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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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Chinese Walnut Cookies 核桃酥(Paleo, Gluten Free)

IMG_3058 (640x427)I thought I have posted these before but I actually have not! Even before we were married, hubby absolutely loves Chinese walnut cookies or 核桃酥. They are buttery, short and melt in your mouth. They are the must have if you visit a bakery in hong kong. IMG_3055 (640x427)

I have attempted a few “traditional” recipes in the past, but none was even close to what we remember travelling through hong kong and even back home in Malaysia and Singapore. Then randomly, I experimented with walnuts and coconut sugar- BLAM! This was close. I love that these has a melt in your mouth texture, and with a strong walnut taste. They are not as short as the traditional ones, but as I have removed refined ingredients such as icing sugar and butter, I think I can compromise on that. Top it with a few walnuts, and I think it is a good enough cookie to serve for next year Chinese New Year celebration!IMG_3054 (640x427)

 

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Travelling with a Toddler + Chinese Almond Cookies (Paleo, Gluten Free)

Chinese Almond CookiesDuring my travels, what I missed most was having the familiarity of my kitchen and ingredients that I know can sit well with our values, principles and food philosophy. I do believe in diversity and regardless of where we are at, our body needs a break from the usual routine. Food included.IMG_1165

I was really impressed with how Asher was with food. He ate pretty much anything and embraced the local food delights. From a typical breakfast of Indian Thosai, to different kuehs -he tried it all. He was a little hit and miss with durian. He didn’t love it but neither did he dislike it. I would just have to keep introducing it to him. IMG_0660

Another thing that we were most proud about was how well he behaved on the plane. We did not need to use gadgets-though we brought it and prepared it in advanced. We put together a goody bag of new puzzles, books and drawing materials. We had small little toys still wrapped up for him to open up on the plane. The funny thing was, it was the safety card at our seat that generated the most interest. He was literally studying it on each flight. Otherwise, snacks, conversation about the plane, reading, toys and nap time kept us sane. IMG_0871

We had quite a lot of misses on the toileting side of things on the plane- to be expected. We brought heaps of clothing but on the way back, we conceded defeat and put him in training pants to reduce the pressure on him and us. Lo behold, he went to the loo on the plane when we stopped asking, and kept his pants dry mostly. He asked for the toilet when we landed and that was sufficient till we got home.I don’t blame him. I’m not a fan of air plane loos myself!IMG_0682

Among the few things that Asher pick up during the trip were

  1. Eating ice cream
  2. He tried some juice
  3. Local fruits like Jambu Air, Jackfruit and Dragon fruit
  4. Smother in love from his grandparents
  5. Sharing food! 
  6. Some cookies and chocolate IMG_0572

Thankfully, I have always kept an open mind that Asher will experience the above some time in his life time. Besides, what’s life without chocolate, cookies and ice cream? Now back at home, Asher continued to eat his usual foods without much complains but was excited about some custard and instant blue berry ice cream (Cue: frozen bananas and blueberries). IMG_3044 (640x427)

I created these cookies as an adaptation of the Chinese Almond Cookies that my family loved for many years. The original recipe was almond meal and icing sugar. This version uses honey. The glaze is what made the yellow of the cookie stands out. My grandmother loved this and would have asked me to make it over and over again. If I could turn that time, I would gladly make them daily…just for her..
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Mango and Blueberry Jelly + Toddler’s Conversation P2

IMG_3026 (640x427)Playing with IQS gelatine resulted in quite a lovely jelly. I have made it 3 times with different fruits now and each time it was a winner. Often gelatine leaves a funny acidic after taste but with this, it wasn’t at all. I think this jelly would be a staple favourite at parties these days! 🙂 IMG_3025 (640x427)

Asher’s language has developed rapidly but more so, his reasoning skills. We have started documenting some of the things he has said..

In the car

Asher: “Petrol station! Where are you?”

silence

Asher: “Petrol station! You are not listening! Where are you?”

Silence

Asher: “Petrol station must listen to asher” 

… (Probably a reflection of me asking him to practice good listening aka do what I say)

_______

Asher: Where are we going?

Us: Markets!

At the door- Asher came with his Thomas bag stuffed full of plastic vegetables and fruits. “Let’s go marketing! I shopped for fruits and veggies!” 

______________

Asher: Where are we going?

us: “Where do you think?:

Asher: “Asher, mummy and daddy’s home!” 

(In KL with the same questions)

Asher: “grandma, grandpa AND ZORRO’s home” 

____________

At the airport

Asher: I want to go on the red aeroplane not the white one.

Daddy: Why?

Asher: White one is broken (Referring to the aero bridge not connected to the plane)

Asher: But daddy can fix it (blessed him….)

Daddy: How?

Asher: Bang bang them together

Daddy: Can asher fix it?

Asher: YES! Bang bang bang” ALL FIXED!

______________

Asher: Yummy dahl!

Daddy: Yes it is

Asher: Are you spicy daddy?

Daddy: ……

__________IMG_3022 (640x427)

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White and Black Sesame Cookies (Gluten Free, Clean Eating, Paleo) + Chinese Traditions

IMG_3021 (640x427)Every year I say that I will endeavour to write and note recipes BEFORE Chinese New Year. It doesn’t seem to happen these days. Nevertheless, if you are following my Instagram, you would have noticed that despite my lateness- it didn’t mean that I have stopped baking cookies. I did! I just didn’t document it in time!IMG_3016 (640x427)

This year, I felt the immense sense of lost as we approach my grandmother’s 2nd year death anniversary. It is also the 2nd year we are celebrating CNY without her. As we were grieving last year, we hardly thought or did any celebrations. This year though, we attempted to do some spring cleaning, filled our cookie jars with some clean cookies and even attended a lunch with friends. 

As Asher grows, I am reminded by how far removed he is from family and friends. The slight fear that culturally, his knowledge will be even more diluted than ours. While we can, we decided that there will be a few things we would do to at least let him know his roots and where his ancestry is from.

  • We attempt to teach him CNY songs and wishes. Still a little early but he did say a sentence or two!
  • My parents forwarded some lion dance puppets
  • We followed some traditions like having tossed salad, saying greetings to friends and families, and the all important red packets
  • We connected to extended family members via face time.
  • We dressed him up in red and in new clothes. 
  • We took Asher for a hair cut

In time to come we will visit our family and friends in the festive season. 

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This was one of the cookies I created for CNY. Hope you will enjoy them.

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Goat Curry (Gluten Free, Clean Eating, Asian, Paleo)

goat curryFact: Ice cream tastes better when we have it during winter. No? It doesn’t melt as fast and somehow the tongue tingles more with the cold. 

While we love our salads during summer, we tend to gravitate towards curries as well. Weird? Perhaps it is due to the way we were being brought up. Being in a tropical country means it is hot everyday anyway. There is no such thing as a bad time for curries. Ok, perhaps not on  41C day (yep, we tried it) when we hardly feel like eating anything or when we are nursing a fever. More often than none, we love curries any most times of the year. IMG_2794 (640x427)

I cannot remember when was the first time I had goat curry. It must have been good because when a little Indian eatery near where we lived previously (Gopi Indian Curry House) put that on their menu, hubby and my eyes’ sparkled. More recently, the butcher that we occasionally go to has it at their display counter. We immediately bought a kg of the meat even before we thought about how to cook it. Very not like us given that I operate our meals on a weekly meal plan. 

With that kg of meat in the fridge, I set out to make a curry paste. A very simple one. I didn’t quite follow any recipe but used what was in my pantry. The curry leaves and fennel are the key spices in this. 

What food do you like eating in opposite seasons? Ice cream in winter or perhaps soups in summer? IMG_2800 (640x427)

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Toilet Training Adventures + Raw Papaya Salad (Paleo, Clean Eating, Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

IMG_2734 (640x427)Asher is toilet trained! Woohoo! What a milestone…and what a journey it has been. Asher started using the potty real early on- when he was 4 months young. Some thing changed at around the year mark where he just refused to sit on it. He could even tell me that he is scared. My pre assumptions is that he is starting to notice many different kinds of feelings then, and perhaps that was a tad over whelming. I should have persevered though because fast forward, he was no where close to being off his nappies. 

That was when hubby and I discussed doing a dual approach. We read books, brought him to the loo with us, we even showed him you tube clips (yes! they have potty songs too!). We went shopping for underwear and told him what big boys do on the toilet. Then we picked a date- 1st of Jan for us to say good bye to nappies. On the day itself, we simply told him we are saying goodbye to nappies through the day, and we are teaching him to use the toilet. 

The first day was HARD. Our goal was just to help him get acquainted with the toilet. There were close to 20 accidents that day.  By the end of the day, he was comfortable on the toilet. We went through times where he had no realisation that he was going, till he realised but it was too late, to actually doing it on the toilet itself. By the end of the first week, we had moments where we totally felt he was not ready. Day care was really helpful by maintaining consistency (as much as they could), but it was also a regression since it was a new toilet and new people telling him to use the toilet. Smart kid told educators that he goes to the toilet at home but not at school/day care. Other heart string moments was when he asked is mama not happy when he had an accident. Much as I have tried to re assure him it was an accident, I guess I must have showed a disappointed face at times. 

Something clicked by day 8. He was compliant going to the toilet and when we were at a restaurant, he TOLD us he wanted to go. Wow! Day 9, we had a play date where there were NO accidents, went to the toilet with me when he was ready and then later in the day, whispered “go potty” to me. 

Still early days, and we have night and sleep time to go through. There are accidents when he becomes pre occupied. That’s ok. He is still learning. We still need to work out travelling as well, but again, we will just have to cross that path when we are close to it. 

For me, I’m just not sure how quickly that 2 years + have flown by and another milestone clicked. 

Raw Papaya Salad

If you have endured through the toilet training story, well done! I have never been squeamish around topics like this given the nature of my work in my early days with children with autism, and being used to baby sitting but I do agree that having Asher makes me think of toilet as another developmental milestone as natural as it can be! IMG_2737 (640x427)

And of course, while it seems “wrong” to pair our story with food. I can’t help myself but to share this lovely salad recipe. We love our salads in my household. Perhaps more so with hubby and myself as Asher finds salad leaves fibrous for him. I actually don’t have a “proper” recipe for this. It was just shredded vegetables that come together. Asher even tried some. Quick, easy and yummy! Now to find more raw papaya! IMG_2735 (640x427)

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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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Fig and Mango Agar Agar Jelly (Paleo, Gluten free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar free)

IMG_1611 (427x640)Since I started working, I felt that my world has gotten smaller. I’m getting good at saying no, and scheduling less on weekends. I’m better at receiving help and having a blind eye when household chores doesn’t get done as quickly as what I would like. Meals have become simpler. Most weeks, I would have at least 1 meal that I cook a double batch which would be the next day’s dinner as well. 

I’m not as good in replying messages or being on top of catching up with friends. Most of our friends are in a similar situation, where time is so precious that rest/activities/children get prioritised above meet ups. Sometimes I feel bad, but then realised that when it comes to friendships, it’s a joint responsibility between us. The other thing I realised is that not meeting/connecting over messages/coffees/meals isn’t necessary a bad thing. When friends meet, we fall back into the same pattern. The same keenness to catch up. The genuineness in wanting to know how things are going with work, relationships, health and life. It may have been 3 months since we spoke but that gap does not seem to matter as much anymore. Fig and Mango Coconut Jelly

Friendships and parenthood. It’s a strange combination. I’m of an opinion that just because I’m a parent does not mean I do not need friends. Also, I don’t just need parent friends. I need grown up friends who will talk to me about other things than looking kids too. Having said that, I appreciate every parent friend I have. They always puts things into perspective for me. IMG_1610 (640x427)

I made these pretty little jellies twice. Once was for a meet up with some friends over roast meats and chats. The other, was for family. Both times, I enjoyed making them. I love the pretty colours. The purple from the fig, and yellow from the orange. Because I used coconut cream, I felt that I need not add much sweetness since the fruit gave it a little touch of sweetness too. Bite size cuteness. I hope you like this as much as I do!

 

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Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Nam Jim Sauce (Paleo, Clean eating, Gluten Free) + Judgement on what other people eat

I have learnt that there is no “one size fits all”.  IMG_1616 (640x427)

I meant it in the way of meals and food. 

Fitness and health is a journey. Everyone has their own set of circumstances that require individualisation. What works for me may not work for you. 

I have my fair share of comments about “Why are you being careful about carbs intake?”, “relax a little! Just eat!” or “you exercise right? Just eat what you want”

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We have all heard of stories where the fittest person we know was diagnosed with cancer, while the person who drank ate and partied stayed healthy. 

I was diagnosed with PCOS around 3 years ago. Thankfully, I am not insulin resistant. However, I know I am at a higher risk of it. Thats the biggest reason why I eat and train the way I do. High intensity but at a shorter period of time. Eating cleanly as much as possible rather than having refined food that poses little to no nutritional value to my body. To make it slightly more complicated, I had IBS when I was in my late teens. While it is usually under control, I have times where it flared up- most recently after a mild bout of gastro. Both conditions made me more aware of how I eat. IMG_1615 (427x640)

Who knows what is the fitness and health journey of the person next to you? I realised now, that instead of being judgemental, is to just listen. The person next to me might have a tougher health journey than myself. 

For some people, being a vegan works. For others, they enjoy oats. Some like their pasta, whereas others react badly to gluten. Then there are people who respond sensitively to some foods but that does not necessary mean they are allergic to it. 

Creating meals is a joy. Eating is a joy. Fuelling our bodies right makes it moves better and feel better. That’s the primary reason of why we eat clean. Surely listening to your body and learning what makes it tick better is the way to go? 

I struggle with the word “diet”. While it means “the way we eat”, it appears to have a negative notation around it. For our family, we aim to have less processed food. Aiming for whole foods such as vegetables, meat and seafood. We found that too much gluten or dairy makes us bloated and sluggish. For me, it could even trigger abdominal discomfort. 

The questions I frequently get are

1) Do I eat bread?

Yes and No. I do not eat bread on a daily basis for breakfasts. Occasionally when we are out, I may have a little rye toast if I feel like it. My tummy tends to feel heavy after having bread. However, on my heavy work out days, I tend to feel better with additional carbohydrates which depending on where we are, I might choose sweet potato/oats or a small piece of rye toast.

How about breakfasts then? I love eggs. However, I also have some greek yogurt and on Sunday, we cook a fry up of a sausage, spinach, mushrooms and tomato. 

2) You are asian, how about rice and noodles?

We cook rice weekly. Perhaps once a week or twice. I don’t have an issue with rice. I have some occasionally and again on higher intensity work out days. I like that rice has some nutritional value plus it provides resistant starch which is good for gut health. (I recall those days when I was sick, and a bowl of hot steaming congee seems to soothe the tummy). However, I’m conscious that rice is easy to over eat, plus with my PCOS, I tend to be more conscious about the amount of white rice I’m having.

I’m not a fan of yellow noodles but will share some pho with rice noodles from time to time. At home, we prefer cooking with kelp noodles, zucchini noodles and occasionally sweet potato noodles. 

3) Do you have milk in your coffee? What about dairy?

I have almond milk in my fridge and tend to add a splash of that to my coffee at home. If I’m out, I love a good almond milk long mac. However, I go full cream long mac if that is not available. 

I can’t have too much dairy. It makes my tummy goes all funny…A few small slithers of cheese here and there? Not a problem. I seem to be ok with greek yogurt- maybe a 3/4 times a week in small (100-120grams) portions appears to be ok. 

4) Do I cook with sauces?

I have coconut aminos and fish sauce. I do not cook with oyster sauce. I love having ginger, sesame oil and garlic as seasoning. I also use dried herbs. 

5) Do I eat desserts when I’m out?

Of course I do! Hubby and I share. Indulgence. We eat and enjoy. Is it totally nourishing and good for us? Probably not. But we eat knowing that it is for enjoyment and not so much for physical health. 

6) Do I think my “diet” is restrictive?

No way. When is eating clean restrictive? It makes me more conscious about what I put in my body for sure! 

7) Why I identify myself with being a cheeky paleo?

I like the term clean eating. I think that fits us the best. In general though, I like the basics of paleo- eating more vegetables with good sources of meat/seafood. I do like to have some clean paleoified cakes and treats here and there. I think if I want to have dessert, it’s best to have it as nourishing as possible. However, I’m all for REAL chocolate! 

 

 

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This simple salad is made up of mainly wombok or Chinese cabbage. Often, I fall into the tray of using mixed mesclun leaves or baby spinach to make up our salads. I find that finely shredded chinese cabbage has a lovely texture and crunch to it. Top with some cashews and a tangy dressing, it was a light dinner but a satisfying one. A friend passed me this nam jim recipe. I modified it as I did not add sugar to it. Instead, I love the lemon juice, fish sauce, sesame oil and the hit of chilli. 

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