Asher turned 3! A gluten free, healthy and mostly paleo party.

Oh hello there! Welcome back to my little space. I haven’t been far. Just pre-occupied with a few things. This time however, I’m back to document Asher’s 3rd Birthday Celebrations. 

birthday set up

This year, I have been sucked in the whole concept of birthday parties. Asher, having his love for wheels suggested one day he likes a fire engine theme party (what would a 2ish year old know right?!). Anyway, having hear his sales pitch of his list of guests and his love for fire engines, I was sucked right in (didn’t take much) and went researching how do I give a fire engine theme party.

I did take the easy way out, and managed to come across a 1960s vintage fire engine that is being re vamped for kids parties. From there, it just seems certain that we are having a fire engine theme party. 

Our family continued to lived with our philosophy of eating- as healthy and as real as it can be. From that, food planning was easy. An afternoon spread of: 

 

birthday cake

Asher’s Strawberry and Chocolate Birthday Cake with Ganache and Coconut Caramel. 

I’m not sure what I was thinking and used coconut/tapiaco- not an usual blend for a big party. It turned out “okish” but certainly not my best bakes so far. 

fruit kebabs

Fruit Kebabs that appeared to be gone in an instant… 

fruit jellyFruit Jelly- Made of grass fed gelatine, coconut water, strawberries and kiwi. I buy my gelatine from here. I’m really happy with this jelly and made it quite a few times for parties/pot lucks or just because. 

miso butter

Miso Butter Chicken- Something warm for winter

smoked salmon loaf

my all time favourite! Smoked Salmon Mediterranean Loaf. Adapted from this recipe here

vege and dipsDips and Veges- Featuring my Cashew “Cream Cheese” and Chives Dip. LOVING nutritional yeast. Who would have thought blender cashews and nutritional yeast and chives would give such lovely protein hit of a dip? A lovely friend brought a gorgeous garlic and herb dip. 

cheese platterCheese and Nuts

sushiSushi

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Sweet Potato Chips 

That’s pretty much it! We went against the usual norms I guess but it is food that we would generally have + a few treats (like sushi, cheese, sweet potato chips..). 

asher birthday 3rd

I love how much fun our little man enjoyed himself!

13686596_10153740997488091_5151506763638500218_nI wish we have a photo of him running away when the tap was being turned on! Still, he enjoyed every minute and thought it was very special.

asher 3 flowers

From a blink of any eye, my little baby is turning into a little boy (Big boy he would correct me). His cheekiness, laughs and that twinkle in his eyes. His sense of humour, affectionate ways, cautious, empathic, yet curious amazes me. Not to mention how creative he is starting to become, stacking things, role playing and building… I cannot imagine what he would be like when he is 4, but the beauty of parenthood means I get to enjoy him. The way he is. Right now. 

 

 

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: ……

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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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Double Chocolate Almost Raw Brownie (Raw, Paleo, Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Double chocolate brownieSome stress is un-necessary. Some stress is unpreventable. On most things, I like to think that I am in control of how I feel and think. As life goes on, it is clear that we cannot control other people’s behaviours and that could cause a direct stress or consequence to us- be it of no fault except I had a child and I want to return to work part time. IMG_2705 (640x427)

I can either walk away or stay to be firm. I chose to be firm. Over the past year of juggling between private and government work, I have learned to trust in myself just a tad more. Perhaps age got to do with it as well. Loyalty has nothing to do with it. Facts, remaining calm and staying present focus helps- there isn’t any point bringing up narratives or content. It is what it is. IMG_2704 (640x427)

It isn’t pleasant and I count myself blessed that I have a supportive network + a union that helps.  In a govern setting, this is probably more of an apparent issue than in a private setting where I may not even have a battle. I’m also conscious that this is a wider systemic issue and I just happen to be in the perfect storm. I’m not sure of the outcome, I just know that I’m not giving up. It makes me mad that in this time and day, we have to go through issues like this when it can be easily prevented if protocols and processes are followed. 

On some days, only chocolate would do. 

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We have arrived in 2016! Happy New Year!

Did you have a relaxing Christmas and New Year break? We worked through but certainly enjoyed the public holidays. We had a pretty chilled Christmas with us attending an awesome lunch with extended family members. On Boxing day, we hosted a lunch for some close friends. IMG_9237

Lunch with family- what a feast!!!

 

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We hosted lunch at our place on Boxing day! Friends brought over delicious food. Another round of feast- Healthy food with Prawn and avocado salad, broccoli and goats cheese salad, my christmas cookie tree, ham, japanese potato salad and turkey.

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Asher is now 2 years 5 months. He is growing to be a sociable child who loves a good laughs, anything with wheels and books. He is enjoying the outdoors and pretend play. His language is growing and he is actually negotiating (Insert horror face!). 

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Early in the year, we said that we want to chill more and really go back to basics. I felt that it was just yesterday that I wrote that resolution. I wanted to build upon existing relationships. I wanted to learn how to not sweat the small stuff, and also, have a bigger respect for functionality of the body- learning and re establishing my relationship with myself, food and fitness. 

 

  • Continue to provide my family with clean and healthy meals. I would like to make more chinese style broths and get back to my roots with more Chinese clean cooking. – We have chinese broth style soups weekly now! I’m learning more and more each month using different herbs and vegetables to make broths. 
  • See beyond the number at the scale. Getting stronger. Doing more drills with full pushups, using heavier weights for thrusters, deadlifts, turkish get ups and squats. I mastered the turkish get up! Definitely doing more full push ups, deadlifting heavier and even managed to do a 150kg leg press. 
  • As a wife, be kinder. I would be the first to admit that I have not been kind throughout the year. It’s something that I struggle with constantly. More on this in another post. 
  • Talk and communicate with my parents more. Weekly a couple of times! 
  • As a mother, to be patient and stay in the moment. Asher is growing too quick. I think I have a few testing parenting moments in 2015….
  • Maintain a gratitude journal.Ok, not doing a good job there. I did maintain one but did not do it consistently or daily. Will aim for 3 times a week rather than daily. 
  • Pray more. I don’t think I do enough of praying and reflection.  I’m praying more and especially with Asher. Never enough.
  • Schedule in rests. Ok, still pretty bad at this. I’m “resting” now. I rest by reading, cooking and doing housework! I guess this is another post by itself on what rest is. 
  • Connecting with friends. Regular meet ups with my mummy girlfriends. Maintaing contact with my close friends through whatsapp, phone conversations and any channels we can think of. Being a better gift giver. Happy with this goal! I can do better with a few friends. I have learned to maintain a few really close friendships but also be realistic on what can be achieved. 
  • Bringing this website to a wider audience ok, not so. Thank you for reading my little space if you are. I have not done any big changes or have a quest to reach a wider audience. I guess I have resigned to the fact that I cannot “not sweat the small stuff”, work on my marriage, relationship on myself AND market a small blog. I’m not even sure if that is a priority anymore! 

 

In 2016, I like to focus on my marriage a lot more. Being more mindful of how our marriage is going, spending time connecting with each other in addition to work and Asher. Saying no and not over scheduling! 

So where to in 2016

  1. Schedule in devotional time daily. Even if it is 5 minutes. 
  2. Learn how to play again. Be mindful and targeted when playing with Asher. 
  3. Utilising more fruits in my baking and snacks with naturally occurring sugar and try not to add any other sweeteners to it. 
  4. In our marriage, start prioritising and setting aside dates regularly. 
  5. Maintain a gratitude diary 3x a week. 
  6. Continue to grow stronger. Working out with heavier weights and focusing on strength
  7. It is ok to do things for myself. 
  8. Start a new hobby- I’m looking at learning about essential oils. 

A new year = new beginnings. Let’s begin!

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A Simple Orange Coconut Cake with Cream Cheese Yogurt Frosting (Not quite paleo, gluten free) + Christmas and Feasting

Simple orange coconut cakeIt’s beginning to look a lot like christmas…

I’m a huge fan of christmas. The decorations come up, the songs are playing and presents wrapped. It is a time to remind ourselves of the love that God has sent us.IMG_2660 (640x427)

It is also when people seem to think we can “let it go” and “indulge”. Instead of an “all or nothing” thinking, I prefer to think of it like any other day or time of the week. We decide consciously if we are going to eat it. Sometimes we may take a bite and decide against it (I’m the girl who takes the smallest slice/taste, nibble on it and then go have a bigger helping if I like it). If I have a glass of wine, I’m going to enjoy the glass. I choose to say no when I want to say no. If I say yes, I choose to enjoy it.IMG_2671 (640x427)

I view the same way with birthdays or any other special occasions. I know that the slice of cake will not cause me to gain 5 kg. Maybe christmas means we are expose to more of these treats. I think it is perfectly ok to have them. It is not about using it as an excuse to go crazy. 

There are many articles about feasting and “eating healthy” at Christmas. The formula I believe can be simple. More veggies, more salad, some protein and enjoy the treats- but acknowledge they are treats. Move and enjoy moving. 

I made this cake for my birthday back in October. I love oranges and I wanted to share cake with my dearest workout mates. It is really simple but it hit a spot in me. Perhaps it was my birthday, or that it is a layered cake. This year, I learned that celebrations are best with people I enjoy around me. IMG_2675 (640x427)

Cake can be nutrients dense with the right ingredients. Then, we can enjoy every bite and every slice with pleasure. This Christmas, I’m going to practice being kind, being less critical and really just treat food the way it is suppose to be treated. Food. Nourishing. Enjoyment. 

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Salted Caramel with Nut Praline Slice (Gluten Free, Paleo, Clean eating, Raw) + Work mates

Salted caramel Praline sliceIn the kitchen of where I work has a poster near the doorway. It states what the team values. 

“someone who can bake”

I love it when the team has got its priorities right. IMG_2647 (640x427)

When it became my turn to provide morning tea though, my mind races. What can I bring that could potentially be a crowd pleaser, something perhaps a little different but also refined sugar free? IMG_2649 (640x427)

I was anxious. This is a team that is used to having gorgeous home made cakes made with traditional flour and sugar. Each time, I felt tongue tied when I explain why I’m not a fan of gluten, sugar or anything refined. I was conscious it could make me stick out like a sore thumb but still wanting to stand my ground of our food philosophy.

This slice was inspired by the Merrymaker sisters’ snickers cake. My biggest take away from their recipe was the gorgeous nut praline. Starting from there, I created my layers and made it to suit my taste. 

It was gone by the end of the day and that was all the confirmation I needed. 

If you are looking for a cool christmas treat to bring or make, this would be a lovely one to try!IMG_2652 (640x427)

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Strawberry Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting (Paleo, Clean Eating, Gluten Free)

IMG_2506 (640x427)There is something classic about a chocolate cake. It is timeless. It never aged. Best of all, it always bring out that little comfort when things are a little tough. 

There are some requirements when it comes to a good chocolate cake though. For me, they have to be

  • Super dark. I like my chocolate a touch bitter. 
  • Moist. Bitter doesn’t mean it has to be dry. 
  • Moorish. I want to have a another bite after the first one. 
  • It has to make me feel like a princess. IMG_2497 (640x427)

You know me and my love for strawberries. They are paired perfectly with chocolate. I love how the strawberries gives it the sweetness this cakes need. Yet not so sweet that it takes the chocolate out. I have been using coconut flour quite bit, and is happy to have this be more “cake like”. What I love though, is the “salted caramel” It is made out of coconut sugar and coconut milk and it is very addictive. I can’t help by finish licking the spoon and pot by the end of it! IMG_2494 (640x427)

I made these mini cakes for my coach and workout buddy’s birthday. A special treat for two very special people. Strawberry Chocolate Cake with Caramel Frosting

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Raw Mocha Brownies (Gluten Free, Raw) + Friendships

My quest for brownies cIMG_2095 (640x427)ontinue. This time round, I was inspired when I stopped by at our local cafe and they had a raw brownie on their shelves. It featured walnuts and my brain started whirling. Upon reaching home and having Asher in bed for a nap, I placed some ingredients in a food processor and ta dah, a raw brownie was formed. 

I’m starting to read and look into raw foods. I like the idea of raw desserts. Beside it being nutrition dense, it is usually simple and require a lot less equipment than traditional baked goods. The only down side is that I noted a lot of recipes used copious amount of dates which can quickly add up in sugar content. Dates might be good for you but too much is not necessary a good thing either. 

IMG_2089 (640x427)Many times, I treasure friendships around us. To me, friendship is a choice. You make that commitment and decision to have a relationship with another person that is not your family or your partner. You laugh through good times and share through bad times. Ever since Asher arrived, I have been very blessed with a few close girl friends who share parenthood journey as well. Open conversations about everything, sharing our worries and concerns without worrying about judgement because let’s face it, it can be pretty judgemental out there!

With these girls, I am able to open my heart (and they to me too hopefully). Allow myself to vent and to gain perspectives. There are times when I could be in a tunnel and not see why things could be occurring. They were able to embrace me- and my quirky ways when it comes to food, fitness and lifestyle choices. 

A mug of coffee, a kind word and some raw chocolate brownies. That’s the way we roll as friends. IMG_2093 (640x427)

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Lemon and Passionfruit Slice (Raw, Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating, Dairy Free)

IMG_2174 (640x427)When we decided to build our home, I was more interested in the indoors bit than the outdoors. Hubby who lived in Malaysia growing up saw that as my city influence-given that I have stayed in small apartments during most of my childhood. I’m not a big fan of gardening, though I love what the garden can produce. He on the other hand, loves greenery and insisted on having a backyard. 

I wasn’t keen at first. I said gardening would take up a lot of our time-something we tend to struggle with. I would much rather cook and bake than do weeding! He convinced me, painting a picture of a herb patch, citrus trees and even rose bushes for my grandmother. IMG_2179 (427x640)

It has been 2 years since we moved into this home. I have to give him credit that the garden is a winner when grandmother was alive. My side of the family helped with the planting of 3 fruit trees and enjoyed spending time in the alfresco area. My dad in particular didn’t even mind the weeding and helped hubby out with some reticulation problems. The herb garden was mostly a success with Asher helping us collecting some herbs for cooking. That is still one of my favourite bit of the garden. Asher loves watering it. The fact that he is learning more about food appeals to me too. Lemon and Passionfruit Slice

We have two rose bushes. One that we planted in memory when grandmother passed away. It sits directly opposite my kitchen sink where every day, I look at it and think of her. The other was given to us by a friend at her 1 year death anniversary for similar reasons. If only we managed to plant more when she was alive. 

The fruit trees? We harvested two mandarins and finally this year, LEMONS! That was really exciting. Fresh lemon juice for the morning and heaps of lemons in our cooking and baking. I wanted to squeeze the juice and freeze it but I was overzealous in our lemon creations and was left with … none. IMG_2181 (427x640)

I made this Lemon and Passionfruit Slice for our joint mother’s group birthday celebration. I figured out that more liquid and longer time in the food processor made this slice super creamy without the cream. A very refreshing raw dessert. 

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