Chocolate Slice with Caramel Frosting (Paleo, Gluten Free)

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I have a lot of joy in my life. One of the joys is meeting a group of like minded mothers in our neighbourhood. These lovely women were there for me when I had sleepless nights. We shared our battle wounds, little tips for managing nappy rash, food ideas and even laughs when we make rookie mother mistakes. 

Every tuesday we meet. We try to. When our kids naps change, we return to work or other commitments occur, it could get challenging. One thing never change though. When we do meet, we embrace our time together. 

My brother in law once asked curiously about what do we do when we meet? Coffee and chit chats? 

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To the outside world, it can seem like that. A bunch of women, gathering together and enjoying a conversation. To me though, it’s far more. I know that if I have a question, one of these women will be able to assist. If I have a tearful week, they have a kind word and a empathetic hug. If someone’s child is unwell, we send each other messages to keep us uplifted. 

Parenthood can be lonely. It’s when parents band together than it somehow seems more bearable. 

When it is my turn to host, I get excited. Sometimes I make a treat. Other days it can be just nuts and cheese. This time round, I made a chocolate slice with “caramel frosting”- because mothers always need chocolate. 

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Cherry Coconut Ice (Paleo, Raw, Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free)

 

IMG_1272 (640x427)How are you celebrating Australia Day? 

I’m not sure how time just seem to fly. I could recall the day I arrive into Australia. A fresh faced chubby 16 year old girl. Excited to see the world. I came here to study. Armed with two huge luggages, life was thrilling. 

It’s like someone pressed fast forward on the remote control. I can see myself graduating, getting married, having a baby and calling Australia home.

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It was never the intention to stay. I was meant to complete my studies and leave. With my father’s encouragement, I studied more. Then I fell in love and together, we decided that Australia is home. 

We love Australia for the seasons. The clear blue skies and fresh air. The opportunity to work. Abundance of cultures and food. The wider roads for driving. The fresh fruits. More importantly, the people. 

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Was it hard to settle down? Looking back, I grew up here. I learned about the culture, the food and the language. I grew to enjoy having a barbecue and those lovely gourmet sausages from the butcher down the road. I enjoyed the friendly conversation at the restaurant with a stranger I met just 5 minutes ago. How about the appreciation of excellent coffee and lovely people to talk to at the same time? We are blessed, having meet people who are open and generous in work and other places. 

So while I miss Singapore- the food, my parents and my gorgeous friends… I can’t help but say I’m proud to be in Australia. 

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I made this coconut ice for our nephews who are gluten free, dairy free, and nut free. They loved it so much that they asked for seconds! Proud aunty moment! What better way to celebrate Australia with coconut and cherries? Who knows, I might even try making lamintons today. 

Happy Australia Day! 

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Salted Caramel Bliss Balls (Paleo, Gluten Free)

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Being a working mother has made me more organised. I thought I was but I’m definitely better now. It has also made hubby and I a better team working together. 

1) I do meal prep the night before. Sometimes 2 nights before.

2) I think about what to wear the night before so I can get dress quicker in the morning. 

3) Breakfasts are planned so it’s grab and eat. 

4) I’m more efficient when it comes to planning my day. From cleaning, cooking to making snacks- it can be squeezed in.

5) I can get housework done within 30 minutes.

6) I’m better at saying no. 

7) And yes to things that will help relieved time. For instance, I was resistance to getting a cleaner and now we have one coming in monthly. It’s a life saver. It helps me get on top of things. My range hood is CLEAN. The top of my fridge is dust free. Hooray! 

8) For snack ideas- I’m better at coming up with quick and easy ones. 

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I’m getting into the swing of making raw desserts and snacks. There are certain advantages to that. It’s quick to whip up usually. I have less to wash as I do not have to prepare a baking tray. It’s also quite versatile. I know I spoke about making bliss balls before but I’m really a big fan of this one. I was introduced to mesquite powder recently. I love the caramel flavour of it. It provides a slight chocolately, malt taste to whatever you used it in.  Hubby thinks it is one of my best bliss balls ever. 

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Mango Coconut Cake (Paleo, Gluten Free)

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Sunshine streaming into the house. The Farmers market buzzing. Yes, summer is well and truly here. 

I’m not sure if I’m a fan of summer. I dislike the 40C heat. The feeling of being in the oven constantly. The mugginess.

Yet there are things I do like about summer. Being able to wear light clothes like shorts. Laundry gets dried quicker- AND fresh linen always smells so good after being in the sun. 

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The best thing about summer is the abundance of fruits. Mango, Strawberries, Blueberries…they have my name on it. I made this cake when we bought a 10kg box of mango from Church late last year. It was for charity and it came straight from the farmers- mangos cannot get fresher than this. 

This mango cake is moist and full of flavour. It’s summer in a bite. I love that we hardly needed to add any sweetener to it as the perfume of mango permeates through. I savoured every bite and hope you will too!

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Review: Sunsol 10+ Muesli Range + Homemade Muesli Bars Recipe

GIVEAWAY ALERT!

This product talk is brought to you by Nuffnang and Sunsol.

We are celebrating the New Year by giving you a chance to eat your way to good health in January.

Towards the end of 2014, I was notified by Nuffnang that Sunsol has recently updated their muesli recipes. Curiously, I accepted their invitation to try the range. I would add that given that I follow the principles of eating clean and paleo, it may appear strange that I would try oats or muesli. The bad camp literature of having oats would discuss digestion issues, sugar spikes and how it comes from the wheat or processed food category.

When it comes to food, I struggle with being in a box strictly. I honestly believe that everyone bodies are different and we have to figure out what works for you. What works for me may be different for you- it takes courage, time and determination with a dose of patience to discover if certain food causes issues for you.

Through some experimentation, I found that I do react to lactose, sugar and some degree of gluten. Reactions to me mean low energy, digestive issues, feeling sluggish, bloatedness and headaches. Rice is a grain that I’m ok with in low quantity. Oats is an interesting one because I’m undecided about it. Before being on eating clean/paleo, we would have oat porridge for breakfast nearly every day for winter. I have since discovered that those sachets that I bought contained heaps of sugar and instant oats just doesn’t quite cut it for stabilising blood sugar levels or my appetite for the matter. However, I added oats to my home made granola as a strategy to increase my milk supply during breastfeeding and I found that not only it did worked in milk supply, I did not have that hunger/sugar slump.

The answer really, is how I eat oats. Small quantity with plenty of seeds, coconut and nuts worked. 

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Having receive the offer to try the Sunsol 10+’s new recipes and blend of muesli, I jumped on their website to have a look at the nutritional panel and ingredients list. To my surprise, it was full of good for you ingredients like nuts, coconut, and seeds. I like that it has a range of 6 blends of muesli- which means you can pick the one that suits your dietary requirements the best. It ranges from Ancient Grains, to Nut Lover to different Fruit Blends. I would say that for the fruit ranges, the sugar content can be still a tad high (because fruit does contain sugar after all), but the Nut Lover and Ancient Grain Blends contain 1.9grams and 11 grams respectively per 100grams. The fruit sugar ranged from 17-20 grams per 100 grams. I noted that the Fruit Lover has the highest amount but the Orchard Fruits and Almonds have the least in that range.

I compared it with other muesli ranges (Since I make my own these days, I’m a little out of touch with the market range. Do note that the Sunsol range featured in the comparison was their old recipe) and do think that the current Sunsol 10+  range stands out with their new blends and lower sugar content approach.

I would say that the Nut Lover blend is my favourite because it has a good mix of 10 different ingredients including almonds, walnuts, macadamias and cashews. Ancient Grains come in a close second. I’m a fan of high nutrient dense food and the ingredients list on Ancient Grains is pretty impressive with amaranth and chia.

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So how do I eat it? Remember how I said portion size is important? It is rare for me to eat a bowl of muesli by itself. I would prefer to pair it with some fat. What I have done is to sprinkle a tablespoon or two on my yogurt. I would have it with blueberries. I like the crunch from the nuts and that it is not sweet at all (From the Nut Lover Blend)

I have also done it in overnight oats style. I call it Salted Almond Butter Overnight Oats– mixing the 1 cup of Ancient Grains Blend with 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, 1/2 of coconut milk, 1/2 cup of almond milk, 1 tablespoon of nut butter, and a pinch of salt. It is so simple that I’m not sure if I call it a recipe.  This makes a lovely summer breakfast for my hubby who is on the go in the morning at 6am. I sprinkled with some toasted coconut and blueberries. Hubby is not usually an overnight oats person and in his words, he said “I can get used to this!”

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Given that Sunsol 10+ Muesli was so generous in giving me 6 packets, I have also experimented and made some muesli slices. In my world, this is considered as a treat food. Asher loves baby muesli bars and I’m trying to reduce reliance on baby package food when we are out and a bouts. Hence, I used some muesli to make little bars for him. My parents also enjoyed it for their afternoon tea. It is a great travelling snack/portable breakfast.

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I made a batch for hubby’s work colleagues and it was a hit! He came back saying that people were surprised by the crunch texture and natural sweetness coming from the honey and fruits. My parents requested the same batch for them to bring back home! I guess if I could sway MORE people to eat better, rely less on packaged sugar filled muesli bars, I’m happy.

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If you have come to the end of my post, lucky you! ONE very lucky reader will receive 

1 x hamper which includes: 4 packets of Muesli, together with a Storage Container and a Spoon

For your chance to win, tell me “Which is your favourite Sunsol 10+ Muesli and why?” 

T&C

 *for Australian residents.

HELLO 2015!

Oh hello there! Is it the year 2015 already? 2014 was here just a minute ago. I blinked and here we are at the New Year.

Not often do I take a break from writing here. For the past few weeks though, I took a step back and simply enjoy my family. My parents visited and I soaked in their presence. Including being spoilt by taking a 2 hour nap on Christmas Day, having my laundry folded, and a babysitter for Asher when hubby and I go out for lunch and coffee dates. Seriously spoilt.

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Together with my parents, we went down to Margaret River for 3 days, and I was reminded by how gorgeous Western Australia is.

 

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Coming back though, I wanted to do my annual reflections post.The year 2013 was epic, with Asher being born. Year 2014 was a year of adjustments.

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My grandmother was very ill. I was back in Singapore for close to 2 months earlier in the year. I saw her fought HARD. She had such a strong fighting spirit and survived being in the ICU.

 

However, she fell ill again (different condition) and passed away in early May.

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Grieve is a complicated emotion. I swing from being relieved that her agony and suffering was short-lived but felt a deep sense of loss. Time and being busy helped me healed but the sense of loss never went away.


With my parents over here, we planted a rose plant in our garden in her memory. Mum and I made her famous yam cake. Dad even commented that my soups reminded him of her. My heart ached when Asher called my mum “popo” knowing that he would have called my grandmother “Ah Tai” if she is still alive now.

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In the midst of it all, I received an offer to work part time mid 2014. Life as a working mum is hectic but we adjusted. Asher also started day care. I had to get used to the idea of someone caring for him!

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Asher turned 1. He started walking, talking and looking more like a toddler. My baby is no longer a baby anymore!

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As a couple, we have settled into a routine. We appreciate time together and learned how important it is to be a couple even though we have a family. It’s not always easy. My brain is frequently running a million kms an hour with endless lists of doing things, neglecting that I need to be present for my marriage. Hubby falls to the trap of dealing with the day to day work and home stressors and needed reminders to see me as a wife first than a mother. A marriage needs constant work. There is no room for being complacent.

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To the outside world, it just seems perfect. We are generally happy people. We like being in the same room as each other and we have a gorgeous son. Perhaps what is less known is that we struggle too. Like most young parents, we are sleep deprived and time poor. We rarely yell at each other, but that does not mean we do not have unhappy or even angry moments.

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Fitness remains a journey. I lost most of my baby weight when Asher was 6 months young. I continued to eat clean and train hard. All in all, I think I did pretty well in gaining strength and endurance. From doing wall push ups to full push ups. From not being able to do a full burpees to doing 100 burpees.  I ended the year knowing that I’m stronger and fitter than 2013.

 

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My self image demons continued to haunt me from time to time. Somewhere towards end of September, I was reaching a plateau at the gym. I felt that I was doing “ok” but struggling to lift heavier weights or running faster. I realised that even though I was eating clean, I was probably not eating enough. So I took the plunge and decided to increase my food intake as an experiment. That was a little tricky as I was used to listening to my body and eating accordingly. Slowly, I ate just a little more for my main meals. Surprise surprise, I gained over a kilo of muscle, and started to see progress at the gym. While it was all positive, the increase in the number at the scale affected me. In my head, I see myself as bigger and if I search deep enough, even thinking that I have gone backwards in performance. Just because of a number at the scale.

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I thought I was over that. Being obese and overweight as a child means I have been used to measuring progress by the scale. Gaining weight scares me. Logically I know that muscle and fat are different. Emotionally I reacted. This little experiment brought out more than what I expected. Insecure feelings about my self image appeared.

 

I could choose to freak and bailed out. The old me might even go back to how I was eating before. I needed to stop and breathe. To give myself permission to freak for a while and then question where all these feelings come from. I had to sit with these uncomfortable sensations and question where to from here.

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The answer I think is simple. Why complicate things. What I am doing is working and I have to trust the process though how scary it may appear to be. Looking back, I have lost 35 kgs two times (Childhood and Post Pregnancy). Clean eating and moving well is part of my life now. Is it likely that I will gain back 30 kgs from what I am doing now? Unlikely. Can I tweak my meal plans and workouts as I go along? Very much so. Do I want to lead a life jailed by a number on a machine? No.

Food remains a joy to us. I experimented with more clean cooking and desserts and LOVE it! From making raw desserts to experimenting and developing recipes for my family, I found a kind of rhythm.

So what were my goals for 2014?

My goals for 2014 
– Continue to create and experiment clean desserts and meals. (done!) 
– Make that cream brûlée! (OOPSIE! Got to really get that butane!) 
– Getting my fitness back on track. (Yep!) 
-Make baby food… (DONE!) 
– Not sweat the small stuff as much (ok, half done… ) 
– Travel back and see my family even more. (I went back to SG 3 times last year. Done) 
– Stay in the moment more. Babies grow up too fast. (Done and ongoing) 
– Thank God every day for our blessed family. (Could do better) 
– blog more often! (I think so!)

Where to for 2015? 

  1. Continue to provide my family with clean and healthy meals. I would like to make more chinese style broths and get back to my roots with more Chinese clean cooking.
  2. See beyond the number at the scale. Getting stronger. Doing more drills with full pushups, using heavier weights for thrusters, deadlifts, turkish get ups and squats.
  3. As a wife, be kinder.
  4. Talk and communicate with my parents more.
  5. As a mother, to be patient and stay in the moment. Asher is growing too quick.
  6. Maintain a gratitude journal.
  7. Pray more. I don’t think I do enough of praying and reflection.
  8. Schedule in rests.
  9. Connecting with friends. Regular meet ups with my mummy girlfriends. Maintaing contact with my close friends through whatsapp, phone conversations and any channels we can think of. Being a better gift giver.
  10. Bringing this website to a wider audience

This is  going to be a year of Back to Basics. Basics of being in the moment with my family and loved ones. Losing grandma made me yearn for more family contact. Learning how to have peace with myself- Trusting in the Lord rather than being self-focus in appearance. Cooking and creating recipes that fits well with our ethos. Re establishing and building existing relationships. It’s going to be a year of giving myself permission to slow down to speed up.

Here is to a GREAT start to the New Year! 

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