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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Raw Berry and Lemon Slice + Expectations

IMG_3319 (640x427)It has been a journey of self acceptance with my weight gain and loss journey. From time to time, there will be circumstances that would make me question if I’m doing the right thing or should I be “achieving more”. 

Walking out of an appointment recently, it was suggested that the judgement of self was too high. A general checkup with a kind and warm doctor suggests that perhaps I have too much on my plate. I laughed. In case you are wondering, my physical health is great! Doc was more concerned about the level of expectations I have. IMG_3321 (640x427)

I laughed because deep down I have a fighter voice that query  “is it enough” and “what could be better”. There is a certain drive that carries me. As a child, I was taught that it is the effort and self- discovery that counts more so than the results. 

As a parent, I wondered if I carry that towards Ash. Did I suggest that he should know more because there is always something more to learn? Or have I provided a “I recognise the effort and I am proud” vibe? 

As a wife, did I ever come across as always wanting more? Have I pushed my husband more than what he is ready for OR is it because of MY own expectations, but not recognising where he wants to be and what he wants? IMG_3323 (640x427)

As someone who loves good, health and fitness, what is the point of being on the quest of “being better” because it is endless. Still, not wanting to fall into the trap of being “getting by”. 

Improvement I think is never enough. It is however a fine line between the intention of improving and competition with self. At the end of the day, there is no finishing line. It is about what we do best in God’s plan for us. 

I love this refreshing slice. It’s a raw slice that I have attempted 2 variations (in my quest to “perfect” this). A raspberry and a blueberry version. Personally, I like the blueberry version better. Asher thinks it is “Ice cream cake” as it is creamy and filled with natural sweetness from the berries. IMG_3324 (640x427)

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Rich Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake + My Toddler teaching me to be mindful

IMG_3235 (640x427)I had a mindful moment. It was a friday morning. On my list of things to do :

  • Vacuum
  • Folding of clothes and putting them away
  • Make a double chocolate cake with ganache, salted caramel and popcorn for a birthday
  • a hummus dip
  • clean the kitchen
  • mop the floor
  • tidy up the house 
  • Ring my dadIMG_3237 (640x427)

Then, Asher filled his wagon up with items and told me that he is bring me to the airport. “MUMMA! Come on! We are going away. Come away with me!” 

Then he lead me upstairs. He asked me to sit down. Look out in the sky and said. “Let’s wait and look for the aeroplanes!” So we did just that. We listened to the wind, we saw the birds fly away. We noticed several cars driving about. We spoke about the blue sky and the clothes. 

Then he smiled and went back to his toddler play. IMG_3239 (640x427)

Those items were not completed (But most were), but what re played in my mind was MY toddler was teaching me how being in the moment is so precious. I hope that was his highlight too (and licking the spoon from making chocolate ganache) 

This is a rich and dense cake! Not the double chocolate cake that I mention but certainly one worthy to indulge in from time to time. I like it better the next day- in fact, I nearly chuck my recipe out because I thought it was too dense. Still, I love how it came together in the end. IMG_3231 (640x427)

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Wild Orange Coconut Caramel Jelly Slice + Mum Talk

IMG_3217 (640x427)I have written about mindful play before. Just being present and attending to Asher settles in. He delights in the closeness and undivided attention. I’m struggle with it though, as there are some days that I just want to get things done. Given that Ash is now older, I can set timelines and inform him that I will play with him when a certain chore is complete or if he helps me out, it could be quicker (*disclaimer that it may not be but at least it involves him and he feels like he is helping).IMG_3216 (640x427)

Not just chores. There are days where emotionally I feel so drained that I almost feel like I have nothing else to give. Those days are warning signs as I pretty much feel like a zombie walking around. Asher usual “mummy, come play with me” elicit an irritation. Those days are usually associated with someone being sick, sleep deprivation or a combination of sickness, work and accepting too many responsibilities/appointments. 

I have learned that for my personality type, my mind becomes overly stimulated and I need to be retreated back to quietness to still my brain. Not that easy when you have a toddler wanting your attention every minute! 

So far, self care strategies is holding me. Looking forward to my quiet drive to work as I grab a coffee at my favourite deli. Heading off to a workout. Having a shower by myself. Even just making sure I have my essential oils with me. Eating well and trying to sleep in time. 

And if all else fails, hand child to husband. 

I have been loving making raw treats in my kitchen AND on top of that, utilising my growing essential oil collection with it. This one features one of my firm favourites at the beginning Wild Orange. The other reason why I adore this was because it uses gelatine which is grass fed and gut healing. Not the stuff we can grab from supermarkets baking shelves though. This one I bought from I Quit Sugar. I call it my Wild Orange Coconut Caramel Jelly Slice. IMG_3215 (640x427)

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Matcha Goji Slice (Raw, Paleo, Gluten Free) + Food Judgement P2

IMG_3162 (640x427)Would it be a surprise to you if I say that our food decisions are evolving? At certain points of my life, I have become strict- often having “good food” and “bad food”. I followed strictly to my meal plans, and had great success in achieving several goals. In the process, I discover that there is no such thing as good or bad food- it is food that your body can manage and feel good in. 

Most people I know, would not say “I feel bad eating real food”. While I do have a bite of non-gluten, non-paleo and sugar filled, wheat filled desserts or meals here and there, I eat there being informed that they are for taste and enjoyment. Not health reasons. I still cringe when people think I’m restrictive or “am forever on a diet”. Is health diet a good enough reason? Matcha Goji Slice

The other day, we went out for dinner. It was relaxing, I had a glass of sparkling and ate mostly the meat and vegetables. I had a few bites of a wonderful tasting goats cheese ball (deep fried of course and Asher finished MINE!), and perhaps one of the crispy cracker that went with the guacamole. Perhaps it was my body not being used to gluten, or there was something there that I reacted to- but boy for nearly a week did my gut suffered 😦 While it was not as bad as previously, I was feeling sluggish, together with feelings of bloated, with odd hunger but with no appetite. It seriously reminded me of my IBS days, but in a milder form. IMG_3160 (640x427)

That totally reminded me of why we eat the way we do. I do not regret that dinner, it was a happy occasion and the food tasted wonderful. It did however, remind me that no one else need to judge about my health but me. 

Did I ever mention that I like raw desserts? Oh yes. Must be a million times. This simple Matcha Goji Slice is very low in sugar, gluten free, paleo friendly, high in anti oxidants and tastes like home. Note to self- investing in good quality matcha is a must. I suspect that poorer quality oxidises even quicker. IMG_3163 (640x427)

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Pear and Hazelnut Chai Loaf (Paleo Friendly, Gluten Free) + Children’s Party

IMG_3171 (640x427)I had to face one of my fears the other weekend. 

It was a kid’s party. I’m staring at tiny teddies, fairy bread, cordial, meat pies, iced cupcakes. Talk about gluten and sugar filled treats.

I breathe. 

Then I say to myself that… “it’s ok. Asher will be fine.” And was appalled by my own judgement of party food-especially when I spoke about not having judgement previously. IMG_3172 (640x427)

Asher got away with a small triangle of fairy bread and two tiny meat pies. 

There were lollies in the goodie bag, but he only wanted the bubbles. 

Then we ate lunch as a family at a cafe, where Asher tucked into a plate of roasted beetroot, potato, sweet potato, carrots, quinoa with almonds and even sneaked in some spinach leaves. 

All will be ok.Pear loaf

I posted this on Instagram and it was re posted a few times. Totally a favourite in my household.

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Orange Carrot Thyme Muffins (Gluten Free, Paleo, Dairy free. Nut Free) + Toddler woes

IMG_3150 (640x427)I have heard and known about the terrible 2s. While it is often viewed as the child being difficult, I looked it as if things just seem overwhelming for a 2-3 year old child. Plus, they are learning how to work the system. While we have beautiful days, we have not so good days too. 

So it came no surprise that for the past few weeks or so, the word “no” or even when I do not use the word but it implied the same thing, tears followed. Logically I know. The frontal lobe is developing and this little person is suddenly faced with what it seems uncontrollable flood of emotions. That of course, is that it can sometimes come with impulsiveness. As a parent, all I can do is to recognise that, being present, set boundaries, pray that the penny will drop and keep going. Showing empathy can be a struggle, but often my “you are disappointed are you?” and “that’s frustrating” was followed by tears, and a burrow into my shoulders. Then a quiet “yeah…” with a gentle nod. I’m learning how to sit with it. To let him accept that we have all these feelings and that is ok. There are moments where I even say “You can cry it out”, and to my surprise, there are times when he would tell me “not ready mummy.  I want to cry”. Oh what  a sweetheart. 

But it has a few magical moments too. Those “sorry mummy” and when I probe further it was “Asher did not listen”, or those spontaneous cuddles and “I love you very much Mama”. IMG_3149 (640x427)

I have often commented to my friends that my relationship with God has deepen since being a parent. Why? Well, let’s just say the amount of times I pray now probably tripled or even quadruple pre Asher days. I count myself as patient but boy, I had to walk away a few times and come back. There was one day, where I had to literally remove myself as I could feel myself tipping over the edge. Soon though, Asher came, apologies were given, the talk was made and cuddles were given. 

Just playing around with a few flavours here for a quick muffin snack. At one point, we went a tad crazy at the markets- coming home with way too many oranges. Now, you probably know that one of my favourite cake to make is orange. It’s too easy. Steam an orange and that provides both the moisture and sweetness to a cake. I don’t have to zest or juice either. Given that my time now is mainly to deal with temper tantrums, seeing the food processor in action is strangely calming…. 

I’m a big fan of adding vegetables to each meal. What’s the difference with a cake then? While we love herbs, I have only recently learned how to pair herbs with baked goods. This is one of my attempts. IMG_3152 (640x427)

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Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Slice aka “Snickers” (Paleo, Raw, Clean Eating, Gluten Free, Dairy Free) + Coping with changes

IMG_3142 (640x427)It has been a busy few months. It is now May but time just seem to be ticking quickly away. So far we have,

  • Travelled
  • I have had a few stressful encounters at work 
  • Job offer followed by job change
  • Making the decision to slow down and focus on one job rather than two
  • Being immersed in the world of essential oils. Learning and using them
  • Making some goals around fitness and hitting them 

I have also learned to be kinder to myself and my family. That was a hard one to realise. As I become grouchier and grouchier, the realisation that I have not been taking time to re charge dawn on me. The decision to leave one job and focus on one was not an easy one. In the midst of trying to weigh up the pros and cons, thinking about how to make it work while still focusing on doing “my job right” ultimately lead to the biggest sacrifice.Salted Peanut Butter Caramel Slice

My family.

The symptoms were there. Snappy. Unable to be present focused. Feeling like I’m always in a rush. Feeling unappreciated. Forgetting things. 

So here we go again. Is there ever such thing as lesson learnt? While those indicators were there, it took me a while to realise what was going on. So to re focus I did

  • Decided not to schedule any thing for a day or two of the month. I did that on the past Monday and boy, Asher and I had heaps of fun together
  • There was a week when I had to swop work days. Instead of taking Asher out, I took a day out. I ran errands, met up with a friend for lunch and baked. No cleaning allowed. 
  • I spoke to hubby and he realised that perhaps he has been in the rush himself that he didn’t see the signs. So we made some changes there including scheduling some time to check in with each other.
  • There were some afternoons where I napped with Asher. Rest somehow is quite liberating.

There could be a few more changes in the next few months. Winding down a job, increasing time in one. Adapting to my current job. Still, I’m writing this list to remind me that it is ok to not having it all “balanced” all at once

Of course, indulging in what I love. Playing with my favourite ingredient recently- Peanut butter. I absolutely love this raw Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Chocolate Slice. It actually resembles snickers! IMG_3139 (640x427)

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Raw Lemon Slice (Raw, Paleo, Gluten Free)

IMG_3066 (427x640)One of the lovely things about raw desserts and snacks is that it can be kept in the freezer. Before we left the country, I made up a batch of these Lemon Slices. Some we ate of course, but most of it was kept in the freezer. That way, when we are back, there is a little something there for us to munch on, or to put in snack boxes. IMG_3062 (640x427)

Since discovering doterra essential oils, there is no turning back. I love how many of their oils are food grade, which means it can be added to raw desserts and cooking. This raw lemon slice, I feel, was enhanced by the lemon essential oil that I placed in there. One word of warning though. I find that a little goes a long way! IMG_3064 (640x427)

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