Cashew and Hazelnut Brittle (Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating)

Cashew and Hazelnut BritterMy husband is not a big snacker. You would think that with my constant experimenting in the kitchen, and fridge filled with snacks, he would be excited about it. Truth is, sometimes he is and sometimes he isn’t. Even if I have spent time making a double layer hazelnut torte (which I did!) for our Anniversary, he would eat it but he wouldn’t go hunting for it. 

I have said before that my husband has a better relationship with food than myself. He eats when he is hungry and if he enjoys it. He doesn’t see any whatsoever emotional attachment to food even if it is a cake for our anniversary. To him, our anniversary is bigger than a slice of cake. He is appreciative of course, but how he eats reflects his healthy relationship with good and attunement to his hunger cues. IMG_1768 (640x427)

This brittle changes things (This plus cookies and sesame snaps). He raids the fridge for it. He requested it to be placed in his snack box. He loves it so much that the whole container disappeared in 2 days. 

Then I know, I have found a winner. Why wouldn’t this be? It is crunchy, it is rich and it is not sickly sweet. It is just a celebration of cashews, hazelnuts and vanilla creaminess with a crunch. IMG_1765 (640x427)

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Cashew Basil Pesto (Gluten Free, Paleo, Clean Eating) + Asher’s food journey

IMG_1743 (640x427)Besides breakfasts, dinners are of our favourite meals of our family. We talk, chatter and simply try to rest as we wind down. I would say we endeavour to eat as a family 3-4 times a week, with the rest hubby feeding him while I’m at the gym. Those nights are also appreciated though, as that means hubby and I usually have dinner together later while Asher eats earlier. 

Seeing our little man eat is a joy to me. As such, I empathise with my friends whose children are currently struggling with food. Food is such a big part of our culture that when a child does not eat, the judgement can come fast and hard to the parents. How awful! It really ins’t helpful to say statements such as “why do other kids eat and yours don’t?”, “you have to discipline the child”, “why are you letting him eat just crackers and nothing else”. 

The good news is that it could be a phase, and perhaps later on the child will discover it. Our role as parents is to be consistent and never give up.IMG_1741 (640x427)

On the other hand, friends ask how did we “train” Asher to be a good eater? I will be the first to say he has his good and bad days. The other week, he had gastro and all he wanted was crackers! He was also off meat for a little while, but would attack his vegetables with gusto. Right now, he refuses plain yogurt and cheese. However, he seems fine if we mix yogurt with avocado and pear to make a smoothie bowl for him, or have melted cheese over his stuffed sweet potato or in his scrambled eggs. Red meat is not his favourite but he will take fish and eggs anyday. Having said that, he would love my bacon meat loaf one night and refuse to have it on another. 

As such, I do not think it is a matter of training, but a combination of factors that worked to our favour. I know that he will soon have his preferences (he has master the word “NO” very clearly), and might have his turn of being picky soon. I’m bracing myself for that. 

Looking back, these are some things I did from the beginning that may or may not have contributed 

– Having a wide variety of food/eating as clean as I can while I was pregnant

– Same as above while I was breastfeeding

– even when he was a baby, I ate and cooked clean snacks in front of him or with him in a carrier.

– His first solids was avocado with breastmilk. We stayed away from oatmeal. Avocado has a lot of good fat that is beneficial for little ones.

– I ate a lot of vege sticks in front of him. As such, one of his current favourite snacks is cucumber and capsicum sticks! We have photos of him grabbing it out of my hands when he was 9 months young. 

– I do not have any other snack foods in the house. I do have some plain crackers. 

– I limit pouch food (Only for travelling overseas) and packaged snacks for him. 

– As early as we can, Asher has the same meals as we do. 

– While occasionally he has a bite of cake or even some chocolate in a cookie, we have decided to delay letting him have a piece of chocolate or lollies. He is not even 2. I’m sure there are plenty of times that will happen in the future.

– No soft drinks or juices. I do give him a smoothie at times- but that’s because I wanted him to drink kefir. Otherwise, it’s plain milk and water. 

– I try to bake or make his snacks as much as possible but lately, he has been rejecting my baking! All he prefers are fruits, crackers and vegetable sticks….. oh and my home made custard. 

– Hubby involve him in the garden. Asher would help water our herb garden patch. He would also bring in some herbs for me to use. IMG_1748 (640x427)

We like to make zucchini noodles at home. I wish I have more time to make pesto. When I do though, It’s such a lovely addition to any meal. This pesto is special because not only did Asher and hubby planted the basil plant, Asher also helped me pluck the leaves and place them into the food processor. I remembered that as a bub, he was afraid of the food processor but now, he would happily watch it whirl away. The green is such a vibrant colour too. I made this batch with cashew nuts , lemon zest, juice, garlic and a small handful of parmesan cheese. Good quality olive oil is the key. 

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Matcha Bliss Balls (Paleo, Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free) + Being Mindful of our Words and Thoughts

I titled my little space here “Words That Nourish” simply because I felt that words itself is powerful enough to influence our mind, thoughts and behaviour. What we say influence how we think and behave. How often do we let words hurt us rather than nourish us. How often do we put ourselves down? 

Words though does not just impact on ourselves. A sharp word unintentionally can easily bring down the other person. I feel that the less obvious is when we do not uplift others. Giving another person encouragement, praise or a kind word can be nourishing if not more than not saying something “negative”. 

I have been brought up in a typical Asian family where praise is not often used. Instead, I’m showered with love and care through food, books and not needing to worry about my daily needs. Ironically, I grew up loving giving hugs and affection. Must be all the time I spent with my teddies and barbies when I was a kid! (Also a possible only child syndrome) Matcha Bliss Balls

Lately though, I noticed that as work, home and being a parent consume me, I have fallen into the trap of being more self focused. When one is tired, suddenly the who world seems over whelming. A usual simple chore appears bigger than ben hur. I started to question why I do things and how I do them. It’s like my confidence has been shaken. The negative self talk happens and the world starts to be more grey than usual.

Then it hit me. When was the last time I have been kind, positive and uplifting to someone else? I have been too busy focusing on “tired me” that I haven’t slowed down to notice what is around me. 

Paying compliments, being kind and having a listening ear. That has always been me. Lately, in the midst of trying to chase my tail, I lost that abit. How did I realise that? Over the past 1 week, someone paid a compliment to the top I was wearing, another complimented how I did not back down on my principles, and my husband said he enjoyed a soup I made for dinner. It washed through me. I did not even notice it. 

The art of giving compliments is matched by the art of receiving them. That was when I realised that I was not listening. It horrifies me bit. How many people have I switched off to automatically over the past week or so? 

I made a point. To slow down again. To listen. To repeat back what others have said, to notice things. To be more mindful about the gorgeous flowers that was on my kitchen bench top. The pretty colours on my scarf. The warmth of the sun. The bitter sweet taste of my favourite chocolates. 

Suddenly, the focus is off me. The grey is less grey. The world is brighter. IMG_1755 (640x427)

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Tahini Chocolate Fudge

IMG_1731 (640x427)I never thought that I have a sweet tooth. Sure, I do like my desserts but I like my savoury snacks too. These days, I like to keep a stash of some form of snacks in the freezer whenever the feeling hits. It’s usually post lunch where I just felt like something special or additional. 

The tricky thing about these sort of snacks is that it is easy to “just have one more”. No matter how clean they are, I like to remember the reason why I am eating it. Often, I ask myself the questions ofIMG_1730 (640x427)

1) Am I hungry?

2) Is it a chocolate craving?

3) Did I eat enough for lunch?

4) Is it because I’m just peckish? 

Eat consciously is what I’m getting at. 

So many times I just scoff down food in a hurry. Being a mum does it to you. It’s even worse on my work day. Working part time means I’m constantly trying to squeeze in as many tasks as possible. Often, this result in lunch by the desk or a snack in the car. Wednesdays are worse for me. If I don’t eat, I find it really hard to attend my boxing class. 

That’s when freezer protein snacks like that comes in handy. The tahini provides a rich flavour, with the cacao bitterness showing through. I savour this. You can’t not. Almost like a reece peanut butter cup. Just almost. IMG_1728 (427x640)

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Walnut Chocolate Slice with Coconut Cream Frosting (Paleo, Gluten Free, and Clean Eating)

Walnut Chocolate SliceThere are people who are not a fan of chocolate and people who are crazy about it. I’m in the latter category. I love having chocolate. The taste of slight bitterness, smoothness, and aroma that dances on my tongue. Yum! 

I like my chocolate dark. The darker the better. I found Gabriel’s 99% chocolate to be smooth and rich. A little goes a long way. Their cacao nibs remain one of my favourite addition to bakes and muesli.

Then we have Bahen and Co. Words fail me. My ultimate favourite. I love munching on 1 or 2 little morsels at 10pm when the night is still and Asher is deep asleep. Almond and Sea Salt. Or perhaps Cracked Coffee. Maybe Madagascar. Choices. IMG_1718 (640x427)

The use of cacao powder in my recent bakes changed my world. The deep tones of chocolate in sweets AND good for us. I’m not sure how much nutrition remains when raw cacao gets baked. Nevertheless, I love the richness of the taste. For some people, it may be on the bitter side. For me, it’s a joy to be able to taste the chocolate (and not just sweetness) in cakes. 

As the name suggests, Walnut Chocolate Slices is what it is. I’m beginning to really like walnuts in bakes now. I often find it too heavy and overpowering in cookies and cakes. Now, I just let it shine. The frosting was an impulsive add on. Whipping some coconut butter and cream together, I realised it makes a really nice frosting (to spread and to lick). Yummy bite size delights. IMG_1719 (640x427)

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Almond and Coconut Bread (Paleo, Clean Eating, Gluten Free)

IMG_8957It’s a cliche. Time just seems to fly pass. It has been one year since my grandmother’s passing. 

My feelings are all over the place. Mostly I feel sad. I miss her terribly. I wish that I can pick up the iPad and give her a buzz early in the morning. Our conversations were simple. What did she eat. What did Asher do. What am I cooking today. IMG_8922

My eyes wandered around my bedroom when I went back to Singapore earlier. It has changed now. It felt empty. Her serene smiley photo looked at me. My graduation photo standing proud on her cabinet. Ever since I was 3 days old, I was under her care and supervision. I slept in the same room as her till I was 16 years old- and even then, I shared a room with her whenever I come back to visit. Her room was mine and vice versa. 1929236_53220558090_8130603_n

Thoughts of “Why did I not pick up her symptoms earlier” haunt me from time to time. Before our trip to Bali, I would ring her everyday. While we were in Bali, I rang her twice. The weekend we were back,  I spoke to her on Friday and recall her saying she wasn’t feeling well. Reassuring me that she will be ok, she went to see the GP and came back telling me that GP said her digestive system was weak and she is to drink more fluid and rest. I spoke to her on Sunday again, with my mother and I agreeing that it’s time to make a trip to the hospital. She was jovial and said she was preparing to have a shower before heading to the local hospital. 

That was the last long conversation we had. 

If only.  

Deep down, I knew it was a matter of time. The past year leading to her passing has been tough. She was pushed and had a fracture. She was in and out of the hospital 3-4 times for illnesses that she conquered over and over. She was fighting for time. IMG_7742

I treasure all my time with her. I’m the lucky one. Being her grand daughter, I benefited from her attention and time. I was in a very privileged position to know her. Beneath her “fierceness”, was her generosity, humour, kindness and warmth. She showed through her actions. Family member needing some cash flow? She bought food. Mum being unwell, she made soups. She encouraged me through university despite her sometimes old fashioned comments about how girls does not need higher education. She stood proudly next to me and bought me flowers at my doctorate graduation ceremony. 

To me, she would always be the wise one. IMG_7491

Her passing has left an emptiness in my life and heart. A missing piece. Life goes on and I know she would want me to live better. That was why she worked hard- for the next generations to have better.

A life time of memories.IMG_1694 (640x427)

Grandmother likes bread. She would have it almost every morning. It was soft, easy to digest.I have been experimenting for a little while now and found that psyllium husk makes this clean loaf more “bread like”. What would she say I wonder if I make her this bread? I’m guessing she would say it’s more dense that what she is used to. Nevertheless, she would chomp it down with real butter. That’s what thing I learnt from her. Butter always makes bread taste better.IMG_1703 (427x640)

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Zucchini Sundried Tomatoes Slices

IMG_1647 (640x427)I really can’t complain as Asher is an excellent eater. Most of the time anyway. He likes his vegetables and would go for his fruits any day. He would eat what I make for him and usually looks like he is enjoying his meals. Yes as a toddler, he has his fussy days, but overall, I think we have been very blessed with a good eater. IMG_1652 (640x427)

On my “off days”, I like to make something extra to freeze. Sometimes, these can be used as snacks. Other times, it can be a breakfast item. I freeze bigger meals as well so that I know that there is something we can pull out of the freezer for him on busy evenings. 

IMG_1650 (427x640)I LOVE zucchini. I think we can have it every week if we want to. We can roast it, grate it, fry it, add them in stews.. the possibilities is endless. I have not yet make them into cakes yet but that day might come just yet. In the mean time though, I do like grating and adding them in fritters or frittatas. I like to think they increase the nutrition value of whatever we are making. 

This has a few slices of sundries tomatoes with the added protein of eggs. I love how well they freeze- making them easy to defrost. They are portable and makes a good snack if not breakfast. 

I hope you like it too!

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Review: Baby Bumkins Wet Wipes

 

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(Where are the wet wipes!)

Ever since Asher arrived, I came to know about the wonderful use of wet wipes. They can be used for EVERYTHING. I wipe down trolleys, high chairs, change tables, grubby hands, and dare I say it, even on my own clothes/bag. A good friend whose husband is getting into the field of dermatology, told me to look out for wipes without MI (methylisothiazolinone). It seems MI is linked to rashes, allergy reactions and possible eczema. With Asher being predispose (both hubby and I have mild eczema), we wanted to err on the side of caution. 

Since then, I’m conscious about the type of wet wipes we use. We changed all our wipes to organic ones without MI. Our friends reminded us that the ingredient will linger when we wipe down chairs and equipment, which of course will have contact with the child’s skin. The down side of course is the cost. 

Other things we look out for when purchasing wipes are 1) fragrance free, 2) good size so that we can give little Asher a good wipe without using 5-6 of them!),  3) moist enough and 4) Does not make my skin feel dry or Asher’s skin go red/sore/nappy rash. 

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When Baby Bumkins arrived in the mail, I was cautious yet keen to try them out.

I received

1×3 value pack 80 sheets of Fragrance Free Baby Bumkins Wipes (RRP $9.99)

1 x 80 sheets of Fragrance Free Baby Bumkins Wipes (RRP $3.99)

and 

1x 80 sheets of Lightly Fragrant Baby Bumkin Wipes (RRP $3.99)

 

A quick research show that they do not have MI. They are dermatological tested and are free from nasty chemicals. Much to my surprise, they are soft, moist and does not have any artificial smell. I love how they pop out easily with the opening. After trailing them for 3 days, there were no rashes or any allergic reactions. Hubby voted for them, saying that he prefers the thickness of these wipes in comparison to the ones we usually use! Big ticks for me if hubby loves them too. My favourite would be the fragrance free ones.  With the value pack of $9.99 for 3, they are definitely more budget friendly. 

We are definitely going to look out for them in the shops. Baby Bumkins is a new brand that will be made available in IGA stores. 

 

This product talk is brought to you by Nuffnang and Baby Bumkins. Opinions and thoughts are of my own. 

 

 

Dark Chocolate Chia Cookies (gluten free, paleo, clean eating, refined sugar free, dairy free) + How motherhood has changed me

IMG_1625 (640x427)The other day I wondered… “Has motherhood changed me?” 

To say that I’m not changed will be a lie. ALL of us change somehow. Resilience seems to be the buzz word these days. All it means is that we learn from our experience and hopefully grow a little wiser out of it. 

How has motherhood changed me?IMG_1626 (427x640)

– I do not know what happened to my brain cells. My memory is shot and sometimes I feel that I’m a fuzzhead. I used to be able to hold birthdays in my head. Now? I have to check my phone few times daily to remind myself what the date is… I believe it’s because looking after a human being tends to take up a lot of your brain space..and somehow, your brain compensates by forgetting other stuff.

– I’m a lot more relaxed in some ways. Clothes unfolded? Meh. Running late? I will send a text/phone call. Appointments need to re-schedule because Asher is sick? sure thing. 

– And stress in other ways… Asher’s meals to his health. Coordinating hubby’s timetable to ours.

– Learning how to be in the moment. Play is actually quite fun! 

– Learning how to say no because it is simply not our priority. 

– I can multitask very well. Juggling a wriggling toddler and shopping? Sure thing! Cooking and entertaining a toddler? No problems. 

– I’m a good list maker. 

– New friends. I appreciate new mummy friends and also love a good conversation that does not involve children with other friends. 

– My body has changed. Sometimes I’m very proud while other times I’m a little self conscious. I do think though, that generally I’m stronger and fitter than before I was pregnant. 

– Feeling more content. 

I think the word change might be wrong. Mostly, it’s how motherhood has shaped me. (might be pun intended too! HA!). My outlook in life has changed. Oh yes, my body shape and health has changed too. For the better I think. 

And my love for cookies. That did not change.IMG_1629 (640x427)

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Happy 6th Wedding Anniversary

1909802_115666213090_2525726_nI look back at our wedding photos and videos. I remembered what an epic party that was. A celebration of us. 

6 years later. 

3 weddings. What were we thinking? Crazy I say. It was such good fun being with our friends and family. Travelling with our friends and family. Heading straight into tradition. Dressing in my traditional “Kua” picked out for me by my grandmother. There were heaps of things she picked up for us actually. The sewing kit that I still used. The tea set that is kept away safely. The cute little bed side lamps- signifying that she hope our love will never dim. 10400347_99016513090_6655627_n

This year is a year of back to basics. The culture of busyness is so easy to fall into. Chasing something. Doing something. Never stops. Last year, it was a year of trying to put each other ahead of being parents10400347_99796313090_3484785_n

Probably one of the hardest thing we have done. I dare say, I have failed many times in that. On top of being parents, returning to work means things have to be placed on the back burner. I still have to constantly remind myself to turn that iPad off, or stop checking my emails. I find it harder to concentrate on our conversations as my mind wander off to different direction. 

I breathe. I think this is going to be a learning process. One that we can’t stop. 3784_80191798090_1900588_n

What I do appreciate though, is that after 6 years of being married- is that hubby never stops trying. The other day, I woke up to find 2 loads of laundry done and hung. Hot water is boiled so I can have my hot lemon water drink when I wake. Those simple things that counts so much. 

I think love has generally taken a different direction altogether. Mostly, I think being considerate shapes us and our relationship. Being considerate is when he knows I’m going to work and have huge days of meetings ahead- so he wakes up 15 minutes earlier to get more things done (that’s 5:30am!). Being considerate is when he schedules car servicing on the day that I can work from home- plus he drops Asher off and picks him up that day. So many inconveniences on his part, but he would do it   anyway. 3184_69694433090_1580589_n

Then we have kindness. Coming home before 5 pm means he has to start work early to finish work at around 4pm. Why? Because he knows I’m dying to get to the gym and have a quick workout. He knows moving means a lot to me- makes me less cranky, and I feel better generally through the day), so he does his best to make it happen. Kindness is when he smile and eat whatever I make anyway.. even it tastes average. 

6 years of consideration and kindness. I’m a lucky girl I think! 1909802_115666238090_6222445_n

Happy 6th Anniversary (which means we have been together for 10 years!) dear hubs! 

xx

wifey