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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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 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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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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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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Pumpkin Pancakes (Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean eating) + Update on views of fitness and food

Pumpkin PancakesIt’s nearly the end of the year. I thought I would like to update myself (and if you are reading) about my thoughts on fitness, food and body image. I have written about scales talkfood judgement, and also my fitness routine. Things have changed since Feb 2015! 

There are many reasons. One is that I truly believe fitness is a journey. It does sound cliche, but the more I work out, the more I’m realising other reasons to do so. Yes, it started off as aesthetics, then it was the fear of returning to where I was. Gradually it became a competition with myself on how far I can push my body. Now, I’m at a space where I work out to feel good, be healthy, have energy, be strong and have fun. Do I want to pump out more pull ups? Oh you bet I do! Do I want to run faster, yep or tackle heavier weights? it’s there.

I have also learned though, that it is ok to take breaks. I used to feel SO bad about missing a session. Now, if I missed one, over the weekdays, I might choose to let it go, do something on my usual rest day, or turn on a HITT session. A good stretch or remedial massage is a fitness session too. 

Another big change is that my really really awesome gym closed in July 2015. I.grieved.big.time. Thankfully, the people that I work out together felt the same way and so we decided to do something about our grief and channelled it into our own workout sessions. We even have a name! I just have to remember it. 

I have a workout buddy now too. We decided that we want to continue the momentum and practice kettle bells. We bought some equipment and transformed one of my living areas into a home gym. 

My current work out routine

Monday- Metcon

Tuesday- Weights/Kbs

Wednesday- Boxing

Thursday- HITT or KBs

Friday- Rest day

Saturday- boxing

Sunday- Rest day 

Active rest days are the best. I walk, swim, run around, dance with Asher or do a BIG stretch. 

The biggest change of course is probably my mindset. 

I tracked food in June after discovering a couple of my pants became a little too tight (aka bursting) for my liking. I turned a notch down in snacking and returned to just sensible 3 meals with a snack before workout. I practiced being kind to myself and slip a coffee when I need or feel like one instead of berating myself for too much caffeine. I savoured dark chocolate and ate my berries. I continued to do what I used to do- which is to ask myself is the food item for pleasure or nourishment or both. Enjoying my food rather than freaking out.

I stopped weighing myself. 

Surprise surprise. My pants fit, I’m feeling better and I actually conquered turkish get ups. Plus hit a few PB with lifting weights. 

So what’s next?

  • Install a pull up bar
  • Continue to practice sensible eating. 
  • Continue with weights and hopefully able to deadlight heavier 
  • Be kind to self

Speaking of kindness, we are not in the US and I am more than aware that pumpkin season is sort of over. Here in my household though, it feels like pumpkin season is weekly. Asher is into pancakes and here is my attempt to include in a good dose of antioxidants and beta-carotene  in him. A dollop of coconut yogurt or yogurt completes it. Or if you are Asher, plain is the best way. 

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Salted Caramel “Cheesecake + Scales Talk (Paleo, Gluten Free, Raw)

IMG_1466 (640x427)When I started my post baby weight lost journey, it was a clear goal. Lose the weight and stay strong. Fast forward 20 months later, I have more than lost my baby weight and is stronger than before. Has it been easy? Nope. Did it bring up some demons? Yes. 

I spoke about my struggle with the scales. Since Dec 2014, I have not stepped on it. Working on my strength gives me a separate focus and I try not to dwell too much on it. It’s a mind game that I’m conscious about. 

What are some of the reasons why I choose not to step on the scales?IMG_1472 (640x427)

– My body fat is not real low, but low enough for me to be ok with it at the moment. Given that I had (I’m hoping it is a thing in a past although it is more management than anything) PCOS, it is not ideal for me to go too low as it may create havoc to the balance of other hormones. If we ever do have another baby, some body fat will be beneficial to support a pregnancy. 

– I have lost more than enough weight. I’m in a privilege position where I am healthy and definitely not overweight. 

– I am mindful that it may become an obsession. 

– I do not want a number to rule how I feel. Not being on the scales makes me more intune with how my body is going rather than relying my judgement on a number. 

–  I do not want my son to grow up thinking that his mummy is self conscious and focus on a scale. As a Christian, I am mindful that I certainly do not want to worship any other idols including my own body- and I do not want my son to see that. 

– My goals have changed. It’s about functional performance. Some things are harder to measure through scales. I will not find what I’m after by chasing a number. Sure my muscle mass may increase or body fat may go a little higher or lower as a result of my consistent hard work at the gym. It is what I DO daily that matters and may influence the numbers- not the other way round.IMG_1486 (640x427)

So the results of my 3 months experiment? 

I’m not perfect and there are times I’m tempted to stand on scales to see how I’m progressing. Then I stopped and distract myself by hopping straight into the shower instead. In terms of strength, I’m pleased to report I’m doing full push ups more often than none, thrusting at least a 16 kg bar, and deadlifting close to 60kg (above my body weight woohoo!) in multiple reps. In Metcon, we do a mix of multiple reps (like 20x) and single heavy reps. In endurance tasks, I’m rowing quicker and running faster. I’m finishing my drills faster now which is usually a sign of increase in endurance and strength. I’m not quite there yet and hope to be more efficient and proficient drills-although the best compliment someone gave me the other day was that I’m probably close to beating his numbers. Boxing remains a joy and I’m throwing heavier punches. 

There are always things to improve on but right now, these are the changes that I can see. At the end of the day, it’s progress I’m after. Stepping on the scales does not give me that. It will be battle from time to time, but right now.. I get to celebrate. Just celebrate the little wins I have. 

I made this cake for hubby’s birthday celebration. It was so yummy that I was jumping in the kitchen. I still have some slices left in the freezer which if you excuse me, I might just have a few bites…IMG_1488 (640x427)

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Oh Hello There…

Hip Hip Hooray! We are LIVE!

After posting in More Than Words for 10 years, I have decided that it is time for a change. Not just a template change but I’m plunging into getting the world of owning an URL and to a hosting platform. Woah! I’m wearing big girl pants now. Don’t worry though. Most of the links have been transported here but More Than Words will still be alive. I won’t delate 10 years of my work!

There are a few reasons for having a new website. The main one is that over the past few years, especially in the last year, my focus on food has slowly shifted. From the olden days of having big weekly processed food meals, using ingredients such as flour and wheat, I have moved to a more clean eating lifestyle. I’m feeling fresher, healthier and more importantly, happier within myself. I’m also shifting away from having a URL with duckquacking in it. Yes, it was fun but I think, just like how we need to update our clothes from time to time, the name change is a reflection of my growth as a person. This blog will have a focus on health and nutrition, but also on our family life. For some who know me personally, the name of this space may not be of a surprise to you. Words can indeed nourish or perish a person. I hope to be the former.

I’m choosing 24th of July 2014 as the day to move because…. it’s also Asher’s birthday! My baby boy…. is now a toddler. A year ago today, he was born.

It’s an emotional day for me because memories of his birth is still so fresh to me. For the past 1 year, I have witnessed a new life coming to this world and taking the time to nurture him. Being a mother has changed my perspective of the world. Many things that were important to me are off the table now. My priorities have shifted. I will come back here and write a post on my feelings and thoughts, but right now, please..enjoy this site and let me know what you think.

If you are wondering what we will be doing today? Check out my Instagram and Facebook pages. 😉  Asher will have a taste of cake and heaps of family time and cuddles.

As for us? His Birthday is a reminder of God’s Grace and Generosity but also how we survived the first year of parenthood together. Now that deserve a good long macchiato topped up coffee and cake don’t you think?

Happy New Year!

The year 2010- another year full of memories and life lessons. I thought a good way to sum up the year is to have a look at the all those beautiful moments and capture them in a post.

Highlights:

  • Started the New Year in Paris (plus Pierre Hermes’ macarons)!

  • We survived one year of marriage!! Woohoo!
  • Attended and be part of the bridal party for my closest friends. 
  • Emcee for the first time at a dinner banquet for my best friend. 
  • We bought sand land and will be building our home in 2011.
  •  We had the BEST road trip from Adelaide to Melbourne.
  •  Headed to Sydney and tried Guylian Chocolate Cafe and saw the Blue Mountains. (although my tummy felt really ill after the chocolate, the pain was worth it!)

  •  And officially on 30th of Dec 2010, achieved a milestone in my career. A goal that I have been aiming for since year 2000 when I arrived in Australia. 

And my cooking and baking highlights? 


Goals for 2011:

  • To continue to make changes and improve the appearance and accessibility to content of this blog.
  • Try making curry!! (from scratch!!!)
  • Ice-cream making perhaps. 
  • Continue my quest to find the best chocolate chip cookie recipe. 
  • To create more beautiful memories with my family and friends.
  • Accelerating to our dreams. 
  • To live more, laugh louder and breathe deeper when challenges cross our paths. 
  • Looking forward to the building process of our new home. 
  • To be even more respectful and loving towards my hubby. 
  • A closer journey with God. 
Wherever you are, here is wishing you a FANTASTIC NEW YEAR.  May each step you take in the New Year bring you closer to your dreams.

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Country Women’s Association Cookbook- Seafood Cornflake Bake

 My colleagues and I-we are obsessed about food. There is something about food that brings different cultures together. It is also a stress-relief. It is a talking point of what to bring for our weekly morning tea (to sweeten our long meetings and calm our hungry tummies), or to discuss where can we find good value and fresh sushi (I can have it for lunch and dinner every day I think). Strangely, most of us are not even born in Australia.

I noticed a Country Women’s Association Cookbook lying around and asked my colleague what is this about? She replied that Country Women in Australia often needs to be creative in their cooking- given the time and lack of resources sometimes. Not to mention, good value for money. I like the sound of it already. I quickly flipped the pages and this recipe caught my attention-really, it’s the cornflake crust. I don’t have the “proper” recipe and chose to recreate it from memory. I think it is even called something else! But I can assure you that it features tuna in it and cornflakes. Doesn’t that combination sounds yucky?I can assure you that it turned out delicious!

Having a better understanding of the Country Women’s Association, I appreciate their recipes even more. For the past few weeks, I have been struggling with meals and time. You may have probably even read what I mentioned before- cooking a few meals in one setting to make sure we have something warm and fairly nutritious when I return home late at night. It’s starting to show and I even went through a period of time where I actually thought I lost my mojo in cooking and baking! Horror of all horrors!

I started to re-create some earlier recipes that I have blogged prior and reminded myself to be kind… to myself. That was why I started the blog, to show that meals can be quick and most of the time, healthy and low in fat and calories. It is OK not to have home cooked meals every day. It is OK not to re create something new every few days.

It is ok to be kind to myself 😉

Seafood Cornflake Bake (Serves 4-6) 

2 cans of tuna in spring water
150 grams of prawns shelled (I happened to have some prawns in the fridge)

2 tablespoon of spread
1 tablespoon of flour
1 cup of soy milk (I might have put around 1.5 cups)
1/2 of low fat cheese
around half a cup of corn flakes crumbs (u can buy them in a box!)
2 cups of frozen veges (I used peas and corn)

Melt spread. Add flour and cook till golden. Add milk and whisk till it thickens. Add cheese. Season. Add tuna, prawns and frozen veges. Spoon into a casserole dish. Top with corn flake crumbs. You can spray it with some oil to make it more crispy. Bake in a pre heated 200 C oven for 25 mins.