Ginger Salted Egg Yolk Prawns

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Big juicy prawns stared at me at the supermarkets. I recall how every Chinese New Year, grandmother will splurge and get the biggest, sweetest prawns. It represents HA HA (Spoken in Cantonese). Her wish for our new year, is to have lots of laughter and happy moments.

So many days, I whisper Asher’s little achievements to the air or think to myself “Oh she will laugh if she sees Asher saying duck or hammer his little tool box”. I wish I can tell her how my first day went back at work and discuss the Chinese soups I have been making.

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I have been reconnecting with my grand auntie. Sometimes a death in the family reminds you of how precious these moments are with the seniors in the family. I love my grand auntie. She is hilarious and full of economy food tips. She has also taken me under her wings a little. Every phone session, I urge Asher to call her “ah tai”- a term reserved for my grandmother but fittingly for my grand auntie as well.

It’s heart warming.

Looking at the prawns, I decided to cook it in a wine broth with salted egg yolks. Something that both my grandmother and grandaunt will approve I think. Salted egg yolks is really expensive over here. $9.60 for 6. Grandmother used to remind me that salted egg yolks is a peasant dish. They preserve these juicy eggs as their ducks laid them. They tastes really sweet and salty with a richness to it so  less is more. With 4 salted egg yolks close to their expiry date, I used 1 in this dish balanced by the ginger and the wine broth.

That way, we can eat smiling.

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Ginger Salted Egg Yolk Prawns

700 grams of tiger prawns

1 knob of ginger sliced

1/2 cup of chinese wine (I used huo thiong jiu)

1 salted egg raw

1 bunch of spring onions

1 chili chopped

1 tablespoon of chopped garlic.

In a hot wok, heat oil and brown garlic, ginger and chill. Quickly add the prawns and fry till lightly pink. Simmer with the wine and salted egg yolk. Lastly, toss in the spring onions. Serve quickly.

Crumbly Walnut Coffee Chocolate Cake

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There are times when I wonder can time passes even more quickly? Are we approaching the end of September already?

A few months ago, I spoke about my dilemma about going back to work or staying at home full time. I ended one of my posts with trusting in the Lord and seeing where it takes. An opportunity appeared indeed and I was offered a very flexible position with part time hours. With much prayers, we decided to give it a go and made the decision that Asher attends day care for a few days a week.

Oh what a decision. In our minds, day care can be beneficial as it provides a stimulating environment for Asher to grow in too. As a mother though, the number of thoughts and beliefs that entered through my mind is astounding.

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“How can I let someone look after the needs of Asher?”

“Will they take notice of him?”

“Will he eat/drink/sleep well?”

“I’m not a good enough mother for allowing someone else to care for him”

and so forth.

The mothers guilt.

We did our research. During the countless orientation trips we attended, Asher had a great play time. They did art work, and have equipment that resembles a tiny tot gym, and fed him (mostly) good nutritious food. I know he is well looked after there.

How was his first day? He did great. Cried a little as I left but settled not even 2 mins after I stepped out of the door. As I observed him outside the room, he played and engaged with carers and other children. I even felt a sense of pride when he attempted to take his own toy back when another child took it from him.

It took me 30 minutes to move shift my feet closer to the exit. Then it took me another 15 minutes before I physically willed myself to leave.

I’m a sensible person. I can be logical. My heart was heavy as I walked into the car. I felt like a total bad mother for leaving her child to someone else, but yet logically I know he will probably thrive in there with the activities planned. Deep down, I know he will enjoy the interaction. As I sat in the car seat, my eyes became watery. I swiped my phone and re looked at his photos that I have taken in that 45 minutes that I stood outside the room. Then I willed myself to put my phone away, and drove straight to the gym for a workout. I even scheduled a coffee with a friend- a fellow mother who reached out to me for a chat following our Pilates class. I rang the daycare twice, requesting specific information about his nap times, play, food intake, milk intake. As I went in to fetch him that afternoon, he yelled out “mama”, and gave me the biggest cuddle ever. We returned home to his favourite congee and custard for dinner.

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Did it get easier? Perhaps. I have never left my son to be cared for by anyone for close to a day. Not even my hubby who probably had him alone for 3 hours once. Oh hindsight, what did make it easier was that hubby regularly looked after him for an hour or so when I went to the gym.

It’s a strange feeling though- like a new found freedom. Like being alone in the toilet for 5 minutes in peace. Or being able to try on some much needed jumpers and think for 5 minutes if I really wanted it (yup I did!). There was one day, I managed to scheduled in a remedial massage on a weekday! Bliss.

I have since started work (we started day care 2 weeks earlier to give me time to prepare for work- yup, readings and phone conferences) and I will update later about how we are managing. Those early days though, it was as if I put on a fresh pair of glasses whenever I’m with Asher. I made a huge effort to not do any cleaning when I’m with him. While I have always practised being mindful as we play, I realised I can be even more present and enjoy it. I’m less worried about the other stuff because it  really really does not matter.  I missed him terribly when I’m not with him, yet it also gave me a chance to breath and remember that I’m more than a mama.

It will always be a constant juggling act- one that I know will not always be balanced but that’s ok too.

Let’s talk cake now.

Inspired by WholeFoodSimply, I adapted her version and made a coffee cake for us. Pre Asher, we love coffee BUT post Asher we LOVE LOVE LOVE coffee. I try not to have it too much though as I believe it does raise our cortisol levels. I attempt to schedule in coffee free days (some weeks with no success), but generally stick to having one shot of coffee  a day and 1 hour before my gym session. I truly believe that coffee gives me that little boost in my workouts but also lifts my spirits up when it’s 4pm and I’m dead tired from the daily chores. I made this cake as a treat and it was well worth it. Crumbly soft with a crunchy texture. Double yum. Serve with …coffee of course.

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Crumbly Walnut Coffee Chocolate Cake

3 medjool dates presoaked in a shot of nespresso

2.5 cups of almond meal

1 tablespoon of cacao powder

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

1/2 tsp of bicarb soda

1/4 tsp of salt

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla paste

2 tablespoons of coconut oil

handful of crushed walnut

handful of cacao nibs

Crumble Topping

1 cup of pecans

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

1 tablespoon of coconut oil

1 tablespoon of honey or brown rice syrup.

1) Preheat Oven to 180C. Line an 9inch round cake pan with baking paper.

2) To make the cake. Put all the cake ingredients in a food processor and blitzed for 1 minute or so.

3) Spoon into cake tin.

4) Make the crumble. Whiz the crumble ingredients for 30 seconds. Spoon and top it up on the cake. Bake for around 40 minutes but check that the cake does not brown too much in 25 minutes or so. Place a piece of baking paper on it if needed.

5) Cool and serve.

 

 

Coconut Crusted Chicken

IMG_0479 (640x427) I was making dinner one Sunday night. Hubby turned to me and said “I really feel like having some crispy chicken.” He went on to say how he would probably feel sick buying KFC or fried chicken though and regret it later. He was very lucky because I was just about to cook a batch of miso chicken drumlets and winglets up for our dinner. I grabbed some desiccated coconut, whisk an egg up, and coated a few chicken with coconut. I was surprised with the results as it turned out slightly golden with a light crunch. Best of all, no after oily taste. IMG_0481 (640x427)   Coconut Crusted Chicken  10 mini chicken winglets/drumlets or tenders 1 cup of desiccated coconut pinch of salt an egg whisked sesame seeds Preheat oven at 180C. Sprinkle salt on the coconut. Coat chicken with egg, then with the coconut mixture. Place on oven tray and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 20-25 minutes till golden.

Coconut Pancakes

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I know. You must be sick of me writing about pancakes and waffles by now. It’s one of those things that I love experimenting and making it as a treat when hubby works from home, a public holiday or a long weekend. There is something special about having pancakes or waffles for breakfast isn’t it?

I have been playing more with coconut flour recently and really wanted to nail having a coconut flour based pancake at home. Why? It’s really easy to overdose on nuts- bliss balls, nut based treats and a handful of nuts here and there for snacks. They do add up. While nuts generally do not give me digestive issues, I think everything should be in moderation and more is not necessary a good thing.

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This version has brown rice syrup and coconut milk in it. I find that giving the eggs a good whip does gives it a slightly lighter texture.

I bought us a CREPE pan! Guess what I will be experimenting more with next? 😉

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Coconut Pancakes (makes around 10-12 pancakes)

1/4 cup coconut flour

3 eggs

1/2 cup of coconut milk

1 tablespoon of brown rice syrup

1 tsp vanilla paste

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp of apple cider vinegar

 

Whisk eggs with milk, brown rice syrup, apple cider vinegar and vanilla paste. Place flour, baking soda in the bowl. Fold wet to dry. Pour 1/4 cup batter into oiled pan. Flip when bubbles appear. Serve with berry compote.

Radish, Mushroom and Chicken Soup

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Every week, usually a Monday or Tuesday, I attempt to make a Chinese soup. As a cantonese, soups are usually part of my meals when I grew up. It was a side dish. But it isn’t a side dish as its significance. It’s where mothers and grandmothers show their love. See, soups are where nourishment begins. The Cantonese believes that soup heals. From strengthening the spleen, to boasting up immunity, there is a soup for it.

It’s easy to see why. In the paleo world, there is an excitement with bone broth. My grandmother used to tell me that soups are one of the most nourishing part of a meal- you get nutrition from the bones, meat and all sorts of vege goodness in it. We have herb soups too but vegetable based soups are more common.

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As I stood at a local grocer recently. I stared at the radishes. Somewhere in my memory filed away, we used to have radish soup. The Cantonese believe that radishes are “cooling” and helps with digestion. At home, I placed radishes, dried mushrooms, dried oysters scallops together with some ribs and slow cooked it for 8 hours.

What hubby said though touches my heart.

“You have managed to capture the love of grandma in this soup.”

And that’s enough for me to continue brewing chinese soups for my family.

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White Radish, Mushroom and Chicken Soup

1 Chicken Breast

1 (around 200 grams) of peeled and chopped white radish

1 carrot peeled and cubed

handful- around 10 dried shitake mushrooms dehyrdated with hot water

handful of seedless red dates

2 dried scallops

3 dried oysters

Place all in a slow cooker or thermal cooker. Boil and simmer for 8 hours.

Healthy Coconut Granola

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I realised that since posting this breakfast granola in 2012, I have not updated the changes made to my recipe. It has been 2-3 years now, and this granola remains a staple in my house. It’s easy to see why though, it’s easy to make and very very moorish. I have it on a crumble, or snack on some of the coconut chips and of course, breakie in the morning with my greek yogurt.

This new version does not have oil in it. You can add it if you like but I don’t mind it without. I have also reduced the amount of nuts and prefer to use more coconut instead. While nuts are nutritious, I’m finding that I may have used too much of it- and as we all know, too much of something isn’t a good thing! Nuts in large amount can affect digestion and are higher in calories. Nuts are my portable snacks, I use almond meal in my bakes and sometimes even toast a few to put in salads. I’m finding that I’m more aware of how much nuts I use and is attempting to reduce it- or have a better control over it.

What remained the same? My love for cinnamon. Oh how I love the smell of this granola when it is cooked. It sends such a warmth through the kitchen and the house. I added some ginger powder to it for that extra burst of antioxidants and also cacao nibs. Chocolate for breakfast is good right?

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Healthy Coconut Granola

1 cup of coconut chips

1 cup of desiccated coconut

1/2 to 3/4 cup of mixed nuts

1/2 cup of mixed seeds like pumpkin and sunflower

1 tablespoon of sesame seeds

2 tablespoon of cinnamon

1 tsp of ginger

1 tsp of vanilla paste

1) Toss everything in a bowl.

2) Line baking tray with baking paper. Spread granola on tray.

3) Bake in preheated 180C for 15 minutes

Spiced Up Bolognese with Baked Eggs



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I made a big batch of bolognese sauce the other day. I had some with a cauliflower mash but thought, hey I wonder if there are any other ways of using it. Flipping through an issue of Delicious magazine, I saw an South African idea that I adapted. It seems they used alot of spices in their mince and then bake it with a layer of egg on it. Now I’m sure I’m simplifying this heaps but I thought great idea!

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So as I defrosted my batch of bolognese, I added in sweet paprika, a hint of mixed spice and more dried basil herbs. Into the oven it goes with a layer of whisked eggs. We had it with some zucchini noodles and it was just a simple beautiful meal. Asher of course ate with his fingers and made a beautiful mess.

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Spiced Up Bolognese with Baked Eggs 

1 batch of bolognese

2 tsp of sweet parika

1 tsp of mixed spice

1 tsp of dried basil herbs

3 eggs

splash of almond milk

1) If you have not cooked up a batch of bolognese, I did mine with chopped onion, garlic, 1 tin of chopped no salt added tomatoes, 1 tsp of tomato paste, 2 tsp of italian herbs and beef mince. Simmer it till it’s done.

2) If you have some extra bolognese, reheat it and add more paprika, mixed spice and dried basil herbs.

3) Meanwhile, pre heat oven at 180C.

4) Spoon into oven safe dish. Whisk eggs with almond milk. Pour on top of the mince. Bake it for 20 minutes or so.

5) Serve with veges or have it with zoonoodles!

Apple and Cinnamon Bread

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My favourite thing to say is “this too shall pass”.

It worked when Asher was a newborn and did not know his nights and days.

It worked when I was pacing up and down the room between 11pm-3am sometimes 4 am settling him later on.

Or perhaps during the afternoons when he just wants to nap on me and refused to go down to his cot.

Or when he was sick.

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More recently, it became 3 weeks of sleep regression, teething, a bout of cold, vaccination and wonder “month”.

Woah, I was exhausted. I was a walking zombie but strangely was able to keep it together. The house was running well, I was hitting hard at the gym and we hardly missed any commitments. Perhaps to the world, things appeared ok.

Perhaps it was the case of “This too shall pass but I will also get used to it”.

I wouldn’t say I coped very well. I had emotional days where every step just seemed heavier and harder. My only outlet was exercising and having that 30 minutes by myself (and an extra 15 minutes of quietness in the car as I drove to the gym). That extra shot of caffeine helped too. By week 3, I spoke to a few girlfriends who reminded me that I need to sleep earlier and commit to less things.

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As it got better, and I’m starting to recover from it all, I reflected.  I realised that  I like taking on commitments when I’m tired because being productive helps me feel better. But being productive does not necessary means I get enough rest. It’s really is a fine line between completing projects, having that gash of oxytocin of accomplishment and overwhelming myself-rushing and not enjoying the process.

I have learned to say no, and to scheduled in rest time.  Active recovery is often used in the gym where rest days are respected and equally weighted as gym days. Between changing diapers, planning play routines for Asher and heading out to appointments… I lost that. I rushed around completing household chores, baking and preparing dinner when Asher takes a nap. I scheduled in two sometimes three appointments, and ran errands in between. Now, I try to read a magazine, or catch up on reading a few blogs… without guilt.

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And i’m sleeping earlier.

Meanwhile, I came across Teresa Cutter’s Apple and Cinnamon Bread recipe. What a gorgeous creation! It warmed the house up straight away on a rainy afternoon. Asher loved it it made a delightful afternoon tea treat. I made a few minor changes such as adding in crushed walnuts and ginger for warmth and texture. Hubby loved it toasted with a hint of butter.

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Apple and Cinnamon Bread (Serves 14)

2 cups of Almond Meal

3 eggs

3 apples grated

1 tsp of vanilla paste

1 tsp of ginger

2 tsp of cinnamon powder

1/2 cup of walnuts crushed

1/4 cup of coconut oil

2 tsp of baking powder

1/4 tsp of salt

squeeze of lemon juice

half an apple sliced

1) Preheat Oven to 180C and line loaf tin.

2) Mix almond meal, walnuts, grated apple, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder and salt together.

3) Whisk eggs and oil.

4) Pour to dry ingredients and fold through.

5) Spoon into loaf. Place apple slices on top and sprinkle a little more cinnamon on it.

6) Bake for 45 minutes till brown.

Vanilla Custard

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I was never sure why custard is one of the first foods for babies. Perhaps it’s because we rarely have it in our culture if ever as kids growing up. We are starting to introduce milk to Asher. Although not paleo, we believe that he would probably be expose to dairy in his life time and we prefer to know how he responds to safely at home than outside.

Our food philosophy when it comes to raising Asher is this- as long as it is 90% clean and generally nourishing, it’s ok for him to try other foods. I have seen young kids going crazy with junk because “It is not allowed” at home. I hope that we will be able to educate and teach him to make proper food choices rather than banning food altogether (soft drinks though are non-negotiable).

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So here we are, non milk drinkers with milk in the house. A baby doesn’t have that much generally! While we sometimes do have guests wanting milk for their coffee and tea (and looked at us strangely when we dont have it at home or if I offer almond milk), now we do! So I started making custards and woah! Asher loves it.

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I sweeten it with some brown rice syrup and vanilla. And since my baby loves it, I decided to have a little of it- with strawberries, dark chocolate flakes and my granola. Oh it was yum! Best of all, my tummy didnt react to it. I believe that eating cleanly has helped with the healing of the gut, hence now, I can have dairy with no trouble.

Vanilla Custard

500 ml of milk (We used A2 full cream)

2 eggs

1 tsp of vanilla paste

1 tsp of brown rice syrup

Optional- 1 tsp of arrowroot powder

In a saucepan, warm milk up. Whisk in vanilla and brown rice syrup or honey. In a jug, whisk 2 eggs. When the milk starts to simmer, remove from heat and pour it to eggs. Whisk continuously. Pour it back to the saucepan and back to the jug, whisking so that it doesn’t turn into scrambled eggs. Simmer for another 5 minutes till it thickens. You can choose to whisk in arrowroot if you like but the mixture will thicken in the fridge.