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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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

13754134_10153740997178091_7595983491908787864_n

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. 

 

 

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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Zucchini and Sweet Potato Fritters + Toddler Talk P3

IMG_3218 (640x427)The luxury of breakfasts. What’s yours? We love our breakfasts in our household. Mine is usually boring- yogurt with my home made granola, or different variations of eggs + kimchi. For the guys in my household, it would be the same but with a variety of banana bread, buckwheat cracker with avocado and tomatoes, smoothie bowls and pancakes. On a Sunday, we may even have sausages, mushrooms, spinach and an egg. 

I get excited when it is a long weekend. A chance to take my time to cook up something different. You could grate the sweet potato, but I just mashed some up, mix it with zucchini and egg. Pan fry it and serve it with poached egg. We are very lucky to have some gorgeous fresh ricotta cheese- that totally lift the fritters up. 

Asher is nearly 3. With that comes language. His reasoning skills and bank of vocabulary have increased almost on a weekly basis. Here are some conversations we had recently IMG_3224 (640x427)

Toddler Talk P3 

Me: Sorry Asher. That’s enough milk. You can have water instead

Asher: “No! I want to cry instead.” 

 

Dinner table
Asher: “are you happy?”

Me (Feeling frustrated with repeated attempts to get him to sit at the table): “NO asher, I’m upset because you are not sitting at the table finishing your dinner.”

(After a few seconds)

Asher: “Mummy! You are pretty! (Big smiles)

“Are you happy now?”

Me (with raised eyebrows): “Thank you for the compliment. But you still need to sit at the table and eat.” 

Asher: “awwwwww” (cheeky smile on his face) 

 

Daddy:” Ok asher, we have to share watermelon with mamma”

Asher: “OK! I share a big piece”

Daddy: “Thats good sharing!”

Asher: “Give mamma the big skin of watermelon!” 

 

me: “Why did you wake last night?”

Asher: I wanted to see mummy”

Me: “But why? Was it a nightmare?”

Asher: “Because I like you mummy.” 

 

Dinner time

Me: “That’s enough crackling. The last one is for daddy.”

Asher: “Can daddy share with me?”

Me: “There is only 1 left. If you have that, daddy won’t have anymore.”

Asher: “Mummy cut it in half. Then Asher and Daddy can have!.” IMG_3228 (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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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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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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A Simple Nut Free Chocolate Chip (gluten free, paleo) + Toddler Talk P3

IMG_3104 (640x427)Asher: Pretty toes! (Pointing to my pedicure then proceeding to kiss my toes).

Asher: Looking at my plain finger nails. “Not pretty fingers mummy” (Shaking head)

__________

Asher: “Mummy is pretty.”

Me: “Thanks ash! What about daddy?” 

Asher: “Not pretty.”

Me: “oh? what is daddy then?”

Asher: “Daddy is beautiful!”

Me and hubby: “awww.ok. What about you?”

Asher: “I am a good boy.” 

_________

Tap fell off.

Asher: “Oh no! Mummy broke it!”

Me: “Oh, the tap was already loose. I didn’t break it. Maybe it wasn’t fix on properly.”

Asher: Who broke it?”

Me: “I don’t know Asher. I think it has been that way for a long time. Who do you think broke it?”

Asher: “Daddy” 

_____________

Hubby parallel parked the car.

Asher: “Good parking daddy” 

_______________

In the car as we drive out. 

Asher: “Time to go home. I want to sleep in my room on my train pillow.” 

___________

IMG_3098 (640x427)

Asher is really into his bickies and cookies recently. In my attempt to experiment to make some at home, I read and discover the use of gelatine. The result was better than what I thought. The gelatine, egg and coconut oil bind it together. I used a mixture of arrowroot and coconut flour so it is not only nut free, but it provided a more “cookie” like texture. A winner in my books as it is really simple to whip up! IMG_3103 (640x427)

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