Banana Chia Pudding (Paleo, Gluten Free, Vegan)

img_3427-640x427Recently I had 4 gorgeous days to myself. The whole zika virus in Singapore and Malaysia means I was advised not to travel. The decision did not come easy as the trip was to celebrate my brother in law’s wedding. It was meant to be a family affair, one that hubby and I looked forward to for months. Still, being pregnant means there are more risks- one that we are not willing to take with reported cases of mircophely associated with the zika virus. After giving it some thought, we decided to have hubby and Ash travel without me. 

I mentioned in my previous post that this pregnancy has somewhat been different for me. The first one was full of excitement and joy. I was sick but happily sick. I might be spewing in the toilet and looking grey for most of the pregnancy, but the idea of having a baby- one that we were told we could never have, just seem so overwhelmingly blessed. I struggled big time with working then as the nature of my work means long hours and travel in the car. 

This pregnancy is our 2nd miracle. We have defy odds. With the pregnancy comes joy in the first second and panic in the second. Many thoughts flew through my mind. I have just settled back to regular work. One that I enjoy going to, feeling challenged and stimulated. As most would agree, the people you work with are just as important as the work. I was beginning to feel like I am settling. Then bam. Pregnancy means I would have to take time off and with much uncertainty to where I will go when I return. 

Then it is the awareness. The awareness of what will come ahead. The sleep deprivation, the thoughts of juggling with a pre scholar and a baby, the labour process- or in my case, awareness that the doctor would recommend c-section the 2nd time round, the cries that you may never soothe, the concern that I may not be able to give this baby as much as I did with Ash… img_3430-640x427

It also came with a lot of nos and rejections. The no travel to Asia to see my parents/in laws/bil wedding, the no you got to rest because you have some spotting and cramps, the no you have to stop doing so much, the no you have to reduce intensity of the workout, the no the darn pants won’t fit anymore… and of course, the no to Ash when he wanted me but I had no more fuel to give. Then we were put on a ‘higher risk” list as bub came out positive with one indicated of down syndrome. Suddenly, the focus was more on knowing that his heart will be ok, and there are no deformities. When that happened, the guilt set in on how can I worry with SUCH LITTLE things when this little life may not have even existed? 

This verse struck firmly in mind. 

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7 

God is good and our prayers have been answered. Things will work out eventually. Right now, we are back to being at the low risk marker. I’m feeling better. And the trip? It was a blessing in disguise because I have not experienced 4 whole glorious days to myself … in what I cannot remember when. 

What did I enjoy?

-HOT drinks and meals

-On my own agenda. A quick duck to the shops? No problems! 

-Groceries done in 30 minutes

-Shopping. Proper shopping

-Silence

-Sleep

-Concentrating on a friend’s conversation

-Clean house

-Less laundry

-No crumbs

-I can play the music I want to hear! 

-Being by myself in the toilet and shower

-Hot long showers

-Did I mention sleep? 

So the 4 days ended and I’m definitely feeling more refreshed. The madness will begin and it will be a long time till I get this freedom again. 

I’m sharing this lovely pudding that I have been having for a snack (or post dinner 4th meal of the day). It’s quick, easy and definitely healthy and tasty. img_3433-640x427

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (Using almond pulp) + Taking breaks

IMG_3330 (640x427)Do we need more cookie recipes? I vote yes! There is something about cookies that shouts comforting. I love the smell of these when it is fresh out of the oven. I created these using left over almond/cashew pulp from our fresh almond/cashew milk. I hate letting things go to waste, and would attempt to make something out of the pulp each week. IMG_3326 (640x427)

To make them more crispy, I deliberately toast them a little more. I omitted any oil but use nut butter to bind them together instead. Anything with chocolate is good isn’t it? So in goes 2 squares of dark lindt chocolate. 

Otherwise, life has been a tad overwhelming in our household. Luckily, hubby and I booked in a few days to the gorgeous Southwest earlier. We had  total blast. We enjoyed nature, slept heaps and ate. Having a near 3 year old is never quite relaxing of course, but the down time was much needed.IMG_3328 (640x427)

Which brings me my next point, why is it that we struggle to take breaks? Do we need to redefine breaks? Does it have to be a long overseas holiday? Or a few days at home? 

When hubby and I spoke about that, we realised that we can never quite “relax” at home. There is always a project or something that needs to be done. Those days are welcomed of course. We often feel accomplished when a section of the house has been decluttered, or if I have created meals that will last us for days. Taking a break for us, means not doing the daily responsibilities, getting out to enjoy nature, and family time. 

We are still learning as a family of what we should do. No doubt it will change (kids club? Bring it on!). However, we shall take what we can for now!IMG_3329 (427x640)

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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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Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies (Paleo, Gluten Free, Dairy Free) + Respecting the process

IMG_3156 (640x427)When it comes to my self image, it is always a work in progress. You can read about what I wrote about self image, scales talk and food judgement in respective links. Over the past few months, I have more good days than bad. On those good days, I often am reminded by how far I have come and is respecting the process.

I accept that my body is mine and it is different. It has been through childhood obesity, and a fear of fitness. Some fears remain- I still struggle to participate in group sports games (although have actually attempted basketball and some form of soccer). I am the girl whose head just seem to attract any flying balls even when I am simply running OR standing minding my own business. I feel clumsy when I do any kind  of coordination exercises. I still cannot do a high box jump- not a lack of ability but my brain and my legs just can’t seem to communicate, and any technical work on weights takes me ages to master. I can hardly skip, and Asher will probably learn how to cycle before I do.  Heavy weights remain a challenge but I am getting better at it. IMG_3155 (640x427)

So with that into consideration, I’m doing ok. I do not have the toned arms that I envisioned myself having or the clear 6 pack (it’s just hiding). I feel soft some days and tougher on others. Like a dear friend once mentioned- me feeling crapped about myself or saying I feel soft or my tummy seems less firm may indicate other issues such as digestive or immunity rather than my immediate fear of “going backwards”. In reality, the core of the issue is that I have an underlying fear that I will return to my previous self in no time.IMG_3158 (640x427)

My fear is not unjustified. Look at this news article recently. I think healthy weight itself can be a mystery. For most, the formula isn’t too complicated. I took the “Low fat and just cardio like crazy” route and lost 32 kgs the first round. It wasn’t sustainable but I did it. Then, the 2nd time I did it, I took the “Nourish, eat well and just move smartly” method. Worked for me too. Still, with my experimentation of not weighing myself did result in some weight gain, I had to learn how to dial back food. 

The truth is, I may have to be careful for the rest of my life. However, I have embraced a few differences. I do not count calories anymore or keep a food diary. I try to eat well, and be kind to myself. The only “rules” I have is to always start with small bites, and avoid mainly gluten or refined sugar. If i do want to indulge in an extra coffee, I can. If I want to munch on a bliss ball, yes. I just stay away from processed food. I still cook most meals and move regularly. 

One thing I did note though, and with hubby’s observation..is that since I have started hitting my own goals on chin ups, pull ups, turkish get ups and doing double jb squats… I stand taller. I’m less self conscious. There is something about going against what I thought I could not do previously that helped. 

It will always be a journey of self. One that I’m learning not to rush it but respect the process. 

Oh, and enjoy this bickie with my coffee. It’s crumbier and easy. Yes it has some coconut sugar in it. But hey, it’s all relative. IMG_3154 (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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Travel workouts + Back to Basics Chocolate Cupcakes with Yogurt Cream Cheese Frosting

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Holidays are awesome. A time to recharge but also to catch up with family and friends. Recently our family went on a 3 weeks break. Little Asher relished in grandparents’ care and attention while we just love having some down time. 

While I love our break, the first thing that I miss would be my regular workout sessions. This time round, I decided to go with the flow, opting to rest when my body needs to but aim to move daily. This was what I did

Day of departure Friday- Morning working. 5 TGU 12kg each side, 5 rounds of 10 reps, deadlifting, cleans, rows, push ups and sit ups

Saturday- No workout. Went for family walks.

Sunday- Walking the dog and carrying Asher while walking. That was a workout itself! The humidity means I was drenched with sweat. 

Monday- HIT Mum Plyo Hell

 

Tuesday- Modified workout from my usual group that does a metcon on Monday evenings. I did 14 mins 12 PU twist, GS and burpee with a jump over a mat. (I did 10 rounds), and then 7 min of 10 pairs of mountain climbers, 12 sit-ups and 20 bicycles (I did 7 or 8 rounds)

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Wednesday- HIT Mum 10 for 10 workout (Asher joined me)

Thursday- 10 rounds of 10 reps burpees, pushups, jumping squats and dips. (Asher joined me as well)

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Friday- HIT mum  Legs nd The trim tummy 10 mins

Saturday- Staycation. There is a wonderful gym at the resort. I did 1.2km run, 2×2 TGU, 5 rounds 10 reps, deadlifting, dumbbell squats and dips. Then I went for a few laps in the pool.

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Sunday- Rest day.

Monday- HIT mum All over BB 17 mins

Tuesday- Rest Day (travel day to Singapore)

Wednesday- 4 chin ups and 2 pull ups. 8 rounds of 10 reps burpees, push ups and sit ups 

Thursday- 5 chin ups. AMRAP of 17 minutes of 8 reps dips, burpees, pushups and heel squats. 

Friday-Nike App 15 minutes Advanced workout by Carili Lloyd (Metabolic Kick HIT workout)

Saturday- Hubby and I worked out together to his NAME. We had a “Name workout” I think in total I did 65 burpees, 200 star jumps, 40 sit ups, 40 dips and 20 push ups. I managed 5 chin ups with breaks. 

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Sunday- Rest Day (Travel to Johor)

Monday- Hotel Jen’s gym! 1.2 KM run, 4 rounds of 20x trx rows, 4 rounds 10x 40 kg deadlifting, 20 kg squats, followed by leg curl and shoulder press machines 

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Tuesday- Rest day

Wednesday- (Still feeling off) Managed HIT mum Tabata Power Shred 21 mins

Thursday- GYM day! around 1km run as warm up to the gym and 4 flights of stairs. 10 kg dumbbell TGU 5 each side. 4 rounds 16kg 10x reps squats. Leg press 188Kg PB (5 reps max increasing to 188kg), Chest press, shoulder push press, and leg curl. Walk home for rest. 

Friday- HIT Mum- The big 10 workout. 

Saturday- Rest Day

Sunday- Rest day. Travel back to Australia

In all, my workouts are around 15-20 minutes with 5-10 minutes of warm up and cool down. I’m usually back having a shower within 30 minutes. If I’m feeling like I need a rest, I would either take a rest or do a gentler workout. Everyday, I would climb the stairs to my parents apartments (around 16 flights with 10 steps each). Depending on the day, it would be at least once.  

Holiday workouts to me are a way to keep the momentum moving. I see benefits of doing quicker and shorter workouts than my usual ones (e.g. boxing) as it provides the body a break. I did try to see if there are any Muay thai or cross fit classes to go to- just for something new, but it just didn’t work out in the end of schedules and some places requesting for long term memberships. 

If you do participate in holiday workouts, what do you do? 

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Holidays aside, I shared this once on Instagram where we walked past a cafe and Asher wanted the chocolate cupcakes! I promised him that we would make some when we return home which was exactly what we did. Oh the look on my little boy’s face is precious. What I was even more surprised was that he ate the frosting which consisted of a little cream cheese and yogurt! Both which he generally does not like to have it on its own. I guess the power of chocolate is great. IMG_3050 (640x427)

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Mango Bread (Paleo, gluten free, dairy free) + Murky Roles

IMG_2866 (640x427)Is being a father/mother = to being a good husband/wife? 

The other day hubby and I had a conversation about roles in parent hood. While it may seem clear cut on what our roles are, it can often be more murky than what it seems. IMG_2869 (427x640)

First up, it does depends on your definition of what a husband or wife should be. For some people, it is about being a partner in life. We uplift each other, we give honest thoughts, we pray. Perhaps we enjoy checking out cafes and coffee. We have heart to heart conversations, have similar thoughts on current affairs. We may share a love for musicals. We do housework together and is there for each other when the going gets tough.We have a good laugh. Most of all we like each other.

Then we have definition of what a parent is like. The usual routine, caring for a child, playing. We may think that providing financially is also one of our roles. IMG_2866 (640x427)

Gently, we teased out the differences. Being a mother/father may contribute being a partner in a relationship but it does not define it. I love seeing hubby being a dad. It gives me great joy when I see hubby plays with Asher or teaching him a skill that I did not even think of teaching. I love seeing how Asher looks up to his dad with those eyes that says “daddy is his hero”. It makes me warm and fuzzy. It fills me with love. Yet I also long for those days and luxuries when I have hubby’s undivided attention. Flowers and gifts. Notes in my lunch box and sweet words. Hubby too realises that he misses being the centre of my attention where I am more flexible in my scheduling, more spontaneous in checking out food places and perhaps less snappiness when I’m tired. He misses my messages on why I love him, and why I respect him. He cares for those evenings when we do not have to rushed to finish getting ready for the next day but just enjoy each other’s company. He would like our conversation to be round us and our dreams/goals- and not just be around what we need to do and need each other to do.

Being a parent is hard work. Being in a marriage and a parent = triple the hard work. The unspoken is that it takes a lot of effort to keep a family together. I certainly appreciate having this conversation to keep me in check, but in reflection of our day to day actions as a couple. IMG_2867 (640x427)

This is one of hubby’s favourite breakfast in summer. The sweetness and creaminess of mango means the bread does not need any other sweeter. Asher for some reason does not like mangos. I think it is the texture (I’m sure he will come around though). Sometimes I may not make something (in order to maximise amount of return for the energy output to make it) because Asher doesn’t eat it as much- but this time, it is for hubby because he likes it. 

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Overdue recipe- Christmas Dark Chocolate Panforte Slice + Dads’ struggles

IMG_2860 (640x427)hello MARCH! Are you sure we are fast approaching and finishing quarter of the year? I absolutely cannot wait to just have a few weeks off. 

I’m not sure what’s going on but January and February seems full on. Clearly our bodies are exhausted. We are starting to have minor colds- which we don’t usually have. We get cranky at each other and we forget things. 

I read somewhere that mums have to learn how to look after themselves- because at the end of the year, if we fall into a heap, EVERYTHING falls into a heap. IMG_2855 (640x427)

So true.

As I read that article though, I feel a tinge of unfairness for dads. Yes, we mums have to look out for each other and for ourselves. We also have it harder on many different levels. Sacrificing income, career advancement, adult conversation, sleep, hobbies, fitness, our bodies,… I remember someone asked me before “so what do you do at mothers group? drink tea?”. I nearly fell off my chair with the audacity of that statement. I thought and still tell my friends that even if we do that, we have earned it. IMG_2862 (640x427)

It is however unfair for dads too. I reflected on some things that fathers may struggle with

  • For some jobs, being a male means it is harder to ask for part time hours (despite policies). Kinda like a bro code where it is unspoken but cannot be broken
  • Awkwardness in parents room sometimes when there are just chairs for breastfeeding mums., and they walk straight in. Almost like they have to learn how to just look straight ahead and see that as no difference to a mum breastfeeding in public/ restaurants.
  • Public restrooms when they are by themselves, and no parents room in sight with a child the opposite sex. 
  • Taking time off to care for children. Hubby’s work place is great but he said there are some work places where it is still expected for mums to take time off when child is sick and less so for dad
  • Dads needing to look after their own mental health or health too. There are dads who golf and go out for drinks, but there are also dads who are exhausted from working and helping out at home. 
  • Bringing out memories of how they were parented and how different they are trying to be. 

The list might be short but I think at times I fall into the trap of forgetting it is tough being a dad too. Panforte

Today’s recipe is quite late but I thought I might document this anyway. I call it a Christmas Panforte slice. I wasn’t planning on writing it up as I did it on a whim last Christmas. It was such a hit and I received lovely comments that I thought I should write it down here for anyone who wants the recipe. We do not often have dried fruits in the house but it was Christmas afteralll. I love the combination of fruits, nuts and spices.It does not require baking- and come to think of it, makes a nice gift any time of the year! And no, it has absolute no relevance to the above post except that when I’m a little tired, it shows how all over the place my thoughts are!IMG_2852 (640x427)

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Blueberry Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies (Gluten Free)

Blueberry chocolate browniesI am often surprised how my taste buds have changed over the years. Occasionally, perhaps I must have come across as a food snob. If I have, I really don’t mean too! I feel like I have gone from a easy going eater, to someone with a list of “not to have” whenever friends ask if there is something they could provide that we would eat. You see, in our day to day life, we truly live by looking at what we eat than what we do not eat. 

What we eat? It’s as simple as real food. I keep our fridge and freezer stock with lovely WA produce as much as we can. 

What we try to avoid? Anything from a package. IMG_2772 (640x427)

Sometimes we get the giggle and laughs that we are “too healthy”. 

I often say that we make choices base on our journeys in life. Perhaps you are some one who can tolerate more sugar and salt than we can. Perhaps you know someone who have battled cancer and is embracing the low tox life style. Whatever it is, as long as you are conscious about it- then that’s ok! IMG_2773 (427x640)

We do however, have friends who share similar food preferences. And also friends who lovingly read up, research and attempt to make things for us that are low tox, and high in nutrients. Aren’t these friends great? I received gorgeous chocolate cakes, bliss balls, brittles and even savoury items. 

When it was my turn to gift. I thought I would like to make a special friend some brownies. I still wouldn’t call them my perfect brownies but they are pretty yummy. Served cold from the fridge. 

 

To my friends who celebrate Chinese New Year! Happy CNY 2016! IMG_2771 (640x427)

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Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon Crunch (Nut Free, Paleo, Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

IMG_2781 (640x427)Sometimes, only a muffin could do the trick. Muffins are great for many occasions. 

  1. Breakfasts
  2. Snack time- morning or afternoon
  3. Sneaking vegetables in
  4. Portable
  5. Quick and easy to make 

And those are just 5 reasons that I can think of. IMG_2778 (640x427)

Truth is, I’m very lucky. My son eats vegetables. Yep. I know. It’s God-sent. I know of many fussy kiddies and am just secretly glad that my son eats them. I see my girlfriends struggle and attempt so many different ways to get their children to have vegetables and fruits, and I really do feel their pain. IMG_2780 (640x427)

So why do I still include vegetables in muffins? I guess I believe that it is the most easy and natural way to bind ingredients with the natural goodness of starchy vegetables. Pumpkin is so versatile. I tend to have some stash away in the freezer. These muffins didn’t take me long to whip up at all, and I didn’t need to put in any sweetener the mixture, though I did add a touch of honey to the crunch topping. 

Another one for me to remember when Asher starts school! 

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