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Salted Almond Butter Ice Cream

The other day, I came across this blog post. It struck a cord with me because from time to time, hubby and I discuss how our marriage changed since the arrival of Asher.  I’m a very lucky woman because I have the world’s best hubby in so many ways. He is a hands on daddy, in love with me and is absolutely supportive in my fitness, health, work, family and food goals.

That does not mean though that we do not struggle from time to time. Like most families, we can fall into a rut if we are not careful. Because of his early morning starts, more often than none, he gets easily tired. For me, I’m a perfectionist in some ways and like to make things “right”. With our focus on Asher, it’s easy to start the morning with a text message and we may not even have a decent chat till 2 days later!

With tiredness and busyness means we say things we do not mean (or think), we forget appointments and neglected to check in with one another. It comes in with impatience and annoyance. I felt unappreciated, and he felt unheard. It could easily spiral into a downward mess.

I’m writing this to remind myself that I’m very very lucky even though sometimes I don’t feel that way. Because counting my blessings makes me realise that the world is not bleak. My husband isn’t the world’s most unthoughtful person or mean. He is a human and humans can tire and make mistakes. So this is my list to remind myself.

1) He wakes up early every morning so that he can be with us earlier in the day
2) He brushes his teeth in the guest’s bathroom so he doesn’t wake us up.
3) He never complains with whatever I cook.
4) He plays with Asher every single day. He change his nappies when needed and feed him most dinners.
5) He budgets and make sure our household gets taken care of
6) He says “I love you” daily to me
7) I have been obese, skinny and pregnant and he stood by me
8) He stayed close to me when Granny was seriously ill and passed on.
9) He welcomed my family into our lives and even like them staying with us.
10) He adored my granny and attempted/learned cantonese with her.
11) Also attempted to speak mandarin to my dad
12) Taste and eat every single dish I made and bake AND gave me honest thoughts.
13) Never once did he complained about my gym schedule. He change his work schedule so I can head to the gym to have me time 4 times a week.
14) Totally embraced eating clean.
15) Does the laundry
16) Remembers rubbish and bin collection days
17) Trusts me completely with shopping and budgeting
18) Always on the lookout for cheap flights
19) Appears to know every city and transport system around the world.
20) Cooks me breakfasts occasionally
21) If I forget an ingredient in the midst of baking, he would go out and buy it straight away.
22) Often think about our future
23) Share our love for travelling
24) Endure my occasional need to “get it right!” (and then having to taste countless tarts, ice cream or roasts)
25) He is in love with Asher.
26) Some evenings, make me a cup of chai tea with warmed up almond milk.
27) Want to spend time with us. He doesn’t stay long for work functions or meet up with friends for a beer at night.
28) Always keep me updated on his work, what’s been bothering him or finances
29) Calms me down when I feel upset or panic.
30) Pray with me and for us.

I’m sure there are more and i’m sure I can add to it as time goes on.

So for my hubby, this salted almond butter ice cream is for you. (Just because I know how much you love ice cream!)

Salted Almond Butter Ice-Cream (serves 2)
2 frozen bananas
2 tablespoons of almond butter
pinch of salt

place everything in a food processor and blitz till it becomes ice cream! Drizzle with your favourite topping.

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Coconut Milk Bread

This was one of my experiments to make a “bread” to hold and dip into soup. We tend to avoid grains these days but still love the sensation and texture of something to dip into soups. As the winter season is well upon us, I thought I might read up and try making it up at home.

This recipe is from Spunky Coconut again. The biggest reason why I made this is because it has coconut and hubby loves coconut. It did not disappoint and it has a creamy texture to this loaf. It’s not “bread like”. It’s more of a mix between a muffin and a denser cake. We had soup with a little coconut in it so it went really well. In fact, hubby enjoyed this so much that he had this for breakfast as well with some peanut butter!

Coconut Milk “Bread” (15 slices)
2 cup of almond meal
1/2 cup of coconut flour
2 tablespoons of phylum husk
1 tsp of baking soda
pinch of salt

1 and 1/4 cup of coconut milk
4 eggs
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 tsp honey
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar

Preheat Oven 180C. Line loaf pan with baking paper. In a mixer, add all dry ingredients and then wet. Spoon into loaf pan and bake for 40-45 minutes.

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Leek and Spinach Tart

This is one of my favourite “light meals” recipe. I spoke about Teresa Cutter before but honestly, this woman creates the best healthy clean recipes that are so nourishing for your body. I have made this tart a few times and even had it at my baby shower.

One of the reasons why I made this various times is because I have trouble removing tarts from tins. This version was one of the semi successful ones- but you can see it suffered some trauma. The filling is beautiful and the crust is so yummy though.

Some mistakes I made included
– Not oiling the tin enough
– Pressing the pastry too hard into the tin. Gentle pressing is sufficient.
-Not rolling the pastry evenly.
– Underbaking the crust.
– Using the wrong type of tart tin. I used the high wall type but found out that NOT all tins are created equal. Too thick a tin actually made it harder for the tart to be removed.

There was one week, that I was so frustrated, I made 3 tarts to prove that I can do it 😡

Leek and Spinach Tart (Serves 10-12)
300 grams of Almond Meal
1 Cup of desiccated coconut or around 100grams
3 tablespoons of linseed
pinch salt
3 eggs

2 leeks
500 grams of spinach
500 grams of ricotta cheese

Preheat Oven to 180C. Oil your tart tin VERY well. Blitz crust ingredients in the food processor. Roll pastry in between two pieces of baking paper and gently press it to the tin.

To make the filling, cook the leek with a little oil till soft. Add spinach till it wilts. Mix vegetables with ricotta and seasoning. Spoon into tart. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with rocket and balsamic vinegar.

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Chocolate Vanilla Slice

I have my bad and good days. Some days, I really really miss my grandmother. Grief is a throbbing pain in your heart that doesn’t seem to go away. It becomes slightly duller but it aches. The image of her smiling face, the twinkle in her eyes and her old fashioned styled hair with heaps of hair spray stays with me.

Last year this time, there was so much excitement. I was heavily pregnant. My family was planning their big trip to stay with us for 12 weeks. An pending new arrival to the family brought a buzz. Who would have thought the past year would be filled with so many memories- both happy, troubled, happy and sad?

We are planning Asher’s first birthday and then it hit me that granny won’t be here physically to celebrate with us. I’m holding on though, to the memories of our family waking up together and looking forward to seeing Asher in those early days when he arrived. The laughs during his full month celebration and cooking lessons that grandmother gave me (yam cake and chill). The precious cuddles they shared.

Of course, we had our trips back where grandmother spent mornings and days seeing Asher play at my parents flat, or helped entertained Asher while I do a quick workout at the exercise park.

And the worrying times where Gran rebelled against death and came back from heart failure and her stint at ICU in February.

The sadder times when we lost her.

I was browsing photos of treats and bakes I made when this caught my eye again. This was made for a family gathering. At that lunch, we spoke about grandmother’s likes and dislikes, and how the whole family became closer together (extended family included) this year. That is what my grandmother would have love to know. She would have love to take an adventurous bite of these small chocolate vanilla slices and give me her two cents about how it’s not sweet enough, or it’s too hard, or that it’s “ok”.  But she would eat it with a smile anyway.

Chocolate Vanilla Slice (makes 24 mini ones) Adapted from Spunky Coconut.
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup cacao powder
2 tablespoons of linseed meal
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup of almond butter
1/2 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoons of honey
1 tablespoon of vanilla paste

1 cup of coconut butter
1/4 cup of water
2 tablespoons of honey
2 tsp of vanilla paste

Chocolate Ganache
100 grams of dark chocolate
1/2 cup of coconut milk

Pre heat oven to 180C. Line a 8×8 square dish.

To make the base- mix the wet ingredients using a mixer. Then fold in dry ingredients. Press it to the pan and bake for 30 minutes or so. Cool.

To make the Vanilla- Mix everything in a mixer. Spread frosting over the base.

Chocolate Ganache- In a saucepan, melt chocolate in coconut milk. Pour ganache over the frosting. Fridge it over night.

Cut into small pieces and enjoy.

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Pressure Cooker- Red Wine Lamb Shanks

I don’t shy away from my meat. One of my favourite things to have during winter is a lamb shank. Given that we have a pressure cooker now, I tend to use it to cook lamb shanks rather than a slow cooker- somehow, I never get to prepare everything in the morning to make a nice melt in your mouth lamb shank!

There is a butcher near where we are that does a french lamb shank really well. He said 1 per person is plenty and so true that was. It had plenty of meat and I couldn’t even finished mine. The magic of lamb shanks comes from using an acid to soften the meat and long and slow cooking time.

I like to serve mine with a big batch of vegetables. The best thing is that I pressure cooked it before I went to the gym. Switched the fire off, and away I went. When I returned, I turned it back on again for the last 30 minutes or so and it was just perfect.

This does make me think- do you use your slow cooker or pressure cooker more at home?

Melt in Your Mouth Red Wine Lamb Shanks (Serves 4)
4 Lamb Shanks
1 red onion diced
1 tablespoon of garlic
1 tinned of diced tomatoes
1 tsp of dried chill flakes
1 capsicum diced
1 carrot diced
1 cup of red wine
1 cup of beef stock

Brown lamb shanks first. Remove from heat and set aside. Saute garlic and onion till soft and add in all other ingredients. Simmer for a few minutes before adding shanks back on again. Place cover of pressure cooker on and cook for a good 1-1.5 hours. If you can, cook for another 30 minutes to make it really melt in your mouth. I turned it off at that point, went to the gym, came back, turned it back on and had a shower!

Then dinner was done!

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Blessed and Lucky Peanut Butter: A Crispy Salted Dark Choc Peanut Butter Cookies

Warning: This is not exactly the “cleanest” or “paleo” post.

My confession of the day is that we still have peanut butter from time to time. Yes, we ALWAYS have almond butter but there are some mornings when we just want a treat, mix into a salad dressing or even in cooking.

Blessed and Lucky sent me 3 generous jars of their peanut butter for reviews. I have to say their flavours did make me sit up. Cinnamon Spice, Maple Syrup and Sweet Honey. YUM!

Tasting them, I realised how much my taste buds have changed. The sweet honey and maple syrup was way to sweet for me. I can taste the granules of sugar. However, I really like the subtle maple syrup taste in nut butter. It’s also quite smooth and I can see it will be a hit in the mornings or in between waffles. My favourite I would say would be the Cinnamon Spice. It’s less sweet and I think it’s pretty unique to add cinnamon to peanut butter. It works though. Certainly not a everyday spread- not even every other day, but it’s a nice treat from time to time.

I decided to make a big batch of cookies for hubby. This turned out crispy on the outside, and a little chewy with the right crunch through it. Like most cookies, they are a treat food. This is particular a treat because the nut butter has sugar added to it already! So less is more when adding any sort of sweetener to the batter. The pinch of salt also balanced out the sweetness.

So when Asher is asleep at 10pm, I have a warm cup of almond milk with chia tea leaves and savour one cookie… and think about how sweet life is at times.

Salted Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Spice Peanut Butter Cookies (adapted from Slim Palate)
1 cup of Blessed and Lucky Cinnamon Spice Peanut Butter
2 tablespoons of coconut sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla paste
1 tsp baking soda
50 grams of dark chocolate chopped (I used 85%lindt)
pinch of sea salt.

Preheat Oven 180C. Line cookie trays with baking paper. In a mixer, whisk peanut butter, sugar and eggs till well mixed. Then add in vanilla, baking soda. Fold in dark chocolate. Place teaspoon on baking tray.  Sprinkle sea salt on each cookie. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Cool.

Note: I received these jars as a gift from Blessed and Lucky but views are entirely of my own!
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Crispy Waffles with Berries Compote

People are often curious about what I do in my day. Given that I’m not working, there is an assumption that I’m the boss of my own time. To a certain extent, I like the freedom of being a little flexible. Tradesman needing to come to the house? Yup, I can arrange that. Parcel collection from the post isn’t in the too hard basket when I can pop to the shops during the day. Arranging a play date on a week day? That can be done.

There are certainly advantages of being at home.

There is a scene in Sarah Jessica Parker’s movie “I don’t know how she does it”– where she played a business woman, juggling between motherhood and career. At night, there is a list of things in her head that she would go through like the end credits of a movie.

I could totally identify with that.

If I am lucky:

7am: Asher and I wake
7-7:30am- Wash up, I change into my day clothes and put some make up on (note to self- if I don’t do it then, I find that I won’t have the chance to do it any time after), change his diaper, prepare breakfasts for both of us
8:15am- Clothes change for him
8:30am-10am- Play time for Asher and me. We read, sing songs, dance, play chasey, hide and seek, stretches, swimming lesson..etc. I might also ring my dad or someone overseas then. More than often, I would squeeze in some housework such as clearing breakfasts, prep work for dinner, tidying around the house, clear the dishwasher, head out to do some groceries with him……
10-11:30am- Milk time and Asher’s nap time. Now, this gets tricky. On a good day, he sleeps in his cot by himself. I have better luck on my bed with heaps of cushions and pillows. Lucky for us, our carpets are thick and I’m close by to make sure he doesn’t fall. Some days, he wants me to hold him. If that happens, I just enjoy cuddle time. I don’t give up putting him down though but he may need resettling. If he sleeps, I get to vacuum and mop the floor,  prep dinner, bake something, pack the bag, clean the toilets,
11:30am- He wakes. Has a drink of water. Plays by himself while I prepare lunch for him and myself.
12ish- Lunch time.
12:30-3pm- That depends. Could be gymbaroo, play dates, outing somewhere. I would squeeze in more housework like bringing clothes in, folding clothes, putting them away. Really try cooking dinner!
3-4ishpm- Milk time Nap time. Same deal above.
4ish- Light snack. If I have no chance to prepare dinner above, prepare dinner now!
5pm- Husband comes home!
Depending on which day- I’m off to the gym and arrives home at 6ish.
5-5:45pm- Asher and daddy goes out for a walk
6+pm- Dinner time for Asher.
7pm- Bath time or shower for Asher and hopefully for me too.
7:30pm- BED TIME for him. Dinner time for us.
8ish- bed time: Clean up the kitchen, have a chat with hubby about his day, read, blog, prepare for the next day. Write a list…

Fun begins then
Anytime between 10am- 7am: Asher might wake 2-3 times. He is getting better now and usually only wakes once a night at 3 or 4 am for a feed. Then he sleeps till 6 or 7am. Not bad hey! Previously, he would wake every 3-4 hours and require settling from us. Asher is also sleeping in his own room.

Notice that I have “prepare for dinner” a few times during the day? Well, I have to be flexible from time to time. There are days where I can’t get to dinner prep work till 4pm because Asher is clingy or feeling unwell, or we have been out the whole day. Other days, I might start making chinese slow cooked soup late morning. There are also commitments that I fit in like mothers group, play dates and errands.

On top of that, I’m in charge of Hubby’s breakfasts, Asher’s meals..etc and you guys know I like knowing what I put in my foods so I tend to make as many snack or meal from scratch. In our family, I’m usually in charge of organising presents, groceries list, food budgeting costs, social interactions and keeping in contact with extended family members.

One of the things I enjoy doing is arranging play dates with other mums. It’s so lovely to see the children play together. I noticed that Asher learns from other children. He observes them and later in the day, he would try the skill out. It’s also a chance for me to learn from other mums. Lovely since my immediate family is overseas.

I love it all though. I have my days where I go “what did I REALLY do the whole day?” and would come up blank. Other days, I feel productive and have baked like 2 items, cooked dinner AND manage to spend quality time with Asher and hubby. Oh and the house looked decently clean.

Other days, hubby comes home and dinner could be cooking, but the house is messy and I feel like screaming. Remember that I have no extended family help so we are mostly on our own. I can’t run out to the shops by himself or head to wherever I want whenever I want. I have to make sure it’s not Asher’s nap time, or clashes with hubby’s schedule or any other commitments we have. Looking at the list, it almost sounds SO simple but it is honestly a juggling act.

All fun and games right?

On a long weekend, or if hubby is working from home though, I try to put in extra effort to make us breakfasts. I made these waffles one morning and they are definitely a keeper.

Crispy Waffles with Berries Compote 
1 cup of almond meal
1/2 cup of arrowroot flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tablespoons of coconut sugar
1/4 cup of coconut oil
1/2 cup of Almond milk
1 tsp of lemon juice.

Preheat waffle iron. Place almond meal, arrowroot, baking powder and coconut sugar in a bowl. Whisk all wet ingredients together and fold it into dry. Spoon into waffle iron and make waffles!

1 cup of mixed berries
1 tsp of honey

Place everything in a saucepan and warm it up.

EAT a nice healthy breakfast. This has arrowroot which is a starch so this is not an everyday breakfast if you are watching your starch intake. However, we love it and will have it from time to time.

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Salmon and Goats Cheese Muffins

I know sweet muffins are popular. Blueberries, or a white chocolate with raspberries always tend to hit the spot. There are times though, that I do prefer savoury muffins.

You may recall that my husband wakes up early for work. He sacrifices sleep so that he can spend time with us. Well, actually more with Asher as I usually pop to the gym for an hour (including travel time). This was one of my freezer/fridge friendly recipes as he could warm it up in the microwave as he prepares to go to work.

I do like the combination of Salmon and goats cheese. That many amount of eggs means I know my husband is getting enough protein. Goats cheese lifts this muffins up for sure. I like adding some goats cheese to freshly roasted vegetables and in salads. They are pretty expensive though and lucky for us, a little goes a long way.

For me, knowing that my husband is nourished and have a good start to the day makes me happy.

Salmon and Goats Cheese Muffins (mades around 10)
1/2 cup of almond flour
1/3 cup of coconut flour
1 carrot shredded
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp of baking powder

6 eggs
1 tablespoon of maple syrup

60 grams of smoked salmon
30 grams of goats cheese crumbed

Prepare muffin cups and tray. Preheat oven to 180C.

In a bowl, whisk dry ingredients together. In a jug, mix wet ingredients. Pour wet to dry and fold through. Fold salmon and goats cheese through. Spoon into muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

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Walnut Chocolate Brownies

They say friendships change when you become a parent. For me, its an opportunity to meet more new friends who are parents. Asher have been attending gymbaroo since he was around 8 weeks young. From there, I met a few other mums whom I click with. One of them is also from Singapore and her husband is from Malaysia!

Our sons are only born 2 weeks apart. We started meeting fortnightly for play dates and hosting lunches at respective homes. It’s so cute to see the boys watching one another and playing with toys. Of course, they are not at an age where they would play with each other but they appeared to be curious about each other’s presence.

I made Elana’s Pantry’s Walnut Chocolate Brownies for this lovely mother. By the way, she cooks such nourishing lunches for me after knowing how I eat (think pan fried salmon with asparagus with corn, pumpkin soup, and a grilled chicken tenderloin with a side pumpkin and goats cheese salad). That said, she said these brownies were a hit with her family and can’t believe it has no gluten and minimal refined sugar in it.

Walnut Chocolate Brownies (I cut it to 24 small bites)
100 grams of dark chocolate chopped roughly (I used lindt)
1/4 cup of coconut flour
2 eggs
pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup of coconut oil
2 tablespoon of honey
1/3 cup of crushed walnuts
handful of chopped dark chocolate

Preheat Oven to 180C. Line a brownie tray with baking paper.
Using a food processor, pulsed dark chocolate. Add in all other dry ingredients first. Pulse till it is well mixed. Then add in all other wet ingredients except the walnuts and handful of dark chocolate.
Pour mixture into pan. Sprinkle crushed walnuts and chocolate over the mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

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