Salted Caramel “Cheesecake + Scales Talk (Paleo, Gluten Free, Raw)

IMG_1466 (640x427)When I started my post baby weight lost journey, it was a clear goal. Lose the weight and stay strong. Fast forward 20 months later, I have more than lost my baby weight and is stronger than before. Has it been easy? Nope. Did it bring up some demons? Yes. 

I spoke about my struggle with the scales. Since Dec 2014, I have not stepped on it. Working on my strength gives me a separate focus and I try not to dwell too much on it. It’s a mind game that I’m conscious about. 

What are some of the reasons why I choose not to step on the scales?IMG_1472 (640x427)

– My body fat is not real low, but low enough for me to be ok with it at the moment. Given that I had (I’m hoping it is a thing in a past although it is more management than anything) PCOS, it is not ideal for me to go too low as it may create havoc to the balance of other hormones. If we ever do have another baby, some body fat will be beneficial to support a pregnancy. 

– I have lost more than enough weight. I’m in a privilege position where I am healthy and definitely not overweight. 

– I am mindful that it may become an obsession. 

– I do not want a number to rule how I feel. Not being on the scales makes me more intune with how my body is going rather than relying my judgement on a number. 

–  I do not want my son to grow up thinking that his mummy is self conscious and focus on a scale. As a Christian, I am mindful that I certainly do not want to worship any other idols including my own body- and I do not want my son to see that. 

– My goals have changed. It’s about functional performance. Some things are harder to measure through scales. I will not find what I’m after by chasing a number. Sure my muscle mass may increase or body fat may go a little higher or lower as a result of my consistent hard work at the gym. It is what I DO daily that matters and may influence the numbers- not the other way round.IMG_1486 (640x427)

So the results of my 3 months experiment? 

I’m not perfect and there are times I’m tempted to stand on scales to see how I’m progressing. Then I stopped and distract myself by hopping straight into the shower instead. In terms of strength, I’m pleased to report I’m doing full push ups more often than none, thrusting at least a 16 kg bar, and deadlifting close to 60kg (above my body weight woohoo!) in multiple reps. In Metcon, we do a mix of multiple reps (like 20x) and single heavy reps. In endurance tasks, I’m rowing quicker and running faster. I’m finishing my drills faster now which is usually a sign of increase in endurance and strength. I’m not quite there yet and hope to be more efficient and proficient drills-although the best compliment someone gave me the other day was that I’m probably close to beating his numbers. Boxing remains a joy and I’m throwing heavier punches. 

There are always things to improve on but right now, these are the changes that I can see. At the end of the day, it’s progress I’m after. Stepping on the scales does not give me that. It will be battle from time to time, but right now.. I get to celebrate. Just celebrate the little wins I have. 

I made this cake for hubby’s birthday celebration. It was so yummy that I was jumping in the kitchen. I still have some slices left in the freezer which if you excuse me, I might just have a few bites…IMG_1488 (640x427)

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Earl Grey Almond Cake (Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating)

IMG_1524 (427x640)There are many joys of parenthood. Maybe one day I will write about things I do not enjoy as much but certainly, I try to look at the things I do like about it. 

Whenever there is a day where I feet like reaching for countless blocks of chocolate, I like to think about why parenthood isn’t that bad.IMG_1523 (427x640)

1) Watching Asher learn new things and speak new words. He is starting to piece two words together and can say “Red truck”, “thank you” and even “sit down”.

2) The little arm that curl up around my neck. 

3) The kisses. 

4) The look that says “wow! You can do anything mummy. ” and “Wow! thank you for fixing my train up.”

5) The smiles

6) The light in his eyes when he realised he mastered something. Asher loves reading and books, and he loves connecting pictorial items to real life ones.IMG_1513 (427x640)

7) A perfect excuse to embrace being present. When I’m playing with him, nothing else matters. 

8) I get to play with lego and build things with it. Seriously, it’s good fun building a toy train. 

9) Being able to extend his play. Getting creative with outdoor play, stomping on play doh, throwing it like a ball.

10) Shopping for kids clothes and shoes. Kids have seriously cute stuff.

11) One more reason to love coffee.

12) Meeting other women and mothers. 

13) Appreciating my own parents even more

14) Cook simple. The meal that took me hours to prepare? Doesn’t go down as well when it’s a simple one!

15) Night parties. Well, not quite but hey, just being able to be with him and embrace him counts too.IMG_1518 (427x640)

16) Babycinos 

17) Getting pram parking

18) Decorating his play room

19) Shopping at the kids section at Ikea. 

20) Additional reason to eat chocolate.

I will be back with more but this list will do for the time being. Meanwhile, I have also created this Earl Grey Chocolate Cake that is perfect for all parents I think. It has chocolate, caffeine and it’s good for you. IMG_1521 (640x427)

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Cauliflower Cake (Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating)

IMG_1501 (427x640)I love cauliflower. I’m pretty amazed but what we can do with this vegetable. You can make it into a mash, enjoy it roasted with cumin seeds, transform it to a pizza base and now…we can have it in  a cake form! 

I’m really lucky that Asher is a great eater. Yes he has his moments where he does not like cheese and refuse to take yogurt if it is white (can anyone tell me what is that about?!?!). However, he does takes most vegetables and enjoys his meat. IMG_1503 (427x640)

I stumbled into this recipe from Epicurious. Some might call it a fancy cauliflower frittata I suppose. To me, it is a perfect one pot dish- protein and vegetables. All I needed to do was to serve it with some side salad for hubby and myself. That’s dinner done. IMG_1506 (640x427)

The addition of fresh herbs like basil takes it up a notch. I would have love to sprinkle a little chilli into it but then again, that’s me. I like spice in everything! 

The best bit is when Asher asks for “CAKE” for dinner. That is one cake I’m happy to dish out night or day. IMG_1502 (427x640)

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Jaffa Mini Cakes with Coffee Caramel Frosting (Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating)

IMG_1446 (427x640)Marriage and babies should go well together. Usually married people like to have babies. When a baby arrive though, it can cause mayhem to a marriage. Going through, sleep deprivation, toddler wanting attention, housework, work commitments… the days just seem like a blur. 

I often talked about how hubby and I try to make it work. We text each other, we explore new cafes, we take walks, and we simply try to appreciate each other. 

Whoever say marriage is easy does not know what marriage is. Marriage after kids? Doubly hard. IMG_1452 (640x427)

Sometimes I wonder, is it an “expectation” thing? Expect less, get less and therefore both people will be happier in a marriage? Or is it a “history” thing? If a couple have unresolved issues prior to baby arriving, having a baby will more than likely bring up more problems. Maybe it’s our unresolved childhood issues. Having a baby, will certainly bring up emotional memories from our past. 

I really do believe that those factors matter. The biggest factor though is how much each person in a relationship wants to make it work or both see it as a priority. While hubby and I are usually on the same page, there are times where we just do not seem to “meet”. I’m the reflective one. I think a lot. He responds to the day to day things and have no idea that I’m on a tangent elsewhere in my mind. I get frustrated when I feel that he isn’t listening but really, he has no idea what goes on in my thought process. 

I get annoyed that he seems to let me do the thinking. He gets frustrated that he seems to be part of this process but not quite knowing what process is it. He thinks everything is ok, but I’m working hard to make sure everything is ok for the near future and then becomes annoyed because I feel that I’m doing it all but he isn’t. Truth is, marriage is not a black and white matter. There are many shades of grey. I need to do better in slowing down when he is learning how to speed up. One of the things he said surprises him is the amount of things I do and think cramped in one day. That comment surprises me because I thought he knew it all along but really, he didn’t. It is my responsibility to let him know and I did not convey it well. IMG_1447 (640x427)

Sometimes though, I just accept that we do not have to “work on something” day in day out. Rather, it’s just appreciating the stillness of our marriage. That is a good thing. It means we are comfortable. While there are always things to be improved on, it’s ok to just enjoy being married. 

I made this little birthday cakes for him back in January, combining two of his favourites-chocolate and coffee. The frosting is the winner in my books while he loves the orange tang in the cake. IMG_1449 (640x427)

 

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Balinese Curry Spiced Roast Pork (Paleo, Gluten Free)

IMG_1480 (640x427)One of the things I do to manage cooking when I work is to make a big batch of something the night before. The meal needs to be able to extend up to 4 meals (2 dinners and preferably 2 lunches). The protein is probably what I try to cook a big batch of. Vegetables I can generally whip up something pretty quick- it could be a simple sauté dish, oven roasted or a simple salad. 

So far, we have been pretty fortunate to be able to pre amp times when the week could get too hectic for my liking. Much as I love cooking, I look forward to some evenings when I do not need to rush. The rush takes the joy out of cooking. I know that dinner is pretty much done, and I could just rock home, get changed and head straight to the gym. Then it’s home time and all I need to do is to heat up some food, prepare a salad, or make sure I have set the timer in the oven for some roast vegetables to get cooking while I work out. IMG_1476 (640x427)

I made this roast pork a few times now. The first time I did it, my intention was to make use of some herbs that was lying in my freezer and fridge. However, it was such a hit with my family that I had to re trace my steps to remember what I put in there! I have made a big batch before and simmer it with some coconut milk to make a lovely broth for seafood. Other times, I would slap it on some fish or pork cutlets and put it on the grill for a quick friday/saturday night dinner. 

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Kiwi Slice with Coconut Crunch Crumble (Paleo, Gluten Free)

IMG_1441 (640x427)I like to think I’m a fun mum. To fully make use of the precious time I have with Asher at home, we play heaps together. However, sometimes when I’m feeling a little down or low in energy, I seem to be at a lost of what are the kind of things we can do together. It has been ages since I document my little games with Asher like what I have done when he was a little baby, and thought I might do the same now that he is a toddler. 

My philosophy to play is simple. Whatever that is fun, stimulating and engaging. I think play allows us to reach to the child’s level, exploring the world from their point of view. It can be seen as educational, but mostly, I think children thrive just with our presence and attention. At home, we do a mixture of structured and free play. Structured play is when I bring out or suggest activities. There are also classes that we go to such as gymbaroo, swimming and an occasional play meet up with other children of Asher’s age. Free play is when Asher has free rein to choose whatever he wants. Sometimes he would engage me in them, and other times, I would let him play by himself. IMG_1443 (640x427)

Structured Play Activities

Lego and Duplo- Asher is at the age where he loves trains. We would put carriages together, build tower blocks or just work on joining pieces together. Sometimes I would ask Asher to give me a particular colour of a block but other times, we would just build things. Motherhood has brought out the builder in me! 

Music Play- This can be structured or free play. I bring out the box of musical instruments and we have fun drumming, tapping and shaking. I get Asher to shake the tambourine up high or left and right. Gymbaroo has taught us well! 

Tickles- Need I say more? 🙂 Nowadays, I incorporate naming body parts to tickles and kisses too. Asher loves this one. 

Reading- We read HEAPS. Asher loves his books. I suspect this fall into more free play than structured because Asher constantly asks us to read. I have “Where is Spot” and “Where is the green sheep” tattoo into my memory……

Colouring- I bring out different types of crayons and pencils. Sometimes we scribble, other times we just stack the crayons up. Asher would name some colours too. 

Ball games- This is endless. We roll, kick, chase, throw balls so often. I would use a mix of small and big balls. Sometimes we would use a basket ball hoop, but more often, we just invent as we go.

Chasey- Classic. I chase him, he chase me. Guess who win more often? 

Sing songs or turn some music on- Current favourite is the Wheels on the Bus. Another one is Old MacDonald has a Farm. We do Twinkle Twinkle and also Itsy Bitsy Spider. Row Row Row a boat he loves too. We do children bible songs. Asher would sometimes attempt to dance along. 

Spinning- I put him on an office chair and SPIN! 

Slide- We have an indoor slide. Asher would practice going up the slide both ways. 

Sensory Play on the High Chair- I give him ice, and sometimes I attempt play doh. He seems to prefer ice than play doh! 

Puppet Show 

We jump, run and practice concepts of stop and go. 

Rough and tumble. He goes upside down, roll left right..I would lift him, squat with him, swing, fly him like a plane…. (It’s quite a workout) 

“Does it fit”- we put different items in containers! That keeps him entertained for ages! He is at the stage where he enjoys opening and closing containers. 

Supermarket- We have a toy that is like a cashier. Asher would tell me he wants banana, milk, grapes..etc. 

Open the fridge game- He LOVES our fridge. He would stand there and attempt to name all the fruits and vegetables we have. 

Water play- As we water the plays, Asher would help by using the watering can or a pail. Sometimes he just like to run around the water as we use a hose to water some plants. 

Hammer Ball- He loves it when I take that game out. We name colours of the balls, practice our hammer skills and even roll the ball down a slide. 

Flash Cards- I never thought I would like using flash cards, but Asher loves them! I think it’s because it’s a single pictorial object with just one word. Less confusion and clutter. We run around the house matching things to the card at times. 

Different textures- Asher would help me out with folding of clothes as I introduce him to different textures but also naming of items of clothing. 

Bubbles is always a favourite.IMG_1442 (640x427)

Free Play

Usually Asher would choose to play with his toys or read. Once, he took a bag and told us “by bye” and pretended to go shopping! 

We try to organise outings to the park, shops and even to friends’ place for some fun out of routine. 

Asher has tried finger, potato and dot painting at day care. I’m sure I would extend that to home sometime in the near future. I noticed he is quite cautious and sensitive to sensory items. He is ok with sand now, but I would like to introduce more play doh, and fine motor things such as lacing. 

I’m very lucky that Asher loves his food. We had 2 kiwis in the fridge that was a tad sour. Not wanting to waste them, I make them into a slice. It was a quick mix recipe and he enjoyed this for his afternoon tea. IMG_1445 (640x427)

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Pear and White Fungus Soup (Paleo, Gluten Free)

IMG_1418 (640x427)I consider myself as a modern girl. I like holidays with a decent hot water shower and clean bedding. My kitchen has some pretty modern appliances such as a food processor and a kitchen aid mixer. My clothes are fuss free, girly and basic. 

It may come to you as a surprise that I like to make traditional soups and desserts from time to time too. A few months ago, Asher developed a nasty cough. The kind of cough that keeps him (and us) awake through the night. I was looking for natural and healthy alternatives to help soothe his throat. Manuka or Jarrah Honey helps but I wanted more options.

What would grandma do?IMG_1420 (640x427)

She would brew soups and making sweet soups to nourish our lungs and throats. With that in mind, I went back to my Cantonese Chinese roots and decided to make a traditional drink for us. 

Pear is nourishing and refreshing, bitter and sweet almonds helps to strengthen the lungs and is said to help with coughs. Red dates replenishing blood. White fungus is meant to be the “poor man’s birds nest” with its nourishing properties. 

I love it cold on a hot summer day. Asher? He takes it in whatever state. 

I’m now a modern girl embracing traditional roots. IMG_1417 (427x640)

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Apple Crumble Cake (Paleo, Gluten Free)

IMG_1399 (427x640)I wouldn’t say that my dad and I have the closest relationship. He spent many years of his life working hard for us. I recall that as a child, he would be home past 7pm, and would work weekends as well. Whenever he is home, I would play hair dresser with him *cutting his hair*, or making him cups of tea. My dad would encourage me to read, and would always greet me with a big smile regardless of how tired he was. 

I left home when I was 16. He encouraged me to follow my dreams and path. The only instruction he gave me was that I have to finish what I have started (which was what lead me to complete my post graduate degree in the same discipline as what I started with). Over the years, my spoken mandarin became weaker. And as that happen, dad and I found it tricky to communicate at times. IMG_1393 (640x427)

One thing never change though, his dedication to his family never fails to amaze me. A hardworking man, he chose his family over friendships and hobbies. 

It has been more than 10 years since I celebrated his birthday with him. This year, he was in Perth and what a blast we had. From heading to a winery for lunch before his birthday, to having dim sum on the day itself. Asher clapped his hands and gave him cuddles. I had a chance to bake him a cake. IMG_1398 (640x427)

A very moist but naturally sweet cake. My favourite is bitting into the crumble topping. The crunch is irresistible. I hope you will enjoy this too.IMG_1404 (640x427)

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Carrot Cake Bliss Balls (Paleo, Gluten Free)

IMG_1439 (640x427)I have the best of both worlds. I work part time, and also get to be with Asher at home on some days. Compared to my family and friends in Singapore, where the option is pretty much non-existent, it is a luxury. 

I don’t take this opportunity lightly. No matter how tired and exhausted I am juggling between life at home and being with my son, I remind myself that many women would love to be in my position. 

Sure I get cranky. Housework does not always get done. My mind has an endless running list of things to do or organise. I find myself switching off when hubby speaks to me because I’m busy trying to figure out how do I fit in groceries, swimming and cooking in 4 hours. 

It hit me how disrespectful it was when hubby gently told me that he has repeated the same thing 4 times. While I seem to be listening, I was not present. 

The term working mum is misleading. Yes, I’m a mum. Yes, I work. I’m also a wife, a daughter, a friend, a niece, an auntie and despite my granny’s passing- I’m always her grand daughter. I cannot help but wonder, have I stopped being a wife just because I’m working and busy being a mum? 

My days are filled with work related commitments, play groups, play activities for Asher, an occasional coffee with a fellow mother, baking, cooking, organising appointments, planning meals, cleaning and goodness know what else I have forgotten with this ongoing never ending list. It is so easy to think that cooking his meals and doing his ironing as part of being a wife. Or perhaps making sure that the house is decently clean so that he can enjoy Asher over the weekend without needing to worry about most housework (sorry hun, you are still on laundry duty). 

A wife. It means being a partner. Someone to share his life with. Listening, sharing his joy and pain. Problem solving, being supportive but honest. Being forgiving when one makes mistakes. Showing care, concern and gentleness. Calming his anxiety, but being his cheerleader when it is needed. 

I haven’t been consistent in meeting my “jdf” of what a wife should do. Sure I can say that balancing work and looking after a toddler is challenging. I prefer to keep myself in check at times because there is no way that I want to disrespect my husband or put my marriage in the back burner because I’m too busy working or chasing after a toddler.

I did an experiment. 

Almost every morning, especially on weekdays, I would send text messages to hubby. I decided that I would thank him for at least ONE action. It has to be concrete- no fluffy statements like “Thanks for loving me”. I would write it as “thank you for bringing me a cup of tea when I couldn’t move from the couch last night. I know you love me.” or “It was so helpful this morning when you took Asher down so that I can have 10 minutes to get ready”. 

It took him nearly a month and suddenly he texted me. “Thank you for these morning messages. I look forward to it every day.” 

 

That. made. me. smile. 

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