Rachel's Blog

Beef Curry – made in an Instant Pot Duo Crisp pressure cooker

(AD) The Instant Pot’s pressure cooker function is epic – it’s such a time-saver. This curry only takes 35-minutes to cook using the pressure cooker function – and the meat is mouth-watering tender and delicious. When I cook this recipe on the stove it takes an hour – so almost twice as long to get the meat tender – and I have to keep an eye on it, and stir it occasionally. The other great thing about using this pressure cooker is that I can switch on the timer and walk away. It switches itself off when it’s done and then the curry stays hot in the pressure cook and it’s ready to eat for later. Enjoy this recipe!

Beef Curry


1kg rump steak (remove the fat and slice thinly)

2 tbsp oil

2 onions (skin removed, diced)

5 garlic cloves (outer layer removed, diced)

1 tsp each of turmeric, coriander, cumin and cayenne powder

1 large red chilli (cut and de-seed and chop the green top off and slice up)

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger (use a knife to remove the outer layer of the ginger and then dice this up)

5 bay leaves

2 cups coconut milk

Beef stock (make it by mixing 300mls water with 3 teaspoons beef stock powder)

2 tbsp lemongrass paste

2 tbsp soy sauce

Zest from 1 lime

½ tsp black pepper

Juice squeezed from 1 lime

fresh coriander to garnish

1 cup long white rice (cooked in a pan with two cups of water. It takes roughly ten minutes)

Method: Place the oil, onions and garlic in the inner pot. Press the sauté function and cook for three minutes. Keep stirring. Add the spices, chilli, and ginger and stir for a minute more. Now place this in a blender (I use a Vitamix) and add 1 cup of coconut milk) and blitz it so it combines to make the curry paste.

Add this now to the pressure cooker inner pot, and then add the rest of the coconut milk, the beef stock, lemongrass paste, soy sauce, lime zest, and black pepper.

Meanwhile, on a clean chopping board, trim the fat off the meat and cut this into small strips and add to the curry liquid in the pot. Lock the pressure cooker lid next on top (ensure quick release button is set to seal position). Push the pressure cooker button on high for 35-minutes and then press start. Leave it to cook and walk away and come back when you like later. Open the lid and add the lime juice and stir. Serve onto plates, garnish with coriander, serve with white rice and a glass of water (or wine). Now savour!

This recipe was #sponsored by Instant Pot. If you are interested in buying one then check out this link HERE

Recipe by Rachel Grunwell: Wellness expert, wellness speaker, and author of the book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness

Home-Made Nutella

(AD) This recipe for choc nut butter is full of healthy ingredients. No preservatives, just whole foods. It takes a couple of minutes to whip up. You’ll need a Vitamix mixer that’s powerful enough to make nut butters. Also a must-have is a blade scraper to get the butter out from underneath the machine’s blades with ease.

For this recipe you will need a Vitamix, tamper and blade scraper like in the picture.
You can change up the nut base if you like, but I prefer hazelnuts and cashews for this choc-inspired recipe.


3 Tablespoons of coconut oil 

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

1 cup raw hazelnuts (unsalted)

1 cup roasted cashews (unsalted)

¼ cup cacao powder

¼ teaspoon vanilla paste

Grind of sea salt


Melt the coconut oil and place it in your Vitamix blender. Next add the maple syrup, nuts, cacao powder, paste and sea salt.

Secure the lid.

Start the blender slow and then quickly increase it to a high speed for around 45 seconds to a minute. Use a tamper to press the ingredients towards the blades.

It sounds noisy making nut butter at first as it makes a high-pitched sound. But don’t worry, the blades are made for this job! You’ll soon hear a labouring sound, and you’ll find the butter done to perfection.

Remove the lid and use a scraper to scrape out all the nut butter from under the blades and place it into an air-tight glass jar in the refrigerator. It lasts about a week – if your kids don’t eat it within days (like mine do).

The Vitamix is built to make nut butters. You can use peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, and even add in other ingredients to add more nutrients, or to change the flavours ie sunflower seeds or flax seeds can be a great addition!

This post was sponsored kindly by Vitamix. You can buy one of these high-quality blenders through The Market. Click HERE

Post by Rachel Grunwell: Wellness coach, recipe creator, and author of the book Balance. Rachel is a mum of three boys who is a serious foodie. She’s created recipes for honey companies, Lewis Road Creamery and even a New World store. She creates the recipes every issue too in Good magazine, always sharing health-full recipes that are yum, but also good for you!

Race Nutrition Tips from Run Experts

By Rachel Grunwell

(AD – the post is sponsored by the Rotorua Marathon which is on May 8, 2021. Enter HERE)

Carb-loading or no carbs? Gels, or no gels? Thoughts around race fuelling change constantly.

But the fact remains: Fuelling well helps you run well.

Fuelling right for optimum performance is something every runner cares about – whether you are at the back of the pack, or in the lead.

I’ve got some insight and tips below from an elite runner, nutritionist, seasoned runner and I also share some tips too as a coach and multi-marathoner. Some of these tips and anecdotes blew my mind and others had me laughing out loud!

Ultimately, fuelling comes down to an individual approach. So what works for one person, might not be the ideal solution for another, So it’s important to have tried and tested a few different ideas before you race – so you can run with confidence on race day knowing what to do. Here are the thoughts on nutrition from a few different peeps. Which one do you mostly connect with?

Simon Cochrane. Based in Hamilton, Simon is an elite endurance athlete who is an official pacer for the 3-hour group racing this year’s event. He is using this year’s event to pace as a training run in the lead up to an ultra-marathon in Wellington in July. He reckons there might only be about five people racing at this hot pace and so he hopes to help them all through. Simon is a top NZ athlete. He came 3rd in the Tarawera 100km Ultra in February. He has had 5 international podium placings over the Ironman distance in his careers and has raced the World Champs in Hawaii. At the Rotorua Marathon event previously, he has placed 2nd in a half marathon (1hr 13 mins) and won the 10km event (34 mins). He is a coach too through his business, Athletic Peak Coaching. Here are his nutrition tips:

“The usual breakfast for me is eggs, toast, and a couple of coffees. That every day – whether it’s training or race day.

“There’s no need to change it up race morning, as your body knows it’s normal routine best. You can maybe just eat a little bit earlier than normal to make sure everything is digested. 

“Same with during the race. Have the same nutrition plan as every long key session. 

“So mainly aim to keep everything the same – no need to carb-load or eat more as you will have tapered off the run volume and be storing more energy anyway,” says Simon.

I asked Simon about his thoughts around gels?

“Haven’t had a gel in 10 years! 

“I have Tailwind drink, and some real food (bars/bananas) if longer than 3hrs or so,” he says.

James Crosswell, age 71, plumber from Opotiki who is part of the Rotorua Marathon Survivors’ Club (this club includes runners who have done more than 15 Rotorua Marathon events to be an official member). He will run his 44th Rotorua Marathon this year (among almost 100 marathons in total). His fastest marathon is 2hr 52 mins at Rotorua previously. Last year he ran this event in 5hr 20 mins (he now walks and runs so he doesn’t put too much pressure on his heart, he says). Here are his nutrition tips:

“Before a marathon I usually have two pieces of (brown bread) toast with honey on and a cup of tea. I’ll have breakfast at 6.45am on race day.

“Then I just have water at the water stops usually.

“However I’m trialling a vitamin C energy tablet with water now while doing this year’s marathon. I tried it on a run recently and it was quite good.

“In the past I used to put corn syrup in used mini toothpaste tubes and have that while out on the marathon course. It was like a petrol boost,” he says, chuckling.

Mikki Williden, PhD, registered nutritionist and seasoned runner. Mikki is the 2005 Rotorua champion. She has an impressive personal best marathon time of 2hr 55 mins at Auckland where she nabbed a 4th placing in 2010. Check out a Mikkipedia podcast where she interviewed Kathrine Switzer. Here are her nutrition tips:

“With regards to carbohydrate ‘loading’ per se, this has moved on somewhat. There isn’t too much you need to change with regards to carbohydrate load of the diet – in effect, by tapering, you will be carbo loading and restocking your glycogen stores. That’s a really good thing! However, if you follow a pretty low carbohydrate approach, then adding in another 100-150g in the 3 days leading up can just ensure this process is on point. Think: a couple of pieces of fruit, 200g kumara or potato, 1 cup cooked white rice.

“Importantly, you want to be hydrated – so ensure you are drinking adequate amounts of water with electrolyte (such as Nuun tablet or LMNT electrolytes) – ideally not a lot of full sugared electrolyte drink as this isn’t really necessary – but you want to ensure you drink across the day and not backloading or front loading it – that you are just having it regularly. Going in to an event dehydrated can definitely impact negatively on performance outcomes. Becoming a little dehydrated throughout though, is no big deal and may in fact improve race outcomes.

“With protein load and fat load, no need to change things here, however some people feel anxious in lead up to race and therefore their stomach can play up. Dropping fat down a little bit can help. In addition, dropping out vegetables in the 2-3 days prior can also help with the overall gut-related issues that some experience – as the additional fibre at this time isn’t necessary and may interfere with your digestion and that in itself can be nerve wracking. We call this a low residue approach. For example, your meals have a few vegetables, but half what you normally would.

“Don’t make meals too big, and you might be better with a smaller dinner earlier in the day, and then a snack prior to bed in the lead up to the race (i.e. night before) so you don’t feel too loaded down with food. IE this might be a dinner at 5pm and a snack at 8pm (snack could even be just some protein powder mixed into coconut yoghurt with a few berries, or it could be banana and peanut butter or something like that.

“Dinner meals the night before are really individual. What has worked well in the past? Psychologically, it can be good to keep it familiar. Some favourites might be:

  • salmon, rice, broccoli,
  • chicken, rice, carrots, green beans
  • sweet potato with salmon mixed with mayo and a hardboiled egg or two
  • Could even be GF toast with avocado and salmon or scrambled eggs

“Breakfast the morning of, again, very individual. Don’t need a ton of food here, enough to restock liver glycogen which would have been depleted overnight, but that’s about it. Some people have nothing except coffee and cream, others have full on breakfast. Most are in the middle. Prior to my 2005 win of Rotorua I had 5 white bread buns with jam, a spirulina drink and a banana. Probably wouldn’t do that now, but looking back, it obviously didn’t do any damage on the day! Some ideas might be:

  • Protein shake with banana and peanut butter
  • oats + protein powder + almond milk + peanut butter
  • GF toast with 2 hardboiled eggs

“These are all some options – something to help keep you from being hungry, but not leave you so full. This might be 2h or so before the start of the race.

“Most importantly, don’t try something new on race morning! I made this fatal mistake in 2010 Christchurch marathon, leading to a DNF at 40k because my digestive tract had other ideas. That confirmed for me that dried apricots were not a goer for me pre-race. A mistake that, as a registered nutritionist, I probably shouldn’t have made, but we all live and learn! Good luck!”

Rachel Grunwell, Rotorua Marathon ambassador and 25 x marathoner, who has conquered 4 x Rotorua Marathons in this tally including guiding disabled athletes through three of these races. Rachel is also a run coach and author of the book Balance, which includes science-backed tips on how to be healthier and happier. The book includes four nutritionists too.

Practicing your breakfast and fuelling for race day is a must. If you don’t, you are asking for trouble! I love porridge with cream, blueberries and maple syrup before I run a marathon and have that two hours before I run. I also like a small coffee. While on the run, electrolytes are awesome and I take fuel on board only if I run a long run, or a half marathon or marathon. Under 10km, I’ll run without eating and will just have water mid-run. These days I don’t like the gels and prefer real food to fuel me. Dates or banana is great, but I’ll take on board something like chomps in a marathon. I like the latter because you can break off a bite sized piece of the chomp bar fuel when you need it and I like the taste of it. I guide disabled athletes through marathons from time-to-time and fuelling is something I advise the athletes on while on-the-run. It can make or break the experience. One athlete was feeling tired and took on too much sugary drinks about 34km through a marathon. It ended up in him feeling light headed and puking (I won’t name and shame here but we still laugh about this learning experience together. He learnt that lesson and has thankfully never repeated it!) You learn your lessons hard on a marathon and my hardest lesson with fuelling was not taking on board enough fuel early on in an event and then hitting the wall about 30-something kilometres and my running came to a crawl (I also ran too fast in that same race by the way and so I learnt two hard lessons from that event). What saved me that day and got me to the finish line? A mate meeting me to help me get through that run and him insisting I have a flat coke drink 5km near the end. That caffeine hit had me then fired up and running the fastest average pace in that entire race. Caffeine can uplift your performance and I definitely needed it that day!  

This blog was kindly sponsored by the Rotorua Marathon

Run fails shared – from an elite athlete, nutritionist, 71-year-old runner & the Rotorua Marathon ambassador

AD) Run fails shared by runners – We hope to save you from!

Simon Cochrane, shares some fails he has experienced. Based in the Bay of Plenty, Simon is an elite endurance athlete who is an official pacer for the 3-hour group racing this year’s event. He is using this year’s event to pace as a training run in the lead up to an ultra-marathon in Wellington in July. He reckons there might only be about five people racing at this hot pace and so he hopes to help them all through. Simon is a top NZ athlete. He came 3rd in the Tarawera 100km Ultra in February. He has had 5 international podium placings over the Ironman distance in his careers and has raced the World Champs in Hawaii. At the Rotorua Marathon event previously, he has placed 2nd in a half marathon (1hr 13 mins) and won the 10km event (34 mins). He is a coach too through his business, Athletic Peak Coaching. Here are four of his all time run fails below:  

  1. Getting lost on a training run and running 20km further than planned in the middle of Summer with no water or phone reception. Ps this gaffe is unlikely to happen to anyone at the Rotorua Marathon event as there are lots of signs and experienced marshals on the official race day.
  2. Biting off more than he could chew. “I ran the 84km Timber Trail at night (a night run)… despite never having trained at night prior. “So I’ve learnt to train for the conditions”.
  3. “During the Ironman Wisconsin in 2013 I tried some different nutrition on the race and I needed to go to the bathroom way too many times! So I learnt to take my own fuel for future races because you can’t always trust what will be offered out on the course. It was lucky it wasn’t a city event and I was running through trails!”
  4. Ironman Taiwan was 42 degrees and I didn’t put any sunscreen on. “I think I’ve still got some scars from that. I was burnt anywhere that wasn’t covered by a tri-suit”.

Mikki Williden, PhD, registered nutritionist and seasoned runner. Mikki is the 2005 Rotorua champion. She has an impressive personal best marathon time of 2hr 55 mins at Auckland where she nabbed a 4th placing in 2010. Check out a Mikkipedia podcast where she interviewed Kathrine Switzer.

  1. “Don’t try something new on race morning! I made this fatal mistake in 2010 Christchurch marathon, leading to a DNF at 40k because my digestive tract had other ideas. That confirmed for me that dried apricots were not a goer for me pre-race. A mistake that, as a registered nutritionist, I probably shouldn’t have made, but we all live and learn!”
  2. Different Christchurch race (2003) – “I turned up on the day before to wear tights but the weather report was 30-degrees so I had to run to Rebel and buy a pair of shorts and got the worst chafing: Try to remember to be prepared for all conditions! You just never know.”

James Crosswell, age 71, plumber from Opotiki who is part of the Rotorua Marathon Survivors’ Club (this club includes runners who have done more than 15 Rotorua Marathon events to be an official member). He will run his 44th Rotorua Marathon this year (among almost 100 marathons in total). His fastest marathon is 2hr 52 mins at Rotorua previously. Last year he ran this event in 5hr 20 mins (he now walks and runs so he doesn’t put too much pressure on his heart, he says). He loves the Rotorua Marathon event for the “camaraderie” and all the “like minds who run it”. Here are his run fail shares:

  1. Getting too carried away at the start. “You feel fresh and excited and you can go like the clappers to Ngongotaha… but then you pay for it later on!”
  2. Forgetting to do the water stops early on in marathons. “The first 2-3 water stops are vital to get water on board and not get dehydrated later on. If you don’t have enough water…. you can lose your mental ability a little!”
  3. Not taking enough care at work leading up to race day “which saw me injured for a marathon and I felt the impact of running that event with every step”.

Rachel Grunwell, Rotorua Marathon ambassador and 25 x marathoner, who has conquered 4 x Rotorua Marathons including guiding disabled athletes through three of these races. Rachel is a qualified run coach who helps mums who want to learn how to be on-the-run. She’s just a “real-girl kind of runner” with a fastest marathon time of 4hr 06 minutes. Rachel is the author of the book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness

  1. Going out too fast too soon on my first marathon – the Auckland Marathon event. “I learnt that hitting the wall feels like hell and when this happens at 32km it hurts the body (and ego) HARD. I did this once and thankfully learnt my lesson. Please trust me that this mistake is worth avoiding.” 
  2. Having race bib magnets (instead of pins) that decided to spontaneously clump together seconds before the start gun of the Villa Maria 10km race this year. My cold paws couldn’t unbunch them quick enough and so I asked my mate Tess who was beside me at the time to chuck me one of her pins so I could secure my bib somehow. This left me trying to run at the start while pinning on a bib at the same time. Tess ended up beating me in that race by about a minute- possibly the time I took to sort my *hit out with that gaffe🤣. She has bragging rights now for beating me and it’s my own stupid fault!” 🤣
  3. Wearing yoga socks which had pressure pads under my socks in a Rotorua Marathon 42km distance one year. This hurt with every step. I ended up running like I was on hot coals. So trial your race gear prior!
  4. Not applying Vaseline in a few half-marathons. The chaffing has brought me to tears every time when I go to shower…. for days afterwards. Ouch. You’d think I would have learnt that lesson once, but nope… I’ve repeated it!”

Instant Pot Crispy Chicken Burgers in 14-Minutes

(AD) Go in the draw to win a Duo Crisp Instant Pot over on my Instagram or Facebook pages!

This is a fast, healthy way to make crispy chicken burgers – cooked in the air fryer of my Duo Crisp Instant Pot cooker, which by the way has almost a dozen appliances in this one machine. So it’s a space-saving machine given it has all those appliance applications at my finger tips. You can pressure cook, sauté, slow cook, steam, roast, bake, broil, dehydrate or air fry for example.

Here’s a recipe to air fry and make crispy chicken burgers.


5 chicken thighs, boneless

2 eggs

½ cup flour (use rice flour if you want the recipe to be gluten-free, otherwise normal flour is all good)

½ teaspoon cayenne spice

A grind each of salt and pepper

½ cup breadcrumbs

Olive Oil spray

5 fresh burger buns

Sliced tomatoes


Sliced cheese


Sliced avocado

Tomato sauce

  1. Season your chicken thighs first. Get bowls and fill them each with the flour, cayenne, salt and pepper, the second bowl with the eggs (whisked with a fork), and a third bowl for the bread crumbs. Coat each thigh with flour mixture, then the egg mixture and then the bread crumbs.
  2. Pour ½ cup of water into your Instant Pot. Add the steamer basket and place crumbed chicken pieces inside this (use the rack if you want to do another layer). Spray the pieces of meat on each side with the oil to coat them.
  3. Close the lid and press air fry and set the cook time for 14-minutes. Walk away and let the machine do the work!
  4. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the ingredients you want in your burgers. I’ve mentioned above the things I love in mine.
  5. Assemble your burger, eat and enjoy!
  • This post was #sponsored by Instant Pot. Buy an Instant Pot from your local Harvey Norman store in NZ.

Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Wellness coach, author of the book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness & recipe creator for Good magazine.

Sunshine Smoothie Bowl

(AD) Sunshine Smoothie Bowl 

We can’t get to the islands right now. But we can bring a taste of that decadent island holiday food and sunshine like feels to our table!

I’ll be demonstrating how to make this smoothie bowl at the Go Green Expo in Auckland (March 27 & 28 on the Vitamix stand between 11am-2pm). Come along and learn some smoothie bowl tips and tricks and how to use a Vitamix to make smoothies, soups, bliss balls, juices, ice-cream and more!

I’ve had a Vitamix for years and back it. It’s sturdy, safe, powerful and has a seven year warranty. It never breaks!

By the way, this smoothie bowl is best served on a hot Summery day. Slurp it up loud. It will cool you down and that sweetness in the bowl will make you smile.

This bowl is nutrient-dense, delicious and you can make it up pretty quick.

One of the superfood ingredients is turmeric, which can aid digestion and is seen as an anti-inflammatory food.

Sunshine Smoothie Bowl 

½ cup almond milk

2 cups mango flesh (you can use fresh or I just buy it in frozen chunks in 1 kilo bags from the supermarket)

1 cup banana (skin removed)

½ teaspoon each of vanilla cinnamon and turmeric

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon’ Manuka honey


Place all the ingredients into the Vitamix blender in the order listed above. Blend the ingredients quickly until smooth. Don’t blend for too long (I do it for around 10 seconds) otherwise it will make the smoothie less thick and more liquid-like. Pour the mixture into a bowl and eat just as it is. Or you can top it with whatever you have at home. I had mint leaves, shaved dark chocolate, passionfruit and coconut chips. Eat and savour!

  • Rachel is a wellness expert, author of the book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness and a healthy recipe creator for magazines and brands. She is a proud ambassador for Vitamix! Follow her on Instagram or Facebook 

This post was proudly sponsored by Vitamix

7 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Running – a professor gives the low-down

(AD) Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Multi-marathoner, coach, yoga teacher, author, wellness journalist, and proud Rotorua Marathon ambassador.

If you want to live longer and have a better quality of life – then run!

It doesn’t matter if you run slow or fast either. There are so many health benefits that it doesn’t actually matter what your speed is. Just keep running – and you’ll get better, stronger, and faster over time.

Here are 7 health benefits of running – according to Andrew Kilding, a professor of sport and exercise physiology at the Sports Performance Research Institute of New Zealand. 

I interviewed Professor Kilding for a 6-page article for the NZ  Women’s Weekly magazine on running recently and he listed these awesome health benefits of running:

  1. Running improves the function and structure of the heart. He explains that as we age, our arteries can “stiffen”. Regular running gets the heart pumping and gives the arteries a real work out. This keeps them “pliable”. The increased blood flow associated with running also helps stop fatty deposits accumulating on the artery walls, which can narrow the arteries and result in high blood pressure at rest – which is not a good thing.
  2. Being on the run burns kilojoules, speeding up your metabolism. This is helpful for weight management. “Your metabolic rate is increased for a few hours afterwards,” he says, but he’s quick to note that “you can’t out-run a bad diet,” he says.
  3. Exercise (and particularly running) also improves resting heart rate and increases aerobic fitness. Professor Kilding says a high level of aerobic fitness has been shown to be one of the best-known indicators of an individual’s long-term health. He explains that in 2016, Duck-Chul Lee, a professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University, found that even 5-10 minutes running per day at a slow speed is associated with markedly reduced risks of death from cardiovascular disease.
  4. Regular running improves the body’s ability to transport oxygen around the body, so we get more efficient at running, and other physical activities also start to feel easier. Hello feeling fitter!
  5.  Running – or habitual exercise – is associated with a greater quality of life and could also lengthen it, too.
  6.  Running improves your bone and joint health. This is because running is a weight-bearing activity. The impact loads the bones and this results in them strengthening. “This is especially important in later life. Running can be a strategy to maintain bone health,” Professor Kilding says.
  7. Running helps your mental health. “We tend to forget about the mental benefits of running. It reduces depression, anxiety and stress, and can help with cognition, memory and sleep.  Professor Kilding says “I make sure I get out for a run a few times a week. For me, it’s just about getting some time and space on my own, switching off and importantly, getting time in nature.” 

Enter a distance at the Rotorua Marathon HERE

Follow Rachel for more run & injury-prevention tips and inspiration on INSTAGRAM and the InspiredHealthNZ Facebook page.

Order a copy of Rachel’s book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness Here

Health-Inspired Xmas Gifts

By Rachel Grunwell

AD – This content is kindly sponsored by FitbitNZ. Rachel is a Fitbit ambassador and proud spokesperson.

Make your Xmas gift count this year by giving something that inspires good health and an inner or outer glow! Here are some of my top picks of things I LOVE and back…

  1. Fitbit Sense watch. This really is the ultimate Christmas Prezzie (for yourself or someone you love). This watch can help you to transform your health. It will help you to be sleep fit (monitor your sleep score!), be heart rate fit (this device can detect your resting heart rate score with incredible technology) , be brain fit (the watch can guide you through mindfulness exercises to help you manage your stress levels) and be body fit (monitor your exercise and nutrition too through the watch)! I’ve worn a Fitbit watch for about eight years now and LOVE this brand. This latest watch is Fitbit’s most advanced health smartwatch. I wear it everywhere including running (it measures steps done, kms run, distance run, run pace and keeps check on my heart rate levels). It’s so easy to use that it really is the ultimate run watch. I wear it to de-stress (the mindfulness exercise for two minutes is my fave and can calm my nervous system so quickly). I wear it to bed to check my sleep score, which has been so interesting. And I wear it whether I’m in a dress and heels or wearing lycra to teach yoga. I wear my Fitbit Sense more than jewellery! This really is the ultimate Xmas prezzie. This gift also keeps giving – it will be worn for years to come.
  2. An entry into the Rotorua Marathon event on May 8, 2021. This will inspire action on a fitness goal to get fitter and healthier – and as a ripple effect, exercise uplifts your happiness levels. This is NZ’s most iconic run event which has a fun run, 10km run through stunning and unique sulphur flats, a half marathon forest off-road run and a road marathon where you lap Lake Rotorua. Take the family for the weekend too and explore Rotorua. There’s adventure on your doorstep, great places to eat, a City full of beautiful Maori culture and lots of lakes and forest walks to explore.

3. A health inspired book. How about Luke Hines’ book Barbecue this! which has 80 quick, vibrant and flavour-packed dishes for weeknights, or for times of entertaining. Or a great book for managing anxiety that hell help you feel calmer via teaching calming breathing techniques is Dot, by Kieran E. Scott. Or of course, I’m biased in also recommending my own full colour book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness which boasts 30 global experts on how to be healthier and happier + 30 nourishing recipes. The book has tips around nutrition, neuroscience, psychology, emotional intelligence, de-cluttering, fitness, losing weight, feeling happier and more. My fave expert in the book is Shaun Achor, a happiness researcher from Texas. You can order it through this website HERE.

Balance Book by Rachel Grunwell Page 56
Here’s a recipe page from the book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness

4. Natural beauty products that support your outer health. My top picks right now are Linden Leaves Miraculous Facial Oil (a light formula that’s NZ-made for more youthful, nourished skin), Nellie’s Tier’s face mist (to refresh and hydrate with the incredible perfume of a blend of floral waters), or Weleda’s Birch oil (to put on my body post exercise for muscle recovery. The fresh smell of this, feel of it and it’s purpose is pretty rad).

5. Sponsor a charity. My top pick is the Cambodia Charitable Trust which helps kids access education, and more, in Cambodia. I bought a bag of rice for $60 which will help feed a family for a month. The lawyer who started this trust lives in Tauranga and she features in my book Balance. She helps thousands of kids in Cambodia now and her work is extraordinary. Help her to make more of a difference in the world by helping this trust with whatever amount that you want. Whatever you gift will be super appreciated.

6. A voucher for a retreat. Indulge your loved one (or yourself!) in a blissful weekend getaway at Rotorua’s Mindful Moments retreat. The dates are now up on the Polynesian Spa’s website for 2021. This getaway boasts a beauty treatment at the spa, a premium good bag, lunch on both days, spa dips in the 28 pools on site at the spa, yoga, mindfulness, meditation sessions, a forest walk, a wellness workshop and more. This is such an affordable retreat as far as retreats go in NZ. A journalist dubbed it one of NZ’s most affordable and top micro retreats in NZ. I co-host this retreat and love connecting with the incredible men and women who attend. This sells out fast as only 14 guests are taken at a time per retreat! I promise you will leave this retreat feeling more calm, happy and rejuvenated.

Polynesian Spa Mindful Moments Event Image

Sponsored blog by Fitbit NZ

Declaration: Rachel proudly works with Fitbit, the Rotorua Marathon, Linden Leaves, the Polynesian Spa, and is the author of the book Balance which she promotes in this article too. She genuinely backs these as incredible Xmas gift ideas that have helped to transform her health and vitality.

Rachel Grunwell is a wellness coach, speaker, and her mission is to inspire Kiwis to live healthier and happier by aligning with partners that care about promoting good health.

Follow her on instagram for daily posts and more wellness Inso. Click HERE

5 Tips to Avoid a Hangover

AD This blog was created for those training for the Rotorua Marathon event on May 8, 2021

By Rachel Grunwell 

It’s the festive season and I too love to savour some wine and soak up social gatherings and the fun. 

I thought I’d share some tips and advice  around alcohol for those of you who love “the sweat life” too. Alcohol can impact on your performance if not drunk in moderation. So it might be helpful to know some of this stuff for when you are next contemplating how much to drink at a party or social gathering.

Firstly, a standard drink is 100ml wine (12% alcohol – and not that much liquid in a glass!) or a 330ml beer (5% alcohol).

According to the National guidelines, the consumption of any more than two standard drinks for women and four for men in one sitting is associated with increased risk of health problems (obviously if this is sustained over a period of time).

According to the Nutrition for Life book by Catherine Saxelby, hangovers are caused by dehydration and things like the substances in alcohol like congeners, such as tannins, volatile acids, methanol and histamines.

Dark-coloured drinks like red wine, brandy, and sherry can cause the worst hangovers – especially the cheaper brands, she says. Mixing drinks can also spell bad news for a sore head (and leave you witch-like the next day – likely! Or is that just me? ha ha ha ha ha).

Here are 5 tips to help avoid a hangover:

  1. Stop at one drink. That’s smart! Or have none, if you have a very long run planned the next day. I totally recommend this. I’ve drunk ONCE the night before a long run and I will never do this again. I felt nauseous!! However, some people can get away with this WAY better than me.
  2. Don’t mix a whole lot of different drinks. This is REALLY bad news for a hangover.
  3. Drink non-alcoholic drinks in-between an alcoholic one to slow down how much you drink ie water, fruit juice etc

2.   Have lots of water to combat the dehydration.

3.   Have something like milk, or cheese, before you drink – as this lines your stomach. So our mothers telling us to “line the stomach with food” wasn’t just them being bossy.

4.   Foods like toast, fruit, flat lemonade, weak black tea with sugar, boiled rice, and eggs, can be kinder on the stomach when you have drunk a lot.

5.   Sleep it off. You should feel better after 24 hours.

ps an extra tip from Catherine Saxelby is not to bother with those effervescent tablets. She reckons they are just expensive urine!

Meanwhile, when I coach clients on how to move, eat and live healthier and happier, I advise clients too that alcohol has a lot of calories (7 calories per gram). A lot of my clients are chasing weight-loss goals. So there’s that to consider too.

ps remember all things in life in “balance” can be okay. Just make informed choices about how you fuel your body and have moderation in mind.

Set your next run goal by entering the Rotorua Marathon event held on May 8, 2012. There’s a fun run, 10km, half marathon and marathon distance to contemplate. Enter HERE

Rachel is a wellness coach, keen runner (25 marathons at the last count) and Rotorua Marathon ambassador.

Rachel is also the author of the book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness.

Follow her via  Instagram @RachelGrunwell or click here for her business Facebook

Blueberry Double Choc Raw Cheesecake

AD – this recipe and blog is sponsored by Eureka Blueberries

By Rachel Grunwell – wellness coach & author 

Mouth-watering NZ-grown Eureka Blueberries are the hero ingredient in this delicious raw cheesecake. There’s no cooking required and it’s full of nourishing, wholefood ingredients that taste good, look good and also help you to look good too! I’ll explain “why” soon…

The health benefits of blueberries are epic. They’re a powerful anti-aging food that can help combat memory loss. They’re rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin E, fibre, antioxidants, folate and anthocyanins. It’s the anthocyanins that help to boost brain function (this also makes the berries that blue colour by the way). 

Eureka blueberries are larger than most blueberries with a distinctive crunch and a delicious burst of flavour.

Eureka blueberries are in season now and instore now (at major New Zealand supermarkets like New World, Pak’nSave and other high-quality fruit retailers).

I advise my wellness clients to snack on real wholefoods like blueberries around that 3pm time if they hit that afternoon slump time where they feel hungry. They are also delicious paired with yoghurt as a snack.

They are a relatively guilt-free snack indulgence – there are only about 39 calories in half a punnet.

I actually LOVE eating these blueberries all on their own. They’re divine too in this Summer cheesecake recipe which is a great wholefood dessert options for when you next have friends over!

Blueberry Double Choc Raw Cheesecake


Bottom layer

½ cup coconut oil (this should already be in a melted form during the warmer months of Summer. If not, melt it in a pot or the microwave so it is in a liquid form)

1 cup raw almonds

1 cup raw cashew nuts

½ cup maple syrup

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of salt

1/3 cup cocoa powder

Middle layers

½ cup coconut oil (this should already be melted during the warm Summer months temp. If not, melt it in a pot or the microwave so it is in a liquid form)

¼ cup maple syrup 

¾ coconut cream

2 cups desiccated coconut 

(1 carton of Eureka Blueberries)


1 carton of Eureka Blueberries 

8 pieces of white chocolate (either shave it on top, or melt it in a bain-marie)

I garnished mine with edible flowers and mint fresh from my garden because it grows in abundance, but this is not essential.


Step 1. Line a cake or cheesecake tin with baking paper.

Step 2. Place all the bottom layer ingredients into a blender and mix well until it makes a thick chocolatey mixture. Place the mixture into the tin and then use your hands to evenly spread it out in the tin. Place this in the freezer.

Step 3. Place the middle layer ingredients (except the blueberries) into a clean blender and blend well. Half this mixture. Pour the first half of the mixture over the bottom layer in the mixture in the tin.

Step 3. Take the other half of the middle layer of the mixtre and place this in the clean blender and blend with the carton of blueberries. Then pour this blue mixture on top of the cheesecake. Place this in the freezer for two hours, or longer until you are ready to eat.

Step 4. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer and put it on a fancy place. Add the topping of a carton of whole blueberries on top.

Step 5 (is optional). Leave this layer out if you want to keep the cheesecake raw and dairy-free. If you want this topping, just heat the white chocolate (about 8 pieces) slowly using a bain-marie (put the chocolate in a glass bowl and then place this bowl inside a large pot filled with about 2cm of water. Heat the pot of water slowly and it melts the chocolate without burning it). Take a spoon and drizzle the white chocolate over the cheesecake. Add edible flowers and mint if you have them in the garden to garnish (although, again, this is just an optional extra if you have them growing in the garden in abundance like I do)…

Recipe by Rachel Grunwell: Wellness coach, & author of the book Balance: Food, health + Happiness, which boasts 30 nourishing recipes & 30 global experts sharing wisdom on how to live healthier and happier.

Rachel creates healthy recipes every issue for Good magazine and has created healthy-inspired recipes for a string of brands and companies over the years. 

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