N&T in Real Life: 2023 Recap

01/05/24

(Updated 02/06/24)

Welcome to the first edition of Nourish and Tempt in Real Life, where I share life behind the scenes, both personally and in business. To kick off the New Year I've got a recap on the year that was - 2023.

Hi reader! Welcome to the first edition of N&T in Real Life. This is a quarterly series where I’ll be sharing snippets of life, both personal and professionally.

I started Nourish & Tempt (formerly Healthy Always – oh how the name makes me cringe now😬) circa 2012 when Instagram was still in its infancy. Over the decade, N&T became a constant creative companion (and ever-demanding hobby) while working a day job as a Nutritionist. That is, until mid-2023 when I finally went full-time, whoop!

Looking back, so much has changed across the social media landscape. With limited time, I’ve focused on sharing recipes, and less on personal life or behind-the-scenes business – something I’ve missed, hence the new series.

Thank you to the wonderful Walder Wellness, a fellow nutrition professional and recipe blogger, who inspired the idea. Let’s start with a sweeping 2023 recap.

2023: In a Nutshell

Reflecting on 2023 – it was a big one. It marked the moment I took a leap of faith to commit full-time on Nourish & Tempt (and haven’t looked back!). We had some epic travel experiences. However, the year ended on a tough note after learning we miscarried our first baby.

Sometimes things unfold in ways that defy easy understanding. As I journey through life, I’m learning that that with the wonderful moments, come challenging times too. Like a natural ebb and flow, they coexist.

Without minimising these difficulties, I’m also recognising that they’re often periods of deep reflection, realignment, and sometimes even personal evolution. Maybe there’s something in that.

Business Highlights

The big glittery headline for 2023…I finally went full-time on Nourish & Tempt✨!

I’ve adored my career to-date, and that’s one reason the leap took so long. Having spent close to a decade in people-forward roles—across community, private practice, and workplace wellbeing—has shaped me as a nutritionist, and beyond. I’ll always be grateful for the pragmatism muscle that has steadily grown, through applying nutritional principles in real life to real people.

However, the endless juggle between the 9-5 and side hustle, the always-working-on-weekends, the frantic pace, just wasn’t sustainable. Something had to give, and N&T was becoming so demanding that it was sink or swim time.

Besides, I’m still working as a nutritionist in this business – I’m just focused on nutrition communication now💃.

Reflecting on 2023 in business, special highlights include:

  • New Zealand Food Awards Judging + Gala Dinner Awards. Serving for the third consecutive year as a food critic judge was incredible experience, as always. The opportunity to critically assess Aotearoa’s exceptional food and beverage offerings has been a tremendous privilege, and a neat environment to apply nutrition principals within.
  • Zespri Kiwifruit media tour. I had a blast hosting a Japanese media delegation of journalists, chefs and bloggers travelling New Zealand to learn about Zespri kiwifruit. This included a cooking demo featuring kiwifruit paired with famed local ingredients (lamb with kiwifuit salsa, trifle with mānuka honey jelly and kiwifruit…), and supermarket tour chatting all things nutrition and the fundaments of New Zealand cuisine.
  • Launching a digital product. I dabbled in digital products with ‘Plan, Prep, Eat’, a guide to meal planning and prep. This ebook collates tried-and-tested tips from time in Nutrition Practice and is designed to help create a routine that works for you, because there’s never a one-size-fits-all. I loved the creative process behind putting this ebook together – a great growth curve.

Over on the blog

The blog welcomed close to a quarter of a million visitors across 2023 – a number that blows my mind! With my work pace shifting mid-year, visitors grew and it was incredibly gratifying to surpass my annual traffic goal.

As the year drew to a close traffic started to dip (‘tis the season of gingerbread and Christmas pudding, after all), but shot up to its highest point in January, in true new year fashion. Checking out the weekly highs and lows is always interesting – every Sunday, there are traffic spikes as people plan their menu for the week. Check out the oscillations below.

On the content side, more time on the business means more recipes. Previously, a new post felt like a tumbleweed rolling through a desert at times, but we’re in a consistent groove now. I begun sharing step-by-step method photos with new recipes (making my way through the older ones slowly), so they’re more helpful.

And the Winner Is (Drumroll, Please!)…

It’s always neat and interesting to see your favourite recipes from the year. Aligned to 2023’s food trends, plant-based dishes continue to be the rage. The top posts of 2023, based on web traffic, were:

Website recipe reviews are one of the greatest ways you can support a food blogger; they help nudge others to give the recipe a whirl and show me what your tastebuds are digging! So, if you try and enjoy a dish, please do share the love💛.

Personal Highlights

Travelling lights me up. Getting culturally immersed in new foods, customs and ways of life always sparks inspiration and joy.

We did some epic travel in 2023. We explored the Philippines in April, and California in August, spending time in the Los Angeles region and Catalina Island.

Phillipines

The Philippines were vibrant and envelop you from the get-go. As a tropical archipelago with over 7000 islands, you’d need a lifetime to explore them all. We visited three during our stay – the island of Cebu, Negros, and Bantayan.

Entering the country with little knowledge on Filipino food, each bite helped with piecing together the cuisine. Our big takeaways: it’s hearty and satisfying, akin to homestyle cooking, and with three dominating flavours – salty, sour and sweet. You can read more about the flavours of the Phillipines here.

California (including Santa Catalina Island)

I always enjoy trips to California. I love the scenic contrast of beaches to mountains to deserts. I love how its progressive, often leading in social and environmental polices. I also love the food – a trip to Wholefoods or Erewhon, ogling the innovative food and drinks, is usually a planned activity lol.

We ventured to the wildly picturesque Catalina Island, approximately 35km off the coast of Los Angeles. It’s a relaxed and quaint town with Mediterranean-style architecture and great food (including the best key lime pie to grace my tastebuds, though I’m yet to savour a slice from the Florida Keys💁‍♀️). There’s a strong commitment to conservation on the island, to preserve its natural beauty and diverse wildlife.

Navigating Loss

Tim and I were gearing up for a wonderful December as we started to share news of our first pregnancy.

Entering this new chapter, we were mindful of the stats surrounding miscarriage (approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies in New Zealand – staggering). Though, thanks to the glow of new experiences, we didn’t dwell much on it.

We had a missed miscarriage, where our babies heart stopped, but my body hadn’t physically misscarried. Often these are picked up at a prenatal ultrasound, turning a moment of excitement into a real rug-being-pulled-beneath-your-feet experience.

Despite its prevalence, pregnancy loss can carry an air of taboo. I wanted to share our experience because there’s a high chance someone reading this may be going through it, has gone through it, or knows someone who has. There can be solace in knowing you’re not alone, especially for something that’s such a heart hurter.

Everyone’s journey is different, but here are a few things that have helped us:

  • Rallying a support network. The proactive check-in’s from loved ones – their words of affirmations and invitations to talk was immensely helpful.
  • Knowing that it’s okay to feel however we feel, and that might be all-consuming. We found the emotional PDF resources on the Pink Elephant’s Support Network website incredibly validating.
  • Acknowledging the loss. We took time to visit a special place to us to mark the soul that won’t be joining us earth-side. It was really healing.

I gravitated towards spending a lot of time outdoors in December, and have continued to do so. Whether walking the dog, hiking in the bush, lying in the sun, catching a sunset or standing barefoot on the grass, time in nature has been very cathartic.

To Wrap Up…

That concludes the first edition of N&T in Real Life. I’d like to take a moment to say a massive thank you to those, both new and long-standing, who have supported N&T the last year.

N&T has been a creative passion project for years, so it’s still hard to believe it’s now my full-time gig. Your remakes, comments and kind reviews mean so much, and have enabled me to take this jump. Thank you again, and again, and again.

I’m looking forward to a Q1 recap in a few months time. Until then, have a wonderful start to 2024. Big hugs, Danijela xx

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