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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My family.

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

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

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

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

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

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Wild Orange and Peppermint Raw Chocolate (Raw) + Essential Oils Uses

IMG_3068 (640x427)My first encounter with essential oils was in high school. My mother introduced it to me. She would use an oil burner and use lavender, creating a calm home environment especially when I was studying for exams. At university days, I would be burning the mid night oil (haha! pun intended) with the soft glow of a tea light burner, with the oils burning in a bath of water. 

We have all been there with different smells invoking different emotions. Lavender invokes feelings of calmness and relaxation. I love the smell of geranium and bergamot too. IMG_3072 (640x427)

Fast forward to Dec 2015 when I decided to take the plunge in learning more about the home uses of essential oils. Over the past few months, I have discovered soooo many ways of using them that I think I got my money’s worth. As an introduction, I found out that

  1. Essential oils is best used in a diffuser. That retains the benefits of the oil as it is diffuse using the coldness of water rather than heat. 
  2. When diffusing at night, it helped Asher to sleep through (More often than none) during some tricky times such as a cold or when he is coming down with some form of sickness. I did not know essential oils can help fight off sickness naturally.
  3. We can make up roller blends suitable for little kids for different reasons. E.g. immune support. We definitely use those on day care days!
  4. We can make up spray bottles to help with bruises, insect bites..etc. So HANDY for kids. I even have a purse version
  5. Concentration and focus for us. Diffusing or a spray bottle for it
  6. Supporting different health issues such as headaches, sinus, pains, and hormonal balances 
  7. Cleaning! 
  8. and then we have food 

I have never thought that essential oils can be added to food. It sort of make sense doesn’t it when we have chocolate scented with pure essential oils. The easiest example that come to mind is the use of peppermint essence in our cooking when we could be using pure peppermint oil instead.IMG_3074 (640x427)

 Armed with my cool little collection of essential oils, I decided to add wild orange to a batch of chocolate. I love to store a batch of raw chocolate in my freezer. It takes up a few minutes to make them up, but they are so yummy. I would often sneak a small chocolate bark post lunch for that sweet finish. 

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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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Peppermint Slice (Raw, Paleo, Gluten Free) + My little 15 minutes break

Peppermint SliceOne of my 2016 goals is to learn more about essential oils. So much so that I splurge and bought a kit together with a diffuser. Since I was a teenager, I have always used some form of essential oils. I love that how smell influence our feelings, and mood. I like the kind of warmness it brings to a room. While I am aware of the positive health benefits, I have not really investigate or study them. This year is the year. #self development 

So with some peppermint essential oil on hand, I decided to experiment and use 1-2 drops in my peppermint slice rather than essence. My theory is that having real oils is probably more potent if not better than a possible artificially made essence? The result though was a yummy slice that is not over powering. While I’m not usually a peppermint person, I do find that less is more, before it crosses over the line from being refreshing to over powering. IMG_2835 (640x427)

One of my current things to do is to make a raw treat every few weeks and pop them in the freezer. On weeks that I’m extremely busy or when I just need a little treat at the end of the day, that is available. It is so much easier to pack this for Hubby’s snack box too- it usually thaw out a little by mid morning. 

I’m learning how to allocate an afternoon a week when Asher naps to just sit and read. I’m still not overly great at this as I gravitate towards my work laptop or general packing things away. Friday afternoons though, I do find that I need to give my brain a little rest from multi tasking. My thing is to sit down with some form of reading material, berries and a cup of tea on hand. Perhaps sometimes with a mini treat like this slice. With the age of technology and multi tasking, that is a treat. Quietness and stillness. It may sound too simple but simplicity is what we need at times. IMG_2830 (427x640)

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Berry Coconut Popsicles (Paleo, Clean Eating, Gluten Free, Dairy Free) + Toddler’s Conversations 1

Coconut Berries PopsiclesToddler’s conversations. 

Looking at the mirror…

Asher: “My name is Asher.”

Asher: Pointing to me. “Your name is Asher’s mummy” 

Me: “I have a name too! My name is Daphne.”

Asher: “No. Your name is Asher’s mummy.” 

Post dinner.

Me: “Would you like to try some jelly?” 

Asher: “Yes please!”

(after tasting it) Asher: “Nice. Well done mummy” 

Me: “Oh good. You like it? I need to make more then since the rest is for a party.”

Asher: “Good idea” 

Playing

Asher:”Car is thirsty.”

Goes to his play kitchen, found his kettle and pour into a tea cup. Proceeded to go to the front of the car with feeding motion.

Me:” What is the car drinking?”

Asher: “tea”

Me: “but car uses petrol for fuel and power.”

Asher: “ok. I feed car water” 

In the car

Hubby: “Ok Asher, we are heading out for lunch. You can have a cino later for a treat.”

Asher: “No daddy. it’s BABY CINO” 

Hubby: “Ok, baby cino.”

Me: “mmm.. can I have a baby cino too?”

Asher: “No. Mummy drink tea.”

Me: “Sweetheart, mummy wants a coffee.”

Asher: “No. Mummy drink tea.” 

Singing

Us: “Wheels on the bus go round and round..round and round…

Me: “All day long” 

Asher (Holding my face and shaking his head) : “it’s all through the town mummy! ”

Packing his toys

Talking to himself :”Pack away pack away. Don’t lose it” 

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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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Salted Caramel Coffee Slice with Chocolate Swirls (Paleo, Gluten Free and Dairy Free) + 16 years in Australia

I arrived in Australia in 2000. 2 huge luggage cases full of stationery* and “must haves”. My mother and grandmother came with me. As an interim place to stay, I was housed in St Thomas along UWA. I was a teenager. Fresh out of secondary school. I was excited and fearless.IMG_2754 (640x427)

I moved into a little shared housing. For the first time in my life, I learned how to cook, do my laundry and clean the house. My mother checked in with me but together with my grandmother, they left following a week and a half in Perth. They decided that it was time that their little girl grow up and just learn how to be independent. 

I have never been away from them before. Till this day, I still remember how sad my grandmother’s eyes looked but how she smiled courageously. Over the years, I had the privilege of her visiting for long periods of time through my University life. Those memories are precious. Coffee Caramel Slice

There is much to write on. I was home sick. I wrecked up $300 bills worth of calls to friends and text messages to my family. In those days, we even had “icq” to connect with friends. My best girl friends would save money and call me. I would purchase “calling cards” and use public phones. I survived on packaged pasta sachets, and would drenched every thing with oyster sauce. Indo mee was a staple. With an fried egg of course. IMG_2757 (640x427)

The better memories. Road trips. Late night suppers. Chats with friends. The rush to get my thesis(es) done-till the point I was sleeping surrounded by papers and books. The eerie corridor of the university labs at 1am. Learning new “words” in the aussie slang. Enjoying pub food and wineries. Embracing different cultures. Loving cafes and coffees. 

Then, with a blink of an eye… I’m in Australia for longer than I was in Singapore. IMG_2761 (640x427)

This year, marked the start of the 17th year. Fleetingly, the thought came in my head a few times about this. After all, I consider myself a Singaporean and still holds a Singapore passport. Yet, I also identify myself with Australia. This is my home now. I have a son who is Australian. A husband who will soon hold an Australian passport. We love our life here. 

It’s a start of more to come. 

What is best to celebrate with a slice. A relatively creamy slice with the almond butter, coconut milk and tahini. It’s pretty addictive. I find it hard to stop at one! IMG_2759 (640x427)

*I still have left over stationery!

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