Cauliflower Pizza (Clean Eating, Toddler Friendly, Gluten Free)

IMG_1639 (640x427)One long weekend, we headed out for brunch. I did not plan to make lunch at home because I thought brunch would make us full. By 2pm though, hubby looked at me and I know…he was hungry! 

I go through bit of a roller coaster ride when I cook on weekends. Especially long weekends when I envisioned extra family time, long lunches and walks around the park. Flipping through cookbooks, I tend to think “ooo..I want to try that. Darn! It might take more than an hour, I shall leave that to the weekend”. And of course, when weekend comes around, all I want is simple and fast because I want to spend more time being in the outdoors, having meals with friends or simply not wanting to hurry home when Asher wants another turn on the slide. IMG_1640 (427x640)

Cauliflower pizza was one of those recipes. I filed that away for a “Friday dinner” or “light long weekend lunch”. Honestly, it’s not that hard. Blanching chopped up cauliflower, mixing it up with some cheese and baking them hardly seems difficult. For some odd reason though, the thought of having to do the cooking process twice (Blanching then grilling) flashes “more work and more to wash up” to me. IMG_1637 (427x640)

So that’s what happened. Cooking is a joy. But the joy can turn into pain when time and effort comes in it. I still enjoy being in the kitchen and creating recipes. On weekdays, it’s all about quick and easy, utilising the oven or pressure cooker as often as I can. On the odd occasion, I would try something that requires just a tad more effort. This is one of them. 

Once I made it though, there was no turning back. Crisp cauliflower base with a topping of mushrooms, ham and some fresh basil. Asher woke from his nap and gobbled up a few pieces for his afternoon tea. Then we head out and played at the park. As simple and boring as it sounds, those little moments make me happy. Now that’s a perfect weekend to us. 

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The night before…. + Dark Almond Coconut Cookies

4742_87415738090_7739815_nIt was 6 years ago. Friends and family gathered. It was the night before. 

On the 23rd of April 2009. The day before we got signed on the dotted line. I don’t remember much, except that I felt the butterflies in my stomach, the quiet excitedness that I’m marrying the man that I love. 

Every year, I write a post on what I learned and what I aim to achieve in our married life for the next year. This year though, I thought I would do something in addition to that. I wanted to pause and recall those moments 6 years ago. 

So often life gets ahead of us. We rush and run. Work gets ahead. Having Asher changes things. It’s really easy to let time slips through our fingers and forget why we are here in the first place. 

6 years ago. The day before. 

I don’t remember much but I remember how I felt. 4742_87420313090_8171419_n

I was a ball of emotions. I don’t remember feeling fear. I remember feeling a sense of calm. I prayed. It was like I just knew that the decision will be the right one. I remembered thinking back my health scare (where I found a lump on my neck- turned out to be nothing), and how hubby held my hand and said he will be there. I recall those days where I was overweight and was heavier (and taller) than him while we were dating. That did not faze him. I thought back of my anxiety while writing my thesis. He greeted me with coffee. I closed my eyes and remembered how we prayed together, when we did not know if we should move our relationship forward. I giggle as I recall how anxious he was when he asked me to be his girlfriend and even more so when he asked me to marry him. 

Fast forward. 6 years. The day before we signed the papers. 

I want to remember those feelings because in this journey of 6 years. It was the level of commitment. Steadfastness. Kindness and forgiveness that brought us here. IMG_1660 (427x640)

I want to hold these feelings tight and close to me. It has been a lovely 6 years and I’m sure more to come. Dark Chocolate Almond Coconut Cookies

These cookies have been 10 years in the making.  I know how much hubby loves these. I’m pleased to say my last experimentation worked. Coconut sugar was the key. It add the melt in your mouth texture, and not a lot was needed as well. You deserve every bite my darling! Thanks for the patience, as I made these gems!IMG_1658 (427x640)

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Fig and Mango Agar Agar Jelly (Paleo, Gluten free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar free)

IMG_1611 (427x640)Since I started working, I felt that my world has gotten smaller. I’m getting good at saying no, and scheduling less on weekends. I’m better at receiving help and having a blind eye when household chores doesn’t get done as quickly as what I would like. Meals have become simpler. Most weeks, I would have at least 1 meal that I cook a double batch which would be the next day’s dinner as well. 

I’m not as good in replying messages or being on top of catching up with friends. Most of our friends are in a similar situation, where time is so precious that rest/activities/children get prioritised above meet ups. Sometimes I feel bad, but then realised that when it comes to friendships, it’s a joint responsibility between us. The other thing I realised is that not meeting/connecting over messages/coffees/meals isn’t necessary a bad thing. When friends meet, we fall back into the same pattern. The same keenness to catch up. The genuineness in wanting to know how things are going with work, relationships, health and life. It may have been 3 months since we spoke but that gap does not seem to matter as much anymore. Fig and Mango Coconut Jelly

Friendships and parenthood. It’s a strange combination. I’m of an opinion that just because I’m a parent does not mean I do not need friends. Also, I don’t just need parent friends. I need grown up friends who will talk to me about other things than looking kids too. Having said that, I appreciate every parent friend I have. They always puts things into perspective for me. IMG_1610 (640x427)

I made these pretty little jellies twice. Once was for a meet up with some friends over roast meats and chats. The other, was for family. Both times, I enjoyed making them. I love the pretty colours. The purple from the fig, and yellow from the orange. Because I used coconut cream, I felt that I need not add much sweetness since the fruit gave it a little touch of sweetness too. Bite size cuteness. I hope you like this as much as I do!

 

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Banana Sultanas Cookies + My Breastfeeding Journey

It really doesn’t seem that long ago when Asher was born. That precious newborn smell, endless nights and diaper changes. Now, he is toddler. 

IMG_4632I stared at him this morning.  I couldn’t help it. We were having rough and tumble play. He was calling out to me “mama! cuddles!” and “mamama… eyes!” “mamama! Up up!” Not long before, I was cuddling him in my arms and now he is a wriggling little boy. IMG_4225

Asher is nearly 21 months now- which is 1 year and 9 months. When I first started breastfeeding, those early days were a haze. Latched on every 3 hours. Biting my tongue as my nipples cracked and bleed. Stuffing my bra with nursing pads. Feeling stuck to chair/couch/bed all the time. I felt that Asher was constantly attached to me. Fast forward 1 year 9 months, and we are still continuing our breastfeeding journey. 

Honestly, between you and me, I’m pleased and surprised that we have come this far. When we first started, all I wanted was to hit 3 months, then 6mths, then 9mths, then 1 year. 

Those early days were hard but I was one of the lucky ones. I did not have mastitis, although I had hard lumps. Hot compresses and Asher latching on frequently were the only things that helped. Milk came in on the 5th day and it was go go go from then. I think my supply only stabilised when Asher was around 6 weeks, which of course was hit by another growth spurt. I felt more comfortable breastfeeding by the time Asher was 12 weeks young. I could even carry him in a sling and breastfeed him while walking around Target! IMG_3281

In fact, I could breastfeed him anywhere. In the middle of dim sum? No problems. Eating with one hand. I nailed it. 

The sleep deprivation was a pain. Waking up multiple times a night was not easy. I recall crying myself to sleep one morning, and when my mum asked what was wrong, all I could say was “I’m so tired!” 

What helped? 

– Regular wholesome snacks like chia pudding, nuts, eggs and hot drinks (like cacao with almond milk).

– Not having to worry about household chores or meals for the first few weeks.

– Doing light exercises

– Meeting up with mothers and attending mothers group.

– A very very supportive husband and family members. 

 

When Asher started solids at 6mths, he took to it quite quickly. Slowly the breastfeeding frequency reduced. From 8 times a day, it was down to 6, and then 4…. eventually, at around the 13-14mth mark, he was only having once a day feed and twice night feeds. Now, he has one feed early morning, which always lead to cuddles before we wake for the day. IMG_4944

I have nothing against formula (In fact, I stocked up on one box of sachets- I wasn’t sure how we would go and I wanted to be prepared). It was an added bonus that this journey has been relatively smooth sailing for us. I would never forget those days and nights, where I cuddled up my little boy, held so close to me, knowing that we will share this special bond. Banana Sultanas Cookies

I don’t know when our breastfeeding journey will end. I hope to reach the 2 years mark. However, I know that my supply has reduced tremendously and Asher appears to be getting the nourishment he needs from meals in the day. He would have perhaps a cup of milk in the morning (and sometimes, I would pump milk for day care which will be mixed into cows milk). The day will come I’m sure. Again, Asher is naturally weaning himself which works for us. I’m sure if I have to wean him, it would be another story! IMG_1599 (427x640)

Since Asher likes his food, I enjoy making things for him. This one was an experiment but it turned out really well. Despite my best effort though, Asher ate only 2 and decided he didn’t want it anymore! Hubby and I loved it though and think it’s a great little snack!IMG_1602 (640x427)IMG_3281

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Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Nam Jim Sauce (Paleo, Clean eating, Gluten Free) + Judgement on what other people eat

I have learnt that there is no “one size fits all”.  IMG_1616 (640x427)

I meant it in the way of meals and food. 

Fitness and health is a journey. Everyone has their own set of circumstances that require individualisation. What works for me may not work for you. 

I have my fair share of comments about “Why are you being careful about carbs intake?”, “relax a little! Just eat!” or “you exercise right? Just eat what you want”

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We have all heard of stories where the fittest person we know was diagnosed with cancer, while the person who drank ate and partied stayed healthy. 

I was diagnosed with PCOS around 3 years ago. Thankfully, I am not insulin resistant. However, I know I am at a higher risk of it. Thats the biggest reason why I eat and train the way I do. High intensity but at a shorter period of time. Eating cleanly as much as possible rather than having refined food that poses little to no nutritional value to my body. To make it slightly more complicated, I had IBS when I was in my late teens. While it is usually under control, I have times where it flared up- most recently after a mild bout of gastro. Both conditions made me more aware of how I eat. IMG_1615 (427x640)

Who knows what is the fitness and health journey of the person next to you? I realised now, that instead of being judgemental, is to just listen. The person next to me might have a tougher health journey than myself. 

For some people, being a vegan works. For others, they enjoy oats. Some like their pasta, whereas others react badly to gluten. Then there are people who respond sensitively to some foods but that does not necessary mean they are allergic to it. 

Creating meals is a joy. Eating is a joy. Fuelling our bodies right makes it moves better and feel better. That’s the primary reason of why we eat clean. Surely listening to your body and learning what makes it tick better is the way to go? 

I struggle with the word “diet”. While it means “the way we eat”, it appears to have a negative notation around it. For our family, we aim to have less processed food. Aiming for whole foods such as vegetables, meat and seafood. We found that too much gluten or dairy makes us bloated and sluggish. For me, it could even trigger abdominal discomfort. 

The questions I frequently get are

1) Do I eat bread?

Yes and No. I do not eat bread on a daily basis for breakfasts. Occasionally when we are out, I may have a little rye toast if I feel like it. My tummy tends to feel heavy after having bread. However, on my heavy work out days, I tend to feel better with additional carbohydrates which depending on where we are, I might choose sweet potato/oats or a small piece of rye toast.

How about breakfasts then? I love eggs. However, I also have some greek yogurt and on Sunday, we cook a fry up of a sausage, spinach, mushrooms and tomato. 

2) You are asian, how about rice and noodles?

We cook rice weekly. Perhaps once a week or twice. I don’t have an issue with rice. I have some occasionally and again on higher intensity work out days. I like that rice has some nutritional value plus it provides resistant starch which is good for gut health. (I recall those days when I was sick, and a bowl of hot steaming congee seems to soothe the tummy). However, I’m conscious that rice is easy to over eat, plus with my PCOS, I tend to be more conscious about the amount of white rice I’m having.

I’m not a fan of yellow noodles but will share some pho with rice noodles from time to time. At home, we prefer cooking with kelp noodles, zucchini noodles and occasionally sweet potato noodles. 

3) Do you have milk in your coffee? What about dairy?

I have almond milk in my fridge and tend to add a splash of that to my coffee at home. If I’m out, I love a good almond milk long mac. However, I go full cream long mac if that is not available. 

I can’t have too much dairy. It makes my tummy goes all funny…A few small slithers of cheese here and there? Not a problem. I seem to be ok with greek yogurt- maybe a 3/4 times a week in small (100-120grams) portions appears to be ok. 

4) Do I cook with sauces?

I have coconut aminos and fish sauce. I do not cook with oyster sauce. I love having ginger, sesame oil and garlic as seasoning. I also use dried herbs. 

5) Do I eat desserts when I’m out?

Of course I do! Hubby and I share. Indulgence. We eat and enjoy. Is it totally nourishing and good for us? Probably not. But we eat knowing that it is for enjoyment and not so much for physical health. 

6) Do I think my “diet” is restrictive?

No way. When is eating clean restrictive? It makes me more conscious about what I put in my body for sure! 

7) Why I identify myself with being a cheeky paleo?

I like the term clean eating. I think that fits us the best. In general though, I like the basics of paleo- eating more vegetables with good sources of meat/seafood. I do like to have some clean paleoified cakes and treats here and there. I think if I want to have dessert, it’s best to have it as nourishing as possible. However, I’m all for REAL chocolate! 

 

 

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This simple salad is made up of mainly wombok or Chinese cabbage. Often, I fall into the tray of using mixed mesclun leaves or baby spinach to make up our salads. I find that finely shredded chinese cabbage has a lovely texture and crunch to it. Top with some cashews and a tangy dressing, it was a light dinner but a satisfying one. A friend passed me this nam jim recipe. I modified it as I did not add sugar to it. Instead, I love the lemon juice, fish sauce, sesame oil and the hit of chilli. 

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Eating Clean while Travelling- We went to Hong Kong! Plus Coconut Banana Ice Cream (Paleo, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar free)

IMG_4728Travelling is one of our biggest passion. We are very privileged to be able to head back to see our family in Singapore, Malaysia and even take a short trip to Hong Kong to see my Grandaunt recently.  IMG_4812

I have often said that eating clean is a lifestyle. What happens then on holidays? My family and I subscribe to the 80/20 rule mostly. During the trip, I ate carefully. Being on holidays means we have our indulgences. I’m all for a good egg tart or dim sum, but generally I try to stay clean as possible (with allowances). IMG_4746

In Singapore and KL, My mum and mother in law are wonderful cooks. Chinese cooking can be quite healthy. We had steamed fish, plenty of broths and soups, stir fry vegetables like bitter gourd and sambal eggplant, steamed chicken with mushrooms. Eating at home, where I didn’t have to cook was a luxury. 

When we do eat out, hubby and I tend to share certain treats. Instead of having a bowl of herbal jelly each, we shared one. We drizzle honey onto our bowl rather than pouring into it. (We had one! The other one in the photo belonged to my mum)IMG_4665

We came across one of my favourite- Pierre Hermes Macarons. Given that it has been nearly 6 years since we went to Paris, and it brought us lovely memories, we indulged-Sharing one between us every few days. IMG_4710

More importantly, we stayed active. Nearly everyday, we tried to move. We walked a lot of course (especially in HK), but I did body weight workout and used the weights at the hotel gym. I didn’t go over excessive. I just moved. It was probably of a lower intensity that my normal workout but that’s alright. My body needed to rest and so I rested. There was at least 2 days I did not workout. I simply felt tired. 

Other things?

– I packed small packets of nuts. It’s easy enough to buy roasted unsalted nuts at groceries stores.

– I pack my muesli. I try to start my day having a healthy, clean breakfast. Sometimes I would have eggs but I really enjoy my muesli with some greek yogurt.

– Mum makes cold pressed juices at home which I quite enjoyed!

– Taste. If I really like it, I will have the whole thing without guilt. 

– Stay hydrated. We purchase plenty of bottled water.

– We brought our vitamins. However, we find that it is more helpful taking them at least before the trip to build our immunity up.

– Instead of watching TV, we were usually in bed by 10 or 11pm. Sometimes even 9:30! It was actually quite nice to take advantage of not having to do household chores and just catch up on sleep!

– On the plane, I would either order the low carb meal or have the meat and vegetables portion. I would skip the dessert (as it is usually not as nice!) and have a piece of dark chocolate if I feel like it. 

– Don’t forget to have some fruits. We enjoyed bells apple, guava, jackfruit… Asher loves his fruits too! IMG_4753

With Asher, we mostly allowed him to have what we eat at restaurants. Thankfully, he likes his vegetables and would attack the broccoli with gusto in Hong Kong. In KL, he had cucumber and jiacama as snacks. 

All in all, we had a great trip and I can’t wait to visit Hong Kong in the future again. IMG_1608 (640x427)

I know we are in autumn but I cannot resist not sharing this Ice cream recipe with you. It’s so quick and simple. You can do it with or without the ice cream machine. I find that with the machine, it is creamier. 

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Earl Grey Hazelnut Cranberry Biscotti + Update on my workout routine (Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating)

IMG_1586 (640x427)My exercise regime has changed in recent times. Since 2015, I decided to mix it up and throw in an additional work out session. 

Mondays- Met con

Tuesdays- Metcon

Wednesday- Boxing

Thursday- Metcon

Friday- Active recovery. Walks and stretches

Saturday- Boxing

Sunday- Active Recover. Walks and stretches.

 

If I decided not to head to a metcon session on Monday, hubby and I will turn out pop sugar fitness or “PT in my Pocket” app, and select a short sharp workout from there. 

It took a little adjustment when I increased training days to 5 sessions a week. Because metabolic conditioning and boxing can be quite high intensity and let’s face it- exercise can be a form of stress, the body can fatigue easily. More is not always the best solution. 

Some signs that I’m careful about include- feeling tired, muscle stiffness, decrease mobility, the feeling of dread when heading to the gym. 

IMG_1583 (427x640)I learned that it is ok to pull back at the gym sometimes. Yes, I might have a few sessions that I’m out there and wanting to smash things. However, I can also go at a 80% pace at times. Those 80% pace or slight modified workouts are gold. It helps the body to calibrate, move and adjust. It means giving my body respect that it needs time to do what it needs to do for strength to be built up. 

Food wise? I tend to eat more clean carbs on workout days. Following my boxing or met con, I would have a little rice, sweet potato or pumpkin. That fuels me up and helps to feed my muscles that have worked hard. On active recovery days, I reduce those carbs but still eat clean. One thing that does not change- I still have my dark chocolate on most nights of the week. Other times, hot tea and a lovely crisp biscotti to chew on.IMG_1591 (640x427)

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Dark Chocolate Macadamia Pistachio Happy Cookies + Thoughts on guilt (Paleo, Clean Eating, Gluten Free)

IMG_1530 (427x640)Hello APRIL! Are you kidding me or is it that we are done with 1/4 of the year already? Soon we will be talking about Christmas shopping and cooking again. 

I’m all chilled at the moment as we are on our holidays. Grandparents looking after Asher. Good food, fresh juices and home made broths. Yes, it’s awesome getting spoilt. 

Self care is under rated. Self care SHOULD be emphasised more. I was talking to hubby one evening about the awful feeling of guilt. 

IMG_1534 (640x427)GUILT

-The feeling I get when I have to ask hubby to take a day off to look after Asher because I have some work meetings that would be difficult to reschedule. 

– Leaving a pile of clothes not sorted or folded for a few days.

– Ironing pile appears to be bigger

– Hubby getting up in the middle of the night to re settle Asher.

– Asking hubby to get up to re settle Asher when I was coughing 

– Scheduling a hair cut, getting a pedicure done or a massage.

– Thinking that I can always do MORE with Asher. I would love to organise more sensory play with him.

– Flopping onto my sofa and just want to do nothing but drink tea and watch mindless TV. 

-Having that extra coffee

– Working more hours= less time for Asher. Working less hours = less contribution to our household. 

– Not calling my grandaunty enough

– Not calling my dad on weekdays enough

– Not messaging or touching base with my friends enough IMG_1537 (640x427)

It seems that on some days, everywhere I turn, the feeling of guilt could lurk. Hubby turned to me and said that no one puts that on me but myself. How true is that. 

On reflection, my feelings of guilt would occur more when I’m feeling tired and run down. On a car ride one day, hubs said that from his perspective, he sees that everything is running fine and Asher is flourishing..and then bam! He realised that I have kept it all up but forget that it is me that needs to chilled.

SELF CARE. Best two words ever.

No more running errands just for the family on any precious day or few hours that I have off without Asher occasionally. No more blaming or thinking that I can do better. Truth is, I can always do better- there is always something to thrive for. Right now, I want to thrive for rest and recovery. Right now, I’m going to be kind to myself, enjoy the food, enjoy my friends and time with my family, quick workouts and some awesome shopping time. 

And that will make me a better wife, mother, friend and daughter. 

No guilt. 

I made these little cookies for a friend who was feeling a little run down. No guilt. Just some happy pistachios, dark chocolate and macadamias with coconut oil- full of happy ingredients. IMG_1536 (640x427)

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