Rosewater, Orange and Passionfruit Loaf with Coconut Frosting (Dairy free, Nut Free, Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating) + I’m grateful for…

IMG_2382 (640x427)Say WHAT? It’s my birthday TOMORROW! I’m another year older?!?! They say that time moves faster when you have a child and I do agree with that statement. 

It has been a special year with me learning how to juggle with work and family. IMG_2381 (640x427)

I am grateful for

  1. Having work arrangements that fit into our family life
  2. Being able to experience and be a mum
  3. Having a great relationship with my parents and in laws 
  4. Having a hubby who puts our family ahead and loves us
  5. Being surrounded by like minded friends. I know who I can always count on for a chat and a coffee
  6. Health
  7. Living in a country that is safe and conducive for a family to be in
  8. Friends to workout with
  9. Hot coffee
  10. ChocolateIMG_2391 (640x427)
  11. Cheese
  12. Strawberries and Blueberries 
  13. Tea
  14. Humour
  15. Books and magazines
  16. Workout routines
  17. Being alive and having our basic needs met
  18. Smell of spring
  19. Sleep 
  20. More importantly, our Father in heaven who always seem to know what we needRosewater Passionfruit Orange Loaf

Having quite a few passionfruit in our fruit basket, I paired that with a juicy orange to make this cake. The showstopper for me though, is the frosting. It brought the this simple tea loaf to the next level I think. I usually steer away from making any form of frosting as I find that cakes generally do not require any more sugar! This one though, balances out the acidity from the orange. Try it and let me know!IMG_2386 (640x427)

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Banana Tahini Mousse Slice (Raw, Vegan, Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating) + Thanks mum and dad!

Banana Tahini Mousse SliceIt’s nearly the end of OCTOBER! Which means I’m turning another year older soon. I honestly feel that this year has gone so quick. A blink and we are seeing Halloween and christmas decorations up.

Since having Asher, I have a greater appreciation of birthdays. Being an only child, it felt like birthdays were all about me. It isn’t. My poor mother had to endure many hours of labour, and having to give birth to me by herself without my dad or family members around. She had no pain relief, and after that, her baby was taken away to the nursery. She had to ask the nurse to bring me to her. Then it was the recovery which wasn’t easy either. IMG_2371 (640x427)

The option of not working was not there. Mum returned to work within 3 months of having me. She gave up an opportunity to pursue her degree as I was too young. She worked shifts and continued that till I was in primary school. I could still remember waiting at operating theatres while she was on call. I was fascinated by the ins and outs, and would often had a bag (?!) of books with me- reading till mum was ready to come get me. 

I was under the care of my grandmother till I was 16 years old. There was 1 break (when I was 4-5 years old) but the best care was still with my grandmother. I stayed with my grandmother for quite a few years; returning to my parents’ household on weekends. I saw my parents nightly for dinner and homework tuition. IMG_2369 (640x427)

I count myself really blessed because I had 3 very capable and hardworking women as my role models. Three because my aunty was still staying with us when I was a child. Everyone lend a helping hand and I grew up surrounded by family. I witnessed how my mother and grandmother worked hard for the family. My grandmother was a networker and I recall she seem to know everyone in the neighbourhood and was able to obtain casual jobs for cash. She was very resourceful. My mother did return to University and completed her degree. She moved into more specialised nursing but yet always seem to prioritised and gave me time. I recall having lunch dates with mum on Sundays where we enjoyed mushroom soup at Delifrance (and my tuna croissant!) Together, the women taught me how to give, love and work hard. 

Over the years, I have a great relationship with my mother. She is one I count on to have a frank conversation with. She provides me with down to earth advice. She is present. We are great shopping partners too- it is not rare that we exit a shop buying the same pair of shoes in different sizes (The sales girls were very amused especially when my grandmother was alive and 3 of us loving our shoes). She gave up time and money to be with me when I had Asher. IMG_2368 (640x427)

Then of course I have my father. My dad’s patience amazes me. He has this quiet calmness to him that never fails. When he retired, he said all he wants is to be at home because he spent his life working and not being there. His heart is always with his family. He taught me to persist on- even when the going gets tough. He helped me dream big and always encourage me to reach for the stars even when I do fall on the fluffy clouds. It was he who place the bar up high when it came to my education. He never compromise and told me I would complete my education, reaching post graduate levels (Something that is rare and almost never encouraged during his time since I am a girl). 

So on my week of my birthday. I want to thank my parents who always shower me with unconditional love and sacrifice. Many times I have erred and have come across as insensitive- that I do apologise. We are one family and I’m blessed to be your daughter. 

IMG_2374 (640x427)In celebration, I was inspired and wanted to experiment with tahini more. Chris from Tales of a Kitchen made an awesome Triple Tahini Fudge which I replicated. I was so pumped by her that I made this. So here is a smooth Banana Tahini Mousse Slice for us. I promise I will make this again when my parents are here. I miss you guys- especially my coffee dates with mum.

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Strawberry Crumble Cake (Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating) + Have that choice of eating well

IMG_2312 (640x427)This crumble cake was inspired purely because I had left over Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote left. Yes, we could have just have it for breakfast with our granola, but I thought it would make a wonderful moist filling for mini cakes. Truth is, I love strawberries. I am always finding ways to use them. 

To follow up with my previous post about simple food, I hope that I’m sending a message that healthy is delicious. I want Asher to grow up appreciating food. I hope to share the good news that it is ok to nourish our bodies. It is not hard and it is definitely a choice.  

Sometimes I am asked the question on how does my hubby feel about all these? IMG_2319 (640x427)

We see us as a team. He saw the journey I went through and my battle with obesity. He saw how I battle with PCOS and our struggle with infertility. He watches documentaries. He witnessed his mother battling cancer and autoimmunity issues. He ate the food and he enjoyed it. 

Besides, we eat steaks. We have sweet potato chips. To him, we have not “lost” much if not any. What we had to do though, is to re adjust our food budget. We had to eat out less and cut back on other things to spend more money on vegetables, fruits and meat. On top of that, we love to shop at our local farmers market- which can be a tad pricier but so much fresher. Once hubby tasted the fruits, there was no turning back. 

How about traditional chinese meals? We still have time, just less of the sauces. If we travel overseas, we eat. We recognise that it is a small percentage of our meals overall so as long as it doesn’t make our tummy hurt, we don’t see a problem. IMG_2318 (640x427)

Same goes to eating out. I do think it is much easier to do so here than in Asia countries where there are processed carbohydrates everywhere. Even my own mother brings her lunch to work because she found that there are way too much processed food at foodcourt in the hospital she works in! 

But back to Strawberry Crumble Cakes. That’s the reason why I experiment. I want hubby and Asher to know that we can have healthy treats that fuel the body. They make us feel good- all the time. Not just the 5 minutes that will pass our lips. IMG_2321 (640x427)

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Rosewater Greek Yogurt Cheesecake with Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote + We live a simple life

Rosewater Greek Yogurt CheesecakeMy love for food makes me want to write about it. What makes me passionate about healthy living is the change I see in myself and my family through this journey. I had bit of a giggle though, when I realised the image I may have portrayed. 

Perhaps a mix of hippy, health conscious, passion filled foodie? Or a health freak? Either way, I want to share that eating right and moving right is not rocket science (although there is science behind it!). It is an effort. Though an effort worthwhile. It is also simple. Yes we avoid gluten, processed food and added sugar mainly. IMG_2305 (640x427)

We embrace protein, vegetables and fruits. We also adore dashes of dairy, rice and even some legumes (mmm…peanut butter) from time to time. Simply put, we listen to our bodies and eat accordingly. There isn’t any right or wrong. What we do know is that we feel the best when we eat heaps of vegetables, some meat and seafood. 

I haven’t put out my meal plan for ages but our meals typically look like this with different options:

Breakfast

2 soft boiled eggs with smoked salmon and sauerkraut. (Or if u r Asher, sometimes he wants 3 eggs)

Greek yogurt with passionfruit or blueberries with my home made granola

the boys might have my home made banana bread/loaf that I made

Asher might have avocado and banana or grilled mushrooms with avocado 

pancakes

Lunch

Whatever we had for dinner before

Afternoon tea

Chia pudding with berries or with home made granola 

handful of nuts 

or whatever I baked/make 

nearly always with my almond milk coffee 

Dinner

Roast chicken + Roast vegetables

Curry + stir fry vegetables + 6 hour slow cooked chinese clear soup of some form (radish and chinese mushrooms last night) 

Pulled pork + spag squash + roasted kale chips 

“Pad thai” Pork with kelp and zucchini noodles

Pork Hock Kale, Carrot and Capsicum Soup

Grilled fish with spinach and avocado salad 

After dinner

Fruits + tea

Dark chocolate

Whatever it is, it is just simple food. I think it is laughable that it is so simple. I find it hard to share or post my dinner ideas because they are that easy. IMG_2300 (640x427)

The other day, I made a greek yogurt cheesecake. YEP! Totally not paleo. Maybe borderline being clean but it was so yummy. I love a good cheesecake but often find them too sweet and heavy. I also like my raw desserts but I think it is bit of an overkill of nuts. I had a sense of achievement when it came out with NO cracks! 

Now, I just have to replicate this again and again!

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Pear Banana and Pecan Loaf (Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean eating, nut Free) + Baking without added sweeteners

Pear Banana Pecan LoafWe found a lovely organic pear shop at the Manning Road markets. Their pears are so sweet and juicy that we cannot help but purchase a few from them each week. 

I have been experimenting baking more without adding any sweeteners to it. No raw honey or rice malt. Just simply the sweetness from the natural fruits. Cinnamon and vanilla naturally enhances the sweetness of most fruits. IMG_2290 (640x427)

We love banana bread in our household. When we first started out eating clean, we found that we needed to add some form of honey in our banana bread to get the desire sweetness. Now, we don’t even need that anymore. The sugar from bananas usually suffice. 

Adding pear though, brought it to another level. I reduced the amount of bananas in this as a small chopped pear is enough to compensate for it. We love the slight crunch of chopped pears that goes so well with pecans. It tasted even better when it is toasted. Asher cannot have enough of it, and I have to say, it makes the mornings that I work a lot easier when he munches down his breakfast faster. 

It is also nut free which makes me think I can refer to this recipe IMG_2293 (640x427)again when he starts school. 

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American Pumpkin Scone (Clean Eating, Gluten Free) + Enjoying moments

IMG_2285 (640x427)One of the things having Asher taught me, is to appreciate the moments

The moments where he turned my face towards him and smile

Where he helped me packed his clothes away (translate to throwing his folded clothes into his basket = pile of mess)*

Stirring the bowl as we create breakfast or snack bars together

He recounted his steam engine train experience

Our library trips

Reading

Singing in the carIMG_2283 (640x427)

And as a family

Heading outdoors and having a sit down lunch, facing the pond on a sunny spring day. Followed by kicking/throwing the ball and catching bubbles. 

Family meals. Talking about our day and how our food tastes like.

Exploring new cafes

Walks and more walks around our neighbourhood

Dancing and singing to “bob the builder”, “Wheels on the bus” “ABC”

Doing family chores together (i.e. folding clothes, putting clothes away, hanging them)

ChattingIMG_2281 (640x427)

Hubby and I

Chilling over a cup of tea and fruits when Asher is in bed

Enjoying a good cup of coffee

The quiet conversation we can have when Asher falls asleep at the back of the car or when he is taking a nap

Watching a movie at home (Thanks to apple TV!)Pumpkin Scone

By myself

A shower

A workout

A drive to any where by myself

Creating something/any thing 

I am a planner. I dislike wasting time and like to have my days and weeks schedule. This include weekends and public holidays. Over the past 2 years, I have also learn that you can be a planner and appreciate the moments. After all, life is not about the next moment always. It is about the journey. 

Take these scones. I’m researching on how to make “clean” scones at home. My grandmother used to love hers with lashes of jam and cream (more cream than anything else). Since we do not have any flour at home, it is a tad hard to make fluffy scones. I found these American versions of scones which is more like a cross between a bread and a cake. Not quite a muffin either. Asher love mixing the batter up and holding his “cake” to it. So it is not quite a proper English version but a very happy experimental one that contains great protein to boot. No complains with what he is eating here!IMG_2284 (640x427)

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Raw Coconut Chocolate Brownies (Raw, Vegan, Paleo, Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

IMG_2271 (427x640)So Asher discovered chocolate. 

He whispered “chocolate cake” the other day when I asked what would he like for morning tea. That reply reminded me of why I should not ask him what he wants but just offer him some options instead. IMG_2277 (640x427)

So we made brownies. Raw ones that goes into the food processor and he can eat via the spoonful. I made a version before using coffee but given that coffee is one that we do not want asher to try, we had to sneakily eat it. This one, was adapted so if he has a square, it would be alright. IMG_2273 (640x427)

Interestingly, it only works with coconut milk. I find that almond milk or normal milk just doesn’t give it the right texture. Perhaps coconut milk gives it a creamier taste. I had to freeze half a batch though. For many reasons including portion control and not snacking on a whole heap of them at once. The other, is that I can show Asher an empty box and said “finished” when in actually fact there is half of it left in the freezer for hubby’s snack. (sneaky sneaky!) IMG_2275 (640x427)

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Blueberry Coconut Pancakes (Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating, Nut Free, Dairy Free) + Asher’s list of favourite foods

IMG_2256 (640x427)“What are your favourite foods Asher?”

  • Pancakes
  • Blueberries
  • Nuts (more on that later)
  • Mushrooms
  • Custard
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries 
  • Watermelon
  • PANCAKES

He rattled off a list. 

Hubby was saying that was what Asher said in one of their conversations. I was impressed. Not just that he can remembers all those food items but he was able to understand the question and rattled off foods that he does get excited when they are given to him. IMG_2260 (640x427)

Pancakes are his current thing. We make pancakes mini size. My understanding is that they are similar except pikelets are thicker. Of course since we do not have flour in our pantry, we use coconut flour. After some experimentation, I like this ratio of coconut flour and eggs best. 

For some reason, Asher does not like nut butter. A pity because I LOVE THEM. I think it is the sticky feel that he isn’t a fan of. He has also grown to like nuts which is a big horror to me after reading and knowing that whole nuts are a no no to kids due to it being a possible choking hazard. It reinforces how he copies our eating habits as he knows I always have a small box of nuts in my handbag! IMG_2258 (640x427)

One of my ways of getting some great protein into him is using nut butter in pancakes. In my pantry we have jars of nut butters. Cashew, almond, ABC and dare I saw it… peanut. Yes peanut is a legume and it is not “paleo” but we love it and believe that we can have some of it if it sits ok with us. We do choose a brand without any other ingredients. 

I love these pancakes because I can make a big batch and fridge or freeze them. On my work day mornings, Asher will eat them without a fuss and they are easy to re heat. On some Fridays or Mondays, we make them together. He loves whisking the eggs and seeing me our the batter into the pan. An activity that 1) helps him to learn cooking/measuring/counting, 2) bonding between us, 3) he eats it, 4) less fuss on work mornings! 

Killing 4 birds with one batch of pancakes. IMG_2259 (640x427)

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Lemon Pistachio Cakes (Gluten Free, Nut Free, Clean eating, Paleo) + Life as a working mum

IMG_2250 (640x427)My mind ticks and turns. I have this list of things running in my head all the time. 

Having said that, working 3 days seem to be working for us. We dropped some other commitments and I find that the “long weekend” I have with Asher is working. How do I know?

  • We are starting to get into the groove of weekend bulk cutting/cooking
  • I’m falling into the routine of when to do certain household chores like clothes folding and general cleaning
  • I can focus and work those 3 days, yet feel that I have time with AsherIMG_2249 (640x427)

Of course there are weeks where it feels a little more tiring than usual. Hubby commented that he notices that by Thursday, I look shattered. I may look that way but it is also a sense of relieve that I get to spend that wonderful full day with Asher on Friday. We have pj mornings where we stay in doors, get some household chores completed but we would also draw/paint or create something in the kitchen. Sometimes I would make pancakes which apparently is his favourite food at the moment! IMG_2252 (427x640)

These lemon pistachio cakes were created during one of those friday mornings. Since I love cooking and baking, I can’t help but want to involve Asher in it. Sometimes he is very enthusiastic and wants to beat the eggs up or fold in ingredients. Other times he can be curious and want to know what each item is. There are also times where he prefer to do his own thing and leave me to my own devices. 

I used almond milk but feel free to use usual milk or a water down version of coconut milk if you like. I love pistachios. In chinese they are known as “Happy Fruit”. They are pretty expensive though and I use it sparingly. IMG_2251 (640x427)

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