Asher turned 3! A gluten free, healthy and mostly paleo party.

Oh hello there! Welcome back to my little space. I haven’t been far. Just pre-occupied with a few things. This time however, I’m back to document Asher’s 3rd Birthday Celebrations. 

birthday set up

This year, I have been sucked in the whole concept of birthday parties. Asher, having his love for wheels suggested one day he likes a fire engine theme party (what would a 2ish year old know right?!). Anyway, having hear his sales pitch of his list of guests and his love for fire engines, I was sucked right in (didn’t take much) and went researching how do I give a fire engine theme party.

I did take the easy way out, and managed to come across a 1960s vintage fire engine that is being re vamped for kids parties. From there, it just seems certain that we are having a fire engine theme party. 

Our family continued to lived with our philosophy of eating- as healthy and as real as it can be. From that, food planning was easy. An afternoon spread of: 

 

birthday cake

Asher’s Strawberry and Chocolate Birthday Cake with Ganache and Coconut Caramel. 

I’m not sure what I was thinking and used coconut/tapiaco- not an usual blend for a big party. It turned out “okish” but certainly not my best bakes so far. 

fruit kebabs

Fruit Kebabs that appeared to be gone in an instant… 

fruit jellyFruit Jelly- Made of grass fed gelatine, coconut water, strawberries and kiwi. I buy my gelatine from here. I’m really happy with this jelly and made it quite a few times for parties/pot lucks or just because. 

miso butter

Miso Butter Chicken- Something warm for winter

smoked salmon loaf

my all time favourite! Smoked Salmon Mediterranean Loaf. Adapted from this recipe here

vege and dipsDips and Veges- Featuring my Cashew “Cream Cheese” and Chives Dip. LOVING nutritional yeast. Who would have thought blender cashews and nutritional yeast and chives would give such lovely protein hit of a dip? A lovely friend brought a gorgeous garlic and herb dip. 

cheese platterCheese and Nuts

sushiSushi

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Sweet Potato Chips 

That’s pretty much it! We went against the usual norms I guess but it is food that we would generally have + a few treats (like sushi, cheese, sweet potato chips..). 

asher birthday 3rd

I love how much fun our little man enjoyed himself!

13686596_10153740997488091_5151506763638500218_nI wish we have a photo of him running away when the tap was being turned on! Still, he enjoyed every minute and thought it was very special.

asher 3 flowers

From a blink of any eye, my little baby is turning into a little boy (Big boy he would correct me). His cheekiness, laughs and that twinkle in his eyes. His sense of humour, affectionate ways, cautious, empathic, yet curious amazes me. Not to mention how creative he is starting to become, stacking things, role playing and building… I cannot imagine what he would be like when he is 4, but the beauty of parenthood means I get to enjoy him. The way he is. Right now. 

 

 

HOT HOT HOT! A Easy Summer Salad with Miso Almond Coconut Dressing

Miso almond dressingThere are times when I do question why do I continue to blog. I do not have a wide audience and really, this is more of a way for me to record down the recipes that I enjoy creating and thoughts of reflection. Then it became a routine and I simply just enjoy penning down some thoughts without the usual rules and boundaries of report writing! IMG_2710 (427x640)

Perhaps that is why my posts are shorter and shorter. It doesn’t mean I stop creating food though. Far for it! I am just finding it harder to find time to write, preferring to spend time with Asher and hubby instead. Still, I find it relaxing and will probably continue to do so. I just have to find the right balance and not feel that I need to put rules on myself in writing a post. IMG_2714 (640x427)

I’m finding it hard to write about the sort of main meals we have- it’s really easy and simple these days. We love a good salad and I made this dressing the other night and thought…hey, that’s really nice! Asher is really enjoying dipping things now and he really liked dipping blanched vegetables in this “sauce”. It’s a simple salad to whip up on hot days!

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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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Fennel Basil Tomato Soup (Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating) + updates on my battle with PCOS

IMG_2213 (640x427)Recently I went for usual routine blood test just to make sure everything is going ok. Asher had wean off breastmilk and my GP wanted to check that my iron and hormones levels are getting back on track. To top if off, I requested to check if my symptoms of PCOS persist or are they under control.

After 3.5 years of clean eating, and exercising, I’m pleased to say that my ovaries are back to its normal size, and there are no other indication of PCOS. My testosterone level remains “normal”. However, I’m still working on making sure my pituitary gland “communicates” with my ovaries to keep everything happy- especially since I have just finished my breast feeding journey and my body may not have calibrated back to it’s usual self. With that, I’m seeking acupuncture and alternative interventions rather than having other intervention. At this stage, my doctor has agreed that any medication might shut my system further. IMG_2207 (640x427)

Does that mean PCOS can be in remission? I think not. Rather, I see PCOS as needing to be managed. It is still early days to be popping champagne but I’m (silently but dancing internally) pleased that the hard work behind working out and eating clean is showing its effect. It reinforces why we are doing what we are doing (Asher being proof).IMG_2208 (427x640)

While I have some other hurdles to go through, it is comforting. My body remains sensitive to weight gain, and in particular, I have to be conscious about feeding myself the right nutrients and balance of clean carbohydrates.

Still, right now, I’m reading my bloods and scans with a smile. I’m taking pause for this moment because hat is music to my ears. IMG_2214 (640x427)

Sometime back, I shared this lovely soup on my Instagram. Hubby has recently requested it again and I thought I would take some time to record this down. While winter is coming to a close and it is Spring, I still take the opportunity to make as many soups as I can. Asher enjoys it, and it is much easier to make a big batch of soup and drink it every alternate day rather than to cook frequently. I love the tangy flavours, but the winner of it is because we pick up an free range pork hock from the markets. The yummy ham with the tangy tomato simply works well. 

Healthy can be delicious too. 

 

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Carrot and Cauliflower Soup (Paleo, Clean Eating)

Carrot and Cauliflower SoupOne of the things I do when I’m feeling a tad overwhelmed is to de clutter and clean. It is almost like I feel calmer through the process but by knowing that the house is cleaner and toys has its place. On the other side of the coin, wanting to clean and organise is something I’m trying to not stress about because I would much rather play with trains, run around or do colouring with Asher. 

It’s the same with cooking and baking. The irony of life is that I love to create things in the kitchen. I like that when we put different ingredients together, they turn into something edible, smells lovely and warms our tummies up. As life takes over, I find myself “over thinking” meals, feeling hurried while I cook or that I have not baked for a while. Hubby starts frowning when I said “oh! Here’s 20 minutes! Let me whip something up in the kitchen for yours and Asher’s breakfast”. He was seeing signs that I’m doing that for the sake of doing rather than actually enjoying the process. IMG_2172 (640x427)

It’s one of those little life long lessons that I’m learning this year. Enjoying the process. I accept that there will be days or weeks where cooking or baking is part of what I do as life. The enjoyment bit comes after all the chores are completed and kitchen bench is wiped clean. Then there are more special times when an idea arrive for how I can put ingredients together to create something and I excitedly venture to the kitchen to see if it works together. 

I mentioned batch up cooking before and that soups is one of my favourite things to do. There is just something magical about the warmth of a bowl of soup. Maybe it is my Cantonese heritage where soups is just what we have-though probably more as a supplement than a whole meal. Or that I know I can have all the nutrients in a bowl- protein, carbohydrates and heaps of vegetables. IMG_2171 (640x427)

This soup is so simple that I wasn’t even going to take a photo of it or record what I did. I just don’t photograph or ladle soups neatly! Then my dearest hubby ladled it up ever so perfectly and even top it with crispy chorizo with precision. I was so impressed that it didn’t looked the usual hurried way that I do it usually. 

And so here it is. My Carrot and Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Chorizo. (officially making it the 4 C soup!)

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Stuffed Herb Mushrooms + Any suggestions for roasting vegetables?

Stuffed MushroomsStuffed anything is popular in my kitchen. Heck. Any idea or recipes that uses the oven is a winner to me. 

I know the craze over a thermomix. I am tempted. So ever tempted. After all, a machine that chops, cooks, stirs, steam that looks space like is pretty enticing. It does consists of a hefty price tag of $2000 which makes me hesitate. 

Maybe one day we will “invest” in one.

Right now though, I work my handy food processor and oven hard. Especially my oven. Moving into this house, we installed a 1.5 oven. I should have gone for a double oven on hindsight. A typical weeknight dinner consists of a roast chicken, and at least 2 trays of vegetables ready to be roasted. I rotate my vegetables on a weekly basis. So far, I have roasted

-pumpkin

-sweet potato

-mushrooms

-zucchini

-squash

-beetroot

-celery

-cabbage

-eggplant

-tomatoes

-long beans

-snap and snow peas

– spaghetti squash

– brussel sprouts

-capsicum

-corn

Please let me know if there are anything that I have missed out in this list 😉 

Some weeknights, I make stuffed capsicum. This time though, I spotted some gorgeous huge mushrooms at the markets we go to and I thought, why not make stuffed mushrooms. It was such a winner with Asher that he ate 2 huge ones. The bonus was he discovered that he really likes mushrooms! So much so that he can have it for breakfast.IMG_1922 (640x427)

Gotta love a toddler who likes his veges!IMG_1921 (640x427)

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Carrot and Basil Bread

IMG_1844 (640x427)I see it in his eyes. He is tired. What do you do when one of your favourite person in the world is tired? 

From an encouraging word, to making sure meals are being looked after. Truth is, the rat race isn’t easy. Just like a modern woman battling with the balance of working and home, I can see that the modern man is facing that as well.IMG_1842 (640x427)

My hubby is a hands on father. I remember in the first 6 months that Asher was born, hubby said he felt that he could not do much. In fact, he did. He changed Asher’s first diaper, get peed on, and practiced unconditional love when Asher screamed for 3 hours when he was born in his arms, while I was in theatre. At home, he does the laundry, emptied the bins and water the plants. He make us breakfast once a week. He wakes up in the middle of the night when Asher wakes, even if it is to make me a hot drink or to cuddle Asher while I have a loo break.

IMG_1839 (427x640)These days,  he is even more hands on with Asher. No matter how tired he is when he returns home, he would spend time playing and cuddling him. I know that in the morning, he would leave work a little later just so he can have some time with him. 

With each family, there are challenges. Ours is no different. Sometimes I think hubby faces the same challenges I do in balancing it all. I see it in his face. Choosing work or being at home a few minutes early. Sleeping in an extra few minutes or getting up to empty the dishwasher. Replying that email or reading a book. Having a child also means the focus is a lot on him, and our relationship can get neglected. I cannot put more on him because I know his time is filled. That can be a spiralling cycle where I feel tired from not asking from help. 

I’m grateful though that, those choices he make made us where we are and who we are. 

I make this loaf for a few reasons. The biggest one is that it is a portable snack or breakfast item for hubby. The other, was the celebrate our friends who visited from Singapore a while back. They stayed for breakfast and we had a ball. Nourishing my friends’ tummy resulted in me and Asher feeling nourished with adult company and friendship. Besides, carrot and basil is a combination that can’t go wrong. More veggies in the morning? yes please!Carrot and Basil Loaf

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Chorizo Lamb Kale Soup

IMG_1801 (640x427)The cold is starting to set in. The mornings and nights are chilly but in the day, it’s actually quite pleasant. While most people dislike the cold, I’m neutral. I love what it comes with- cosy blankets, hot drinks, boots, sweaters and most of all the comfort food. 

I love soups. For many reasons. The biggest one is that it is easy to make a big pot that will lasts a long way. Two dinners and sometimes, even for 2 lunches. Plus, it is usually quick to whip up provided we have some stock in the freezer. I love letting it simmer on the stove, or in my pressure cooker. We do not own a slow cooker (as I’m an appliance hoarder!) but I would imagine that it is an useful tool setting up to “cook and forget”. IMG_1810 (640x427)

In our household, we seem to prefer chunky soups with a bite. Not only that, we like having red meat in it. I think with the pressure cooking or slow cooking, the meat seems to just melt in your mouth. We find that Asher seem have a little more red meat if it is in the form of a soup too. 

Whenever we have a lamb roast, I tend to keep the bones. Adding to the pot would be some celery leaves, carrots, tomatoes, and whatever that is left in my fridge really. Bay leaves, pepper corns and perhaps some herbs from the garden are all added to the pot. Simmer in my pressure cooker for 1-2 hours and I let it cool. I tend to separate it into 2 cups each or in ice cubes for cooking. I used to purchase packet stocks but I have since realised how much more cost efficient- not to mention it is a good use of bones that are left from roasting. I do the same with chicken frames- I freeze them after making a roast, and often have a few slow brewing away or in my pressure cooker. I tend to make stock once a month depending on how much soups or pressure cooking we do. IMG_1808 (640x427)

Chorizo is a favourite in our household. Ever since we found Eurochef, we never buy any other kind of chorizos anymore. They do use pink salt as the preservatives but that’s pretty much it. I love that it is handmade and all natural. In fact, we do most of our shopping at the local Manning Road Markets. Local and fresh! The way we love it. 

I had some left over pesto and drizzle some over it. It was truly divined. And bowl of comfort. After a long day of work, that was what I crave for. Simple food. IMG_1811 (640x427)

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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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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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