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Salted Caramel “Cheesecake + Scales Talk (Paleo, Gluten Free, Raw)

IMG_1466 (640x427)When I started my post baby weight lost journey, it was a clear goal. Lose the weight and stay strong. Fast forward 20 months later, I have more than lost my baby weight and is stronger than before. Has it been easy? Nope. Did it bring up some demons? Yes. 

I spoke about my struggle with the scales. Since Dec 2014, I have not stepped on it. Working on my strength gives me a separate focus and I try not to dwell too much on it. It’s a mind game that I’m conscious about. 

What are some of the reasons why I choose not to step on the scales?IMG_1472 (640x427)

– My body fat is not real low, but low enough for me to be ok with it at the moment. Given that I had (I’m hoping it is a thing in a past although it is more management than anything) PCOS, it is not ideal for me to go too low as it may create havoc to the balance of other hormones. If we ever do have another baby, some body fat will be beneficial to support a pregnancy. 

– I have lost more than enough weight. I’m in a privilege position where I am healthy and definitely not overweight. 

– I am mindful that it may become an obsession. 

– I do not want a number to rule how I feel. Not being on the scales makes me more intune with how my body is going rather than relying my judgement on a number. 

–  I do not want my son to grow up thinking that his mummy is self conscious and focus on a scale. As a Christian, I am mindful that I certainly do not want to worship any other idols including my own body- and I do not want my son to see that. 

– My goals have changed. It’s about functional performance. Some things are harder to measure through scales. I will not find what I’m after by chasing a number. Sure my muscle mass may increase or body fat may go a little higher or lower as a result of my consistent hard work at the gym. It is what I DO daily that matters and may influence the numbers- not the other way round.IMG_1486 (640x427)

So the results of my 3 months experiment? 

I’m not perfect and there are times I’m tempted to stand on scales to see how I’m progressing. Then I stopped and distract myself by hopping straight into the shower instead. In terms of strength, I’m pleased to report I’m doing full push ups more often than none, thrusting at least a 16 kg bar, and deadlifting close to 60kg (above my body weight woohoo!) in multiple reps. In Metcon, we do a mix of multiple reps (like 20x) and single heavy reps. In endurance tasks, I’m rowing quicker and running faster. I’m finishing my drills faster now which is usually a sign of increase in endurance and strength. I’m not quite there yet and hope to be more efficient and proficient drills-although the best compliment someone gave me the other day was that I’m probably close to beating his numbers. Boxing remains a joy and I’m throwing heavier punches. 

There are always things to improve on but right now, these are the changes that I can see. At the end of the day, it’s progress I’m after. Stepping on the scales does not give me that. It will be battle from time to time, but right now.. I get to celebrate. Just celebrate the little wins I have. 

I made this cake for hubby’s birthday celebration. It was so yummy that I was jumping in the kitchen. I still have some slices left in the freezer which if you excuse me, I might just have a few bites…IMG_1488 (640x427)

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Earl Grey Almond Cake (Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating)

IMG_1524 (427x640)There are many joys of parenthood. Maybe one day I will write about things I do not enjoy as much but certainly, I try to look at the things I do like about it. 

Whenever there is a day where I feet like reaching for countless blocks of chocolate, I like to think about why parenthood isn’t that bad.IMG_1523 (427x640)

1) Watching Asher learn new things and speak new words. He is starting to piece two words together and can say “Red truck”, “thank you” and even “sit down”.

2) The little arm that curl up around my neck. 

3) The kisses. 

4) The look that says “wow! You can do anything mummy. ” and “Wow! thank you for fixing my train up.”

5) The smiles

6) The light in his eyes when he realised he mastered something. Asher loves reading and books, and he loves connecting pictorial items to real life ones.IMG_1513 (427x640)

7) A perfect excuse to embrace being present. When I’m playing with him, nothing else matters. 

8) I get to play with lego and build things with it. Seriously, it’s good fun building a toy train. 

9) Being able to extend his play. Getting creative with outdoor play, stomping on play doh, throwing it like a ball.

10) Shopping for kids clothes and shoes. Kids have seriously cute stuff.

11) One more reason to love coffee.

12) Meeting other women and mothers. 

13) Appreciating my own parents even more

14) Cook simple. The meal that took me hours to prepare? Doesn’t go down as well when it’s a simple one!

15) Night parties. Well, not quite but hey, just being able to be with him and embrace him counts too.IMG_1518 (427x640)

16) Babycinos 

17) Getting pram parking

18) Decorating his play room

19) Shopping at the kids section at Ikea. 

20) Additional reason to eat chocolate.

I will be back with more but this list will do for the time being. Meanwhile, I have also created this Earl Grey Chocolate Cake that is perfect for all parents I think. It has chocolate, caffeine and it’s good for you. IMG_1521 (640x427)

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Apple Crumble Cake (Paleo, Gluten Free)

IMG_1399 (427x640)I wouldn’t say that my dad and I have the closest relationship. He spent many years of his life working hard for us. I recall that as a child, he would be home past 7pm, and would work weekends as well. Whenever he is home, I would play hair dresser with him *cutting his hair*, or making him cups of tea. My dad would encourage me to read, and would always greet me with a big smile regardless of how tired he was. 

I left home when I was 16. He encouraged me to follow my dreams and path. The only instruction he gave me was that I have to finish what I have started (which was what lead me to complete my post graduate degree in the same discipline as what I started with). Over the years, my spoken mandarin became weaker. And as that happen, dad and I found it tricky to communicate at times. IMG_1393 (640x427)

One thing never change though, his dedication to his family never fails to amaze me. A hardworking man, he chose his family over friendships and hobbies. 

It has been more than 10 years since I celebrated his birthday with him. This year, he was in Perth and what a blast we had. From heading to a winery for lunch before his birthday, to having dim sum on the day itself. Asher clapped his hands and gave him cuddles. I had a chance to bake him a cake. IMG_1398 (640x427)

A very moist but naturally sweet cake. My favourite is bitting into the crumble topping. The crunch is irresistible. I hope you will enjoy this too.IMG_1404 (640x427)

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Mango Coconut Cake (Paleo, Gluten Free)

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Sunshine streaming into the house. The Farmers market buzzing. Yes, summer is well and truly here. 

I’m not sure if I’m a fan of summer. I dislike the 40C heat. The feeling of being in the oven constantly. The mugginess.

Yet there are things I do like about summer. Being able to wear light clothes like shorts. Laundry gets dried quicker- AND fresh linen always smells so good after being in the sun. 

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The best thing about summer is the abundance of fruits. Mango, Strawberries, Blueberries…they have my name on it. I made this cake when we bought a 10kg box of mango from Church late last year. It was for charity and it came straight from the farmers- mangos cannot get fresher than this. 

This mango cake is moist and full of flavour. It’s summer in a bite. I love that we hardly needed to add any sweetener to it as the perfume of mango permeates through. I savoured every bite and hope you will too!

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GIVE AWAY! Lucky Smart Snax PLUS Orange Blueberry Pecan Almond Loaf

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Oh hello. I know it’s my birthday weekend, but I have a treat for you. The good people at Lucky Snax sent me their WHOLE range of Snax to try on, complete with a bonus packet of Almond meal with quinoa. They must have read my mind because you know how much I love baking with almond meal. So much so that I have created an Orange Blueberry Almond Loaf with it. Recipe below! Plus, you know you love a GIVEAWAY.

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I carry nuts everywhere. It’s usually in a little container in my handbag. I make my own mix too- a mix of pistachios, pepitas, walnuts, almonds, macadamias, cashews with cranberries and chopped up dark chocolate. Biggest reason why is that if we are stuck anywhere or I’m feeling munchy, I know I have clean healthy snacks in my bag that I can reach out for. Much better than purchasing a bread roll.

Nuts are one of the best portable snacks we can have. Not only that, I love it that it is nutrient dense- think antioxidants, Vitamin E, Omega 3, fibre. Walnuts helps with inflammation, and almonds contains fibre-plus it’s good for growing good bacteria in our gut. Cashews contains iron and zinc, which is needed for immunity. Brazil nuts, which I think is under rated, contains selenium which reduces inflammation.

Lucky Smart Snax makes snacking even easier because they separated nuts into packaged categories. If one of your goals is to improve on your digestive health, just look for the Digestive pack. It contains oven roasted almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, cranberries, sunflower kernels and pepitas- a choice that is full of fibre. If you are needing a surge of energy for your workout, reach for the Cardio pack which contains Almonds, Sultanas, Cranberries and blueberries. Or perhaps you want some Power at 3:30pm? Go for it with Roasted peanuts, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts AND DARK CHOCOLATE! I like the Women’s pack too- the raw nuts pack contains Almonds, Walnuts, Brazil Nuts and Cashews. Jumping on the Low Carb wagon? Then you have Brazil Nuts, Peanuts, Pepitas, Almonds and Walnuts to choose from.  I can’t forget the Recovery Pack which is so handy for those gym days consisting of Oven Roasted Almonds, Cashews, Peanuts and Pepitas.

Another highlight? I like that they state it clearly  at the back of the pack on the nutritional panel that each packet is good for 3 portions. I’m a big fan of portion control. First up, it’s a zip lock pack so nuts remain fresh. Second, it’s easier to tell yourself that this packet should last you for 3 days. Often, if I have nuts in a box, I tend to eat more of it. However, a smaller portion in a bag- much easier to eat less of it. Why eat less? Nuts are still high in fat and calories, so it is very easy to over eat. Plus, I create quite a few dessert, cakes, loaves and slices with nuts hence it is very easy for me to over dose it. Moderation is the key!

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So far, the Women’s and Digestive Packs are my favourites. Hubby brought a packet to work too- saves me from packing our usual supply in a small container. I would be honest and say one packet lasts us longer than 3 days- I think probably 4-5 serves?

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Back to my creation: another ORANGE CAKE? Seriously, I’m loving the oranges bought from the farmers markets on Manning Road. It is a pity that the season is slowing down.  Fresh juicy oranges to boot. Paired with my other favourite fruit.. blueberries. It’s a moist and delicious loaf. It was an experiment that turned out well.

Orange Blueberry Pecan Almond Loaf

3/4 cup of Almond Meal with Quinoa

1/4 cup of coconut flour

1/4 cup of Pecan nuts

4 eggs

1 cup of Almond Milk

1/2 cup of orange juice and zest from an orange

1 tsp vanilla paste

1 cup blueberries

1 tsp of baking powder

1/4 tsp of baking soda

pinch salt

Extra pecans

Preheat Oven to 180C. Whisk wet ingredients together. Place almond meal, coconut flour, pecans, baking powder and soda in another mixing bowl. Fold wet to dry. Adding blueberries last. Spoon into lined loaf tin, topped it with more pecan nuts and bake for 40-45 minutes.


Now for the exciting GIVE AWAY!

One lucky winner will win a prize pack consisting of a prize containing one of each of the products in the Lucky Smart Snax range.

*Lucky Smart Snax Digestive
* Lucky Smart Snax Recovery
* Lucky Smart Snax Womens
* Lucky Smart Snax Cardio
* Lucky Smart Snax Power
* Lucky Smart Snax Low Carb

For your chance to win answer the following question:

Which Lucky Smart Snax product is your favourite and why?

Please include a valid e-mail address with your comment so I can contact you if you are the winner! The giveaway runs for one week, ending at Saturday 5pm, WST 9th of November. This giveaway is only open to Australian Residents only.


NOTE: I was provided these Lucky Smart Snax mixes for review and giveaway as part of a Product Talk by Nuffnang. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Happy Birthday to ME! Orange Almond Cake

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GASP! I’m another year older. What a year it has been. Last year, I had 4 month young Asher celebrating with us. Now he is 15 months young! Every year, we learn more. This year I learned

– that sleep is a wonderful commodity.

– coffee makes me happy

– slowing down is a joy.

– family is everything.

– that balance to be fit, strong and happy with my physical appearance.

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– I have drawn closer to my parents following my grandmother’s passing.

– work is work. While I enjoy what I do, my priority remains family.

– I might love my bargains, but quality matters more when it comes to shopping.

Today is family day. Life simplest pleasures. Having a day out with my boys makes me happy. Oh. Yes. And a slice of cake.

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This is another experiment of mine that I loved! Steaming the orange brings out the sweetness and juice. It was moist and satisfying. One recipe to keep for sure.

Orange Almond Cake

1 cup of almond meal

1/4 cup Coconut flour

1.5 tsp baking powder

pinch salt

4 eggs

1 tablespoon of honey

1 tsp vanilla paste

1 orange steamed for 45 minutes.

Optional- orange glaze.

half an orange juiced

1 orange zest

1 tsp of honey

1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds

Pre heat Oven 180C. Place chopped steamed orange in a food processor. Blitz it for 1 minute. Then add all other ingredients. Switch it on and watch it come together. Spoon into a lined 9 inch cake tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes till done! To make the orange glaze, place half an orange juiced, zest and honey in a saucepan. Gently heat it up till it thickens slightly. Spoon onto warm cake. Top with some toasted sliced almonds. Serve with greek yogurt.

Lemon Coconut Loaf

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A working mum. It has been over a month once since I started working. Some days are tricky and some days are easier. I thank God everyday that my work is flexible and I can shift my hours around. It has also given me full admiration to full time working mums out there, juggling home and family life balance.

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For me, it’s all about being organised. I make meal plans anyway but now I have to consider 1) Can Asher eat this, 2) How much time do I have that day? and 3) budget. On the days I work, we tend to have either soups made from the day before, or perhaps an oven baked dish that I have pre marinated and prepared in the fridge. That just require me to pop it in the oven before I head to the gym or pick Asher up from day care. I’m also using the thermal cooker that my mother gave me a lot more. Nothing beats having a warm, chinese style broth after work. My kind of comfort food.

I’m also getting better and cutting vegetables and preparing ingredients the night before or perhaps even on the weekend. Most of the time, cooking is the easy bit. It’s the prep work and washing up!

Whenever I can, I make snacks and cakes in batches. I stock up on nuts, and we cut up a batch of vege sticks every few days. Some nights, I might even boil a few eggs and put in the fridge for some quick and handy protein attack. On nights I choose not to cook, we have tins of tuna or salmon on stand by or a frozen batch of soup. Otherwise, it could also be a roast chicken from the deli with salad for dinner.

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The one thing excellent about cooking and eating clean is that everything is simplified. Even baking. Take this lemon and coconut loaf that I have adapted from WholeFoodSimply. It took me 10 minutes max to whipped the batter up. The washing up took a bit more but hey, it was worth it. I have changed the ratio a little and find that it makes the loaf a lighter one. Sometimes coconut flour makes cakes quite dense, but you might find it’s the reverse for this. Perhaps a little too crumbly but it was delish with a cup of tea. Lemon desserts are certainly growing on me!

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Lemon Coconut Loaf 

2.5 cups of desiccated coconut

1/4 cup of coconut flour

3/4 cup of coconut milk

4 eggs

1 tablespoon of rice malt syrup or honey

zest and juice of 1 lemon

1.5 tsp of bicarb soda

1 tsp of vanilla paste

pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 180C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper. Whisk eggs, honey, lemon zest and juice, coconut milk and vanilla in a jug. Combine coconut flour, coconut, bicarb soda and salt in another bowl. Fold wet to dry. Bake for 40-45 minutes till done.

Earl Grey Hazelnut Chocolate Cake

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Some days, you just know you nailed a recipe. While I often like experimenting and drawing inspiration from other amazing bloggers, more recently, I am attempting to re create some items myself. I asked myself, why am I blogging? Have I turned into a recipe reviewer? What do I really want to accomplish here?

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I thought to myself that I want to show that clean eating isn’t as difficult as what people frequently think. It’s easier really because we are simply eating fresh produce and good protein. Nourishing the body heals the gut and helps with immunity issues. This winter, we have narrowly escaped any major sickness. I was down one day with a fever, and Armand had a cold. Asher had two minor colds that he got over rather quickly. My mother was surprised that I was down with ONE day and attributed it to our lifestyle (which is very pleasing to hear!).

With that, I thought ..maybe I can try to create ad experiment easy every day bakes and cooks. I don’t succeed all the time but it’s good fun. This is one of them.

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Earl Grey Hazelnut Chocolate Cake 

1 cup of hazelnut meal

2 tablespoons of coconut flour

2 tablespoons of cacao powder

3/4 cup of Earl Grey Tea made with two tea bags

2 medjool dates soaked in the tea and chopped

1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips

3 eggs

1 tsp of vanilla paste

1.5 tsp of baking powder

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon of honey is optional

1) Preheat Oven to 180C.

2) Place all ingredients in a food processor. Blitz it. Taste to see if the sweetness is sufficient. Add honey if needed. For some reason, I think this cake balances out with a little more sweetness. Honey and dates bring out the earl grey tea I think.

3) Spoon into 9 inch cake tin. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Crumbly Walnut Coffee Chocolate Cake

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There are times when I wonder can time passes even more quickly? Are we approaching the end of September already?

A few months ago, I spoke about my dilemma about going back to work or staying at home full time. I ended one of my posts with trusting in the Lord and seeing where it takes. An opportunity appeared indeed and I was offered a very flexible position with part time hours. With much prayers, we decided to give it a go and made the decision that Asher attends day care for a few days a week.

Oh what a decision. In our minds, day care can be beneficial as it provides a stimulating environment for Asher to grow in too. As a mother though, the number of thoughts and beliefs that entered through my mind is astounding.

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“How can I let someone look after the needs of Asher?”

“Will they take notice of him?”

“Will he eat/drink/sleep well?”

“I’m not a good enough mother for allowing someone else to care for him”

and so forth.

The mothers guilt.

We did our research. During the countless orientation trips we attended, Asher had a great play time. They did art work, and have equipment that resembles a tiny tot gym, and fed him (mostly) good nutritious food. I know he is well looked after there.

How was his first day? He did great. Cried a little as I left but settled not even 2 mins after I stepped out of the door. As I observed him outside the room, he played and engaged with carers and other children. I even felt a sense of pride when he attempted to take his own toy back when another child took it from him.

It took me 30 minutes to move shift my feet closer to the exit. Then it took me another 15 minutes before I physically willed myself to leave.

I’m a sensible person. I can be logical. My heart was heavy as I walked into the car. I felt like a total bad mother for leaving her child to someone else, but yet logically I know he will probably thrive in there with the activities planned. Deep down, I know he will enjoy the interaction. As I sat in the car seat, my eyes became watery. I swiped my phone and re looked at his photos that I have taken in that 45 minutes that I stood outside the room. Then I willed myself to put my phone away, and drove straight to the gym for a workout. I even scheduled a coffee with a friend- a fellow mother who reached out to me for a chat following our Pilates class. I rang the daycare twice, requesting specific information about his nap times, play, food intake, milk intake. As I went in to fetch him that afternoon, he yelled out “mama”, and gave me the biggest cuddle ever. We returned home to his favourite congee and custard for dinner.

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Did it get easier? Perhaps. I have never left my son to be cared for by anyone for close to a day. Not even my hubby who probably had him alone for 3 hours once. Oh hindsight, what did make it easier was that hubby regularly looked after him for an hour or so when I went to the gym.

It’s a strange feeling though- like a new found freedom. Like being alone in the toilet for 5 minutes in peace. Or being able to try on some much needed jumpers and think for 5 minutes if I really wanted it (yup I did!). There was one day, I managed to scheduled in a remedial massage on a weekday! Bliss.

I have since started work (we started day care 2 weeks earlier to give me time to prepare for work- yup, readings and phone conferences) and I will update later about how we are managing. Those early days though, it was as if I put on a fresh pair of glasses whenever I’m with Asher. I made a huge effort to not do any cleaning when I’m with him. While I have always practised being mindful as we play, I realised I can be even more present and enjoy it. I’m less worried about the other stuff because it  really really does not matter.  I missed him terribly when I’m not with him, yet it also gave me a chance to breath and remember that I’m more than a mama.

It will always be a constant juggling act- one that I know will not always be balanced but that’s ok too.

Let’s talk cake now.

Inspired by WholeFoodSimply, I adapted her version and made a coffee cake for us. Pre Asher, we love coffee BUT post Asher we LOVE LOVE LOVE coffee. I try not to have it too much though as I believe it does raise our cortisol levels. I attempt to schedule in coffee free days (some weeks with no success), but generally stick to having one shot of coffee  a day and 1 hour before my gym session. I truly believe that coffee gives me that little boost in my workouts but also lifts my spirits up when it’s 4pm and I’m dead tired from the daily chores. I made this cake as a treat and it was well worth it. Crumbly soft with a crunchy texture. Double yum. Serve with …coffee of course.

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Crumbly Walnut Coffee Chocolate Cake

3 medjool dates presoaked in a shot of nespresso

2.5 cups of almond meal

1 tablespoon of cacao powder

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

1/2 tsp of bicarb soda

1/4 tsp of salt

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla paste

2 tablespoons of coconut oil

handful of crushed walnut

handful of cacao nibs

Crumble Topping

1 cup of pecans

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

1 tablespoon of coconut oil

1 tablespoon of honey or brown rice syrup.

1) Preheat Oven to 180C. Line an 9inch round cake pan with baking paper.

2) To make the cake. Put all the cake ingredients in a food processor and blitzed for 1 minute or so.

3) Spoon into cake tin.

4) Make the crumble. Whiz the crumble ingredients for 30 seconds. Spoon and top it up on the cake. Bake for around 40 minutes but check that the cake does not brown too much in 25 minutes or so. Place a piece of baking paper on it if needed.

5) Cool and serve.



Mixed Berries Orange Tea Cake

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Once in a while you experiment and discover recipes that are worth keeping. This is one of them. Finding the balance between coconut flour and almond meal seems tricky at times but this cake just…takes the cake. It’s very cake like and light to eat. Again, I serve it to friends who would not have guessed it’s an no added refined sugar and certainly gluten free, and paleo
cake. Hubby is also loving the citrus flavours. We love the citrus seller at our local farmers market. Oh, and for the first time, I used rice malt syrup just so that Asher gets to eat this too.

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I really enjoy being at home and having the time to think about experimenting with different ingredients. Someone commented that I always seem to have a lot on my plate. I view it differently. I do like living life to the fullest- BUT I am also aware that there are some times that I need a little chill time as well. This is a lesson I have to learn.

It’s what I think makes me who I am. A mum. An experimenter. A wife. And a whole lot of roles in between. However, I have to remind myself…

It’s ok to have a cup of coffee and eat a slice of cake too!

Mixed Berries Orange Tea Cake 

1 cup of almond meal
1/2  cup of desiccated coconut
1/4 cup of coconut flour
juice of 1 whole orange
zest of 1 orange
4 eggs
1 tsp of vanilla paste
1 tablespoon of rice malt syrup or honey
3/4 cup of frozen berries
1 tsp of baking powder
pinch salt

flaked almonds to sprinkle

Preheat Oven to 180C. Line an 9inch cake tin with baking paper. Using a cake mixer, I whisked eggs, orange juice, zest, vanilla and rice malt syrup. Then I added all the dry ingredients. I fold in the berries last. Pour into the prepared tin, sprinkle flaked almonds and bake for 50 minutes.

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