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

[yumprint-recipe id=’148′] 

 

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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Creamy Coconut and Almond Porridge

IMG_3246 (640x427)The chilly wind is here. Do you crave for a warm breakfast these days? I know we do. This is one of my version of “oatmeal”. We hardly if ever have oats anymore. Generally over rated in nutrition value, I actually find ourselves become hungrier easily than eating a protein + fat rich breakfast. IMG_3244 (640x427)

Since I have been making our almond +cashew milk blend on a weekly basis, we have pulp left over. This is perfect for using left over pulp. IMG_3242 (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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Chocolate Teddies (Paleo, Gluten Free) + A day at home

IMG_3144 (640x427)I haven’t done one of these posts in a while now. Documenting what I did with Asher in a day. I wrote about child led play back in June 2015! These days are getting rarer because I always seem to be busy. Busy with what? I wonder at times. 

Monday

6:30am- I woke up. AMAZED that it is a sleep in!! 

6:30-7:30: WOAH! Time to myself. Wash up, ate breakfast in silence. Catch up on emails, reading. Start to prepare broth for dinner.

7:30- Asher is awake! He greeted me with his messy hair and sleepy eyes. “Where is daddy?” 

(Usually daddy greets him while I take the night routine).

7:30-8:30am: Brush his teeth, change his clothes, feed him breakfast (Apple pie he wanted. I made some a few days before and I’m saying yes to that because I made it just a few days ago), vacuum, mopped… Asher joined in with me, spraying my enjo mop, pushing the mop, putting away the cords of the vacuum. 

8:30-9:30: Mummy’s guilt. I had to work. Settled Asher back to his breakfast, attempted to turn on music rather than tv but nope.. didn’t work. Tv it was.

09:40-09:40: Call time with daddy.

10-10:30- work time for me again. Asher started to play by himself. He checked in with me a few times. Started flipping and playing with newspapers near me. 

10:30-11:30: I got off work. Asher and I went outside. We turned on some music. We traced our feet and decorated it. We draw buses and ambulances. I’m impressed. Asher has started to draw! We worked on our letters. Today was letter A and B. We said A was for Asher, Ambulance, Apples and Ants. We went hunting for ants around the garden. Then we did B. B for buses (and that was where it stopped). We saw that a lemon was ripen, and we picked that. We smelt the lemon. Took it in. 

Then Asher wanted to make something.. so we made.. chocolate chip cookies! I followed this recipe again. He enjoyed whisking the egg up and mixing it all together. Best of all, he sneaked in a few of the sugar free chocolate in his mouth. While it bakes in the oven, I heated up our lunch

12- 12:30. Lunch time! He became distracted as the cookies were ready. Straight after lunch which was mushrooms, lamb roast and pumpkin…he ate 3 cookies… 

12:30-2pm: We clean up. Then as I decided to tidy up the study room a little, Asher took his trains and played there with me. I put things away, and he wanted to do some colouring. As I picked up a pen, he changed his mind and wanted stickers instead. Alright then! So we pasted stickers. Looking at different shapes and colours. 

He found his pair of safety scissors and we started practicing cutting. “open and close” He got the hang of it! We used a community news paper and started looking for transport vehicles. With my help, we cut 3 trains, 1 helicopters and 1 garbage truck out. He said we need to put it aside for daddy to see.

2-2:15pm: I started to wind him down. I said we can read but we need to pack up. So around the house we went. This time round, I was so proud of Asher. He “drove” all his vehicles back and “parked them”. I packed away his books. He allowed me to put his trains back to the play room. 

2:15-2:30pm: We read on the couch. Snuggled together under a rug. 

2:30pm: Nap time! Asher turned off the music. He caught a glimpse of chuggington on the tv as he pressed the wrong button. BUT! he allowed me to turn it off. He even commented that he turned it off. 

3pm: Ok, finally he napped.

4ish: Awake. Cuddles. Drink of water. Snuggles. Light afternoon snack while daddy comes home.

So there we go. Documenting this may not mean anything to anyone but myself, but this was one successful day where we truly enjoyed each other company. Yes, it is not perfect as I needed to work. Still, any time with my toddler…. is precious.IMG_3146 (640x427)

Speaking of which, here is the recipe for my chocolate teddies. I’m collecting cookie cutters these days. This one was in a shopping centre in Malaysia. It was $2 for 2 cutters. I used the smaller one for this one. IMG_3147 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’133′] 

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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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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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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Orange Pistachio Cake (Paleo, Gluten Free)

IMG_3029 (640x427)Have you ever wondered how quickly time just seem to go by these days. So quickly that you can’t seem to catch your breath? In my teens, I had a grand plan. I wanted to graduate and find a job in my 20s. I wanted to travel and hopefully if God willing have a partner. Then along came Asher- which was of course, what we always wanted. Then it’s a matter of ….

Now what? IMG_3032 (640x427)

We are quick to reflect on our blessings. Also quick to realise that they “now what” is a reflection of our tiredness earlier in the year where we felt swamped with different commitments. Suddenly it seems that life became like a revolving door-where we just seem to go round and round in circles.

The holiday helped. More importantly we decided to take charge and make a few changes. Perhaps start my simplifying our life further. Scheduling less and less. Making time as a couple. Later in the year, there would be some work changes which would hopefully help in keeping me focus and less scattered. Tough decisions. 

Today, all I have to share is this quick and easy orange pistachio cakes. I’m using my food processor more often than none for baking these days. Giving it a few whiz and batter done. So easy! Plus I can put it all in the dish washer.IMG_3028 (640x427)

We love this easy to do tea cake and hope you do too. 

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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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