During the most frigid part of the US winter my family had the incredible opportunity to travel to the South Island of New Zealand, where of course, it is currently summer.
Our 20-year-old son, Solomon, had been studying for a semester in Melbourne, Australia, so Andrew and I, along with our 18-year-old daughter Celia, decided that this was the ideal opportunity to make the very long trip to the Southern Hemisphere to meet him after his post-semester travels.
We had heard the most wonderful things about New Zealand but we really didn’t know much about the country before going there. We asked friends who had traveled there what their favorite spots were, and we worked with our favorite eco-adventure specialists, GreenSpot Travel, to come up with a very active and ambitious itinerary to see and experience as many of New Zealand’s natural wonders as possible during a two week holiday.
We were enchanted by the utterly beautiful country, which is truly a hiker’s and outdoor lover’s paradise. Among our most memorable experiences, we rafted on class V river rapids, did a 3 day mountain trek, swam in a glacial lake, hiked on a glacier, cruised into a remote fjord, held a baby merino sheep, saw a border collie round up a herd of sheep and watched a sheep shearing demonstration, zoomed down a shallow river on a jet boat, flew on a tiny plane which dropped us off in a remote valley, after which we had to cross a freezing and rushing river barefoot and hike back to civilization. Finally, we stayed at a tiny inn on a cove that was only accessible by water taxi, and from there did a day trip to New Zealand’s famed vineyards to sample some sauvignon blancs, pinots, chardonnays and even champagnes! This was a splurge for a family and was truly the trip of a lifetime, one that we will be laughing about and sharing memories of for years to come.
Probably the most stressful experience for me was the first time I was in the front seat while my husband drove down narrow, windy mountain roads on the left side of the road! I clenched my teeth, shrieked occasionally, and finally fell asleep from the stress.
Every morning at our inns and bed and breakfasts we were treated to the most indulgent breakfasts. They always included plain yogurt with muesli and poached plums (which I can’t wait to make once it’s plum season again here). Sometimes the cooks would soak the muesli in apple juice and we’d put a dollop of that right on the yogurt.
During January, we always do a sugar cleanse, so when we got home, I was inspired to make my own toasted muesli to enjoy as part of a delicious sugar-free breakfast atop my morning yogurt with cherries (I buy them frozen and warm them in the microwave so they get juicy).
This toasty muesli has wonderful texture and a nutty and fragrant flavor—it’s perfect for breakfast over yogurt with fruit. I just wish I could get my hands on some of those New Zealand poached plums to enjoy with my yogurt and muesli, instead of having to wait until next summer when I can make my own during plum season! But until then, my frozen pitted cherries are a very fine substitute.
Toasted Nutty Muesli
Makes about 10 ¼-cup servings
Prep + Cook = 20 minutes
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, to taste
¼ tsp. allspice
¼ tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. coconut oil, or use canola or olive oil or oil of your choice
1/2 cup raisins
In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, spices and salt.
In a large heavy skillet, melt the oil over medium heat. When it is melted, stir in the oat mixture, and toast it, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes until it is fragrant and just starting to turn golden in spots. Turn off the heat and stir in the raisins. Remove it from the heat, let it cool, and store it covered for up to a month.