Asher’s Birthday P1: A Coconut “Not Quite Rainbow” Cake

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(Photo Credits to Annelie Hansen)

 

I’m not sure how but time really do fly fast when bub arrives. The past year  has been full of an emotional roller coaster for my family. The arrival of Asher was a big highlight, and so was spending the precious 12 weeks with my parents and grandmother. Spending quality time with family members has never been so precious to me.

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(Photo by me)

This first year of motherhood has brought me so much joy and love. A baby in the household just seems to bond everyone together. I thought that while it is fresh in my mind, I could document some feelings and thoughts as Asher turned one.

1) My love for my husband has never been stronger. But our marriage has also been tested. Patience for each other. Holding my tongue as he might do things differently to Asher than myself is an ongoing challenge. Having a lack of time to connect with each other is another one. We are both learning as we go along but one thing for sure, I’m glad we are in the same team.

2) I felt a little low the night before Asher turned one. Memories of my grandmother flooded me. The little details like us having dinner and she demolishing a bowl of rice with braised chicken wing tips came to me. The proud eyes, smiles and cuddles the following day when she held Asher. As she gently cradled Asher, it was a serene and warm moment that I will never forget.

3) Although I have been away from my family for 14 years, those values remained with me. So many times I recall how my grandmother would cook a dish, or her voice in my head as I prepared a soup. It’s amazing how even parenting is the same way. I was brought up being physically close to my grandmother, being in a sling on her back, co-sleeping with her and as I grew older, followed her everywhere. She frequently reminded me of a story about me clinging onto the grills of our apartment when she attended a wedding dinner. I was waiting for her to return. I was 2.5 years old then. She was my secure attachment.

I have always believed your knowledge of relationships start young. Feeling secured begins when a main caregiver provides and reads you. I hope to be the same with Asher. So far, I have noticed Asher is cautious and often requires my re assurance and presence as he tries something new. Using baby carriers and co-sleeping appears to help settle him.

4) My world of perception changed. Motherhood is an addition to my identity. Work seems like a distant past!

5) Speaking of identity, a year being at home simplified me. I’m happier within myself. It’s almost like I have the freedom to focus on what I enjoy most. I’m investing in my family and I’m loving it (despite all the dark eye circles and rough skin from washing dishes!).

6) And being happier really helps in getting fitter again. Pre-pregnancy, I hit a roadblock in fitness. I was stuck. I appear to be getting stronger but my numbers did not shift and I struggled with a few techniques using hip hinge. Post Asher, my progress was slow at the beginning but then it started soaring. I was able to lift heavier, squat more and swing better. Physique wise, I’m probably happier within myself- something that has not happened before. The mind and body connection is real. It’s almost like, my body is saying we are happy now, and performance can begin.

So how did we celebrate Asher’s birthday?

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 Photo By Annelie Hansen Photography

On the 24th itself, we had a cake smash! Then Asher had a lovely nap followed by a quiet lunch in one of our favourite places to eat “The Wine Store and Kitchen” at Fremantle. I went to the gym afterwards for a quick workout, and I came back and we opened some presents for Asher as a family.

A cake smash is exactly what it is. We give a cake to Asher and he went nuts with it. It’s all really in the name of fun. From a developmental perspective, cake smashes provide many sensations for them to explore. From textural play with the moistness of the frosting, the crumbier feeling of the cake and of course, how to get it into the mouth! Besides that, we just want Asher to have a good time. Now it is the time that he can do things that kids can get away with- an adult smashing the cake would almost seem inappropriate! I chose “not quite rainbow” as I think the colours are pretty and would show well in photos.

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(Quick snap shot by me!)

On the 27th, we held a party in our home. I will follow that up in the next post.

Today though, I’m keen to share with you this recipe that I came up with for Asher’s cake smash. It’s a “Not quite rainbow” cake- I did 4 layers instead of 7. Hubby reminded me that it would be smash so the extra effort may not be worth it. Now, this cake does have food colouring in it, hence I didn’t want to have too many gels and colours in Asher’s food at such a young age. Luckily I chose gel as it only needed a few drops and hopefully that did not impact on Asher’s health that much. I was reminded that 99% of the cake was clean besides the colouring! Oh, the mothers guilt- does it ever end?

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Photo By Annelie Hansen Photography

The frosting was made by whipping coconut cream. I made a similar frosting before for a friend’s birthday cake (oops! I still need to post that one!). It was one delicious frosting that I couldn’t stop licking my fingers with! Coconut has a natural sweetness so I didn’t add anything but vanilla paste. Asher must have loved it because he stuck his toes in it first and then smear the frosting all over, playing with it with his fingers before digging into the cake with food gusto.

I made a trial cake a few days before and made heaps of adaptations. I think this nailed the texture of the cake. It was not too eggy, and was light enough. It is quite coconutty though. Each batch of the batter filled just under half of an 9 inch pan.

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Photo By Annelie Hansen Photography

Now, I have always said that I do not have the patience to decorate a cake. I kept this simple and simply frosted it and sprinkle some toasted coconut on it. I guess I have more future birthdays to practise decorating now!

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“Not Quite Rainbow” Coconut Cake (serves 10 -12 or One Cake Smash Session!)

1 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup of almond meal

1/2 cup of desiccated coconut

1/2 cup of coconut oil melted

10 eggs separated

2 tsp tartar powder

1.5 cups of almond milk

1 tsp of vanilla paste

2 tsp of baking soda

2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

1/4 cup of Brown Rice syrup

few drops of different gel colours or you can extract colouring from food such as beetroot.

Frosting

3 cans of 250ml Ayam Brand Coconut Milk placed in the fridge overnight.

1 tsp of vanilla paste

few drops of colouring or keep it white.

1) Preheat Oven to 180C. Line 2 9 inch cake pans with baking paper. (I did a four layer cake, which means two rounds of 2 cake pans).

2) Using a cake mixer, whisk egg whites and tar tar powder till soft peaks appear. Do the “turn over and see if egg white falls on you test”. Set aside.

3) Place coconut flour, almond meal, desiccated coconut,and baking soda together. Whisk gently to combine.

4) Whisk egg yolks, almond milk, brown rice syrup and oil together.

5) Fold wet to dry ingredients.

6) Gently fold egg whites over in 4 batches.

7) Separate mixture in 4 different bowls. Drip gel food colouring to the batter. Fold it through gently. Spoon mixture into cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes. Repeat.

8) Cool cakes completely

9) When cakes are cooling, make whipped coconut cream. Open 3 cans of coconut milk and spoon the cream (Top layer) up. Whisk in a cake mixer till it doubles it size. You can use it as it is or add food colouring.

10) Frost cakes!

11) Fridge the whole cake. It will firm the frosting further.

12) Smash and eat!

I’m a mum of a 1 year old!

Dear Asher,

When Mummy and Daddy found out about you, we were happy beyond words. I’m in awe that I am given this privilege of being your mum. This year, I have learnt and seen you grow….

1) The true meaning of what “Don’t sweat the small stuff” is.

2) The many uses of wet wipes.

3) How being mindful and staying in the moment with you is the most precious time of all.

4) The joys of seeing you flourish and grow.

5) You bring alot of joy to everyone around you. Your great grandmother and both side of grandparents care and love you.

6) Being a family is important. Reaching out and connecting with the extended family is also precious.

7) “Me time” is over rated but appreciated whenever I can grab some.

8) Sleep is also overrated. We have up our notch in our love for coffee.

9) Patience. I know that every cry, every bite you throw on the floor and time you wake up is just an indication of how much you love us and want us around.

10) Love is to a child is very different from romantic love. It’s actually difficult to describe but there is a protectiveness and all encompassing to it.

11) I’m in awe for your love of books and reading.

12) And how much you can move! Where did all the never-ending energy comes from?

13) Your words. I’m really proud that you can say “Mama, Papa, Daddy, Mummy, Ball, Fan, Book and “ane” (Plane).

14) Pointing! You can even point to yourself in photobooks and mirror.

15) The ferocity of your temper tantrums when you couldn’t get what you wanted.

16) Your charming ways. So far, you have received free gifts from cashiers to store keepers. Those gifts were books, key rings, wind up toys and even a vespa model bike!

17) Your love for strong tasting food like indian spices (Cumin and Coriander anyone?)

18) Your shy kisses and cuddles

19) Your facial expressions and honesty in expression of how you feel.

20) Flexibility. I have become more flexible and organised than I have ever before! I have organised lists, meal plans for you and the family, make mental lists and plan plan plan plan for everything.

What we really want you to remember though, is that your great grandmother would have love to celebrate this milestone with you. Unfortunately she couldn’t be here with you. She was extremely proud of you and in her visits to the hospital, every doctor and nurse would have seen and heard about your little achievements and strengths.

We also want you to cherish your grandparents. Although they are overseas, they are just as important. We hope you will never forget your Chinese roots and remember to honour your seniors accordingly.

Don’t let all the love get into your head. As parents, we promise to love you, but also guide you in love. So stop climbing on to that table now!

xx

Your mummy and daddy

Oh Hello There…

Hip Hip Hooray! We are LIVE!

After posting in More Than Words for 10 years, I have decided that it is time for a change. Not just a template change but I’m plunging into getting the world of owning an URL and to a hosting platform. Woah! I’m wearing big girl pants now. Don’t worry though. Most of the links have been transported here but More Than Words will still be alive. I won’t delate 10 years of my work!

There are a few reasons for having a new website. The main one is that over the past few years, especially in the last year, my focus on food has slowly shifted. From the olden days of having big weekly processed food meals, using ingredients such as flour and wheat, I have moved to a more clean eating lifestyle. I’m feeling fresher, healthier and more importantly, happier within myself. I’m also shifting away from having a URL with duckquacking in it. Yes, it was fun but I think, just like how we need to update our clothes from time to time, the name change is a reflection of my growth as a person. This blog will have a focus on health and nutrition, but also on our family life. For some who know me personally, the name of this space may not be of a surprise to you. Words can indeed nourish or perish a person. I hope to be the former.

I’m choosing 24th of July 2014 as the day to move because…. it’s also Asher’s birthday! My baby boy…. is now a toddler. A year ago today, he was born.

It’s an emotional day for me because memories of his birth is still so fresh to me. For the past 1 year, I have witnessed a new life coming to this world and taking the time to nurture him. Being a mother has changed my perspective of the world. Many things that were important to me are off the table now. My priorities have shifted. I will come back here and write a post on my feelings and thoughts, but right now, please..enjoy this site and let me know what you think.

If you are wondering what we will be doing today? Check out my Instagram and Facebook pages. 😉  Asher will have a taste of cake and heaps of family time and cuddles.

As for us? His Birthday is a reminder of God’s Grace and Generosity but also how we survived the first year of parenthood together. Now that deserve a good long macchiato topped up coffee and cake don’t you think?

Orange Hazelnut Chocolate Cake

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I’m so excited about this cake that I can’t resist posting the recipe NOW! As some may be aware, Asher is turning one this week. As part of his July Birthday celebrations, the mothers in the mothers group held a party for the kiddos. Yes, I did bake a cake for the children to get right into but I figure that the adults deserve something as well. Afterall, we survived parenthood!!

This cake is moist, fudgy and hits the chocolate spot. It’s not coyingly sweet with just a hint of honey. Orange is a perfect marriage to chocolate. In this case, orange provides the moisture to the cake. ONE whole orange was blitzed into the mixture. Talk about it being nutrients dense. Combine with the nutty flavours of hazelnut and vanilla, I couldn’t wait to bite into it when it was out of the oven.

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For some people, the cacao and orange might be a little bitter. Personally, I think that adds richness and depth. However, do taste the batter and adjust the levels of honey accordingly if needed.

I had some coconut milk left over (From making coconut cream frosting for the kiddo’s cake smash) and decided to pair the cake with the ganache. That adds to the indulgence don’t you think?

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I’m not sure if the parents in the group were aware that this is a cake made without any form of fat, gluten or processed ingredients. Perhaps that is an indication that being healthy does not mean we are sacrificing taste. Rather, taste is enhanced as ingredients are kept simple and true to its form as possible.

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Orange Hazelnut Chocolate Cake (Around 12 Small Servings)

1 whole Orange

2 cups of hazelnut nut meal

1/2 cup of cacao powder

1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

1/2 cup of honey (I used 3/4 of a half cup)

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla paste

Chocolate Ganache

3/4 cup of coconut milk

80grams of 70% dark Chocolate

20 grams of 70 % dark chocolate chopped

1) Preheat Oven to 160C. Line a 9 inch cake tin with baking paper.

2)Steam the orange for around 45 minutes till soft.

3) In a food processor, blitz the orange, honey and vanilla together. When it is combined, add the eggs and give it a good whiz. In another bowl, mix hazelnut meal, cacao powder, baking powder and salt. Pour wet to dry and fold till it is well combined.

4) Bake for 45-50 minutes till a toothpick comes out clean.

5) While it is cooling, make the ganache. In a saucepan, warm the coconut milk. Break pieces of chocolate into the milk and stir till it melts and thickens. Remove from heat and cool.

6) Spread ganache onto cake.

7) Use remaining dark chocolate shavings as decorations.

8) Slice and Enjoy!

 

Lemon “Cheesecake” with Berry Topping

I’m actually quite excited with this recipe. I made this for our wedding anniversary back in April (I know! Very late in posting this!) and it was a hit for hubby and myself.

It is only recently that I am onto the band wagon of making raw desserts. It’s just to increase my repertoire of creating desserts at home I guess. I love the idea of having a cheesecake without the heavy feeling in my tummy. There is NOTHING wrong with enjoying a cheesecake from time to time of course, but hey, if I could re create something at home that is healthy and nutritious, I’m in.

This require a little planning with the soaking of cashews. It is a very nutrient dense recipe- and very high in calories as well with the amount of cashews in it. Still a treat food for sure.

I am still using my trusty ken wood food processor but lately, been wondering if it is worth investing in a Vitamix or Thermomix? oh first world problems. Nevertheless, I have promise myself that I will not have another appliance unless one breaks down.

As I’m typing this, I just remembered I have a few more slices in the freezer. Oopies! I guess I know what I’m having for dessert tonight.

What do you use? Food processor? Thermomix? Or a high powered blender like Vitamix?

Lemon “Cheesecake” with Berry Topping (12 servings)

Base
150 grams almond meal
100 grams of desiccated coconut
3 medjool dates soaked in water
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt

“Cheesecake”
500 grams of cashews soaked in water overnight
1 cup of lemon juice
zest of whole lemon
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 tablespoon of honey
1/4 cup of coconut oil melted

Berry topping
1 cup of berries
1/4 cup water
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp of gelatine powder (mix with 1 tablespoon of water)

Make the base first.
Blitz everything up till it comes together. Press into a 9 inch lined cake tin. Fridge it while you make the “cheesecake”.

Blitz all the ingredients together. Make sure it becomes like a smooth paste- not lumpy. Pour into base and freeze for around 30 mins to an hour.

Place berry topping except gelatine into sauce pan. Cook till it becomes soft. Cool and add the gelatine mixture. Pour berry topping onto cheesecake topping and freeze for a further 3-4 hours.

Defrost cake in fridge for 2 hours before serving.
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Ricotta Pancakes

 On some long weekends, or a special week day when hubby works from home, I like to go “all out” and makes some waffles or pancakes. This was one of those days.
Growing up, I would have meals with my grandmother as my parents are often home late from work. It’s a big treat to be able to sit at the dinning table with my whole family together!

One of the things we like to do is to have meals as a family.  With Asher, we try to do as many meals as we can on the weekends together. Eating out in cafes or dinners at home. Asher is growing up too quick now and is fast approaching the big 1 year milestone. His meals are also changing. I’m cooking more family meals and chopping it up for him.

Pancakes are of course a winner for a little boy (and with the bigger man too). He could hold it, squash it and stuff it in his mouth. Self feeding to the best. 😉

Ricotta Pancakes (Around 8-10 pancakes)
1.5 cups of Almond Meal
3 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp of cinnamon
3/4 cup of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup of almond milk

Whisk everything up together. Heat pan up and pour in a ladle of batter. Flip when bubbles appear.

I had mine with berries compote, some sliced bananas and a dollop of greek yogurt.

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The Best Banana Bread

I am always in search for ideas for snacks and breakfasts for my two favourite boys. One of my favourite blogs Whole Food Simply always inspire me to make better baking goods for my family.

I did quite a few adaptations to suit us as usual. I have experimented a few times and I think this version came out the best. It’s simple, and more importantly, full of protein, and nourishing. I used two dates- which is plenty of sweetness for us as bananas are full of natural sugars as well. I stayed with tahini as I like the slight bitterness to counteract the sweetness. I used crushed walnuts for that extra hit of antioxidants and texture. If you like, try adding a handful of cacao nibs- we love that chocolate-like crunch.

The other reason why I like this recipe is that it uses coconut flour. Coconut flour, I believe, is under rated. It’s basically coconut dried into a flour format. It is very low in sugar but very high in fibre. I think the texture is quite different from normal flour and that’s why many people shy away from using it. It is also very absorbent. I would say I would use 3 times the amount of liquid to the amount of flour I use (e.g 1/3 cup of coconut flour to 1 cup of coconut milk or almond milk). I would usual also use more eggs than normal.

This recipe though- the ratio works in harmony with each other. The texture is like what a banana bread should be. I gave it out a few times and the only negative I had was that I cut my slices too thin!

How do you like your banana bread? Thick cafe style slices or thin and crispy toasted?

Asher doesn’t care of course. He gobbled it up!

The Best Banana Bread (12-14 slices Or 10)
4 medium size bananas
2 dates soaked in hot water
3 tablespoons of tahini or sunflower butter or nut butter
4 eggs
1/2 cup of coconut flour
1 heaped tsp of vanilla paste
1.5 tsp of bicarb soda
2 tsp of cinnamon
juice of 1 lemon
pinch of salt

optional: handful of crushed walnuts, cacao nibs

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a bread loaf with baking paper. Put all ingredients in a food processor and bliz it. Pour into pan and bake it for around 35-40 minutes. (yup! It’s that easy!!!)

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Coconut Celery Zucchini and Pea Soup

We are well and truly in winter mode. Rugs are out and hot mugs of drinks. Every week, I like to schedule in a soup for dinner.

I made this for lunch though. My friend is expecting her first child and was heavily pregnant. I thought it would be love to have a girly chat with her before the baby arrives. She and I love to exchange ideas and recipes and we had lovely conversations about using simple and down to earth ingredients rather than processed items. We laughed about how her husband still prefers sweet desserts as that is how desserts should be in his mind, and how my husband has grown to have less of a sweet tooth over time.

I wanted to make something nourishing for her. A little like our friendship. Nourishing.

There is a green smoothie and then there is a green soup. This has celery, zucchini and peas. How much more green can it get? Oh hold on, it does have red onion in it so it’s not totally green. Instead of heaviness of cream, I used coconut milk for that added richness.

I picked up these vegetables from our local farmers market. The freshness shone.

Yes, of course I made extra for dinner and lunch the next day. It’s a perfect plan. Lunch with a  girlfriend and dinner already done. More time for Asher for the rest of the day.

Coconut Celery Zucchini and Pea Soup (serves 6)
1 full bunch of celery chopped
3 zucchini chopped
200 grams of organic frozen peas
2 tsp coconut oil
2 red onions sliced
2 tablespoons of garlic
1 tsp of cumin seeds
1 tsp of ground ginger or fresh ginger minced
2 ltres of chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 tin of coconut milk

Saute onions and garlic in 2 tsp of coconut oil. Add all spices and cook till fragrant. Add all veges and cook till they are slightly soften. Add stock and simmer for 15 minutes. Blend with a hand blender. Strain if you like. Otherwise, reheat the blended soup with coconut milk. Serve with Coconut Bread or a grain free bread.

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Raw Almond Chocolate Fudge

There are times where chocolate just hits a good spot. There are some pantry staples that I always stock up. The are almond butter, coconut oil, nuts and definitely chocolate.

An offer came up recently with Mayver’s super spread nut butter. It’s a mix of peanut, chia and almond. There were going for half price! What a treat. So I grabbed 2 bottles to give treats a go.

Mixing them up with some coconut oil and more nuts plus cacao powder, I placed it in the fridge and tadah, a protein enriched chocolate treat that is refined sugar free and good for us. They are freezer friendly as well which gives it a gorgeous crunch when you are ready to bite into them.

Raw Almond Chocolate Fudge (24 small pieces)
1/4 cup of coconut oil
1/2 cup of nut butter
1/3 cup of cacao powder
1 tsp of vanilla paste
1 tablespoon of honey
1/3 cup of silvered almonds

Beat or mix oil and butter together. Mix through vanilla, honey and cacao powder till smooth. Lastly add nuts. Pour into a lined brownie tray and freeze it for 2 hours. Slice and eat!

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