Linseed Coconut Bread (Paleo, Gluten Free)

IMG_2155 (640x427)As the weather is still cool, I really like to bake a loaf of bread or some savoury loaf of some sort whenever we have soups. We love our soups, and it is one of the easiest thing I get to do to batch up cooking. A big pot of soup usually lasts us for 2 days. That means I can return home from a workout, and know that a warm comforting bowl awaits me. Soup is not the same without something toasty to dip into hence I am always on the look out for healthy bread recipes or ingredients that I can experiment at home.IMG_2154 (640x427)

As a family, we have decided that bread is one thing we can do with less. Gluten just does not sit well with hubby and myself. We are not coelics though, but does not like how too much bread makes us feel. If we are out, rye and sourdough are our choices, but at home, we see no reason to have food that isn’t as nutrient dense as what other ingredients can provide. IMG_2158 (640x427)

I find that psyllium husks and linseed meal provides a more bread like texture. I have created this bread 3-4 times now, and have adjusted the liquid to dry ingredients ratio. I think this makes the cut! A friend experimented with chia egg which I think will work well too if you are wanting the bread to be less “eggy” or for allergy reasons. Asher loves his with avocado in the morning, while hubby likes to place a few slices of smoked salmon on his. It is a rather smallish size bread loaf though, but I would think it could even work well as a sandwich. Now, I just have to experiment with this recipe to make it a decent jaffle bread toastie!

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Raw Mocha Brownies (Gluten Free, Raw) + Friendships

My quest for brownies cIMG_2095 (640x427)ontinue. This time round, I was inspired when I stopped by at our local cafe and they had a raw brownie on their shelves. It featured walnuts and my brain started whirling. Upon reaching home and having Asher in bed for a nap, I placed some ingredients in a food processor and ta dah, a raw brownie was formed. 

I’m starting to read and look into raw foods. I like the idea of raw desserts. Beside it being nutrition dense, it is usually simple and require a lot less equipment than traditional baked goods. The only down side is that I noted a lot of recipes used copious amount of dates which can quickly add up in sugar content. Dates might be good for you but too much is not necessary a good thing either. 

IMG_2089 (640x427)Many times, I treasure friendships around us. To me, friendship is a choice. You make that commitment and decision to have a relationship with another person that is not your family or your partner. You laugh through good times and share through bad times. Ever since Asher arrived, I have been very blessed with a few close girl friends who share parenthood journey as well. Open conversations about everything, sharing our worries and concerns without worrying about judgement because let’s face it, it can be pretty judgemental out there!

With these girls, I am able to open my heart (and they to me too hopefully). Allow myself to vent and to gain perspectives. There are times when I could be in a tunnel and not see why things could be occurring. They were able to embrace me- and my quirky ways when it comes to food, fitness and lifestyle choices. 

A mug of coffee, a kind word and some raw chocolate brownies. That’s the way we roll as friends. IMG_2093 (640x427)

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Macadamia Rhubarb Strawberry Crumble (Gluten free, clean eating)

IMG_2115 (640x427)In the month of mid June to July, I realised that I have been snacking unconsciously and eating more than what I would have usual. My body being quite sensitive, reacted quite quickly. I was feeling sluggish and heavy. Since recording what I have been eating for a few weeks, and re adjusting to smaller portions and conscious snacking, I’m back on track. 

It is winter though, and those warm desserts can be quite alluring. I do not like operating in a “deprivation” framework and often like to focus on what we can have and enjoy. When a cold night calls, I’m often snuggle up on the couch with a throw rug and a hot cup of white tea (or red tea), perhaps a mug of cacao, few pieces of dark chocolate and if I want more…. some form of dessert. IMG_2117 (640x427)

This crumble was one of them. I spotted some gorgeous red rhubarb at the local markets. At home, I diced the stalks, placed it in an oven proof dish with squeeze of orange juice and strawberries. As they cooked to perfection in the oven, I combined coconut flakes, drizzle of oil, macadamia nuts. That went on top and browned for a few minutes. 

A simple dessert that is so simple that I’m not sure if it counts as a recipe. Sometimes that is all we need to round the night off. A warm dessert and a hot cup of tea. Those simple life treasures is what I appreciate. Stillness and quietness of the night. IMG_2116 (640x427)

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Chewy Banana Date and Nut Bars + Toddler Snacks

IMG_2101 (427x640)The lure of the kids snacks section beckons. Just like snacks for adults, those little bars and crackers packed mini size is so convenient. Names with “muesli”, “yogurt”, “organic”, “whole fruit” on boxes appears to the health conscious mums and dads. 

I would admit that I have been lured into that section before. A little “organic date and dried fruit” bar sits in my handbag for those emergency times where Asher has finished what I have packed or when he rejected what I would prefer him to eat. IMG_2104 (427x640)

Those times of course increased as Asher learned that there is a possibility of having a “bar” if he says no enough. He would even go through my handbag to locate that “spare treat”. 

Enough is enough, and we decided to reduce if not eliminate purchase of those bars. If as adults we bypass the muesli bars section, why is it any different for Asher? Thankfully, we were getting a box every month or two and we reduced that to pretty much none in the past 3 months. 

So what changed? Asher is generally a good eater, so really it is about pre planning for us. His snacks are

– Bananas

– Mandarins orange

-strawberries

– Cucumber and capsicum sticks. 

-Cherry tomatoes

– Hard boiled eggs

– warm milk or babycino if we are outside

– chia seed puddings

– home made custard

– some home made baked goodies such as banana muffins or bread 

–  sulphate free ham or some smoked salmon 

– chickpeas

– popcorn 

– biltong 

– baked sweet potato “chips”IMG_2106 (640x427)

You will probably noticed that we haven’t shy away from dairy in his diet. Asher seems to be able to digest it so we are going with the flow with that unless we noticed otherwise. We have also allowed him to have some legumes in his diet, with chickpeas and popcorn on the list. We figured out that we would prefer to know how he respond to them than to shock his system when he gets to school and share copious amount of processed food and legumes without our knowledge. Deep down, I do not want him to grow up thinking that there food is “bad” and would prefer to educate him on what nourishes his body and some food we eat that may be more for tastes and satisfaction and they are to be kept a limit. 

Asher loves the cakes I make. However, he still associates “bars” with store bought ones and had initially refused to try any of my creations till recently. Sometimes, I just tell him it’s cake and he would happily snack on them! Toddlers! This one was a winner for him. It is probably still a little too sweet for my liking but it sure beats opening a packet snack food for him. It is slightly chewy but still easy to swallow. My proud moment is when he prefers having what I make than store bought cakes. IMG_2105 (640x427)

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Lemon and Passionfruit Slice (Raw, Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating, Dairy Free)

IMG_2174 (640x427)When we decided to build our home, I was more interested in the indoors bit than the outdoors. Hubby who lived in Malaysia growing up saw that as my city influence-given that I have stayed in small apartments during most of my childhood. I’m not a big fan of gardening, though I love what the garden can produce. He on the other hand, loves greenery and insisted on having a backyard. 

I wasn’t keen at first. I said gardening would take up a lot of our time-something we tend to struggle with. I would much rather cook and bake than do weeding! He convinced me, painting a picture of a herb patch, citrus trees and even rose bushes for my grandmother. IMG_2179 (427x640)

It has been 2 years since we moved into this home. I have to give him credit that the garden is a winner when grandmother was alive. My side of the family helped with the planting of 3 fruit trees and enjoyed spending time in the alfresco area. My dad in particular didn’t even mind the weeding and helped hubby out with some reticulation problems. The herb garden was mostly a success with Asher helping us collecting some herbs for cooking. That is still one of my favourite bit of the garden. Asher loves watering it. The fact that he is learning more about food appeals to me too. Lemon and Passionfruit Slice

We have two rose bushes. One that we planted in memory when grandmother passed away. It sits directly opposite my kitchen sink where every day, I look at it and think of her. The other was given to us by a friend at her 1 year death anniversary for similar reasons. If only we managed to plant more when she was alive. 

The fruit trees? We harvested two mandarins and finally this year, LEMONS! That was really exciting. Fresh lemon juice for the morning and heaps of lemons in our cooking and baking. I wanted to squeeze the juice and freeze it but I was overzealous in our lemon creations and was left with … none. IMG_2181 (427x640)

I made this Lemon and Passionfruit Slice for our joint mother’s group birthday celebration. I figured out that more liquid and longer time in the food processor made this slice super creamy without the cream. A very refreshing raw dessert. 

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Asher’s 2nd Birthday Construction Theme Party (Paleo, Clean Eating)

20150725-IMG_3117 (640x427)Finally a chance to record what we did for Asher’s birthday. This year has gone particularly fast and it seems like yesterday when we had Asher’s 1st birthday bash

What a contrast a year made. Last year, Asher was shy and a little shell shocked. This year, he had fun and greeted almost everyone at the door. 20150725-IMG_3132 (640x427)

We noticed that he has an interest in all things that has wheels. With a few construction sites on the way to swimming and shops, he is frequently pointing out to us what those construction vehicles are. With that in mind, we decided to throw up a small party featuring construction! 20150725-IMG_3220 (640x427)

Last year, we threw a party and catered for around 60+ people for lunch. This year, we hosted an afternoon tea for 30 adults and 10 kids. We kept the menu simple but with a range that would hopefully suit everyone. Once again, I decided that we would have food that we would feed our family usually and avoided adding any menu items with refined sugar and minimally processed ingredients.

The best thing about it being a construction theme is that everything is as rustic as it can be. Very much our style 😉 It was definitely home made! For our decorations, we kept it simple and had balloons with a “Happy Birthday” sign across the play room. The sign was on when we hosted an early joint birthday celebrations with mothers’ group and we kept it there! We found a $7 flag banner with pictures of trucks from spot light, and got a roll of yellow/black tape as a border decoration from Bunnings. All in all, decorations plus the take home goodie bag costed us around $100. 

For our savoury items: 

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Sweet Potato Frittata 

20150725-IMG_3136 (640x427)Vietnamese Smoked Salmon Roll with zucchini, avocado and carrot 

Miso Chicken Nibbles 

20150725-IMG_3139 (640x427)Sushi

20150725-IMG_3140 (640x427)Popcorn that we popped ourselves

20150725-IMG_3142 (640x427)Cheese platter 

 

For our sweets

20150725-IMG_3115 (640x427)Lemon Tart – A walnut and date crust with a lemon custard on top, Tapioca Kueh which an Auntie made, Fruits and banana dipped in my home made chocolate and toasted coconut.

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Apple and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Yogurt and Dark Chocolate Coconut Ganache

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I was most proud of the cake because other than the cream cheese, it was pretty much paleo, clean and healthy. With only 6 tsp of honey for a 3 layer 9 inch cake + 14 cupcakes, it tasted sweet with the apple and carrot combined. The whole cake was GONE by the end of the party. Looking at pininterest for decoration ideas, all I did was to place 3 small construction figures on the cake with some home made chocolate chia cookie crumbs for decoration. Looking at the photos, I could have done a better job with the frosting- perhaps frosting a layer first, chilling it before placing a thicker layer on it. Lesson learnt 😉 20150725-IMG_3326 (640x427)

The cheeky boy was very much in love with all his party and that’s all it matters!

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Macadamia Dark Chocolate Coconut Cookies + What introverts need…

IMG_2054 (427x640)There is something about morsels of cookies that make people happy. Crisp, slightly sweet with a crunch. It goes with tea and coffee or for Asher, a warm cup of milk. Asher has mastered the art of dunking too! 

H-A-P-P-Y. That emotion that most people are pursuing. 

Most people are guided by their emotions. Their behaviour follows what they feel. Feeling sad might mean a day in bed. Feeling happy to some people would mean they might schedule in an extra night out.  

Often though, our actions determine how we feel as well. What is more complicated, is how our belief system shape the way we think about situations and response to them. IMG_2040 (640x427)

As life gets into its daily grind, everything seems overwhelming. Then I read this article, and somehow it clicks. I’m not a social psychologist, but I do take an interest in how systems affect our thoughts, behaviours and emotions. I believe that we are responsible for decisions we make and the domino effects around us. 

Is this an admission that I’m an introvert? I do not once think I am an extrovert or even categorise myself in those terms. There will be situations where I’m more expressive, while mostly, I really just like a coffee with a friend or two. I like attending parties, but I would prefer to have a cheese board or a small dinner party. I love surprises but would like an intimate personalise surprise than a big bash. IMG_2055 (427x640)

When I feel unhappy, it is easy to play the blame game. Truth is, I have probably over commit. The weeks leading up to Asher’s birthday have been fun and enjoyable. However, over the past 10 months or so, I think I over thought what I can do. Suddenly, I feel stressed and anxious. 

There have been quite a few changes in our household lately. There was around two months where we were aware there would be changes but not knowing what was stressful itself. Then my beloved gym was closing, and while we are still working out together, it is a huge sense of loss. Then we have my in laws visiting, Asher’s birthday to organise and a few other events to coordinate. My brain was screaming “too much” 

So I think I might re treat to my little shell for a while. Focus on what I usually do to function best. Quiet time. And heaps of cooking and baking. Deep breathing. Most of all, dunking my cookie into a hot cup of tea/coffee. IMG_2040 (640x427)

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Sweet Potato Tuna Mornay (Gluten Free, Clean Eating, Paleo)

Sweet Potato Tuna MornayOn my off days, I like to try to make fresh lunches for Asher. It doesn’t always happen- and on those days, I will pull out some freezer store food for him. Back in Singapore, many advised me not to freeze food and that little ones should have fresh food daily. They caution me that it is “bad” for health. IMG_2036 (640x427)

I can see the reason for fresh food. They probably retain more nutrients and mostly (except for curries and soups), fresh just tastes better. My general thought is that home cooked frozen food is probably still better than store bought or fast food. I like to think that this stash of food is my security. If I’m caught up at work, or that we are in a hurry, I know that there is something nutritious in the freezer for him. For hubby, it means that he can pull something out and warm it up for Asher if I’m not around. It works for our family. 

For fresh meals, some options are

– soba noodles with pork mince and veges

– Stuffed tuna baked potato with veggies and sprinkle of cheese

– pan fried fish with sweet potato or pumpkin

– Quinoa with different veggies like carrots and capsicum with a protein

– stir fry sweet potato noodles 

– grass fed gluten free lamb sausages with sweet potato and mix of vegetables. 

We usually have eggs for breakfasts or snacks but if we don’t omelettes can be an options. Vegetables can be fresh or frozen depending on what I have on hand. I usually like to mix it up for Asher. IMG_2033 (640x427)

Sweet potato Tuna Mornay has been a winner recently. I would simmer tuna in a sauce of coconut milk, pinch of nutmeg, mixed frozen vegetables. Sometimes, I might add a tbsp of cheddar cheese. Sweet potato is either steamed or quickly cooked in the microwave and mashed with more coconut milk/milk. Placing the tuna at the bottom and the sweet potato at the top, I would grilled it for a few minutes till it becomes a little crusty. Parmesan cheese is lovely on it too. IMG_2039 (640x427)

Seeing Asher eat is a joy to me. I’m really lucky (for the moment anyway) to have a good eater. My hope is that as he grows older, he would continue to enjoy good clean healthy food. If you have a toddler or young kids, and are looking for some food ideas, hope this works for you too!

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Banana Carrot Bread (Paleo, Gluten Free, Nut Free, Clean Eating, Dairy Free)

IMG_2031 (640x427)This is my another attempt to make breakfasts ahead of time. On average, I would make a batch of banana bread or mini banana cakes for snacks/breakies every 6 – 8 weeks.  A batch of banana cakes freeze quite well so I usually make around 16 of them, freezing some and rationing it for breakfasts/snacks for the next 2 days.

Banana bread is always a winner in my household as it is portable and lovely when toasted up. Hubby loves his with a little butter while Asher just gobble it up whenever he sees it. It means I have one less thing to worry about in the morning. Now that my work hours are going to change mid August, I can see myself making more things in advanced. IMG_2030 (640x427)

On my work days, breakfast ideas for me are simple. 

– greek yogurt with fresh berries or passionfruit and 2 tbsp of my coconut granola

– soft boiled eggs with smoked salmon and sauerkraut. The best thing is that hubby wakes earlier than me so he would prepare them and I would have breakie ALL done when I come down to the kitchen! I love that. 

– maybe two slices of the banana bread

– Coconut Vanilla Chia pudding

– Coconut granola with kefir or almond milk 

For Asher and my hubby

– The above except both does not like yogurt!

– Asher likes banana and avocado or avocado with some pear or apple! 

– Asher would have rice puffs mixed with sliced almonds with milk

– Hubby might have a slice or two of whatever I baked and in the fridge. 

Other grab and go breakfasts ideas are welcomed. IMG_2026 (640x427)

I decided that I could shred and add some carrots to the banana bread one day- just for variety but also added nourishment and nutrients. We all loved it! The sweetness of carrots and banana went so well. I was so excited that I brought a few slices to our friends who then proceeded to send me a photo of her little boy giving a thumps up! More veggies into our kids can’t be wrong isn’t it!

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