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. 

 

 

Salted Caramel Popcorn Double Chocolate Cake (Gluten Free)

IMG_3339 (640x427)One of the things I love to do, is to create cakes for birthdays. It allows me to go “Indulgent” but staying on the relatively healthy side.

I often spoke about how parenthood open up many doors. In this case, it allowed hubby and I to build friendships out of our usual circle. Humans likes predictability. Over time, we sat in the same spot at church, speak to the same people, and even park at similar spots each time! Parenthood ignited our quest to learn how to parent with Christian values, seeking like minded people to discuss dilemmas. Often there may not be any solutions, but it feels good having people to have the discussion, and a community that will look out for each other. IMG_3337 (640x427)

So when a birthday comes by, and it was our turn to host, I jumped on the chance. Oh ok, I couldn’t resist the challenge of making a cake for someone who doesn’t always like the “healthified” version of things. Truth is, I just think if we eat real, it will be ok. IMG_3344 (640x427)

So here come this cake. Yes there is some chocolate, and yes, we used coconut milk for the ganache. The popcorn isn’t “Paleo” BUT i love the salty and crunchiness it adds to it. By the end of the day, we had NO cake left. And that made me happy. IMG_3336 (640x427)

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A Simple Orange Coconut Cake with Cream Cheese Yogurt Frosting (Not quite paleo, gluten free) + Christmas and Feasting

Simple orange coconut cakeIt’s beginning to look a lot like christmas…

I’m a huge fan of christmas. The decorations come up, the songs are playing and presents wrapped. It is a time to remind ourselves of the love that God has sent us.IMG_2660 (640x427)

It is also when people seem to think we can “let it go” and “indulge”. Instead of an “all or nothing” thinking, I prefer to think of it like any other day or time of the week. We decide consciously if we are going to eat it. Sometimes we may take a bite and decide against it (I’m the girl who takes the smallest slice/taste, nibble on it and then go have a bigger helping if I like it). If I have a glass of wine, I’m going to enjoy the glass. I choose to say no when I want to say no. If I say yes, I choose to enjoy it.IMG_2671 (640x427)

I view the same way with birthdays or any other special occasions. I know that the slice of cake will not cause me to gain 5 kg. Maybe christmas means we are expose to more of these treats. I think it is perfectly ok to have them. It is not about using it as an excuse to go crazy. 

There are many articles about feasting and “eating healthy” at Christmas. The formula I believe can be simple. More veggies, more salad, some protein and enjoy the treats- but acknowledge they are treats. Move and enjoy moving. 

I made this cake for my birthday back in October. I love oranges and I wanted to share cake with my dearest workout mates. It is really simple but it hit a spot in me. Perhaps it was my birthday, or that it is a layered cake. This year, I learned that celebrations are best with people I enjoy around me. IMG_2675 (640x427)

Cake can be nutrients dense with the right ingredients. Then, we can enjoy every bite and every slice with pleasure. This Christmas, I’m going to practice being kind, being less critical and really just treat food the way it is suppose to be treated. Food. Nourishing. Enjoyment. 

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Strawberry Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting (Paleo, Clean Eating, Gluten Free)

IMG_2506 (640x427)There is something classic about a chocolate cake. It is timeless. It never aged. Best of all, it always bring out that little comfort when things are a little tough. 

There are some requirements when it comes to a good chocolate cake though. For me, they have to be

  • Super dark. I like my chocolate a touch bitter. 
  • Moist. Bitter doesn’t mean it has to be dry. 
  • Moorish. I want to have a another bite after the first one. 
  • It has to make me feel like a princess. IMG_2497 (640x427)

You know me and my love for strawberries. They are paired perfectly with chocolate. I love how the strawberries gives it the sweetness this cakes need. Yet not so sweet that it takes the chocolate out. I have been using coconut flour quite bit, and is happy to have this be more “cake like”. What I love though, is the “salted caramel” It is made out of coconut sugar and coconut milk and it is very addictive. I can’t help by finish licking the spoon and pot by the end of it! IMG_2494 (640x427)

I made these mini cakes for my coach and workout buddy’s birthday. A special treat for two very special people. Strawberry Chocolate Cake with Caramel Frosting

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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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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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Lemon and Passionfruit Slice (Raw, Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating, Dairy Free)

IMG_2174 (640x427)When we decided to build our home, I was more interested in the indoors bit than the outdoors. Hubby who lived in Malaysia growing up saw that as my city influence-given that I have stayed in small apartments during most of my childhood. I’m not a big fan of gardening, though I love what the garden can produce. He on the other hand, loves greenery and insisted on having a backyard. 

I wasn’t keen at first. I said gardening would take up a lot of our time-something we tend to struggle with. I would much rather cook and bake than do weeding! He convinced me, painting a picture of a herb patch, citrus trees and even rose bushes for my grandmother. IMG_2179 (427x640)

It has been 2 years since we moved into this home. I have to give him credit that the garden is a winner when grandmother was alive. My side of the family helped with the planting of 3 fruit trees and enjoyed spending time in the alfresco area. My dad in particular didn’t even mind the weeding and helped hubby out with some reticulation problems. The herb garden was mostly a success with Asher helping us collecting some herbs for cooking. That is still one of my favourite bit of the garden. Asher loves watering it. The fact that he is learning more about food appeals to me too. Lemon and Passionfruit Slice

We have two rose bushes. One that we planted in memory when grandmother passed away. It sits directly opposite my kitchen sink where every day, I look at it and think of her. The other was given to us by a friend at her 1 year death anniversary for similar reasons. If only we managed to plant more when she was alive. 

The fruit trees? We harvested two mandarins and finally this year, LEMONS! That was really exciting. Fresh lemon juice for the morning and heaps of lemons in our cooking and baking. I wanted to squeeze the juice and freeze it but I was overzealous in our lemon creations and was left with … none. IMG_2181 (427x640)

I made this Lemon and Passionfruit Slice for our joint mother’s group birthday celebration. I figured out that more liquid and longer time in the food processor made this slice super creamy without the cream. A very refreshing raw dessert. 

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Asher’s 2nd Birthday Construction Theme Party (Paleo, Clean Eating)

20150725-IMG_3117 (640x427)Finally a chance to record what we did for Asher’s birthday. This year has gone particularly fast and it seems like yesterday when we had Asher’s 1st birthday bash

What a contrast a year made. Last year, Asher was shy and a little shell shocked. This year, he had fun and greeted almost everyone at the door. 20150725-IMG_3132 (640x427)

We noticed that he has an interest in all things that has wheels. With a few construction sites on the way to swimming and shops, he is frequently pointing out to us what those construction vehicles are. With that in mind, we decided to throw up a small party featuring construction! 20150725-IMG_3220 (640x427)

Last year, we threw a party and catered for around 60+ people for lunch. This year, we hosted an afternoon tea for 30 adults and 10 kids. We kept the menu simple but with a range that would hopefully suit everyone. Once again, I decided that we would have food that we would feed our family usually and avoided adding any menu items with refined sugar and minimally processed ingredients.

The best thing about it being a construction theme is that everything is as rustic as it can be. Very much our style 😉 It was definitely home made! For our decorations, we kept it simple and had balloons with a “Happy Birthday” sign across the play room. The sign was on when we hosted an early joint birthday celebrations with mothers’ group and we kept it there! We found a $7 flag banner with pictures of trucks from spot light, and got a roll of yellow/black tape as a border decoration from Bunnings. All in all, decorations plus the take home goodie bag costed us around $100. 

For our savoury items: 

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Sweet Potato Frittata 

20150725-IMG_3136 (640x427)Vietnamese Smoked Salmon Roll with zucchini, avocado and carrot 

Miso Chicken Nibbles 

20150725-IMG_3139 (640x427)Sushi

20150725-IMG_3140 (640x427)Popcorn that we popped ourselves

20150725-IMG_3142 (640x427)Cheese platter 

 

For our sweets

20150725-IMG_3115 (640x427)Lemon Tart – A walnut and date crust with a lemon custard on top, Tapioca Kueh which an Auntie made, Fruits and banana dipped in my home made chocolate and toasted coconut.

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Apple and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Yogurt and Dark Chocolate Coconut Ganache

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I was most proud of the cake because other than the cream cheese, it was pretty much paleo, clean and healthy. With only 6 tsp of honey for a 3 layer 9 inch cake + 14 cupcakes, it tasted sweet with the apple and carrot combined. The whole cake was GONE by the end of the party. Looking at pininterest for decoration ideas, all I did was to place 3 small construction figures on the cake with some home made chocolate chia cookie crumbs for decoration. Looking at the photos, I could have done a better job with the frosting- perhaps frosting a layer first, chilling it before placing a thicker layer on it. Lesson learnt 😉 20150725-IMG_3326 (640x427)

The cheeky boy was very much in love with all his party and that’s all it matters!

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My little boy is turning 2…. + Matcha Walnut Cakes to celebrate (Clean Eating, Paleo, Gluten Free)

IMG_5664You may have noticed that recently, I have been writing a lot more on Asher. I think it has something to do with the month of July. I become quite sentimental. I’m still not sure where all the time goes but 2 years ago, I was awaiting for his arrival and here he is now.2 years ago today, I was about to go into labour. 

Perhaps it is because he is a miracle baby.A baby we were told we cannot have. Or perhaps it is just because I am a mother and mothers get a little emotional at times.

Allow me to indulge in being a proud mama. IMG_5589

This year, it has been a year of learning, play and growth. My little explorer. I will return to do a post on what are his current play but I have noticed he is starting to use imaginative play recently. Oh, and then  his speech. He loves pointing things out and telling us all the things he noticed. He is starting to speak in short sentences. “Momma, apple chips please” and “daddy goes to work. On work bus!”. He might tell me “Mummy, arm hurts” wanting me to kiss him and then smile to say “all better”. He is starting to count and sing his alphabets. IMG_6046

His little personality is starting to emerge. Sometimes he can be a little shy. Hiding behind me or wanting heaps of cuddles when someone new visits. He looks at the person blankly, almost not quite sure what to do. When he warm up, oh boy there is his voice. He would run and run. Having that glint in his eye, challenging you to chase him. Matcha almond cakes

How affectionate he can be. Using both hands to grab my face to plant me big kisses. Insisting on holding my hand as we walk in shops. Saying “I love you mummy” at the most unexpected times. Stroking my face as he falls asleep. 

How fair he is. Everything comes in 3. There must be one for daddy, one for mummy and one for Asher. Inventing his lyrics with “Ba ba black sheep. have you any wool. Yes sir yes sir, 3 bags full. One for Asher, one for mummy and one for daddy (who lives with us!).”  IMG_5640

The challenging times has begun of course with the toddler tantrums happening. Over the smallest things at times such as not having the right colour cup. Orange is your favourite it seems. Or perhaps when he is tired. Sometimes, nothing seems to go his way at all. Most days though, Asher tends to manage alright at the moment. IMG_6091

Favourite food? It’s hard to tell but Asher loves sweet potato. Corn is another favourite. I would make him some stir fry buckwheat noodles and he would smash that. Mushrooms is another winner. Not to mention squash, zucchini and even broccoli. Eggs is a classic in our household. Fruits like berries and oranges (here is the word again!) gets his attention. He doesn’t mind meat as much these days too and would happily eat pulled pork, beef ribs or even lamb cutlets. Soups makes him excited. We became lucky in that department that he enjoys whatever we cook. IMG_5875

How about my experience as a mother this year? So much joy. While Asher still wakes at times at night, sleep can still hit us hard from time to time. I’m also finding that the 2nd year is a lot about being present with him. For hubby and I, we are starting to get better with the sleep deprivation haze and time management. We cherish our evenings together and sometimes we would sneak into Asher’s room to watch him sleep.IMG_1987 (640x427)

I will be back with details of his birthday party. Right now though, I’m having a cup of tea and enjoying these Matcha Almond Walnut Cakes. Aren’t they adorable? Perhaps not as cute as my son. Matcha to me just goes so well with both almond and walnut. I love the little crunch of the walnuts as I bite into these cakes. You can choose to add more honey as well since matcha does has a little bitter undertone to it. To us though, we love that the green tea flavour shines through. 

 

Happy 2nd Birthday to my little man! IMG_1993 (640x427)

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