Food Review: Nice and Natural Whole Seed Bars

As most of you know I am on a journey to improve my health and wellbeing after a diagnosis of bowel cancer in 2016.  I had a pretty rough year with surgery and chemotherapy treatment, but I have come out the other end (oh, the times I thought I never would) and am now moving forward daily to improve everything I consume.

Like most of you, I like to try new things, especially food related.  So, today I bring you Nice and Natural Whole Seed Bars.  These bars are new to the market and come in 3 flavours; cranberry and raspberry, vanilla with sesame and milk chocolate, and coconut, dark chocolate with goji berry, along with all bars having the base ingredients of sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Nice and Natural is a New Zealand company, who believe that when you are on the go and doing things, the last thing that you need to put into your body is something that isn’t nice and natural.  I love this philosophy and it is something that I am trying to change my mindset to.  No more just grabbing something that is close and handy, actually making a conscious decision about what I put into my body.

Normally I wouldn’t even consider buying muesli bars during my supermarket shop as I know they are full of sugar, and other nasty surprises, especially some of those numbers (you would be surprised where some numbers might pop up).  But, these bars are so simple, that I wouldn’t hesitate to have a box or two on hand in my pantry for those times when you can’t be bothered making something, or like at present, my oven is broken so I can’t bake (yes, it’s been 4 weeks now….and counting).

Cranberry and Raspberry Flavour.

Oh, how divine is this bar?  Out of the three this is by far my favourite.  It has such a huge hit of flavour.  Each bar in this flavour contains only 3 grams of sugar per bar!  Only 3 grams!  Less than one teaspoon!  Unheard of in the muesli bar aisle of the supermarket.


Vanilla Flavour, Sesame and Milk Chocolate.

Those that know me will know I’m not a huge milk chocolate fan.  Actually, I would never buy it, ever!  But, these bars are different.  I’ve had bars before, you know, the ones coated in chocolate, that I actually don’t like as there is too much milk chocolate, and it isn’t the nice type anyway.  But, these bars are beautiful.  Sure, there is milk chocolate, but before you taste the chocolate you get the beautiful taste of the vanilla and sesame seeds, along with the sunflower and pumpkin seeds.  If you couldn’t see the chocolate on the underside you wouldn’t actually know it is there.


Coconut, Dark Chocolate with Goji Berry.

This would have to be my second favourite.  There is a very thin layer of dark chocolate, you can’t really taste it, but the standout taste is the goji berry (and we all know how good they are!  Superfood!).  The coconut seems to taste a wee bit candied, but it is beautiful.  


So, next time you are contemplating in the snack aisle of the supermarket what is the best, these would be a better choice than some of the other products on the market.  By far they will have the least amount of sugar, they are a good source of fibre, and contain no artificial colours or flavours.  


I have three boxes of these delicious Nice and Natural Whole Seed bars to give away to three lucky readers. There are 6 bars in each box.

To enter, head over to Renee Writes on Facebook and “like” my page, locate the Nice and Natural Whole Seed bars post and comment with “yes please, I’d love to try”.  

For an extra entry, comment on this post below.

**Giveaway closes on Thursday 30th March at 11:59pm.

**Giveaway open to New Zealand addresses only.  

**Winners will be announced on Facebook so be sure that you have liked my page

**For competition terms and conditions please see here.


Good luck!

Music.  My Daily Therapy.

Music. My Daily Therapy.

Music. Music is such a powerful healer. It can help to turn around depression. It can help heal the soul. It can lighten your mood. It can motivate you. Music is such a wonderful healer.  

And along with music comes singing. Daily singing, whether you are good or bad, has the ability to boost your immunity and clear your throat chakras.  

Before last Winter (when I was just at the beginning of my chemotherapy), a good friend of mine, Sarah from BodyMana Wellbeing – Pilates & Nutrition posted a video about different ways to clear your throat chakras and boost your throat immunity so you don’t suffer over winter. I truly believe that singing can help this. So, every day I sing. I’m not good at it, and no one is around when I do sing, but I sing. I am prepared to do most things to boost my immunity.

Recently I have also found a medical journal article that shows through some studies how music and singing has helped cancer patients.  It states that:

Studies have shown reductions in anxiety, improvements in mood and reductions in cardiovascular measures such as blood pressure. However, to date there has been little attention on the impacts of music interventions on biological markers of endocrine and immune function. There is nevertheless evidence to suggest that music interventions could have a combined effect on the mental health and immune function of people affected by cancer.

Most of the research I have read relates to choir singing, and singing for an hour at a time.  I, for one, am not at the moment going to join a choir, so I’ll continue to rock on to my own tunes, and probably over a day my singing equates to one hour, but not all at once.

While I definitely support the use of traditional medicine in the treatment of cancer, I am a huge advocate of natural therapies alongside traditional treatment, as long as these are discussed with your oncologist (although I’m sure that if you bring up the topic of singing every day with your oncologist, I’m sure you will get a few sideways glances and glares).  Although at present I have no cancer (that I know of) floating around, and am not undergoing any current traditional treatment, I am all for other natural therapies to help boost my immune system and increases my chances that cancer will not return, cos we all know, that once you’ve had it, you have a high chance of it returning some day.

So, as I sing every morning to boost my immunity and also help my mental health and wellbeing, I’m going to post a song. Every day, at 7.30am, a song will pop up over on my Facebook page (follow me to listen) for you all to sing along to. It will be fun. There will be some old, some new, some funky, some cool. A mixture of everything.

Who’s in for a bit of singing?

(Let me know your favourite singers, songs etc in a message below and I’ll add them to my list).

Welcome to Renee Writes…..2017 edition

Welcome to Renee Writes…..2017 edition

renee writes 2017


Welcome to the 2017 edition of Renee Writes.  I’m Renee and I love to write.  My favourite topics are food and travel, and about changing my lifestyle for health reasons.

In 2016 I spent my year fighting bowel cancer.  It consumed my whole year, starting in February when I had my first symptom, ending in November, when I took my last dose of chemotherapy, although recovery is still ongoing.  I am now undergoing regular testing to keep this disease at bay.

So, its now time to change my lifestyle, enjoy the important things in life, have more life experiences, eat better food, drink more water, enjoy more exercise and heal my body and mind.

I’d love to share with you all my journey, my learnings along the way.  I’d also love to show you how easy it is to change your lifestyle and diet, small tiny baby steps at a time.

My journey to better health and wealth isn’t going to be a sprint.  Its all about small incremental changes, forming good habits for a lifetime of future health.  In April 2016 I faced an uncertain future when my Dr showed me a picture of my CT scan.  Now, having successfully come through surgery and 8 rounds of chemotherapy, my future is looking good.  Bowel cancer may return, it may not.  But it is now time to make changes so it has a lesser chance of taking hold and returning.

Another passion I have is travel!  Doesn’t everyone love to experience travel.  I’ll be sharing along the way through my journey to better health my travels around New Zealand (because you have to know your own back yard) and around the world.

2016 saw me travel to Melbourne and Singapore, so I’ll catch you up on parts of these journeys soon.  Before I was overcome by the effects of chemo I started writing my stories.  You can check out some here and here.

The beginning of 2017 has already been booked quite well.  April will see me taking a family trip to Blenheim, May has us heading to a conference in Brisbane and July/July I’m heading away with my hubby on one of our “to do before we die” trips to the United States.  I’m so excited for the year ahead.

So, stick around if you love food, health, wealth and travel, with the odd bit of education on bowel cancer.  This is the reason I started my journey so it sort of has to feature somewhere.

Until next time


Goodbye 2016…..

Well, I haven’t been here for a while.  A long while.  3 months in fact.  It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, I have a lot to say, but I have struggled for the last few months.

I’ll bring you up to date on what’s been happening around here, where no one can see!

In October I finally finished my chemo.  6 months of my life…Gone!  But, it was a necessary evil, one that I had to endure, to get to where I am today.  I think that if I didn’t go through this process, life would have just carried on as usual, no major change.  I have come so far mentally and emotionally this year.  I won’t say I’ve come far physically cos I’m now on a long road to recovery, but I am on that road and it is looking good.

So, what no one told me….and I’m going to write a post about this later, that the last 2 rounds of chemo were way harder than the first.  I won’t go into much detail here, but suffice to say, they were horrible.  (blog post to come).

After finishing my last round, I have suffered from severe fatigue, and a few other side effects which are not major, but the fatigue really got me.  It has taken until now, and a shot or two of B12 (as it has now been discovered I have severely low levels, but no one can say if this was caused by chemo, or I have been like it for a while), I’m feeling much better.

Also, I am feeling lighter.  You know that feeling you get when you clear the clutter.  Well, the last couple of weeks I have done that.  I have cleared the clutter in my home.  It was starting to get my down sometimes, so I hired a skip bin and cleared the house out.  I said goodbye to a lot of things, stuff that had been hanging around.  Stuff I didn’t need anymore.  Stuff that was cluttering both my house and my mind.  Stuff that served me no purpose anymore.  And you know what……I feel so much better for it.  My house is clean, clear and happy.  My mind is clean, clear and happy.  I am loving all parts of my life again.

But, I can’t look past the fact that 2016 was just an arse of a year.  I have done some reading lately that points to the fact that 2016 is the final year in a 9 year cycle, and 2017 is a year one in the nine year cycle.  I do feel that 2016 was my final year.  It is time to start fresh, happy, invigorated, ready to make progress, ready to make myself shine.

So, while I have a lot of ideas of what I’m going to accomplish in 2017, I do acknowledge what 2016 has taught me.  It has taught me that I can get through one of the worst experiences life can throw at you.  It has taught me my body can withstand a lot of punishment. But most of all it has taught me that it’s time to change.  Time to change my lifestyle, time to change my thoughts, time to change me!  Time to be the best version of me that I can be!

I do have many things I still want to share with you from 2016.  I travelled twice during my treatment, once to Melbourne and once to Singapore, so I have all that to share.  I also have a few new recipes to share, and my whole new lifestyle to share.  I want to show you that it is easy to live a healthy, relaxed lifestyle, without the stress, without the worry, without the busyness.

There are a few travel plans in the works for 2017.  We are headed to Blenheim in NZ as a family in April, Melbourne in May, then hubby and I are off to the United States in June.  I also have other plans, health wise, to get my body in the best possible shape it can be in, so stick around and I’ll share my journey with you.  (I love reading daily journals that people blog, so hopefully (fingers crossed) I’ll be back on 1st January with my first post).

So, as I sign off from this novel, I say “see ya later” to 2016, I welcome in 2017 with open arms.  This year is all about small steps to a bigger and brighter future.

R xx

Dr Libby – an amazing experience!

Dr Libby – an amazing experience!

dr libby

So last night I got to go and see Dr Libby live!  And we were in the front row!  OMG!  It was amazing.

I have never seen her live before, seen her around the internet and read some books, but this was sort of life changing.  Not the sort of life changing as having bowel cancer and having to change your life, but she opened my eyes to a whole lot of new ideas and ways of doing things.

Dr Libby’s latest tour is all about going from surviving to thriving.  Learning about how to nourish your body so you can thrive.  At present I am in the process of reading something daily that once I have finished my treatment I can put all that I have learnt into action and help my body recover from chemotherapy.  Chemotherapy is a nasty necessary evil at the moment so all that I can do now is learn what to do once it is gone from my life!

One of my biggest takeaways from last night was that I must support my liver more.  Even though I know through blood tests and an MRI that my liver is fine now, I’m not sure if any damage has been done to it over the last 6 months of chemo and crap food I have let into my body.  (My oncologist is a very good person and lets his patients dictate their own diet while on chemo as it is hard enough sometimes just getting through the treatment that he doesn’t like to restrict your diet as well).  But, in all honesty, I have eaten far too many pies, and have noticed a huge difference in my weight the last few months.  So, no more pies for me!

Right, back to last night.  Sorry for a little divergence there!  Dr Libby was all about how to nourish your body with whole foods.  Going back to basics, eating lots and lots of veges…..I love veges so no problem there.  Limiting the other crap you let enter your body….sugar, alcohol, caffine, external poisons such as pesticides, what you put on your skin etc etc.  I have become very aware lately of what not only goes into my body but what goes onto it, as your skin is your biggest organ so you got to look after it with the right stuff.

Another Dr Libby takeaway was the calorie fallacy.  Life is not all about counting calories, calories in vs calories out etc.  Life is about nourishing your “earth suit” (a Dr Libby term but I so love it I might just use it a bit, cos right now I love my earth suit and it is under immense strain and pressure).  I have long believed that you should just eat real food.  Yes, I have eaten some crap over my lifetime.  McDonalds, Burger King, KFC were regular weekly outings.  Now, I very rarely visit one of these places.  Plus, they make me feel like crap when I do eat them and then that upsets my delicate bowel which lets me know in no uncertain terms it is upset!!!!!

And also, life is about living.  You only have one life so forget about the small shit and live a little! Don’t stress about the small stuff!  Love your life and enjoy every moment!  Don’t get so caught up with existing that you don’t end up living!  That is the one big thing that life has taught me recently.  That it is about living, having fun, enjoying your family, enjoying your friends, taking notice of the small things, smelling the roses, soaking up how small you really are when looking up at the night sky!  All those things that you take for granted, one day you won’t be able to do!  Enjoy them now!

So, if you ever get to see Dr Libby live I highly recommend it.  She will open your eyes to a whole other world that you have probably been subconsciously thinking about, like changing your lifestyle, but have always put it in the too hard basket.  Now is your time!  Do it for you!  Do it for your family!

Take care and smell the roses….

R xx

P.S.  You can find Dr Libby here or find her on social media.  You won’t regret it.

Pure luck…..and an awesome travel agent!

A once in a lifetime opportunity comes by only once in your life.

A beautiful sunrise captured on departure from Dunedin Airport

On 17th April 2015 my husband and I departed New Zealand on the trip of a lifetime.  We were headed to the other side of the world to attend the Gallipoli 2015 commemorations.

In the essence of travel we had two weeks, had only booked and paid for our trip 5 weeks before departure (extremely lucky and stressful all at the same time) and wanted to pack in as much travel and adventure as we could.

Having visited Turkey 5 years previously we would have preferred a quick 2 day tour to Gallipoli  (this was the only way to attend the service and get access to the Gallipoli Peninsula) but only booking 5 weeks prior to departure we found ourselves taking the last two available seas on a FEZ Travel 8 day Captains Tour, taking in some of the most beautiful parts of western Turkey before attending Gallipoli.

So… did we get there.  We were notified on Thursday 5th March we were successful in obtaining 2 tickets in the ballot for attending the Gallipoli Commerations.  The only catch was……we had to have all our travel details booked and paid for by 11th March.  This was a condition the New  Zealand Defence Force attached to these ballot tickets as we were entered into the fourth and final ballot (the first ballot was closed end of January 2014).

After checking with the bank to make sure we could access some funds, Saturday afternoon saw us off to find a travel agent.  We met an awesome guy who moved heaven and earth to get us overseas to live out our dream, whilst not breaking the bank booking 5 weeks prior to travel.  He achieved this by routing us on different airlines, through a multitude of countries with a few city stopovers.

Right from the start we counted our lucky stars that we were in a position to make this trip, so we made it an adventure, maybe our own little version of my alltime favourite show “The Amazing Race”.

After departing Auckland, NZ, we travelled through Hong Kong, stopping for 24 hours.  Next stop was Istanbul, but to get there we travelled from Hong Kong through Frankfurt then back to Istanbul.

Hong Kong by night

After 8 days travelling through Turkey we departed on a direct flight from Istanbul to Rome, Italy.  Here we had a 2 night stopover, then it was a homeward bound journey toward New Zealand via Zurich (quick change of planes) and through Singapore for 2 nights.  After that it was a quick direct flight back to Auckland.

We experienced many things on all these flights, which I will cover in detail in coming blog posts.  I will fill your all in on the best and worst things of our adventures, the beautiful food, the beautiful people, the amazing experiences, but this post is just an introduction of how our trip began.

Stay tuned for more exciting excerpts from our journey, as well as some more recent adventures, hotel stays, fun kid stuff thrown in for good measure.

Renee xx

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