Eating healthy made easy with Wick Nixon
Wick Nixon is an expert when it comes to delivering healthy food that doesn't cost the earth and doesn't take forever to prepare. Author of two award-winning healthy kids’ lunchbox cookbooks, she's also worked with hundreds of women through live workshops and events, facilitated weekend wellness retreats and helped hundreds of women realize that prioritizing their own health and wellbeing is essential through her online membership, the Wicked Healthy Tribe and her One-to-One and group coaching programs.
Good Change: To start with a very basic question. What does healthy eating mean to you personally?
Wick Nixon: For me healthy eating means making nutritious choices. Most of the time we can never go for a hundred percent healthy eating. It’s totally impossible. Whenever I eat, I make every meal count and a really great way to start this, is thinking of “How can I get more veggies into my diet?”
Good Change: What portion of the plate does it take up?
Wick Nixon: The plate proportioning would be, half plate vegetables/salad, a quarter of protein and then about quarter carbohydrate.
Carbohydrate doesn't have to be a rice or pasta, this too can come from a leafy green vegetables and other sources.
Next, is healthy fats. Healthy fats and protein are your two main food groups. They play a very important role in your body since these two will keep you sustained. I hear from so many women who say that they are starving in the afternoon. Go back to your meal plan and make sure you look at how much protein you’re having and if you’re adding in enough healthy fats.
This is precisely what I'm thinking. Every meal, I question myself “where's my protein? What are my healthy fats? Have I got enough veggies? And what else can I add in to keep me sustained? Should I go with some nuts and some seeds and things like that?
Good Change: The healthy fats that you’re talking about is some avocado, nuts right? What else is healthy fats?
Wick Nixon: I often go with just a drizzle of a good quality olive oil on top. For the main sauce I go for a hemp oil.
Good Change: We all know that each one of us, we just want to live the best quality life that we can live. But did you grow up in a family where being healthy was a total given?
Wick Nixon: No, I wouldn't say I did, but I didn't grow up in an unhealthy family. I grew up on a farm in Southern Hawkes Bay. We honestly ate meat and three vegetables probably four or five times a week. I don't ever remember there being any vegetarian meals in there. It wasn't really focused on healthy eating.
But in terms of lifestyle, though, I would say it was a super healthy lifestyle. Dad had a massive big garden which I've taken on and now I have a big veggie garden at home here in Auckland and there were lots of veggies around.
Good Change: How about to those who often get quite tired and are prone on getting tummy aches?
Wick Nixon: Fermented foods, probiotics and prebiotics are good for the gut. Some of us especially those who are not tuned in due to our busy lifestyles, and especially mothers with busy kids. We could easily feel tired quickly but we could have prevented this. We just don’t realize this but we can get our energy from the foods that we take.
Good Change: For those who have not been brought up in the world of healthy eating or healthy nutrition, is it hard to make the switch from packaged foods and fast foods to healthy easy ‘make at home’ options? Because it's easy to throw a lunchbox together if you're just grabbing a packet of this and a packet of that.
Wick Nixon: If you are used to convenience foods, moving from packaged to home-based, it does take organization and it takes preparation. So yes, there is time involved there, but once you get into the groove and you feel so good from nourishing your family with baking that you've made from home, it feels so good for you. And don't get me wrong, my kids don't eat everything that I put in front of them. I've got three teenagers now, so they make their own decisions.
Good Change: Do you dedicate your Sunday in preparing all of this?
Wick Nixon: No, I don't. I'm a bit of a multitasker. When I'm cooking, I might be making a slice for the lunch boxes or just get myself prepared. But for those who are busy, I would highly recommend dedicating a couple of hours in the weekend to do some baking. It might be chopping up veggies so that the options are there. If you get home from work, and you're starving, you haven't got a rational brain; you'll call for the chips because that's what's calling you. Or the chocolate. But if you've got hummus and you've got veggie sticks cut up already in the fridge, the option is easier. So that's where it takes that organization.
Good Change: How about for those Mums with kids who have sport and activities every day after school. What's your go-to for healthy eating?
Wick Nixon: Think ahead the day before or in the weekend For example: Tuesday nights are our late nights, on Monday night I'm going to double my meal. For a Spaghetti Bolognese I might double it. I'll serve it in nachos or quesadillas or wraps or tacos and the next day I'm thinking ahead about what is coming up and where I'm going to get caught out, or I might have a meal in the freezer. Burger patties are really good to have in the freezer. Do a beautiful pork and apple. Get your pork mince home, make them up, get them in the freezer and free flow.
Good Change: What is Free flow?
Wick Nixon: Free flow means you already create your patty, you put them on a tray, and then you put them in the freezer. When they're frozen, you pick them up and put them in a bag so then they don't combine.
Good Change: What about pantry staples, dry goods in the pantry? What are the things that we should all have?
Wick Nixon: You should all have whole chopped tomatoes in a can, tomato paste, lentils, beans and nacho chips (just the plain, you don't need the cheese additives and preservatives), tacos. Whole grain wraps are really good, you can do wraps, or you can do quesadillas, enchiladas, or anything. There are so many different options, no need for the sauce mixes. Worcestershire sauce can flavor so much, and spices mixed with herbs. With all of these you can throw anything together, adding in heaps of veggies, grated carrot, and finally chopped up spinach. If your kids pick that out, then just lightly blanch them or steam them, mullee them and then just toss all through. If you do that, that veggie mix, you can then freeze it in little silicon muffin indicating the size with your fingers and when you do your nacho mix, just take your veggie mix out frozen, chuck it into your nacho mix, and will all just de defrosts. So that's a good thing to do when things are in season. But in in summer, your tomatoes, your eggplant, your zucchinis, and red peppers roast up, heaps of those newly them and freezer them when they're nodding season then you’ll still get that goodness.
Good Change: For dinner parties. What's your go to or what's your ideal dinner party if you are on a time limit? Because we are all just time constrained these days.
Wick Nixon: I plan. I loathe doing or having a dinner party where everything is last minute, you can't have it until it's last minute and it's cooked then there.
I would do three salads. I would pre-make the salads, which you can do the night before, keep the dressings aside, toss them all just before people arrive. Put the dressing on just as you're serving.
For meat, I would do like a leg lamb on the barbecue, I'll outsource meat to my husband on the barbecue. Another, the really good nibble is a grazing platter. You can just buy hummuses, cheeses, corn chips, crackers, vegetable sticks, nuts, seeds, you might be able to put some scorched almonds, little bits of chocolate and cherry tomatoes then just chuck it all on. It looks really impressive, feeds a lot of people, and it's 10 minutes to put together.
For Dessert, I'd make it the day before. I've got this beautiful recipe for a raw lemon zest cheesecake, and it's made of cashew. If berries are in season, I'd serve it with that. You can even do a fruit grazing platter. So instead of it being savor, it could be sweet, put some bliss balls on there, chocolate bits and people just can help themselves and pick.
Good Change: When it comes to children, should we give them supplements or should they be getting all their goodness from the food that they eat? I know there's a lot of trace mineral minerals missing in this oil these days.
Wick Nixon: I'm not an expert when it comes to supplements, but my daughter isn't the greatest eater, so yes, I have her on a supplement. Because I know that she's not getting what she needs and I know that our soils are very depleted, the fertilizers, sprays and the chemicals that are being put onto our vegetables to make them grow faster. If your kids are really into sports, I would suggest to give them some sort of Māori vitamin.
Good Change: You run these amazing retreats and I'm really keen to hear a little bit about these. Tell us about your retreats that you do.
Wick Nixon: I run up in Faki. I am always on the lookout for other venues around New Zealand because I'm all about the food. I need a big space where it can house everyone around the kitchen. The reason why women come on these retreats is because they need to reset. They really want to kickstart their healthy eating and by coming away on a weekend retreat. It really helps them to sort of just absorb the information and be able to make it achievable. It is an amazing weekend of relaxation, resetting nourishment, and just learning about how food plays a big a role in your health and wellbeing. There's lots of just low-key exercise. It's not for the, the fitness fanatics. It's a divine area. We do lots of walks, swimming and reading books. The connection with the other woman is the biggest part that I'd say though.
So, if you are a foodie or a want to be a foodie, or you just want to learn more about nutritious food, then this retreat is absolutely for you. But if you are not a foodie and you know, food doesn't play a big part in your life where it's not that important, then not for you.
Good Change: Any age group or demographic that comes along, or is it just a mix of young and old?
Wick Nixon: I would say its between 40 and I had someone in their seventies on my last. I've got one coming up at the end of March if anyone is interested. If they wanted to check more information on that just head to my website at “wickedwellbeing.com/retreat” and you'll find all the information, there.
Good Change: Your blogs covered some amazing rituals to help develop these long-lasting habits. We would just love to know a little bit about these and how can we make them become more automated?
Wick Nixon: I always start my day with a warm lemon, a slice of ginger, a pinch of cayenne pepper, water and a pinch of turmeric. Those who come on my retreat, they will say “I'm not eating that game” “I'm not having that cane Pepper”. I’ll just say, “try it”. These will kickstarts your metabolism, your digestive system. The ginger's sooths and got inflammatory benefits to the gut. The cayenne pepper gets rid of your toxin, it sends them away screaming and the Turmeric which is a great inflammatory food as well and they’ll be like “Wow, that is amazing”.
I start my day every single morning like that and makes sure I'm having a well-balanced breakfast for a couple of years. I did fasting. I'm into anti-inflammatory at the moment for a sports injury. So, I need to have the food in my tummy. Whatever meal I'm having, I always think of “what is my protein? Where's my healthy fats coming from?”
So that, and the first meal of the day, whatever, whenever it is, is the most important, whether it's breakfast, brunch or lunch. Making sure that it's well-balanced with those food groups. Because if you are having a high sugar first meal of the day and that will shoot up your blood sugar levels, then they’re not balanced now so in a couple of hours later you’ll fell starving. You can't make rational nutritional choices; you will end up being on that roller coaster. So, it is really important to make sure your fist meal is nutritionally balanced.
Good Change: So, is breakfast important?
Wick Nixon: I say the first meal of the day, yes. Some people do fast and there’s a lot of research that goes with fasting, how valuable it is. When I did fasting, I loved it because we eat all the time. We never give our bodies a break to renew and regenerate and digest all our food because we're always eating and that's the benefit of fasting is that you give your body a break and I finish eating by 7:30, I have this switch in my head that I'm looking at the clock and go 7:30 get done. I have three Brazil nuts, great source of selenium, which is depleted in our soils. It's just like a snack that I have.
Good Change: You've got a free challenge starting on Monday the 13th of February? Can you tell us a little bit more about that and why you're running it?
Wick Nixon: A lot of women, they want to eat healthier, they want to lead a healthier lifestyle, but they don’t know where to start. This five-day challenge is to break it down into a very simple step. We will focus on three daily habits and one of them is first the lemon water, second first meal of the day, third is going to bed early. We will focus on these three habits for 5 days and of course I’ll share too some tips and ideas on how to bring in a healthy lifestyle and making it stick to a sustainable way. Make it achievable for a long term. My philosophy is just eat nutritious most of the time and be a little bit flexible other periods of time.
Good Change: Does it includes eating little piece of chocolate here and there?
Wick Nixon: All the time. I might have a little bit of diet chocolate every day, or I might have some brownie. A really good way to look at it is over a period of a week, you've got 21 meals (three meals a day, seven days a week). If you’ll just frame it, for the 18 meals ate nutritious foods and three of those might be out for a dinner.
Good Change: What would be your three good changes or small little takeaways that your reader can take with them today? Specially to those who are trying to kickstart this healthy living regime.
Wick Nixon: First, have a lemon water in the morning. Second, first meal should be nutritiously balanced. Third, have enough sleep. To those who are interested to join the challenge visit wickedwellbeing.com and the date for my upcoming free challenge will be on the 13th of February (Monday).