really pressed for time, you can use the 90-second rice pouches from the supermarket.
Alamir Bakery Falafel Bites can be cooked in the microwave in 30 seconds, then added to a bed of spinach with some chopped veges. Throw over Greek yoghurt mixed with lemon juice and wholegrain mustard (and parsley or mint if you have it).
I keep McCain Oh My Veg frozen vegetables on hand – the come in a range of different flavours (found in the freezer section) and contain a mix of quinoa, edamame beans or chickpeas. Combine half a packet with a serve of protein or eat the whole thing for a quick easy dinner.
Have pre-made soups in the fridge or freezer for those ‘just in case’ days.
My Grilled Salmon Steaks with Pesto can be made in 15 minutes and is a great source of Omega 3.
Slow cookers are great as you can put them on in the morning and then have a no-fuss dinner ready to go four to eight hours later.
Crustless quiche or frittatas are also a great way to use up leftover veges. Try adding roast veges to a brownie tray with other veges you like, such as baby spinach. Then whisk up enough eggs to cover the veges, add a handful of grated cheese, and pour the egg mixture over the veges and bake until the egg sets. They make great lunches too.
Nutritionist Kate Walker set up Lifespark to support people from different ages, backgrounds and ethnicities to be able to make the healthy lifestyle changes they want to see and address health concerns such as weight loss, digestive issues, stress and anxiety, and hormonal issues. She prides herself on being friendly, approachable and non-judgmental. She is an expert in coaching clients to navigate Covid lockdowns by encouraging them to improve their mental, physical and immune health through nutrition, mindset and exercise.
Healthy breakfast-in-a-jar inspiration
If there’s one thing we know for sure at Te Atatu Toasted, it’s that having a healthy breakfast is the best way to set yourself up for a day of eating well.
But mornings can be a rush – whether you are trying to get out the door to work, pack the kids off to school or just fit in some exercise at the start of the day, it can be hard to make time to make breakfast.
That’s why a breakfast in a jar is a great option. These yummy, layered concoctions can be made the night before and left in the fridge. Then all you have to do is grab it and go. Te Atatu Toasted founder Clare Robinson is a big fan – she often takes breakfast in a jar to the weekend markets, sets up her stall, then enjoys her morning meal on the go.
We have included some of our favourite breakfast-in-a-jar recipes below but once you get the hang of it, you can create your own combinations. Feel free to use any Te Atatu Toasted mueslis in these recipes.
For a low-sugar option, try this layered bircher recipe – it uses low sugar muesli, unsweetened yoghurt and berries so it contains less than four per cent sugar (including lactose).
This simple but tasty breakfast in a jar combines blueberries (you can use fresh or frozen) with yoghurt and Te Atatu Toasted Healthy Blend Muesli – get the recipe here.
If you are looking for a way to get more vegetables into your diet, check out this recipe for a breakfast in a jar that incorporates carrot and apple with our Original Blend Muesli.
Start your day with a tropical flavour with this Healthy Blend Pina Colada breakfast in a jar – it combines pineapple juice, bananas and yoghurt (use a coconut yoghurt to double down on the tropical theme and create a dairy-free breakfast).
This low-sugar layered option uses Aotea Road's fabulous Basil Seeds for an unusual twist – the great thing about layered breakfasts is that every spoonful tastes a little bit different.