Rosewater Pistachio Coconut Cookies (Gluten Free, Paleo, Clean eating) + Christmas is coming!

Rosewater cookiesOk! Officially the end of November now. Summer is definitely fast approaching, and one of my favourite season is here.

Every year, I attempt to be organised for Christmas. Some years I’m more organised than others. Mostly though, I dislike the last minute rush in finding presents because I dislikes purchasing items for friends and family just for the sake of. I admit I have fallen short quite a few times, but ideally, the best present is when I spot it, balancing it up with its cost and thinking “oh that would be perfect for ____”. IMG_2604 (640x427)

The added time pressure this year probably did not help. As a family, we decided that we have taken a notch down in our commitments and have been enjoying low key weekends where we spent more time at home and at parks. Much as I like shopping, we choose not to walk around shopping centres and head home after a family lunch out on a Sunday. The slowing down is GREAT for us, but less so as I feel that I have less inspiration for gifts. 

I’m guessing that this year, I will manage by utilising online shopping a lot more. I used it quite abit when Asher was a tiny bub in our first year of Christmas, but will attempt to do so more this year..and hopefully still end up with more thoughtful gifts. I have begun with my list, and will start working my way through! IMG_2599 (640x427)

One of the other thing I like about this season is Christmas bakes. I’m not sure if rosewater belongs to the festiveness of Christmas but I was playing around with it and came up with this cookie. Maybe more cinnamon and dried fruit might jazz it up further. I’m not sure. Still, cookies are one of my favourite treat food and definitely will be enjoyed this summer. 

Ros

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Moroccan Mixed Nuts and Coconut Bars (Paleo, Clean Eating, Gluten Free) + My thoughts on snacks

IMG_2554 (640x427)I can be a mindless snacker. A handful of this and a handful of that usually adds up to more than what I like to admit what I can eat. I’m a lot more conscious about portion control these days. Making sure I have a small container of nuts rather than eating out of a packet. Spooning yogurt into my bowl rather than eating it from the tub. Things like that matters. IMG_2549 (640x427)

I find that I can go without a snack between breakfast and lunch on most days, unless I have big workout the evening before. However, come 4pm, I’m usually wanting a snack of some sort. Ideally to fuel me before my workout at around 5:30pm. Some of my favourite snacks are

  • coffee
  • 1/2 cup of chia pudding with blueberries
  • 100 grams yogurt with some of my granola or coconut flakes
  • a banana muffin
  • a banana with nut butter
  • handful of nuts, and some cheese 
  • A few bliss balls if I do make them
  • Few pieces of roast chicken 
  • Smoked salmon and cheese
  • Vege sticks- Carrot, cucumber, celery and capsicum 

Sometimes they are a combination of above. IMG_2552 (640x427)

My hubby though, like to keep his snack box handy at work. While he packs whatever that I make, I like to surprise him from time to time with a savoury item. I wouldn’t say they are the prettiest of the snacks and they do crumb quite easily. I see those crumbs as bonus though. This is morish and the crumbs are great with ice cream. Or in my mouth. 

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Zucchini Apple Chai Spiced Loaf (Gluten Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

IMG_2546 (640x427)I’m not sure what happened but there was one week when we had 4 zucchinis in the fridge. Planing got a little wrong here perhaps or I was just nervous about not having enough (?) zucchinis for our meals. I like to rotate our vegetables on a weekly basis, but somehow there are some vegetables that would frequently, if not weekly be in our shopping baskets. Asher has his moments too and at this stage, mushrooms are his favourites. We would count carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, and capsicums as staples too.  I would say that zucchinis have been a frequent occurrence perhaps in the past year or so- especially when we bought our spiraliser and have been spirialising vegetables for dinners. Zucchini Apple Chai Spiced Loaf

I have not made a zucchini chocolate cake yet, but have paired it with apple to make this loaf. I’m such a big fan of loaves. This, toasted with a hint of butter is delicious in the morning for breakfast. Or with a side of coffee for my 4 pm slump time. Either way, I really like loaves because they are easy to make, forgiving and makes a nutritious “bread” if we feel like having some. 

For the past 2 months or so, I have been experimenting not adding any other sweetener other than just a fruit to bakes. So far so good although I think for bakes involving cacao, some honey or rice malt is unavoidable. My stance is that if there is no need for it, then let’s not add it for habit sake.IMG_2544 (640x427)

In an ironic way, I’m also a little more relaxed when baking about the use of sweeteners. Like all ingredients, I’m seeing it as how to use it effectively. I recognise that that tsp of honey or coconut sugar is harmless mostly, if we take care of our lives in a wholesome manner. 

I have always maintain that our relationship with ourselves, food and others is evolving. Practicing being kind to self can be hard work!

Not making this loaf though. What other pairing goes well with zucchini I wonder? IMG_2546 (640x427)

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Pesto Smoked Salmon and King Prawn Zucchini Kelp Noodles (Gluten Free, Paleo) + Summer

IMG_2519 (640x427)I’m not a big fan of summer as I dislike the HOT weather! But here are some things of what I love about summer

  • Longer days
  • Lighter meals
  • Quicker meal preps with salads back 
  • Seafood
  • Outdoor workouts. Fresh air is good
  • Higher energy levels 
  • Christmas is approaching 
  • Slippers and sandals
  • Shorts and dresses IMG_2521 (640x427)

We have been having heaps of zucchini lately. They are cheap, plentiful and so easy to prepare. My favourite way is to have it spiralised. 2-3 zucchinis with carrots and kelp noodles can last us for 2 dinners and 2 lunches. 

Do you buy store bought pesto? We used to. Then we realised that a bunch of basil costs $2 or free if it is from your garden and we started making our own. I don’t usually have a clear recipe because I whiz up whatever I can find. This version though, has some almonds and parmesan. You can omit the cheese if you like but I love the sharpness of it. IMG_2524 (640x427)

I like a poached egg on it. Just because. Well, I like how the runnyness of the egg goes so well through the noodles. It’s pretty awesome actually. I can have it weekly I think! 

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Strawberry Chai Jam with Coconut Chia Pudding + Strawberry Crumble Tarts (Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating)

IMG_2474 (640x427)Are you having strawberry fever yet? I know I am. Around two months ago, a good friend went to a strawberry farm and brought back around 4 kg worth of strawberries for us. Freshly picked. It was epic awesome. We went strawberry picking in Tassie as well and was so impressed with their spray free strawberries. Asher was even more impressed by how he can pick and eat them. IMG_8153-2

I love strawberries for many reasons. I like the texture, its’ sweetness, tang and of course one of the most nutrient dense food around. The are probably the lowest sugar/frutose fruits but are filled with phytonutrients and antioxidants. IMG_2466 (640x427)

With the amount of strawberries, I made this chai jam that was perfect for our coconut chia pudding that I made for hubby’s breakfast. Chia Jam is awesome because they are so quick to whip up, using chia seeds as the thickening agent.IMG_2465 (640x427)

 I usually have a few tbsp of chia pudding pre work out too. For a toddler like Asher, he would have his chia pudding topped up with 1/2 cup of milk (with 1 tsp of chia seeds). There are times I give him cows milk or almond milk for variety. While chia is full of omegas, fibre and are “good for you”, I think there can be too much of a good thing especially for a toddler and choose to dilute chia seeds with more liquid for easier digestion. IMG_2461 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’88’] IMG_2476 (640x427)With the little amount of strawberry jam left, and some miracle left over tart (see previous post on my savoury tart) pastry in my fridge, a tart is inevitable. Now, this pastry recipe is a little vague because I used left over pastry from my silver beet tart. One thing with the jam though. I forgot that we are essentially double cooking it when the crumble tart enters the oven. I felt that the strawberry flavour was there but there was a missing strawberry freshness to it. Next time, I would add a few slices of fresh strawberries on top of the jam for that freshness. Strawberry Crumble Tart

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Strawberry Banana Loaf (Paleo, Gluten Free, Nut Free) + Meal Prep

IMG_2493 (640x427)Yes, more strawberries. I told you I cannot have enough of this fruit. It was so much fun having a fruit to experiment in the kitchen. This summer will be interesting with a possible abundance of fruits that could appear in our garden. As I type, I can see flowers in our mandarin tree, lemon tree and peach (!?). Hubby has done well. We are thinking of planting strawberries and passionfruit too. I’m only good at using the produce though and all credit goes to hub. Strawberry Banana Loaf

I have been wanting to write about how I do my meal prep for some time. I have learned that spending 1-2 hours of cutting vegetables and marinating meat over the weekend saves me heaps of time through the week. I would even squeeze in another 1 hour or two to bake or do a massive batch cook. It feels so good when a week day appears, and we just need to whip something out of the freezer of fridge and have dinner in front of us within 10 minutes. IMG_2491 (427x640)

We like to have vegetables cooked most nights fresh or have a salads. If it is not  a stir fry, it would be roasting. That means ALOT of prep work for veggies. 

To start of:

Meal plan. I start my meal plan early. Usually by Wednesday, I would have an idea of what to cook for the next week. I would check catalogues for specials, or reply on farmers’ report to tell me what is in season. We usually do a shop on Friday or Saturday. 

Saturday afternoon:

When Asher is asleep, hubby and I would put music on and meal prep. I like a mix current pop and r&b music. Maybe even 90s. Anything that has a beat to it. IMG_7595

In that photo I think I chopped

  • 250 grams grams brussel sprouts 
  • few beetroot
  • 250 grams beans
  • 2x broccoli 
  • 1/2 a cabbage 
  • a few carrots and maybe a bunch of baby carrots washed
  • 250 grams of mushrooms 
  • couple of zucchini (for more recent bakes or salads)
  • 1 Leek
  • silver beet for the tart (I made that tart that day)
  • maybe 1-2 onions 

I have a system in place so do not mess with it. I usually chop what I am going that night first. Then moving on to harder vegetables that require soaking and draining. I like chopping broccoli and beetroot last. Then I put them in boxes, bowls and even oven trays for roasting. Everything is separated out for ease for removal for that day’s meal. 

I probably wouldn’t chop tomatoes in advance or anything that is too soft. Unless I’m making a zucchini salad, I find that they don’t last as long. For chinese cabbage, I like to do it the night before OR i schedule cooking it on a Sunday night. 

With that done, I’m usually relaxed. I like doing it on a Saturday so that Sunday afternoon is spent at parks or playgrounds. Here you go. That is what my fridge looks like after a Saturday of chopping (and I have big fridge!) IMG_8444

As for baking, I like to whip out quick items. This strawberry banana loaf is done in a food processor. Quick and easy. IMG_2487 (640x427)

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Silver beet, Spinach and Bacon Tart (Gluten Free, Clean eating, Paleo) + Taking shortcuts

Silver beet and Spinach Bacon TartThe weather is warming up! I’m not usually a fan of warm weather but I do not mind a little sunshine for our walks and play ground dates. 

When someone ask me “How do I do it all?” I struggle to answer that question. Perhaps the right answer is that I do not do it all. In fact, I find it slightly disturbing that I’m sending out a message that I’m doing it all, and providing an image that all is nice and dandy.IMG_2458 (640x427)

I would be the first to admit I do put quite a few things on my plate. I’m working on it but I have some expectations about myself on what I take on as responsibilities. Perhaps a little too much at times, and I do find it hard to “take it easy”. That would be my journey and one that I will learn gradually. 

Recently, I was down with laryngitis. Then following a holiday, I was feeling run down again. Despite disliking taking time off work (another down side of working part time), I decided to do it instead of coughing over my colleagues. Even hubby was surprised but agreed I simply needed to rest.

Coming back to “doing it all”. I don’t. I outsource some things too.IMG_2446 (640x427)

  1. My hubby does most of our washing and would hang out our washing. I do the folding and putting clothes away.
  2. Once every 2-3 weeks, we have a cleaner that comes in to do a through clean. I highly recommend that. I resisted that initially but realised it buys me back a whole morning every 2-3 weeks with Asher. Now that is precious. 
  3. I try not to cook on Saturdays. We may have a simple pan fried fish or steak. Hubby might take over or we have cold cuts, tinned tuna and salad. Perhaps an occasional take away like a roast chicken from Woolworths, Nandos or Oporto. We were excited to see Zambero open near us! Think a big salad bowl with a slow cooked pull pork..mmmm… 
  4. We make use of “click and collect” from woolies at times. We order our groceries and pick it up
  5. We also order from The Local Grocer. I love their fresh produce and grass fed meats. Pretty similar if not the same of what we can get from the farmers markets. I do think their prices are a little higher but I look out for offers. Time saved is priceless as well. 
  6. Hubby might pick a few things up with Asher while I do a boxing workout on Saturday mornings. IMG_2445 (640x427)

One of the excitement from ordering from the Local Grocer is that we get some ingredients that we do not usually buy. Take silver beet for instance. I’m not sure why we haven’t been having it more often. Perhaps we are just not used to it. Seeing it in our box makes me want to cook with it. Experimenting with a tart base that i saw from Teresa Cutter, this is a lovely filling tart that we had for 3 days!  I love how the crust is full of fibre and vitamins. IMG_2460 (640x427)

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My toddler’s choice: Sweet Potato, Carrot and Apple Muffins (Paleo, Clean Eating, Gluten Free)

Sweet Potato, apple and carrot MuffinsI appreciate my off days with Asher. We laugh, giggle and try to make the most of it.

It is not always fun and games though. There are things in life that we have to attend to regardless of how much fun is it to have fun with a toddler. 

Yes, you will find me multi tasking on some mornings. Perhaps trying to encourage Asher to eat his breakfast while doing a batch up cook. You might even see me folding clothes while trying to have a conversation with my dad over FaceTime. In between, the oven might ring and I will rush to check one of our bakes or a meal that is cooking, while making sure Asher stays out of the way of the hot oven.  The floor would need vacuuming and a mop. The toilets would be scrubbed and bed sheets changed. That, and it is not even 9am yet. IMG_2431 (640x427)

We have some mornings when Asher wakes bright and early at 5:30am, excited to face the day while I grudging wash up and get change. 

These muffins were made during one of those mornings. I decided to make the most out of it with a toddler who clearly would not return back to bed and wanted to “play”. I gathered up some ingredients and allow him to “design his own muffin”. IMG_2425 (640x427)

He chose 

  • sweet potato
  • carrots
  • apples
  • walnuts

If you are wondering what I put on the table… In addition to the above, we had yogurt, feta, almonds and pistachios. 

Not a bad combi I think. It could have been something like feta, apples and pistachios (come to think of it, it wouldn’t have been that odd either). 

Presenting my toddler’s muffin. if you are game enough to give it a try. IMG_2429 (640x427)

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Zucchini Haloumi Fritters (Clean eating, Gluten Free) + Mornings?!

IMG_2367 (640x427)You probably guessed that I’m a big breakfast person. Truth be told, I never thought I will be a morning person too. I think it is not entirely by choice though. I love my bed and I certainly like to have that extra 5 minutes (if it ever do happen!). Since having Asher, and more so recently with work, waking up early = getting heaps of things completed before 9am. Take this morning for instance,IMG_2363 (640x427)

6am- all awake 

6:30am- I’m scrambling eggs for the boys. 

6:45am- everyone is eating breakfast OR dad is out of the house as he eats breakfast 

(sometimes, hubby will be awake by 5:15am, and having his breakfast at 6am to get to work early)

7am- clean up, Asher gets dressed

Between 7-8am: Batch of pear and yogurt cakes in the oven, chickpeas are cooked, floors and toilets cleaned. 

8-9am: Mummy and Asher play time, laundry get folded while I ring my dad on FaceTime. 

Yes, I’m trying to convince myself that early morning wake ups are cool.IMG_2366 (427x640)

On the rare occasion, like when hubby works from home, or a public holiday, I like to make us a hot breakfast that we don’t usually have. I love fritters and so with zucchini and haloumi on hand, I created some! Yummy, easy and good to be reheated for the next day (for when hubby needs to rush out of the door!) IMG_2365 (640x427)

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