Coconut Matcha Ice Cream (Paleo, Clean Eating, Gluten Free)

IMG_1386 (640x427)If you know my mum, you will know that she is a MASSIVE green tea fan. When she was here, I asked if there is something she would like me to make for her. Her answer is always the same- make that green tea flavour. 

I experimented with this recipe a few times and finally nailed a clean matcha ice cream. The trick however, is to eat it quite quickly. If I leave it to freeze overnight, it doesn’t retain the creamy ice cream texture as much. That doesn’t bother us though, and we would dig in with our soup and eat it with gusto anyway. IMG_1388 (640x427)

The custard was made with a base of coconut milk, almond milk, eggs with a little honey in it. I find that matcha is quite a strong tasting powder, and requires a little sweetness to draw out its flavour. It could also be the matcha powder that I have in my pantry. I suspect it has been there for some time and it retains a slight bitter undertone to it. 

Miss you mum! Can’t wait to see you very soon.IMG_1387 (640x427)

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Frozen Banana and Mango Slice

IMG_1374 (640x427)Do you often find yourself with packed to the brim weekends? I know we do. Gym sessions, social gatherings, groceries, church..and suddenly, we found ourself exhausted, tired and snappy at 5pm on a Sunday afternoon. 

Back to Basics- we learned that it is ok to schedule in family time. It is not unproductive to have a stroll to the local park and just let Asher run wild. Or perhaps as a couple, taking advantage of the time when Asher naps to sit on the couch and have a chat. On the contrary, that is productive.

Over the past few weekends, we decided to schedule nothing in for a few hours in the weekend. Simply put, it was our “Quiet family time”. We realised how important it is to be with each other with no agenda but just enjoying time together.  

 

When did we decide that we need to be busy to be productive? Did it feel funny to have a quiet afternoon? Sometimes. We look at each other, and is sometimes tempted to take the clothes in, fold them or do a spot of spring cleaning.IMG_1372 (640x427)

Asher loves it. Having two parents with undivided attention at the park or play ground makes him very happy. He would give us cuddles and kisses in turns, or make each of us read his favourite books. He points to the slide and would go up by himself but yet wanting us close by. 

That is one thing about parenting that we learned is that time as a family is what nurture the child. It’s not fancy gadgets or toys. It’s simply…time. 

The irony of it all is that it makes us refreshed and even more productive during the week. Choosing to be in each other presence calms our mind. That helps get us ready for the week. We are less stressed and are more present focused. 

We love our weekends even more. IMG_1371 (640x427)

I made these slice as it was a hot day and we had some frozen mango and banana in the freezer. I made 2 versions of it before, but the 2nd version which has desiccated coconut on top just doesn’t seem to work. This one, tastes more like ice-cream on a biscuit base. The frozen banana and mango blended together with coconut is good enough to eat by itself. I’m pretty sure a few tablespoons went into my belly.

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Tang Yuen (Sweet Dumplings) – Almost Paleo

IMG_1354 (640x427)When my parents came over in December, my mother reminded me that it is “Dong Zhi”  or Winter Solace which is where we eat little balls of glutinous dumplings in a sweet soup. Eating it with family signify togetherness. IMG_1357 (640x427)

As an experiment, I decided to attempt making a gut friendly version by using sweet potato and rice flour instead. I surprised myself with this one because it actually came out good. It was bouncy and has a lovely bite to it. I did a few with stuffed coconut and peanut but I think the dough is better by itself. IMG_1352 (640x427)

Tradition says that we usually pair Tang yuen with tea. Well, I decided to make a sweet soup using rooboos tea leaves “Red Jasmine” from T2. I boil it up with a few slices of ginger and sweeten it with a touch of coconut sugar. My parents loved it and I hope you will as well. 

As  I write this, I miss my family. This year is the first year we are celebrating Chinese New Year without my grandmother. As per Chinese tradition, we will not be taking part in much celebrations at all, choosing to honour and remember her. 

 

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 Happy Chinese New Year! May this year bring you more happiness and good health!

Peppermint Macaroons

IMG_1259 (640x427)Most people who know me or have followed my posting know that it is only recently that I have embraced all things coconut. When I was younger, I could never understand why people would like coconut based desserts. I did like coconut as a drink, and in its milk form. However, anything with desiccated coconut was a mystery to me. Oh, all those years of missing out! IMG_1261 (640x427)

Needless to say, macaroons was never something I was interested to make. Macarons yes- those crisp sweet shells filled with creamy gooey goodness is one weakness I have (A treat is a treat right?). Somehow, with my new found love for coconut, I realised I could possibly be missing out having a fluffy light macaroon as a snack. IMG_1264 (640x427)

I came across this recipe by Danielle Walker. I love it that it uses desiccated coconut, and with peppermint to boot. I made several changes, and used home made raw chocolate to dip the macaroons in. The result was stunning. I’m not regretting that I have not found my love for coconut earlier. Think slight crunch, but sort of melt in your mouth. Then you are hit with a refreshing peppermint taste. I was sold. IMG_1260 (640x427)

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Date and Coconut Loaf (Paleo, Gluten Free)

IMG_1253 (640x427)Counting our blessings takes practice. Going through life, it is very easy to take things for granted or see our challenges as huge. The “big picture” is often not seen as we focus on the difficulty that we are facing currently. 

I saw Asher having a mini melt down when I took his toy car away the other day (because it was lunch time and we eat first then play). It reminded me that to him, it must feel like the end of the world when something upsetting happen. The “big picture” is that he learn how to focus on his food and hunger/full cues and not be overly distracted (Which he usually is) if he has a toy car in hand at the same time. 

Applying this in our adult life can be somewhat tricky. Hubby and I were talking about our goals and plans for this year as a family and as a couple. We spoke about our work and the direction this year may bring. There is a level of uncertainty for me as I’m currently on a contract till mid year. We pondered questions such as is it the right time for me to increase my days of work, or continue my current hours. We discussed our travel plans. Then we talked about his work and career path. IMG_1250 (640x427)

Sneakingly, those doubtful words creeped in. “Oh what if my contract does not get renewed or I’m not offered a permanent position?” I asked anxiously. Hubby then spoke about how nice it would be to work closer to home or one with more flexibility. oh and “Oh too bad we cannot travel to whatever place for some time”. 

Then it hit us. Have we missed the point completely? To count our blessings that we have jobs that pay the bills, and a house to return to. Food on our table, and clothes that we can wear. Time on the weekend that we spend together as a family. Friends that we trust and speak to. Technology that allows us to connect with overseas family and friends. 

We may not know what is around the corner. One thing for sure, is that we need to count our blessings that we are together as a family. Yes, those uncertainties will always be present. God’s big picture may not always be revealed. IMG_1254 (640x427)

This year, we are learning to take deep breathes and roll with what may come our way. 

I made this Date and Coconut Loaf out of a whim one afternoon. It’s light and crumby and goes very well with Earl Grey or coffee. My delight is when Asher wants “more cake” and when hubby returns home after a hard day at work, and have something sweet and freshly baked for him. IMG_1252 (640x427)

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Water Cress Pork Ribs Soup (Paleo, Chinese, Gluten Free)

IMG_1234 (640x427)I realised that it is very tricky to make Chinese broth soups pretty in photos. For some reason, they just seem to be soup in a bowl (which is what they are of course, but I struggle to make it look presentable). Perhaps I should hunt down some prettier bowls soon or experiment with using different angles! More than often, this becomes a quick shot and then it’s at our dinner table. 

Photography skills aside, I was really excited to find watercress at the Manning Road markets. I have been hunting them for ages and suddenly they appeared along with our favourite salad leaves. I know that watercress is often used in salads, but I cannot resist making a soup that I grew up with.IMG_1230 (640x427)

Watercress is known for it’s superfood qualities. It topped the charts in its’ high vitamins and mineral contents. My grandmother must have known instinctively what was good for us when she was alive because she loved feeding us watercress. It cools our bodies down she says. Very important in the hot days of Singapore. 

 Having some pork ribs in hand, I made a broth with red dates and goji berries. Just before I serve the soup, I brought the liquid to boil and added the vegetables. It’s as easy as that. Asher loves sipping the soup, having some leaves and eating the pork. I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that Asher can feel my grandmother’s love as he grows up. 

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Tahini Zucchini Carrot Salad (Raw, Paleo, Gluten Free)

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I realised that it is difficult to live with a recovering perfectionist. My poor hubby often gets the brunt of it. Living with a perfectionist means for him, I’m always on a mission.

– Eating clean

– Creating and making most if not all of our meals and snacks

– Moving efficiently. My workout times are precious times.

– Making sure that Asher is stimulated. Thinking about different concepts and games to play.

– Creating better recipes. I have made a lemon tart 3 times in a week because I didn’t quite get it right. 

– Being the best I can at work means sometimes I do work on most evenings and have my mind ticking away on it even when I’m supposed to rest. 

I stopped myself the other afternoon in realisation how blunt, and even unkind when I was on the phone with him. Often, I do my meal prep the night before, and for one ingredient, hubby had chopped chorizo roughly. 

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In a rush of me trying to get dinner done, wanting to complete a few household chores, making Asher’s lunch and prep for an outing that afternoon means I was in a rush. That was still no excuse for being unkind. With the filter not on, I said “darling, why is the chorizo chopped in such big pieces! That’s not how I usually do it”.

As quickly as it came, it made me realised how ungrateful and rude I was. He apologised and said “oh! I’m sorry, I just did it without thinking”. That shattered my heart. I quickly regrouped and said “no, it was not your fault. I was in a hurry and rushed and in the scheme of things.. it does not matter really. I’m sorry for being rude”. 

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It highlighted to me how kind and how generous my husband was. How he tried to help but I dis credited him. 

A girlfriend and I had lunch the other day and asked how do we make our marriage work? We seem happy and content to the outside world. The truth is, we are a work in progress. In our pre marriage counselling sessions, I realised I am often abrasive and impatient. He is the patient one. I want answers now, while he needed time to digest things. Fast forward nearly 6 years of marriage, I’m still practising holding my tongue and being patient. He tries to speed up and is learning how to verbalise how he feels. 

It is what makes our marriage ticks. We agree that we are a work in progress and continue to work on ourselves to strengthen our relationship. It is not perfect but we do not strive to be. We strive to be partners in life. 

This is our current favourite salad. A big bowl of zucchini noodles. Sometimes, I would make it with kelp noodles and place them in a container. This huge salad would last us 4-5 days, meaning that I need to prep dinner less. I would dress them up differently. Sometimes a nut butter dressing suits us. Other times with just olive oil and drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Who would have thought raw zucchini noodles are so delicious? Certainly a game changer when it comes to salads. One thing did not change. We eat from ONE big bowl to save washing up. 

And that is us too. 🙂 

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Tamago Boro Cookies (Almost Paleo, Gluten Free, Nut free)

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Asher turned 18 months towards the end of January. They say that time goes faster when you have a child. With more to fit in, it just seems that the days merge into weeks and weeks into months. 

I had a great day with Asher and really wanted to document it. Although we have many good days, and our share of average days,  I wanted to remind myself that with the storm comes the rainbow and sunshine. I wanted to remember the little glorious details because I know how quickly Asher will probably be a teenager and not wanting to spend this time with me.

Our great day began with a sleep in of additional 20 minutes. Asher slept of course, while I stare at this gorgeous human being, snoozing so peacefully. He woke with a smile and gave me a cuddle. He pointed and named “nose”, “mouth”, “ears” and pryed my mouth open so he could say “teeth”. I pretended to sleep, and he gave my nostril a jap. Yup. Indeed he is awake. 

He laughed as I brushed my teeth. He rushed to grab my toothpaste so he could play with the cap (he enjoys twisting and opening items). I got dressed and applied my make up. He played with his little container of toys beside me and begin giggling as he caught sight of himself in the mirror. 

As I prepared him breakfast- a smoothie bowl of smashed avocado, yogurt, pear, milk and probiotics. He walked around me. Oops! I forgot to close the pantry door and he went into it, opening and closing containers. Then it was breakfast time. He ate happily. He also decided that it is good fun to clap his hands, and do roly poly with his arms. 

After a quick clean up, it was play time. We ran around the house- mostly in circles. What amazes me was how fast he grasp concepts. Today, I wanted to focus on stop and go. We ran and we stop. As simple as that. That little game went on for a near 20-25 minutes. That together with some swings, hangs, turn arounds and bouncing. He even attempted to jump- but can’t quite grasp that his feet needs to leave the ground. We threw, rolled and kicked balls. We sang songs- I’m not sure how many times I sang “Head, shoulders, Knees and Toes” that morning but he loved it. Pointing to his toes every time I sang. He learned a new word today- shoulders! Then we proceeded on to another song which was “Wheels on the bus”. He laughed as we go through each action. His favourite at the moment? When I sing “baby on the bus goes wa wa wa”- he would pretend to rub his eyes. 

We had morning tea which was some banana bread and a big glass of milk. Asher called out “Milk milk” and nodded his head when I asked him repeatedly if that was what he wanted. Another clean up, and it was back to playing. Music time now I said. We played with the xylophone, bells and little tambourine. We tapped on different surfaces and he was more than excited to try new ones. Soon after, he became distracted and started to run around the house again, enticing me to chase him. Tickles and laughs got him going and I decided that it was probably time to start winding him down so that he could have his nap. 

Sitting in his tent, he gave cuddles to Scout and his soft toys. Then, almost intuitively, he came and gave me a cuddle. It was almost like telling me “I didn’t forget you mummy! You need my love too”. In a split second, he pointed to his book and we started reading. He pointed “stars”, “cars”, “train”. Suddenly, he looked up. TRAIN! He pointed to his floor mat where there was a picture of a train. Then even more excitedly, he pointed to his toy train. It was like it clicked for him. The book train, picture of the train and the toy train are all trains! 

As he started to yawn, I took him to bed. It took me an hour before he would wind down and lay beside me. In between that hour, he would want me to read- saying “book book”. Or play with my hair, ears, eyes- poking my nostrils and even trying to poke my belly button. In that hour, I could choose to be impatient but today, I chose to run with it. Eventually, he cuddled up to me and he slept. 

Nap time means I get to cook dinner, clean up the house a little, and perhaps even surf the net if I have a chance. Today I promised myself I will not touch work which I did not. 

A long nap means Asher felt refreshed and ready to face the afternoon. After lunch which was Pumpkin and Kale Fritters, and a big bowl of melon cubes, it was time to play again. This time, I decided to step back and give him free play time. Out came the blocks and the mess. I inhale and breathe because I know mess is good for him. I soon laughed though because he started putting the blocks back in the box. Then he tipped everything out and said “uh oh”- peeking at me. Then he started the process all over again. I made a mental note to be careful of my body language and speech when he makes a mess- that’s what kids do and I never want him to think it is wrong to to make a mess. 

Hubby came home not long after, just as Asher requested for more milk! I warmed some for him and offered him a banana. He was stoked! 

And then, I got changed and went to the gym. Asher waved and said “bye bye”- that’s a win! He did not cling on to me as I leave. A killer workout awaits me. I smashed it and returned home. Asher called out “mumma” greeting me with a grin as hubby fed him his dinner. Soon after, it was reading time with hubby and me and bath time. 

I kissed my little man on his forehead as he doze off. Good night my sweet darling. Another day of adventure awaits you tomorrow. 

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I made this little “Tamago Boro” cookies with the memory of me being a little child and being fed with these cookies by my grandmother. Tamago means egg in Japanese and basically they are little egg biscuits. There are many versions online, but I decided to do mine with very little sugar- hence they do not have the same melt in your mouth texture as the store bought ones. They do hold a slight crunch and Asher loves them.

It is a little tedious to roll them into little balls- One batch can make up to 250 little cookies. I like to roll them into little logs and cut them into small balls. As we do not have milk formulae, I bought brown rice “milk” powder instead and that appeared to work. I used rice malt to sweeten these balls. 

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