Orange Chocolate Mousse Slice- Paleo, gluten free, refined sugar free

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My oven is working full speed, the tree is up, music is playing and presents wrapped. I’m in love with Christmas and it’s fast approaching us!

Christmas to us means more than just the festiveness. It’s a celebration of us being saved by Christ. I’m first to admit that I enjoy buying and giving gifts, but often need to remind myself that there is more to Christmas than gifts.

Slow down to speed up. It’s one of my favourite statements. I say it all the time. To myself, at home and at work. And as Christmas is approaching, I thought I could pen down a few things about how I have been feeling about myself since this post.

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Food, Exercise and Self Image

Amazingly, since my little rant, I went back on track. It was a touch and go 2 weeks where I felt down and discouraged. Chatting with my coach, girlfriends and hubby made me realised how much I have fallen into the trap of being focused on appearance. My coach said that he wished that one day, I will not be trapped in making a decision on how I should be feeling based on what I think how I should look or feel. Life is a journey and while I always thought that I have fought my demons well, its tail peaked out from time to time. That was one of those time and I just had to tackle it.

I have noted some difference in my torso and arms- with my remedial masseur noticing similar differences in my glutes, shoulders and arms. Performance at the gym has increased- I’m doing cleans with weights that I have not done before, and double KB squats and lunges. Again, I realised that I’m celebrating these milestones more and more, and trusting the process.

I weighed myself after 3 months and…. yes I gained 1.4 kg but some calculations reviewed that body fat remained largely the same but muscle has increased by at least 1.2kg.

That brought out some ambivalent feelings within me. I hated seeing the number on the scale and instantly felt pudgy. Isn’t that interesting? Right now though, I’m doing my best to focus on performance goals and leave the scales where it belongs- the cupboard.

Being patient and recognising where I have come from has been a huge huge lesson for me.

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Energy Levels

A mindset shift helps. While sleep is getting better, I’m learning to schedule in more reading and quiet time. Journalling helps but I need to remember to do it!

Coffee Update

I have reduced coffee intake to around 4-5 times a week as oppose to 6-7 times a week. I have not noticed any differences but then change is minor. One thing to note is that since reducing my dairy intake, I’m feeling less bloated again. Thank goodness there are heaps of places that offers almond milk coffee!

Christmas

So here comes Christmas and I’m excited to share this little slice that I came up with. I have not fully jumped on to the raw food bandwagon, but do like creating raw desserts from time to time. This Orange Chocolate Slice was one of them. I’m pretty proud of it actually as I think it tasted like chocolate orange mousse cake. Since we are having warm days, I like to eat it straight out from the freezer. This is a good quick dessert to whip up and perfect for warm Christmas day! Hope you enjoy this. I’m going to be spending some quality time with my family during this period of time but will be back with more recipes!

 

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Orange Mousse Chocolate Slice 

Base

1 cup of Walnuts

1 cup of desiccated coconut

5 dates soaked

2 tablespoons of Coconut oil

2 tablespoons of cacao powder

Blitz it all up in a food processor. Press down in a lined tin. Freeze it.

Mousse layer

1.5 cups of cashews soaked for a few hours or overnight

2 tablespoons of rice malt syrup

1/2 cup of cacao powder

2 tablespoons of coconut oil

1 cup of coconut milk

1/3 cup of orange juice

zest of an orange

After a rinse of the food processor bowl, place the above ingredients and give it a good whiz. Scrapping down and whiz till it becomes a very smooth paste without any grainy bits. Spoon onto frozen base. Place back to the freezer for a good 20 mins or so.

Topping

1/2 cup of coconut butter

1/4 cup of coconut oil

1/2 cup of cacao powder

2 tablespoons of rice malt syrup.

Again, Whiz it all in the food processor. Spoon onto the mousse layer. Sprinkle with cacao nibs. Fridge or freeze till firm!

 

Wishing everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS! 

Cranberry Pistachios Coconut Bliss Balls -Paleo, Gluten Free

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A few friends commented that how do I have time to make healthy snacks, go to the gym, juggle housework and life in general since resuming working? The answer is… planning. I make my meals every week. I strive on making lists. Being forgiving and having different plans help too. When do I cook dinner? Mid day usually. I do most of the prep work the night before, so cooking is simpler. The washing up too.

Snacks? I make them usually when Asher is napping. I do not bake or make things every day but it’s nice to be able to head to the kitchen, gather some ingredients and pop them in the oven. I use very simple ingredients and recipes. Often, it’s whisking eggs and oil together and folding them into some form of dry ingredients to see what comes out! I guess the fun is not knowing if my experiments turn out ok or not! Further, we are ok with having some cheese, vegetable sticks or an egg for snacks. Variety is the key.

Making bliss balls are one of my “I have 20 minutes, let’s whipped something up? snacks. They usually store well in the fridge too so it’s always handy to have some around. I posted this on instagram and was surprised by how popular it is. There are so many bliss balls recipes out there too! The combination of cranberries, more seeds than nuts work I think.

The other question is if I rest? Perhaps not often enough. I’m not very good at doing that. When I see Asher on the go go go all the time, I realise that I have to model to him what down time is. For him, we read heaps. Sitting and singing a song. For me, I like to flip through a magazine, or a chat with a friend over coffee. Ever since I’m a mum, I relish the contact I have with other women.

Excuse me while I sit with a cup of tea, and read an article while I have 5 minutes 😉

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Cranberry Pistachios Coconut Bliss Balls (Makes 40)

1.5 cups of desiccated coconut

1/4 cup of cacao powder

1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup of sunflower seeds

1/4 cup of ABC nut butter

1/4 cup of cranberries

1/4 cup of pistachos

2 tsp of rice malt syrup

1/2 cup of filtered water.

Everything in a food processor. Roll them into little tsp size balls and onto some coconut. Fridge for 20 minutes till firm!

Almond Strawberry Tart – Paleo, Gluten Free

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It has been more than 3 months since I started working. On top of my usual 5 days a fortnight role, I had an opportunity to contribute back to the academic world by doing some casual marking for an University. The flexibility of this casual role means I can read and mark assignments in the evenings, weekends and some “down time” that I have through the week.

Juggling with work and family makes me count my blessings even more. The opportunity to even have a chance to do participate in the workforce while raising a family in comparison to my friends back in Asia, or even my mother who had to work after 3 months off having me (shift hours too!) is much appreciated. I have a new found admiration for mothers who work FULL time and juggle a family. For some women, they threw in a few kids in that mix too.

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It makes me reflect on how resilient families are. How we “manage”.

A child brings many joys to a family. To a couple, a child is a product of them. With the child comes many changes to a marriage. It brings a new meaning to “family”. Sometimes, I sit back and look at us and think “is managing enough?”

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Managing meaning we get through the day, the week, the month. Be it finances, or the day to day mundane household chores, it’s keeping our head about the water and staying afloat. But is managing a detriment to couple hood or marriage?

Since having Asher, the vulnerabilities of marriage become even more apparent to me. Managing our day to day isn’t enough to keep a family going. How easy for us to “manage” and then one weekend we realised that we need to work on US. Working on us keeps our marriage and family going. What are some warning signs though? Both of us realised that all we talked about is Asher, work, schedules and finances and other commitments. While those are important, we realised we needed to re learn how to be us again. Interestingly enough, we rarely argue, but it’s the danger of slipping into the normal “managing” routine of lives and not working on us that alerted us.

What do I mean by that?

– Hubby and I have not gone on a date since April 2014. That’s 7 months. With my MIL over here, we made an effort go re connect at his work function.

– Which reminds me that attending his work function provides me with another sense of who is he and what he does. Yes, I listen everyday, but it’s nice to put things into context and meet colleagues that he spent most of his day with!

– Pray pray pray. Praying together. We do that but we need to do that even more.

– On rare occasions, grab the chance to just head out together. We had 15 minutes one day before we fetch Asher from daycare. So we bought a coffee and just chatted. The guy at the counter asked if it was ok that they are closing in 15 minutes time and it would be a quick coffee for us- we laughed. 15 minutes is precious!

– Not forgetting to be kind to each other. How often we are tired and a harsh word get said. I’m getting better at slowing down and expressing how I feel in a calmer manner.

– Our thing is to find good coffee in Perth. We have started to have some fun with it. Making our own commentaries, laughing at ourselves and joking that we saved quite abit of money with me drinking normal milk or almond mil rather than soy now. Also, the joys of finding places that make almond milk coffee.

– Discovering our love language again.

I hope that in another few months, and I will read this post again. In reflection that marriage is such a lovely journey. One that it’s so easy to take for granted, but amazingly rewarding as we built it.

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Off tangent here but I wanted to share with you this lovely summery almond tart. It’s quite dense and has a frangipane tart flavour to it. I came across a similar recipe by My Darling Lemon Thyme – A local Perth blogger!! I made this for a gathering with another couple, and it went down well. Hope you enjoy this too.

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Almond Strawberry Tart 

2 cups of almond meal

2 eggs

1 tsp of vanilla

1/4 cup of coconut oil

1/2 cup of almond milk

juice and zest of 1 lemon

1-2 tablespoon of honey

pinch of salt

4 huge strawberries sliced

Handful of almond flakes

Oil 13by5 inch tin very well. Preheat oven to 180C. Whisk vanilla, eggs, honey, oil, milk, juice and zest together. Fold into almond meal and salt. Spoon and press down tin. Place sliced strawberries and almond flakes on top. Bake for40 minutes. Serve with thick yogurt, cream or ice cream.

 

Lemon Bars- Paleo, Gluten Free

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I put my little boy to his nap and wondered… what should I make today?

I realised that baking is a kinda of rest for me. I’m find it hard to rest while he rest. But look forward to just time by myself in the kitchen, placing random ingredients in a food processor and see what comes out. It’s also pretty cool, to have Asher wake from his nap and point to the kitchen bench. Often saying “there there” meaning that he wants a bite.

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This was one of those times. The result was more of a slice than cake. Mini bites with a burst of lemon citrus flavour to it. A easy, quick recipe to have at the back of my head.

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Lemon Bars

1/4 cup of Almond Meal

1/4 cup of Arrowroot flour

1/4 cup of Coconut Flour

3 eggs

3 tablespoons of Coconut oil

1 tsp of Vanilla

1 tablespoon of honey or rice malt syrup

1/4 tsp of bicarb soda

1/2 tsp of baking powder

1/2 lemon juiced

1 lemon zest

Glaze: 2 tablespoons of coconut butter, 1 tsp of honey and squeeze of lemon juice.

Combine everything in a food processor. Spoon into lined 9 by 9 tray or baking tin. Bake for 25 -30 minutes.

To make the glaze: whisk it in bowl and warm in a microwave for 1 minute. Spoon on cooled lemon bars.

 

Dark Chocolate Cups with Salted Coffee Date Caramel -Paleo, Gluten Free

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The Christmas tree is up, the songs are playing in the shops- I have to say Christmas is my favourite time of the year. My parents are flying over this Christmas and I cannot say how excited I am. Watching their faces interact with my little boy, or perhaps feasting into their first proper ham. Memories will be captured and laughs will be shared.

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I made this out of the whim one afternoon. I was playing around with making my own chocolate. Having some cacao butter on hand, I discovered that melting that with some coconut oil and cacao powder makes a lovely dark chocolate. The salted caramel was a trial and error. But if I have the choose, I could lick the bowl clean with the caramel anytime. It’s sweet- a lot sweeter than what I like desserts to be, but it is Christmas after all.

The matcha was another experimentation. It was too tart I feel and gave a “dry” taste to the tongue. I’m not sure why. Perhaps I need to lessen the amount of matcha for a more subtle taste.

IMG_1011 (640x427)The only thing about giving chocolate cups for Christmas is that it will probably melt in our weather. I might reserve this for a night in with my family or as a treat.

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Dark Chocolate Cups with Salted Coffee Date Caramel (makes 48 small cups)

1/2 cup of cacao butter

1/2 cup of coconut oil

1/4 cup of cacao powder

1 tablespoon of honey

1 tsp of vanilla

Whisk everything together to make your chocolate! Spoon 2 tsp into each mini muffin cups. Place in the fridge to set for 10-15 minutes.

Salted Coffee Date Caramel

8 medjool dates

1 shot of nespresso

pinch of salt

few tablespoons of water

I placed everything in a food processor. It will become a paste. Spoon 1/2 tsp into each mini muffin cups. Then spoon remaining chocolate onto it. Sprinkle cacao nibs and some sea salt on top. Freeze or fridge for 30 minutes till set.

Pear and Walnut Muffins

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I’m so excited. When Asher was 15mths 2 weeks, he started taking a few steps finally. Just shy of his 16th month, he is walking short but longer distances. Now, he loves it.

His appetite is also growing. I have to be so careful knowing what treats I make as if he sees it on the kitchen bench, he would want it. We are good at not letting him having many treats but woah, those mini tantrums are starting to show.

Some mums asks if I let him have store bought rice crackers or an odd muesli bar here and there. It’s a dilemma that we frequently have. We still stand by the “eating clean 80-90%” of the time. With that, I do have a stash of crackers in my handbag. Mostly though, he eats everything that I make. From savoury bread, to cakes, fritters to little muffins. Whenever I can, I make a batch and freeze some. There are weeks when I’m tight on time but at least I know we have a few things store away. He also munches on vege sticks (capsicum is his favourite), and fruits. Hubby often cuts a box of vege sticks and leave it in the fridge for me, and when he sees me eating it, he will want to have some too.

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I made these pear and walnut muffins at a random whim one day. It was really yummy that hubby was gutted that I stashed them away for Asher! I had to make another batch. You can tell I wasn’t intending to post this as I randomly took some photos on my kitchen bench. I have been experimenting with the ratio of coconut flour and really think this makes the cut.

People asks me how do I juggle making things from scratch most days. I try to do it quickly when Asher takes a nap. That’s why many of my recipes are quick and easy. Ideas come to me when I’m driving, or eating. Sometimes when I’m reading blog posts. I learn from many fantastic people out there who share their recipes.

Hope you like this one. 🙂

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Pear and Walnut Muffins (Makes 10)

1 peeled and chopped pear

1/2 cup coconut flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

cinnamon

squeeze of slice of lemon

3 eggs

1/4 coconut oil

1 tsp of vanilla paste

1 tablespoon of rice malt or honey

Walnuts crushed

Method

Preheat Oven to 180C. Prepare cookie tray and muffin cups. Whisk eggs, oil, lemon juice,  honey and vanilla together. Mix coconut flour, baking power, cinnamon. Fold wet to dry. Add chopped pear next. Spoon into muffin cups and top with walnuts and sprinkle of cinnamon.

 

Sesame Snaps (Paleo, Clean Eating)

IMG_1000 (427x640)I stumbled to to this recipe while browsing at Merry Maker Sisters website. What a delicious find. We love sesame. As a kid, one of my favourite dessert to share with my grandmother was a bowl of black sesame paste. She goes for the almond paste of course- I try to have a bowl of it (sugar and all), everything I visit Singapore. It reminds me of her.

Back to the sesame snaps though. I bet these will make great Chinese New Year “cookies”. Definitely saving this one for next year. Every year for Christmas though, I shortlist some holiday bakes to share with friends as gifts. This is in my shortlist!

 

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The crunch and snap of it makes a great textural feel in the mouth. Hubby loves munching through them for his snacks. Making one batch lasts us for some time. I gave some away just because I didn’t want hubby to over eat them! Seriously that good. I made these a few times now, and each time I had great feedback.

As suggested, I halved the amount of honey and changed the other half to rice malt. I also played around with the quality of honey/rice malt- trying to reduce it without compromising the taste. I realised we do need the stickiness to make this recipe works. It’s a lot sweeter than what I am used to make at home, but certainly a very very addictive treat!

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Sesame Snaps- easily makes two containers of it!

2 cups of white sesame seeds untoasted

1 cup of almond meal

1/4 cup of honey

1/2 cup of rice malt syrup

2 tablespoons of cacao nibs/chopped by pistachios

1/4 cup of coconut oil.

 

Preheat oven to 160C. Prepare 2 cookie trays. Mix everything together. Split into half for each tray- rolling the mixture between two pieces of baking paper. About 1/2 cm thick. Transfer to cookie tray and remove the top baking paper. Repeat for 2nd batch. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Watch the oven. I like mine a little more brown so it stays crispy.