Vanilla Cookies Version 1 + Teaching sharing and Empathy

IMG_2837 (427x640)One of the joys of parenthood is to watch our little man grow. In his knowledge, reasoning and curiosity. The realisation that while the world “appear” to revolve around him, other people have feelings, thoughts and opinions. It is one of our goals to point out different ways we can encourage empathy, sharing and building relationships. 

One obvious challenge is that it is developmentally appropriate for a 2 year old to think about himself. After all it feels good- that’s all that matters to him at that age. My argument though is that what is developmental appropriate does not mean we do not expose him to what might shake his world a little. It might be a bigger shake up when he is 6 year old and continue to not show awareness of what is around him. The other thing that is frequently lurking at the back of my head are developmental disorders. Perhaps it is an occupational hazard but I do like setting little experiments to see how he responds to it- to my interest but as a little filling at the back of my head on what could be concerning or not. I think most parents do that, at least I hope that I’m not the only odd one out!IMG_2843 (640x427)

We also believe that it is our responsibility to teach him manners, thoughtfulness, being caring and kind (Asher’s future partner can thank us for that later). It does however, elicit some rather interesting responses. 

  • On sharing food- Asher has only started to share some with us. Often the most sour of grapes and when he has finished his meal. Still, we considered a win when he did attempt to give us a few pieces of pears on some days. Now, he would even use a small tongs and serve us food (ok, that’s because he likes tongs but hey, we try to reframe it to help him understand it is good to serve food to others when others want it and not when he wants to!)
  • Praying for others. We have our nightly prayers. When we pray for his friends, it’s really interesting to see the names he could recall and who he considers as friends and what they do during the day. 
  • Taking turns. Asher is better at taking turns than sharing. He soon realised that it is quite fun observing another child playing the same item and discovering different ways of playing the same toy. 
  • Sharing toys- woah! toughie. We are using words such as “It looks like you are not done with it yet, when you are, please pass it to xx. He/she would like to have some fun with this toy too” which most times now, he does! He would hand the toy to us to share to the other child. We find that this method works better than saying “Asher, you have to share now”. I like to think that it is a gradual process where he learned to hand that toy over. Sometimes, I would use “taking turns” as a gentler way rather than for him to give him a toy completely. 
  • Role plays with soft toys. We give cuddles to soft toys, have tea parties together where Asher has to pour out tea/water and cook meals for us. 
  • Role modelling- not just showing it to Asher but actually explaining to him why. E.g. we give Asher a dollar coin to put into the offering bag on Sunday. When we drop our offering in the bag, we ask him to do so and explain to him why we are sharing our money.
  • Read. We read about manners, about care and we read the children’s bible. 
  • Asking questions. When a baby cries, we ask Asher what would help baby feel better. Often he would say “baby crying and needs baby’s mamma”. Sometimes though he comes out with some funny responses “baby needs to sleep” or “baby upset”. If hubby and I has a cut on our skin he would stroke it and say “oh no”. Often asking if we need a band aid, a kiss or a ouchie spray. 
  • Teaching him how to say “I’m sorry”- we are not quite there yet. He refuses to say it! He would, however, shy away, often closing his eyes and pretending he isn’t there. I see that as a good sign that he realises he was in the wrong.

So there you have it, some of our ways that we are still fumbling along. Any ideas or suggestions are welcomed. IMG_2841 (640x427)

In the kitchen, we bake together. Sometimes we talk about who we bake for and how what he enjoys others would as well. This cookie was one of my little experiments. It wasn’t as “short” as I like to be, but Asher really loves this texture. I find that arrowroot provides that starch that some cookies need but also the butter to give it a really lovely flavour and melt in your food feel. Hope you enjoy having one of these with your tea or coffee. IMG_2840 (640x427)

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Peppermint Slice (Raw, Paleo, Gluten Free) + My little 15 minutes break

Peppermint SliceOne of my 2016 goals is to learn more about essential oils. So much so that I splurge and bought a kit together with a diffuser. Since I was a teenager, I have always used some form of essential oils. I love that how smell influence our feelings, and mood. I like the kind of warmness it brings to a room. While I am aware of the positive health benefits, I have not really investigate or study them. This year is the year. #self development 

So with some peppermint essential oil on hand, I decided to experiment and use 1-2 drops in my peppermint slice rather than essence. My theory is that having real oils is probably more potent if not better than a possible artificially made essence? The result though was a yummy slice that is not over powering. While I’m not usually a peppermint person, I do find that less is more, before it crosses over the line from being refreshing to over powering. IMG_2835 (640x427)

One of my current things to do is to make a raw treat every few weeks and pop them in the freezer. On weeks that I’m extremely busy or when I just need a little treat at the end of the day, that is available. It is so much easier to pack this for Hubby’s snack box too- it usually thaw out a little by mid morning. 

I’m learning how to allocate an afternoon a week when Asher naps to just sit and read. I’m still not overly great at this as I gravitate towards my work laptop or general packing things away. Friday afternoons though, I do find that I need to give my brain a little rest from multi tasking. My thing is to sit down with some form of reading material, berries and a cup of tea on hand. Perhaps sometimes with a mini treat like this slice. With the age of technology and multi tasking, that is a treat. Quietness and stillness. It may sound too simple but simplicity is what we need at times. IMG_2830 (427x640)

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Berry Coconut Popsicles (Paleo, Clean Eating, Gluten Free, Dairy Free) + Toddler’s Conversations 1

Coconut Berries PopsiclesToddler’s conversations. 

Looking at the mirror…

Asher: “My name is Asher.”

Asher: Pointing to me. “Your name is Asher’s mummy” 

Me: “I have a name too! My name is Daphne.”

Asher: “No. Your name is Asher’s mummy.” 

Post dinner.

Me: “Would you like to try some jelly?” 

Asher: “Yes please!”

(after tasting it) Asher: “Nice. Well done mummy” 

Me: “Oh good. You like it? I need to make more then since the rest is for a party.”

Asher: “Good idea” 

Playing

Asher:”Car is thirsty.”

Goes to his play kitchen, found his kettle and pour into a tea cup. Proceeded to go to the front of the car with feeding motion.

Me:” What is the car drinking?”

Asher: “tea”

Me: “but car uses petrol for fuel and power.”

Asher: “ok. I feed car water” 

In the car

Hubby: “Ok Asher, we are heading out for lunch. You can have a cino later for a treat.”

Asher: “No daddy. it’s BABY CINO” 

Hubby: “Ok, baby cino.”

Me: “mmm.. can I have a baby cino too?”

Asher: “No. Mummy drink tea.”

Me: “Sweetheart, mummy wants a coffee.”

Asher: “No. Mummy drink tea.” 

Singing

Us: “Wheels on the bus go round and round..round and round…

Me: “All day long” 

Asher (Holding my face and shaking his head) : “it’s all through the town mummy! ”

Packing his toys

Talking to himself :”Pack away pack away. Don’t lose it” 

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Goat Curry (Gluten Free, Clean Eating, Asian, Paleo)

goat curryFact: Ice cream tastes better when we have it during winter. No? It doesn’t melt as fast and somehow the tongue tingles more with the cold. 

While we love our salads during summer, we tend to gravitate towards curries as well. Weird? Perhaps it is due to the way we were being brought up. Being in a tropical country means it is hot everyday anyway. There is no such thing as a bad time for curries. Ok, perhaps not on  41C day (yep, we tried it) when we hardly feel like eating anything or when we are nursing a fever. More often than none, we love curries any most times of the year. IMG_2794 (640x427)

I cannot remember when was the first time I had goat curry. It must have been good because when a little Indian eatery near where we lived previously (Gopi Indian Curry House) put that on their menu, hubby and my eyes’ sparkled. More recently, the butcher that we occasionally go to has it at their display counter. We immediately bought a kg of the meat even before we thought about how to cook it. Very not like us given that I operate our meals on a weekly meal plan. 

With that kg of meat in the fridge, I set out to make a curry paste. A very simple one. I didn’t quite follow any recipe but used what was in my pantry. The curry leaves and fennel are the key spices in this. 

What food do you like eating in opposite seasons? Ice cream in winter or perhaps soups in summer? IMG_2800 (640x427)

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Blueberry Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies (Gluten Free)

Blueberry chocolate browniesI am often surprised how my taste buds have changed over the years. Occasionally, perhaps I must have come across as a food snob. If I have, I really don’t mean too! I feel like I have gone from a easy going eater, to someone with a list of “not to have” whenever friends ask if there is something they could provide that we would eat. You see, in our day to day life, we truly live by looking at what we eat than what we do not eat. 

What we eat? It’s as simple as real food. I keep our fridge and freezer stock with lovely WA produce as much as we can. 

What we try to avoid? Anything from a package. IMG_2772 (640x427)

Sometimes we get the giggle and laughs that we are “too healthy”. 

I often say that we make choices base on our journeys in life. Perhaps you are some one who can tolerate more sugar and salt than we can. Perhaps you know someone who have battled cancer and is embracing the low tox life style. Whatever it is, as long as you are conscious about it- then that’s ok! IMG_2773 (427x640)

We do however, have friends who share similar food preferences. And also friends who lovingly read up, research and attempt to make things for us that are low tox, and high in nutrients. Aren’t these friends great? I received gorgeous chocolate cakes, bliss balls, brittles and even savoury items. 

When it was my turn to gift. I thought I would like to make a special friend some brownies. I still wouldn’t call them my perfect brownies but they are pretty yummy. Served cold from the fridge. 

 

To my friends who celebrate Chinese New Year! Happy CNY 2016! IMG_2771 (640x427)

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Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon Crunch (Nut Free, Paleo, Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

IMG_2781 (640x427)Sometimes, only a muffin could do the trick. Muffins are great for many occasions. 

  1. Breakfasts
  2. Snack time- morning or afternoon
  3. Sneaking vegetables in
  4. Portable
  5. Quick and easy to make 

And those are just 5 reasons that I can think of. IMG_2778 (640x427)

Truth is, I’m very lucky. My son eats vegetables. Yep. I know. It’s God-sent. I know of many fussy kiddies and am just secretly glad that my son eats them. I see my girlfriends struggle and attempt so many different ways to get their children to have vegetables and fruits, and I really do feel their pain. IMG_2780 (640x427)

So why do I still include vegetables in muffins? I guess I believe that it is the most easy and natural way to bind ingredients with the natural goodness of starchy vegetables. Pumpkin is so versatile. I tend to have some stash away in the freezer. These muffins didn’t take me long to whip up at all, and I didn’t need to put in any sweetener the mixture, though I did add a touch of honey to the crunch topping. 

Another one for me to remember when Asher starts school! 

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Salted Caramel Coffee Slice with Chocolate Swirls (Paleo, Gluten Free and Dairy Free) + 16 years in Australia

I arrived in Australia in 2000. 2 huge luggage cases full of stationery* and “must haves”. My mother and grandmother came with me. As an interim place to stay, I was housed in St Thomas along UWA. I was a teenager. Fresh out of secondary school. I was excited and fearless.IMG_2754 (640x427)

I moved into a little shared housing. For the first time in my life, I learned how to cook, do my laundry and clean the house. My mother checked in with me but together with my grandmother, they left following a week and a half in Perth. They decided that it was time that their little girl grow up and just learn how to be independent. 

I have never been away from them before. Till this day, I still remember how sad my grandmother’s eyes looked but how she smiled courageously. Over the years, I had the privilege of her visiting for long periods of time through my University life. Those memories are precious. Coffee Caramel Slice

There is much to write on. I was home sick. I wrecked up $300 bills worth of calls to friends and text messages to my family. In those days, we even had “icq” to connect with friends. My best girl friends would save money and call me. I would purchase “calling cards” and use public phones. I survived on packaged pasta sachets, and would drenched every thing with oyster sauce. Indo mee was a staple. With an fried egg of course. IMG_2757 (640x427)

The better memories. Road trips. Late night suppers. Chats with friends. The rush to get my thesis(es) done-till the point I was sleeping surrounded by papers and books. The eerie corridor of the university labs at 1am. Learning new “words” in the aussie slang. Enjoying pub food and wineries. Embracing different cultures. Loving cafes and coffees. 

Then, with a blink of an eye… I’m in Australia for longer than I was in Singapore. IMG_2761 (640x427)

This year, marked the start of the 17th year. Fleetingly, the thought came in my head a few times about this. After all, I consider myself a Singaporean and still holds a Singapore passport. Yet, I also identify myself with Australia. This is my home now. I have a son who is Australian. A husband who will soon hold an Australian passport. We love our life here. 

It’s a start of more to come. 

What is best to celebrate with a slice. A relatively creamy slice with the almond butter, coconut milk and tahini. It’s pretty addictive. I find it hard to stop at one! IMG_2759 (640x427)

*I still have left over stationery!

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Tuna Pumpkin Patties (Gluten Free, Paleo, Clean Eating, Nut Free, Dairy Free) + Play

Pumpkin Tuna PattiesI’m catching up on my toddler’s food series! One of the things I like doing for Asher on days home with him is to make lunches. Some days we have a mix of left overs. Other days, I make him a soba noodle stir fry, or even sushi. Yes, we have grains for Asher from time to time in our household. 

My days off are so precious with him. To be honest, it doesn’t feel like a “day off” but more like a “day on”. It is  a chance for us to learn, play and socialise. We have play dates. We have swimming lessons. Sometimes we put on music and we dance. We head to a library and borrow books. I view these activities as crucial to his social development. He learn from us socialising with others. He gets to enjoy being around books. In a cafe, he understands how to hold his cup properly (and we are still working on neatness/spoon and fork skills). At home, we learned that household chores need to be done (He puts away his clothes, toys and books). He cooks with me (maths with counting and fire danger). We do groceries. We paint. We do play dough. Sometimes, we do too much and I learn to back off and have a PJs morning from time to time. IMG_2751 (640x427)

Letting him lead with play is so interesting. He makes me play with cars, using boxes as different “stations”. We go “shopping” with him making me hold the basket in a certain way- down o the bit where we need to scan food to pay for it. He wants me to chase him around the house and even play ball. He builds lego hybrid vehicles of a digger and fire engine. 

Of course, we also have those days where he has to learn about his feeling. Those floor tantrums. Tears. It’s all part of toddlerhood. Most times, I sit with him, stroke him and say when he is ready I am here. Maintaining consistency and natural consequences is what we tend to use for discipline. 

I digress. Since Asher likes anything “Pancake”. Making fritters for him seems like a no brainer. I always roast extra pumpkin or sweet potato to freeze. Combine with tuna and eggs, these fritters are jam packed with great protein and vegetables. Serving it on lighting mcqueen plate is optional but necessary. IMG_2750 (640x427)

Tuna

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