Date and Orange Fruit Bars (Paleo, Clean Eating, Raw)

IMG_1152 (427x640)I posted these on Instagram a few weeks back. I’m actually quite fond of them. They are sort of lara bars- since they have a good source of natural sugar energy from the dates. I noticed that Asher gravitates towards packaged fruit bars and decided to make some at home. Making snacks for a toddler can have its challenges as he is soooo honest about what he likes and dislikes!

Like it- easy, He eats it.

Dislikes- on the floor, shaking his head, pushing my hand away, spitting and even practising his throwing skills.

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This one? It belongs to the “that depends on my mood” category. I wouldn’t say he dislikes it, but he certainly has it days when he would eat it and days where he would not. What I would do differently, is to have a little more coconut to firm it up further. I think he likes a soft but chewy texture of a bar. I would also reduce the amount of dates. 5 is plenty. I would go with 2-3 for that amount.

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Date and Orange Fruit Bars (makes 16 small squares)

3/4 cup of desiccated coconut

5 medjool dates soaked in warm water and chopped

1/4 cup of orange juice and zest.

dash of vanilla

Blitzed everything in a food processor. Spoon onto a lined container and fridge it till firm.

Chocolate Biscuit Slice (Paleo, Clean Eating)

IMG_1040 (640x427)I spotted this recipe and can’t resist playing around with it. Biscuit? Chocolate? It reminded me of my favourite “digestive biscuits” from Marks and Spencer topped with dark chocolate. I wondered why are they called digestive anyway? Turns out that they contain a form of salt to help break down starch in our gut better. (thanks wikipedia!)

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Since this do not contain any starch, I guess our gut is safe! The texture is not similar to the biscuit that I like BUT the taste though, brought me back to the feeling of eating this biscuit. Slight crunch, with the sweetness of chocolate. A wonderful combination with no refined sugar to boot.

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Chocolate Biscuit Slice (at least 24 slices)

1 cup of almonds

1 cup of walnuts

2 cups of shredded coconut

1 tsp of cinnamon powder

1/4 cup of coconut oil

1 tablespoon of rice malt syrup

Chocolate Topping

1/2 cup of cacao powder

1/4 cup of coconut oil

1/4 cup of coconut milk

1 tablespoon of rice malt syrup

tsp of vanilla paste

To make the base: Process everything in a food processor. Press in tin. Bake in 180C preheated oven for 20 minutes.

To make the topping: Place coconut milk, oil, rice malt and vanilla in a saucepan, gently heating it up. Whisk cacao power through. Pour topping on base and chill it in the fridge.

Slice with a warm knife.

Poached Chicken aka Hainanese Chicken Rice

IMG_1024 (640x427)My grandmother used to tell me stories. Her voice often filled with emotions and eyes lit up as she talked through them. Why wouldn’t they be as they were adventures of her own life.

A resilient and resourceful woman, she took on a small business selling mixed vegetables and rice once upon a time. Few years back, she would be a helper/nanny to a young caucasian girl (she cared a lot for her and kept a photo of this girl in her drawer). She recounted climbing up roofs, running away from the police when she worked in an underground casino. She steamed savoury yam cakes and made her own chill sauce so that she could make some money and stay at home to supervise her young children.

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As a working mum now, those stories replay in my head with a deeper meaning and feel to it. It’s quite different of course. She was pretty much a single mother to 3 kids and work is… survival. They needed her income. Yet her dedication to her family, and love and plain determination to make it work shone through and spoke to me. Those are values.

In my head, I wondered what would she say if I tell her stories of Asher enjoying day care. Charming the socks of his carers with his smiles, protecting his toys, and participating in painting activities? I wondered what would she say about not cooking a Chinese soup every other day, or at times struggling to keep a house as clean as what she would do. Sometimes, I can hear her in my head, empathising with me. Other times, letting me know how spoilt I really am because she did not have a choice and she managed.

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My skills in steaming a whole chicken (and chopping one) are still under development. That was HER signature dish. This time though, I tried poaching a whole chicken and I loved it. Tender, juicy and full of flavour. I wished I could tell her what I have done and listen to her advice on how can I make it better.

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Hainanese Chicken Rice 

1 1.6kg free range chicken

few stalks of spring onion. Reserve a a few and tie into a knot.

1 knob of ginger sliced. Reserve 2-3 slices.

4 garlic cloves

salt

sesame oil

drizzle soy sauce or coconut aminos

drizzle of shaoxing chinese cooking wine

 

Method:  Cut some fat off the chicken. Place it aside. Blitzed up spring onion, ginger and garlic in a food processor. Stuff chicken with the mixture. Rub chicken with some salt, oil, wine and drizzle of soy/coconut aminos. Bring a large pot of water (big enough to fit the chicken completely) to boil with the reserved ginger and spring onion. Submerge chicken into the stock. Bring it back to a simmer. Switch off the heat and leave the chicken in the pot for a good 1-1.5 hours.

 

Rice

Chicken fat

1 cup of rice (we use basmati rice but you can use jasmine).

Few slices of ginger

Method: In a cold pan, cook chicken fat till it renders. You can sauté some garlic with it if you like.  Wash rice. Then put the usual amount of water. Place fat and ginger in rice and cook accordingly.

 

Chili sauce 

3 chili padi

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp of grated ginger

1/4 of lemon juice

salt

Method: Put everything in a food processor and blitz it up!

When everything is ready. Chopped up the chicken. Drizzle more sesame oil. Serve with veges, rice and chill.

Poached Pears in Orange Juice

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Do you have days where you feel low? The physical and emotional energy seems to have drained from you? Recently I have days like this. I’m usually a person filled with energy and positivity. Occasionally, I feel lousy and wiry. I dislike feeling this way because I don’t identify myself with those emotions at all.

So I did a mental mind map (those will who I work with will call that a FIT tool) (pps- I just realised it can be a pun- FIT as in FIT for physical and emotional health). What could be some of the reasons?

– Perhaps I’m more tired physically. Asher’s molars are emerging and our sleep is a little …. less ideal. (and he isn’t a great sleeper to begin with!)

– Food. I have started eating more as I realised I have not been fuelling my body sufficiently. I have new physical goals to be stronger and I suspect food is holding me back. Now you would think eating more clean food will help me feel better but I believe it brought up some of my old insecurities about my self image.

– Weighing scale. I have stopped weighing myself. Ever since I won the challenge, I stopped counting calories and learned how to read my body on hunger cues. Now is my next step, not weighing myself a few times a week.

– Which brings me to the next point, self image. The above two points means I feel slightly out of control (I think). Which leads to those thoughts about feeling “heavier” or “I have gained weight since I’m eating more”.

– Work. I have added more hours to work, which also means a slight re adjustment to routine and schedules.

– At the gym, I’m trying to “upped the ante”, lifting more, snatching slightly heavier… and realising that my technique needs refinement. All well and good BUT it brought out another weakness of mine… impatience. The “not getting it” and “not being perfect” does stress me out!

– Sore- erm, ok. So i think i over did 1 hour of snatches the other day. My lats were not happy.

– I stopped soy milk as I have been reading many negative reports about soy and have moved back to dairy. While I can tolerate some amounts of dairy, I realised that it still makes me feel a little lousy and maybe even a little bloated.  I’m experimenting with the way I order my coffees and will go Almond or skim as much as possible.

– I have reduced my caffeine intake. Again, one of those things that I’m conscious that I may be over indulging and wanting to cut back a little. Since I’m not liking milk as much, it was also a natural reduction.

Ok, I can see why I feel this way now.

First world problems. 🙂

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So how am I tackling them?

1) Food/weight/body image- It’s a journey. I’m eating cleanly so I believe that it is the right move for my body to eat more than what I did previously. I still have not weigh myself and since I’m trying to be stronger at the gym, my body composition is likely to change. No change in my clothes either. So i’m guessing it’s mainly in my head. OR, my body composition in in the process of changing. I have to embrace the journey. IF not, I shall evaluate where I am in a few weeks time and decide what to do about it (whether to change my meals up a little more, or workouts).

2) Milk- continue to have almond milk or if it isn’t available, have a long mac instead.

3) Workouts- Practice and reflect on what I have accomplished while working on what I want to master. It’s ok to “Be in the process” and “Not get it”. I remembered being impatient post baby and needed to trust myself that what I’m doing is working. This is the same. I did not start out being able to do push ups. Same with lifting heavier or snatching better.

4) Focusing on the blessings. I have come a long way. I am in a good place to be able to experiment physical goals. What’s the worst that can happen? I can just re visit my goals/food and adjust accordingly if things are not working. So I have decided  to write down 5 gratitudes in my new journal every evening before bed (KATE SPADE baby! a gorgeous birthday gift).

5) Practising being kind to myself- all in my thoughts but I’m going to slow down and see the beauty in life. Practising being in the moment and appreciating my surrounds. Asher does not need a negative mumma!

6) I have scheduled in some rest and me time.

7) And I realised… IT’s OK TO BE FEELING LOW at times. We are humans. Feeling low does not indicate something is wrong. It could be a reflection of the many things that are happening at once.

😉

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I know we are in spring but I spotted some gorgeous beurre pears at the markets. Into the basket they went. At home, I poached these little babies with fresh oranges from … haha.. yes Manning Road Markets (just a tad obsess over them). They turned out gorgeous. Saturday evening when Asher is in bed, Hubby and I shared this and had a good chat. Just what I needed.

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Poached Beurre Pears in Orange Juice (serves 2)

1 pear  peeled, halved and cored.

1 orange juice and zest

1/2 cup of water

1 cinnamon quill

Place pear, juice, zest, water and cinnamon quill in a saucepan. Poach for around 25-30 minutes till tender. Serve with a sprinkle of coconut granola.

Corn Fritters

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Would you believe that Asher is now 15 months young? I’m really a little amazed by how quickly our little man has grown. I’m counting my lucky stars because he likes vegetables (at least for now) and chomps down vege sticks, broccoli, carrots and capsicum like there is no tomorrow. He enjoys his finger food too which was why I have been making different sort of fritters if you are following my instagram.

It was hard to keep my hands off them when they are fresh out of the pan. Making use of coconut flour again, these fritters are fluffy on the inside and slightly crisp on the outside. Seriously yum!

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Corn Fritters (makes around 18)

1 cup of corn kernels

some chopped up spinach

1/2 capsicuned diced finely

1/4 cup coconut flour

5 eggs

pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients. Dollop a tablespoon of it on a hot pan with some oil. Flip fritters over after 4 minutes. EAT!

 

Apple Cinnamon Walnut Loaf

IMG_0950 (640x427)Can the combination of apple, cinnamon and walnuts ever go wrong? Fresh crisp apples, the warmth of cinnamon and crunch of walnuts. There are many recipes out there with this combination, but I wanted to play with coconut flour a little more. While I love the texture of almond meal in my bakes, I’m really conscious of overdosing ourselves with nuts.

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The result of this experiment was a happy surprise. I think the apples added to the moisture. I’m playing around with mixing baking soda and baking powder which seems to provide the lift I’m after. The sweetness of the apples means 1 tablespoon of honey was sufficient. It’s not a dense as a bread but not light as a cake either.

Hubby came home and said he felt the warmth of the house as he stepped in and smelled the lovely aroma of cinnamon and apples. He had that for breakfast the next day and thinks it tastes even better. Now that makes me happy.

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Apple Cinnamon Walnut Loaf 

3/4 cup almond meal

1/3 cup desiccated coconut

1/4 cup coconut flour

1.5 apples chopped finely

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking powder

pinch salt

4 eggs whisked

1 tsp vanilla paste

1/2 cup of walnuts plus handful

Pre heat oven to 180C. Lined loaf pan with baking paper. Mix dry ingredients in one mixing bowl. Whisk eggs and vanilla together. Fold to dry ingredients. Sprinkle crushed walnuts on the top. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Miso Chicken Cutlets on Zucchini Noodles

IMG_0900 (640x427)The weather is warming up. The sun is shining. Spring is here and summer is approaching!! While I’m embracing salads, there is something warm and comforting having a cooked dinner. I’m still using the oven heaps despite the warm weather- it really is my best used kitchen appliance in the house. Placing marinated meat and putting the timer on allows us to do a little more in the evening.

I’m usually faced with the dilemma on the weekend. I have a little more time now, so I would like to cook something that takes more effort. On the other hand, I prefer to take a step back and “just relaxed”. A break from the kitchen makes us better cooks no? Over the weekend, we did just that. We put food in the oven and went for a family walk. Then we stopped by the playground and played slides with our son.

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Relaxing is easier said than done isn’t it? I have to literally schedule in rest time and “no bakes” days. I’m not very good and switching off and even if I have to switch off, I need to do something. Like reading a magazine or writing a post here. I argue that baking relaxes me- but suddenly I’m stressing over having to cook dinner and bake. Yup! It’s all abit ironic in my head.

Nevertheless, life is a journey. You learn about yourself but only if you give yourself permission to. Every emotion carries a meaning in our life. While I enjoy being productive, I’m learning that having a cup of tea and breathing does wonders to my head and mood. And who says taking a breather isn’t productive?

I’m loving my spiralizer. Zucchini and Carrot noodles makes its appearance pretty often in my household. I enjoy seeing Asher trying to place long strands of veges in his mouth and being proud of himself as he worked out how to eat it. To make sure noodles doesn’t get too wet, I would salt it and squeeze water out of it. Then it’s light sauté in some coconut oil on a pan. The chicken? Easy peasy. Marinating it with tahini, miso, mirin and sesame oil, I simply place the dish in the oven, sprinkle with sesame seed and bake it.

Walking into the home with the lovely chicken aroma hits us. And as Asher would say… it’s “nana” time (He calls banana “nana” and use the same word to communicate that he is hungry).

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Miso Chicken Cutlets on Zucchini Noodles (Serves 4+2)

3 zucchini and 2 carrots spiraled

1 tablespoon of garlic

salt

Around 9 chicken cutlets

1 tablespoon of miso paste

1/4 cup of warm water

1 tsp of sesame oil

1 tablespoon of mirin

1 tablespoon of tahini

1/2 a lemon juiced

To make the marinate, mix miso, lemon, warm water, oil, mirin and tahini in a paste. Spoon over chicken and rub it over. Place in fridge for 30 minutes or so to marinate. Or if you are short of time, bake in pre heated oven for 30 minutes.

Squeeze liquid out of vege noodles. Heat pan and sauté garlic. Add vege noodles and toss gently till it cooks. Place on plates with miso chicken on top.

Mocha Pistachio Biscotti

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I don’t know anyone who does not love a good bickie. We do. There is something moorish and satisfying munching on a cookie with a coffee or tea. Sometimes we prefer our cookies chewy but most days, I take crunchy.

I have not made biscotti in years. It’s just one of those things that I shelved it the back and forgot about it. All I know is that hubby had a bad month at work, and I wanted to make something that will bring a smile to his face. I would like him to open up his snack box and go, yup. I will enjoy that bite.

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Given that we have not bought store bought cookies for ages, I thought making something similar will be appropriate. He loves his coffee as well. So here is hoping that the biscotti will bring him that little joy in the midst of his hard work.

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Mocha Pistachio Biscotti 

2 cups of Almond Meal

1/4 cup of cacao powder

2 tablespoon of arrow root

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tablespoon of honey

1 shot of nespresso

1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips

1/4 cup of pistachios

In a food processor, blend everything till it comes into a dough.

Pre heat oven to 160C. Line a cookie tray with baking paper. Shape dough into 2 logs. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Cool.

Slice the log into thin slices. Return to a 160C oven for 8-10 minutes. Cool and eat!

 

GIVE AWAY! Lucky Smart Snax PLUS Orange Blueberry Pecan Almond Loaf

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Oh hello. I know it’s my birthday weekend, but I have a treat for you. The good people at Lucky Snax sent me their WHOLE range of Snax to try on, complete with a bonus packet of Almond meal with quinoa. They must have read my mind because you know how much I love baking with almond meal. So much so that I have created an Orange Blueberry Almond Loaf with it. Recipe below! Plus, you know you love a GIVEAWAY.

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I carry nuts everywhere. It’s usually in a little container in my handbag. I make my own mix too- a mix of pistachios, pepitas, walnuts, almonds, macadamias, cashews with cranberries and chopped up dark chocolate. Biggest reason why is that if we are stuck anywhere or I’m feeling munchy, I know I have clean healthy snacks in my bag that I can reach out for. Much better than purchasing a bread roll.

Nuts are one of the best portable snacks we can have. Not only that, I love it that it is nutrient dense- think antioxidants, Vitamin E, Omega 3, fibre. Walnuts helps with inflammation, and almonds contains fibre-plus it’s good for growing good bacteria in our gut. Cashews contains iron and zinc, which is needed for immunity. Brazil nuts, which I think is under rated, contains selenium which reduces inflammation.

Lucky Smart Snax makes snacking even easier because they separated nuts into packaged categories. If one of your goals is to improve on your digestive health, just look for the Digestive pack. It contains oven roasted almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, cranberries, sunflower kernels and pepitas- a choice that is full of fibre. If you are needing a surge of energy for your workout, reach for the Cardio pack which contains Almonds, Sultanas, Cranberries and blueberries. Or perhaps you want some Power at 3:30pm? Go for it with Roasted peanuts, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts AND DARK CHOCOLATE! I like the Women’s pack too- the raw nuts pack contains Almonds, Walnuts, Brazil Nuts and Cashews. Jumping on the Low Carb wagon? Then you have Brazil Nuts, Peanuts, Pepitas, Almonds and Walnuts to choose from.  I can’t forget the Recovery Pack which is so handy for those gym days consisting of Oven Roasted Almonds, Cashews, Peanuts and Pepitas.

Another highlight? I like that they state it clearly  at the back of the pack on the nutritional panel that each packet is good for 3 portions. I’m a big fan of portion control. First up, it’s a zip lock pack so nuts remain fresh. Second, it’s easier to tell yourself that this packet should last you for 3 days. Often, if I have nuts in a box, I tend to eat more of it. However, a smaller portion in a bag- much easier to eat less of it. Why eat less? Nuts are still high in fat and calories, so it is very easy to over eat. Plus, I create quite a few dessert, cakes, loaves and slices with nuts hence it is very easy for me to over dose it. Moderation is the key!

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So far, the Women’s and Digestive Packs are my favourites. Hubby brought a packet to work too- saves me from packing our usual supply in a small container. I would be honest and say one packet lasts us longer than 3 days- I think probably 4-5 serves?

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Back to my creation: another ORANGE CAKE? Seriously, I’m loving the oranges bought from the farmers markets on Manning Road. It is a pity that the season is slowing down.  Fresh juicy oranges to boot. Paired with my other favourite fruit.. blueberries. It’s a moist and delicious loaf. It was an experiment that turned out well.

Orange Blueberry Pecan Almond Loaf

3/4 cup of Almond Meal with Quinoa

1/4 cup of coconut flour

1/4 cup of Pecan nuts

4 eggs

1 cup of Almond Milk

1/2 cup of orange juice and zest from an orange

1 tsp vanilla paste

1 cup blueberries

1 tsp of baking powder

1/4 tsp of baking soda

pinch salt

Extra pecans

Preheat Oven to 180C. Whisk wet ingredients together. Place almond meal, coconut flour, pecans, baking powder and soda in another mixing bowl. Fold wet to dry. Adding blueberries last. Spoon into lined loaf tin, topped it with more pecan nuts and bake for 40-45 minutes.

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Now for the exciting GIVE AWAY!

One lucky winner will win a prize pack consisting of a prize containing one of each of the products in the Lucky Smart Snax range.

*Lucky Smart Snax Digestive
* Lucky Smart Snax Recovery
* Lucky Smart Snax Womens
* Lucky Smart Snax Cardio
* Lucky Smart Snax Power
* Lucky Smart Snax Low Carb

For your chance to win answer the following question:

Which Lucky Smart Snax product is your favourite and why?

Please include a valid e-mail address with your comment so I can contact you if you are the winner! The giveaway runs for one week, ending at Saturday 5pm, WST 9th of November. This giveaway is only open to Australian Residents only.

 

NOTE: I was provided these Lucky Smart Snax mixes for review and giveaway as part of a Product Talk by Nuffnang. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.