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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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Tahini Zucchini Carrot Salad (Raw, Paleo, Gluten Free)

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I realised that it is difficult to live with a recovering perfectionist. My poor hubby often gets the brunt of it. Living with a perfectionist means for him, I’m always on a mission.

– Eating clean

– Creating and making most if not all of our meals and snacks

– Moving efficiently. My workout times are precious times.

– Making sure that Asher is stimulated. Thinking about different concepts and games to play.

– Creating better recipes. I have made a lemon tart 3 times in a week because I didn’t quite get it right. 

– Being the best I can at work means sometimes I do work on most evenings and have my mind ticking away on it even when I’m supposed to rest. 

I stopped myself the other afternoon in realisation how blunt, and even unkind when I was on the phone with him. Often, I do my meal prep the night before, and for one ingredient, hubby had chopped chorizo roughly. 

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In a rush of me trying to get dinner done, wanting to complete a few household chores, making Asher’s lunch and prep for an outing that afternoon means I was in a rush. That was still no excuse for being unkind. With the filter not on, I said “darling, why is the chorizo chopped in such big pieces! That’s not how I usually do it”.

As quickly as it came, it made me realised how ungrateful and rude I was. He apologised and said “oh! I’m sorry, I just did it without thinking”. That shattered my heart. I quickly regrouped and said “no, it was not your fault. I was in a hurry and rushed and in the scheme of things.. it does not matter really. I’m sorry for being rude”. 

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It highlighted to me how kind and how generous my husband was. How he tried to help but I dis credited him. 

A girlfriend and I had lunch the other day and asked how do we make our marriage work? We seem happy and content to the outside world. The truth is, we are a work in progress. In our pre marriage counselling sessions, I realised I am often abrasive and impatient. He is the patient one. I want answers now, while he needed time to digest things. Fast forward nearly 6 years of marriage, I’m still practising holding my tongue and being patient. He tries to speed up and is learning how to verbalise how he feels. 

It is what makes our marriage ticks. We agree that we are a work in progress and continue to work on ourselves to strengthen our relationship. It is not perfect but we do not strive to be. We strive to be partners in life. 

This is our current favourite salad. A big bowl of zucchini noodles. Sometimes, I would make it with kelp noodles and place them in a container. This huge salad would last us 4-5 days, meaning that I need to prep dinner less. I would dress them up differently. Sometimes a nut butter dressing suits us. Other times with just olive oil and drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Who would have thought raw zucchini noodles are so delicious? Certainly a game changer when it comes to salads. One thing did not change. We eat from ONE big bowl to save washing up. 

And that is us too. 🙂 

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Radish, Mushroom and Chicken Soup

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Every week, usually a Monday or Tuesday, I attempt to make a Chinese soup. As a cantonese, soups are usually part of my meals when I grew up. It was a side dish. But it isn’t a side dish as its significance. It’s where mothers and grandmothers show their love. See, soups are where nourishment begins. The Cantonese believes that soup heals. From strengthening the spleen, to boasting up immunity, there is a soup for it.

It’s easy to see why. In the paleo world, there is an excitement with bone broth. My grandmother used to tell me that soups are one of the most nourishing part of a meal- you get nutrition from the bones, meat and all sorts of vege goodness in it. We have herb soups too but vegetable based soups are more common.

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As I stood at a local grocer recently. I stared at the radishes. Somewhere in my memory filed away, we used to have radish soup. The Cantonese believe that radishes are “cooling” and helps with digestion. At home, I placed radishes, dried mushrooms, dried oysters scallops together with some ribs and slow cooked it for 8 hours.

What hubby said though touches my heart.

“You have managed to capture the love of grandma in this soup.”

And that’s enough for me to continue brewing chinese soups for my family.

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White Radish, Mushroom and Chicken Soup

1 Chicken Breast

1 (around 200 grams) of peeled and chopped white radish

1 carrot peeled and cubed

handful- around 10 dried shitake mushrooms dehyrdated with hot water

handful of seedless red dates

2 dried scallops

3 dried oysters

Place all in a slow cooker or thermal cooker. Boil and simmer for 8 hours.

Coconut Celery Zucchini and Pea Soup

We are well and truly in winter mode. Rugs are out and hot mugs of drinks. Every week, I like to schedule in a soup for dinner.

I made this for lunch though. My friend is expecting her first child and was heavily pregnant. I thought it would be love to have a girly chat with her before the baby arrives. She and I love to exchange ideas and recipes and we had lovely conversations about using simple and down to earth ingredients rather than processed items. We laughed about how her husband still prefers sweet desserts as that is how desserts should be in his mind, and how my husband has grown to have less of a sweet tooth over time.

I wanted to make something nourishing for her. A little like our friendship. Nourishing.

There is a green smoothie and then there is a green soup. This has celery, zucchini and peas. How much more green can it get? Oh hold on, it does have red onion in it so it’s not totally green. Instead of heaviness of cream, I used coconut milk for that added richness.

I picked up these vegetables from our local farmers market. The freshness shone.

Yes, of course I made extra for dinner and lunch the next day. It’s a perfect plan. Lunch with a  girlfriend and dinner already done. More time for Asher for the rest of the day.

Coconut Celery Zucchini and Pea Soup (serves 6)
1 full bunch of celery chopped
3 zucchini chopped
200 grams of organic frozen peas
2 tsp coconut oil
2 red onions sliced
2 tablespoons of garlic
1 tsp of cumin seeds
1 tsp of ground ginger or fresh ginger minced
2 ltres of chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 tin of coconut milk

Saute onions and garlic in 2 tsp of coconut oil. Add all spices and cook till fragrant. Add all veges and cook till they are slightly soften. Add stock and simmer for 15 minutes. Blend with a hand blender. Strain if you like. Otherwise, reheat the blended soup with coconut milk. Serve with Coconut Bread or a grain free bread.

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Leek and Spinach Tart

This is one of my favourite “light meals” recipe. I spoke about Teresa Cutter before but honestly, this woman creates the best healthy clean recipes that are so nourishing for your body. I have made this tart a few times and even had it at my baby shower.

One of the reasons why I made this various times is because I have trouble removing tarts from tins. This version was one of the semi successful ones- but you can see it suffered some trauma. The filling is beautiful and the crust is so yummy though.

Some mistakes I made included
– Not oiling the tin enough
– Pressing the pastry too hard into the tin. Gentle pressing is sufficient.
-Not rolling the pastry evenly.
– Underbaking the crust.
– Using the wrong type of tart tin. I used the high wall type but found out that NOT all tins are created equal. Too thick a tin actually made it harder for the tart to be removed.

There was one week, that I was so frustrated, I made 3 tarts to prove that I can do it 😡

Leek and Spinach Tart (Serves 10-12)
300 grams of Almond Meal
1 Cup of desiccated coconut or around 100grams
3 tablespoons of linseed
pinch salt
3 eggs

2 leeks
500 grams of spinach
500 grams of ricotta cheese

Preheat Oven to 180C. Oil your tart tin VERY well. Blitz crust ingredients in the food processor. Roll pastry in between two pieces of baking paper and gently press it to the tin.

To make the filling, cook the leek with a little oil till soft. Add spinach till it wilts. Mix vegetables with ricotta and seasoning. Spoon into tart. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with rocket and balsamic vinegar.

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Butter Brussel Sprouts with Pine Nuts

December post! This year has gone quick. The countdown has truly begin for Christmas. Over the weekend, we started getting our house ready for festive celebration.

I have started a love affair with brussels sprouts. My grandmother would probably be really proud of me. I used to hate this vegetable, but it was only this year, that I discover the texture and flavour of this fibre rich vegetable.

This time round, I sautéed it with butter and salt. Toss through some pine nuts and a side dish done.

Butter Brussel Sprouts with Pine Nuts
350 grams brussel sprouts (ends removed and halved)
1 tablespoon of butter
handful of pine nuts.

Melt butter in pan. Add brussel sprouts and cooked till done. Toss through pine nuts and salt.


Pumpkin Bread

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Although thanksgiving is not celebrated here in Australia (as a public holiday), I personally think that it is a beautiful festival. A festival filled with good food, good time with families gathering together and simply, just being thankful.

What a concept. Being thankful.

As days get filled, and people get busier, it’s not very often that we wait for a second and be thankful. After all, life is pretty fragile? In 3 days, I was made aware of a birth, a pregnancy and a death. It’s times like that that make you realised how precious life truly is.

Then there are other things to be thankful of. Like having the a job, family to love, lovely weather, having the opportunity to travel, food to cook and enjoy, friends to spend time with and build memories.

Or perhaps negative experiences that deserved to be thankful of as well- like a family member’s close brush with cancer, any kind of operation (yourself or someone close), close shave from a car accident or bad financial decision.

Good or bad, these experiences shape who we are and what we do. Our thoughts influenced our behaviour and feelings, and I truly believe that how we perceive each situation lead us to different path ways.

Like food. Eating clean can be challenging with friends sometimes. Preparing a lunch for friends earlier, I made us a pumpkin loaf to compliment some seafood skewers and a chicken salad. This bread was a big hit. It tasted even better toasted the next day with just a sliver (or more) of butter.

Pumpkin Bread (adapted from Teresa Cutter’s Paleo Pumpkin Bread)
3.5 cups of grated pumpkin
4 eggs
1/2 tsp of salt
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of mixed spice
1/4 cup of coconut oil melted
 3 cups of almond meal
2 tsp of gluten free baking powder
3/4 tablespoon of honey
pumpkin seeds

Preheat Oven 160C. Line loaf tin with baking paper.

Mix grated pumpkin, almond meal, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together. In a jar, mix eggs, coconut oil and honey together. Fold through dry ingredients and sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top of loaf.

Bake for 1.5 hours (check every 45 minutes).


Miso Mushroom Soup

Sometimes, I wonder where did I get my ideas from. This came up randomly one evening when I was staring our semi empty fridge, planning for our meals the next week. I still have my little box of miso paste, and love to use it in soups- but not the usual japanese miso soup. Then I decided that I miss my mushroom soups (see how my thoughts jump?) and concluded that I can add miso paste to mushroom , blitz it up and make it into Miso Mushroom soup!

Yup. Pretty random.

Randomness aside, I was pleasantly surprised by how it turned out. Yes, I know! I surprised myself. Ha. I do love the heartiness of the soup and how miso gives it a depth in flavour. I add the paste at the last bit, so not to kill of the lightness of miso.

The only thing though, is that it’s really difficult to photograph black soups. My photography skills needed work anyway but the lighting in my new kitchen is still a little foreign to me. ahhh. I am sure I will figure out a way to have additional white light soon.

Have you ever come up with meals using random ingredients?

Miso Mushroom Soup (serves 8)
800 grams of mushrooms
1 bunch of celery chopped
1 litre of chicken stock
1 tablespoon of garlic
1 red onion chopped

700 grams pork mince
2 tsp of sesame oil
4 tablespoon of soy sauce

Saute onion and garlic. Then add in mushrooms and celery. Add stock and cook till soft. Cool, then blitz vegetables in blender. Return to stove. Shape pork mince into balls and cook them in the soup. lastly, add miso paste to taste. Season with pepper. Serve!


Brussels Sprouts

It’s not often that I post on vegetables or side dishes. Somehow, I never seem to conjure anything interesting with them. To me, they accompany the dish- even though we eat our fair share of salads and vegetables daily!

Funny enough, I never knew how to appreciate the beauty of brussels sprouts till recently. Maybe it’s because I associate them with a bitter after taste when I had the as a kid. My mother in law though, loved it! and even brought some back to KL!

Anyway, I discovered that if I blanched it quickly and cook it in stir fry, it tastes fabulous. I love the crunch and texture of it. A little oyster sauce and mixed it up with other vegetables, it’s a great side dish with chinese dishes.

So what are the other ways to cook Brussels sprouts? I can see it in some butter and pine nuts perhaps?