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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News Flash! Hello Baby 2!

I have been quiet. 

For this reason. 

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We are happily and excitedly expecting our 2nd baby! 

 

Our history indicate that having 1 baby is a miracle. To be able to experience this another time, is truly a God’s gift. We prayed, we left it to God’s hands and surprisingly (or not so), it happened. 

 

I think back to my first trimester with Asher. Oh what joy, oh what fear and what agony. The knowledge that miscarriage is higher for us. The unforgiving morning sickness that left me hugging the toilet bowl. The visit to the doctor’s office which he told us it’s hospital or rest with monitoring at home. The non-stop-eating. The non-stop-puking. 

And then 3 years passed. Here we go again. 

The first trimester

Fortunately, I haven’t had much spewing. Just non stop nausea, fatigue, headaches,bloating and feeling “sick”. Still, I count my blessings that I continued to work, having to take minimum time off as I cope with these symptoms + viral infection. 

I had to admit there were times where TV was my life saviour while it entertained Asher as I sit resting. Ginger tea, and water seems to help. Eating regularly works too. I was perpetually hangry. Often feeling sad, pale, unhappy,and angry even when there isn’t any food in sight! 

I learned though, and stocked our fridge and pantry with relatively nourishing and nutrient dense food. Yes, I did had dim sum twice, and totally craved for zamberos and it’s black rice for 2 weeks in a row. Yes, we bought a packet of sweet potato chips once, but we shared it out and finished it only 4 days later (a mean feat!). I did crazy things like making myself a banana, cacao, date, almond milk, peanut butter shake at 8:30am in the morning just barely 2 hours after breakfast. Oh, and I heated that one up too. Hubby fried an egg for me at 10:30pm at night and I had it with kimchi. 

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Me having my hot cacao banana date drink.

Mostly though, I managed to eat well. Eating more, but better than when I had Asher. I attribute it to better eating habits, but also filling my body with more nutrient dense food prior to conception. With Asher, I was craving for heaps of carbs and I always wondered if me going low carb was a contributing factor. I was stuffing myself with breakfast biscuits (No way!), rice and just whatever carbs that I could get my hands to. This pregnancy, I didn’t have that urge to. I just needed to eat. I’m still fearful of weight gain, and my bump is noticeably bigger, but I feel like I have a better relationship with food and nutrition. 

Pregnancy is definitely a test for me. I feel fat, big and it’s a little sad saying farewell to my skinny jeans at week 8. Amazingly, I managed to fit into non-maternity clothes till week 13 and has only recently started taking out those to wear again. 

It is an ongoing process, I will have bad days, I shall admit that. Already I feel that I am gaining weight too quickly despite eating relatively better (it is still more). I feel that it is so easy to give in, and had to be conscious about it. Perhaps it is a combination of hormones, or my old self lingering (with my ease of weight gain), but I just have to keep going and keeping tabs. Hubby has been a great encourager and monitor. 

In terms of exercise, I had a few breaks, but mainly maintained with less intensity. I can’t seem to get a 16 kg turkish bell up, I have slowed down, and every workout seems to be harder work. This is all expected I suppose and I will keep chugging on. I’m proud that I’m still deadlifting, and squating (still doing 32kg gb squats). Listening to my body and slowing down. My motto is to “Turn up and if I don’t feel well, just stop and leave”. So far, I managed to finish all workouts, despite the pace and lesser intensity. 

Baby’s health is going ok. My NIPT was great but scans revealed that I need more monitoring. That again, reminds me that there are greater things to be concern at this stage. It’s not something I can control but only in God’s timing will I know what will happen. 

Asher is excited to be a big brother. Often speaking to my tummy and then saying “baby isn’t talking to me!” oh that poor little man! Soon, he will learn I am sure. 

So here we go! I will be back to update of course, Heaps to chat about. Still, this time round, I’m going to be documenting my journey and thoughts on being a parent of 2! 

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(me and my bump!)

Turkish Delight + friends in motherhood

IMG_3256 (640x427)Enjoying a nourish bowl with a dear friend one afternoon, we spoke about how empty our tanks have become. Being a mother it seems is draining. Friendships are harder to maintain- not because you don’t want to but even typing on whats app seems tiring. Conversations become more curt and straight to the point. Not because we want to come across as snobbish or fussy, but because we have less energy to be tactful or waste time trying to be gentle. 

The make up face. The clean clothes we are wearing. The weary smiles. Sometimes motherhood transform friendships. It is not because we don’t want to, but because in our quietness and straight to the point conversation we know that as long as our kids are happy, no one gets killed and we get coffee… the day is good. Very good. IMG_3259 (640x427)

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Raw Tahini Caramel Slice (Paleo, Clean Eating, Dairy Free) + Bundle up Time Management?

Raw Tahini Caramel SliceBundle up time management. Have you heard of that before? 

The other day, hubby and I had this discussion about managing our time more efficiently. He quizzed me on how do I manage to get things done with Asher hanging around my ankles, yet being able to make sure dinner is prepared and Asher has his attention? 

Truth is, sometimes I don’t get it all. Most days though, it just come naturally to me that as I am playing with Asher, I teach him to pack an item away before taking another out. That usually works out to slightly less mess. Of course, there are times when I let him have free rein and we have a lego galore day on the floor. IMG_1955 (640x427)

Then we have cooking. I usually cut most of my vegetables a day or 2 in advance. My reasoning is that I’m already cutting, so why not just spend the extra 10-15 minutes to prep the rest of the vegetables. I do not have to take the cutting board out twice, plus I do not have to thin about it for another day or so. Cooking is so much easier when all items are already cut- I do not have to be afraid of Asher reaching out for the knife, and he can simply sit on the counter top while I start my cooking. He would even help stir the pot with supervision. 

That was when he said… “mmm..bundle up time management”! You bundle things up to do so that there is less to be done. It frees up mind space, and it’s using each task more efficiently.IMG_1954 (640x427)

I have not really thought about that before. The same goes with tidying. I’m walking pass the bench, so why not just grab the dirty tea towel and place it in the laundry? How about I put that cup away since I’m passing by that table. Hubby said he would have just walked past- and would not have even see the cup (that he left!). IMG_1952 (640x427)

Is there such a thing I wonder? Or is it a natural thing that women and mummies tend to do?

There has been an abundance of cafes serving up raw desserts lately. I walked into a rather famous on at Mt Lawley one day and attempted their salted caramel tahini slice. While it is of a generous portion, both hubby and I agreed that it was wayyy to sweet and probably has agave in it. We are not big fans of agave at all! That however, gave me an idea to make my own tahini caramel slice. It was much less sweet and the tahini provided a creamy texture. 

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Dark Chocolate Chia Cookies (gluten free, paleo, clean eating, refined sugar free, dairy free) + How motherhood has changed me

IMG_1625 (640x427)The other day I wondered… “Has motherhood changed me?” 

To say that I’m not changed will be a lie. ALL of us change somehow. Resilience seems to be the buzz word these days. All it means is that we learn from our experience and hopefully grow a little wiser out of it. 

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– I do not know what happened to my brain cells. My memory is shot and sometimes I feel that I’m a fuzzhead. I used to be able to hold birthdays in my head. Now? I have to check my phone few times daily to remind myself what the date is… I believe it’s because looking after a human being tends to take up a lot of your brain space..and somehow, your brain compensates by forgetting other stuff.

– I’m a lot more relaxed in some ways. Clothes unfolded? Meh. Running late? I will send a text/phone call. Appointments need to re-schedule because Asher is sick? sure thing. 

– And stress in other ways… Asher’s meals to his health. Coordinating hubby’s timetable to ours.

– Learning how to be in the moment. Play is actually quite fun! 

– Learning how to say no because it is simply not our priority. 

– I can multitask very well. Juggling a wriggling toddler and shopping? Sure thing! Cooking and entertaining a toddler? No problems. 

– I’m a good list maker. 

– New friends. I appreciate new mummy friends and also love a good conversation that does not involve children with other friends. 

– My body has changed. Sometimes I’m very proud while other times I’m a little self conscious. I do think though, that generally I’m stronger and fitter than before I was pregnant. 

– Feeling more content. 

I think the word change might be wrong. Mostly, it’s how motherhood has shaped me. (might be pun intended too! HA!). My outlook in life has changed. Oh yes, my body shape and health has changed too. For the better I think. 

And my love for cookies. That did not change.IMG_1629 (640x427)

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Earl Grey Almond Cake (Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating)

IMG_1524 (427x640)There are many joys of parenthood. Maybe one day I will write about things I do not enjoy as much but certainly, I try to look at the things I do like about it. 

Whenever there is a day where I feet like reaching for countless blocks of chocolate, I like to think about why parenthood isn’t that bad.IMG_1523 (427x640)

1) Watching Asher learn new things and speak new words. He is starting to piece two words together and can say “Red truck”, “thank you” and even “sit down”.

2) The little arm that curl up around my neck. 

3) The kisses. 

4) The look that says “wow! You can do anything mummy. ” and “Wow! thank you for fixing my train up.”

5) The smiles

6) The light in his eyes when he realised he mastered something. Asher loves reading and books, and he loves connecting pictorial items to real life ones.IMG_1513 (427x640)

7) A perfect excuse to embrace being present. When I’m playing with him, nothing else matters. 

8) I get to play with lego and build things with it. Seriously, it’s good fun building a toy train. 

9) Being able to extend his play. Getting creative with outdoor play, stomping on play doh, throwing it like a ball.

10) Shopping for kids clothes and shoes. Kids have seriously cute stuff.

11) One more reason to love coffee.

12) Meeting other women and mothers. 

13) Appreciating my own parents even more

14) Cook simple. The meal that took me hours to prepare? Doesn’t go down as well when it’s a simple one!

15) Night parties. Well, not quite but hey, just being able to be with him and embrace him counts too.IMG_1518 (427x640)

16) Babycinos 

17) Getting pram parking

18) Decorating his play room

19) Shopping at the kids section at Ikea. 

20) Additional reason to eat chocolate.

I will be back with more but this list will do for the time being. Meanwhile, I have also created this Earl Grey Chocolate Cake that is perfect for all parents I think. It has chocolate, caffeine and it’s good for you. IMG_1521 (640x427)

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Tamago Boro Cookies (Almost Paleo, Gluten Free, Nut free)

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Asher turned 18 months towards the end of January. They say that time goes faster when you have a child. With more to fit in, it just seems that the days merge into weeks and weeks into months. 

I had a great day with Asher and really wanted to document it. Although we have many good days, and our share of average days,  I wanted to remind myself that with the storm comes the rainbow and sunshine. I wanted to remember the little glorious details because I know how quickly Asher will probably be a teenager and not wanting to spend this time with me.

Our great day began with a sleep in of additional 20 minutes. Asher slept of course, while I stare at this gorgeous human being, snoozing so peacefully. He woke with a smile and gave me a cuddle. He pointed and named “nose”, “mouth”, “ears” and pryed my mouth open so he could say “teeth”. I pretended to sleep, and he gave my nostril a jap. Yup. Indeed he is awake. 

He laughed as I brushed my teeth. He rushed to grab my toothpaste so he could play with the cap (he enjoys twisting and opening items). I got dressed and applied my make up. He played with his little container of toys beside me and begin giggling as he caught sight of himself in the mirror. 

As I prepared him breakfast- a smoothie bowl of smashed avocado, yogurt, pear, milk and probiotics. He walked around me. Oops! I forgot to close the pantry door and he went into it, opening and closing containers. Then it was breakfast time. He ate happily. He also decided that it is good fun to clap his hands, and do roly poly with his arms. 

After a quick clean up, it was play time. We ran around the house- mostly in circles. What amazes me was how fast he grasp concepts. Today, I wanted to focus on stop and go. We ran and we stop. As simple as that. That little game went on for a near 20-25 minutes. That together with some swings, hangs, turn arounds and bouncing. He even attempted to jump- but can’t quite grasp that his feet needs to leave the ground. We threw, rolled and kicked balls. We sang songs- I’m not sure how many times I sang “Head, shoulders, Knees and Toes” that morning but he loved it. Pointing to his toes every time I sang. He learned a new word today- shoulders! Then we proceeded on to another song which was “Wheels on the bus”. He laughed as we go through each action. His favourite at the moment? When I sing “baby on the bus goes wa wa wa”- he would pretend to rub his eyes. 

We had morning tea which was some banana bread and a big glass of milk. Asher called out “Milk milk” and nodded his head when I asked him repeatedly if that was what he wanted. Another clean up, and it was back to playing. Music time now I said. We played with the xylophone, bells and little tambourine. We tapped on different surfaces and he was more than excited to try new ones. Soon after, he became distracted and started to run around the house again, enticing me to chase him. Tickles and laughs got him going and I decided that it was probably time to start winding him down so that he could have his nap. 

Sitting in his tent, he gave cuddles to Scout and his soft toys. Then, almost intuitively, he came and gave me a cuddle. It was almost like telling me “I didn’t forget you mummy! You need my love too”. In a split second, he pointed to his book and we started reading. He pointed “stars”, “cars”, “train”. Suddenly, he looked up. TRAIN! He pointed to his floor mat where there was a picture of a train. Then even more excitedly, he pointed to his toy train. It was like it clicked for him. The book train, picture of the train and the toy train are all trains! 

As he started to yawn, I took him to bed. It took me an hour before he would wind down and lay beside me. In between that hour, he would want me to read- saying “book book”. Or play with my hair, ears, eyes- poking my nostrils and even trying to poke my belly button. In that hour, I could choose to be impatient but today, I chose to run with it. Eventually, he cuddled up to me and he slept. 

Nap time means I get to cook dinner, clean up the house a little, and perhaps even surf the net if I have a chance. Today I promised myself I will not touch work which I did not. 

A long nap means Asher felt refreshed and ready to face the afternoon. After lunch which was Pumpkin and Kale Fritters, and a big bowl of melon cubes, it was time to play again. This time, I decided to step back and give him free play time. Out came the blocks and the mess. I inhale and breathe because I know mess is good for him. I soon laughed though because he started putting the blocks back in the box. Then he tipped everything out and said “uh oh”- peeking at me. Then he started the process all over again. I made a mental note to be careful of my body language and speech when he makes a mess- that’s what kids do and I never want him to think it is wrong to to make a mess. 

Hubby came home not long after, just as Asher requested for more milk! I warmed some for him and offered him a banana. He was stoked! 

And then, I got changed and went to the gym. Asher waved and said “bye bye”- that’s a win! He did not cling on to me as I leave. A killer workout awaits me. I smashed it and returned home. Asher called out “mumma” greeting me with a grin as hubby fed him his dinner. Soon after, it was reading time with hubby and me and bath time. 

I kissed my little man on his forehead as he doze off. Good night my sweet darling. Another day of adventure awaits you tomorrow. 

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I made this little “Tamago Boro” cookies with the memory of me being a little child and being fed with these cookies by my grandmother. Tamago means egg in Japanese and basically they are little egg biscuits. There are many versions online, but I decided to do mine with very little sugar- hence they do not have the same melt in your mouth texture as the store bought ones. They do hold a slight crunch and Asher loves them.

It is a little tedious to roll them into little balls- One batch can make up to 250 little cookies. I like to roll them into little logs and cut them into small balls. As we do not have milk formulae, I bought brown rice “milk” powder instead and that appeared to work. I used rice malt to sweeten these balls. 

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Chocolate Slice with Caramel Frosting (Paleo, Gluten Free)

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I have a lot of joy in my life. One of the joys is meeting a group of like minded mothers in our neighbourhood. These lovely women were there for me when I had sleepless nights. We shared our battle wounds, little tips for managing nappy rash, food ideas and even laughs when we make rookie mother mistakes. 

Every tuesday we meet. We try to. When our kids naps change, we return to work or other commitments occur, it could get challenging. One thing never change though. When we do meet, we embrace our time together. 

My brother in law once asked curiously about what do we do when we meet? Coffee and chit chats? 

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To the outside world, it can seem like that. A bunch of women, gathering together and enjoying a conversation. To me though, it’s far more. I know that if I have a question, one of these women will be able to assist. If I have a tearful week, they have a kind word and a empathetic hug. If someone’s child is unwell, we send each other messages to keep us uplifted. 

Parenthood can be lonely. It’s when parents band together than it somehow seems more bearable. 

When it is my turn to host, I get excited. Sometimes I make a treat. Other days it can be just nuts and cheese. This time round, I made a chocolate slice with “caramel frosting”- because mothers always need chocolate. 

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HELLO 2015!

Oh hello there! Is it the year 2015 already? 2014 was here just a minute ago. I blinked and here we are at the New Year.

Not often do I take a break from writing here. For the past few weeks though, I took a step back and simply enjoy my family. My parents visited and I soaked in their presence. Including being spoilt by taking a 2 hour nap on Christmas Day, having my laundry folded, and a babysitter for Asher when hubby and I go out for lunch and coffee dates. Seriously spoilt.

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Together with my parents, we went down to Margaret River for 3 days, and I was reminded by how gorgeous Western Australia is.

 

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Coming back though, I wanted to do my annual reflections post.The year 2013 was epic, with Asher being born. Year 2014 was a year of adjustments.

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My grandmother was very ill. I was back in Singapore for close to 2 months earlier in the year. I saw her fought HARD. She had such a strong fighting spirit and survived being in the ICU.

 

However, she fell ill again (different condition) and passed away in early May.

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Grieve is a complicated emotion. I swing from being relieved that her agony and suffering was short-lived but felt a deep sense of loss. Time and being busy helped me healed but the sense of loss never went away.


With my parents over here, we planted a rose plant in our garden in her memory. Mum and I made her famous yam cake. Dad even commented that my soups reminded him of her. My heart ached when Asher called my mum “popo” knowing that he would have called my grandmother “Ah Tai” if she is still alive now.

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In the midst of it all, I received an offer to work part time mid 2014. Life as a working mum is hectic but we adjusted. Asher also started day care. I had to get used to the idea of someone caring for him!

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Asher turned 1. He started walking, talking and looking more like a toddler. My baby is no longer a baby anymore!

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As a couple, we have settled into a routine. We appreciate time together and learned how important it is to be a couple even though we have a family. It’s not always easy. My brain is frequently running a million kms an hour with endless lists of doing things, neglecting that I need to be present for my marriage. Hubby falls to the trap of dealing with the day to day work and home stressors and needed reminders to see me as a wife first than a mother. A marriage needs constant work. There is no room for being complacent.

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To the outside world, it just seems perfect. We are generally happy people. We like being in the same room as each other and we have a gorgeous son. Perhaps what is less known is that we struggle too. Like most young parents, we are sleep deprived and time poor. We rarely yell at each other, but that does not mean we do not have unhappy or even angry moments.

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Fitness remains a journey. I lost most of my baby weight when Asher was 6 months young. I continued to eat clean and train hard. All in all, I think I did pretty well in gaining strength and endurance. From doing wall push ups to full push ups. From not being able to do a full burpees to doing 100 burpees.  I ended the year knowing that I’m stronger and fitter than 2013.

 

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My self image demons continued to haunt me from time to time. Somewhere towards end of September, I was reaching a plateau at the gym. I felt that I was doing “ok” but struggling to lift heavier weights or running faster. I realised that even though I was eating clean, I was probably not eating enough. So I took the plunge and decided to increase my food intake as an experiment. That was a little tricky as I was used to listening to my body and eating accordingly. Slowly, I ate just a little more for my main meals. Surprise surprise, I gained over a kilo of muscle, and started to see progress at the gym. While it was all positive, the increase in the number at the scale affected me. In my head, I see myself as bigger and if I search deep enough, even thinking that I have gone backwards in performance. Just because of a number at the scale.

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I thought I was over that. Being obese and overweight as a child means I have been used to measuring progress by the scale. Gaining weight scares me. Logically I know that muscle and fat are different. Emotionally I reacted. This little experiment brought out more than what I expected. Insecure feelings about my self image appeared.

 

I could choose to freak and bailed out. The old me might even go back to how I was eating before. I needed to stop and breathe. To give myself permission to freak for a while and then question where all these feelings come from. I had to sit with these uncomfortable sensations and question where to from here.

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The answer I think is simple. Why complicate things. What I am doing is working and I have to trust the process though how scary it may appear to be. Looking back, I have lost 35 kgs two times (Childhood and Post Pregnancy). Clean eating and moving well is part of my life now. Is it likely that I will gain back 30 kgs from what I am doing now? Unlikely. Can I tweak my meal plans and workouts as I go along? Very much so. Do I want to lead a life jailed by a number on a machine? No.

Food remains a joy to us. I experimented with more clean cooking and desserts and LOVE it! From making raw desserts to experimenting and developing recipes for my family, I found a kind of rhythm.

So what were my goals for 2014?

My goals for 2014 
– Continue to create and experiment clean desserts and meals. (done!) 
– Make that cream brûlée! (OOPSIE! Got to really get that butane!) 
– Getting my fitness back on track. (Yep!) 
-Make baby food… (DONE!) 
– Not sweat the small stuff as much (ok, half done… ) 
– Travel back and see my family even more. (I went back to SG 3 times last year. Done) 
– Stay in the moment more. Babies grow up too fast. (Done and ongoing) 
– Thank God every day for our blessed family. (Could do better) 
– blog more often! (I think so!)

Where to for 2015? 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. As a wife, be kinder.
  4. Talk and communicate with my parents more.
  5. As a mother, to be patient and stay in the moment. Asher is growing too quick.
  6. Maintain a gratitude journal.
  7. Pray more. I don’t think I do enough of praying and reflection.
  8. Schedule in rests.
  9. 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.
  10. Bringing this website to a wider audience

This is  going to be a year of Back to Basics. Basics of being in the moment with my family and loved ones. Losing grandma made me yearn for more family contact. Learning how to have peace with myself- Trusting in the Lord rather than being self-focus in appearance. Cooking and creating recipes that fits well with our ethos. Re establishing and building existing relationships. It’s going to be a year of giving myself permission to slow down to speed up.

Here is to a GREAT start to the New Year! 

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Crumbly Walnut Coffee Chocolate Cake

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There are times when I wonder can time passes even more quickly? Are we approaching the end of September already?

A few months ago, I spoke about my dilemma about going back to work or staying at home full time. I ended one of my posts with trusting in the Lord and seeing where it takes. An opportunity appeared indeed and I was offered a very flexible position with part time hours. With much prayers, we decided to give it a go and made the decision that Asher attends day care for a few days a week.

Oh what a decision. In our minds, day care can be beneficial as it provides a stimulating environment for Asher to grow in too. As a mother though, the number of thoughts and beliefs that entered through my mind is astounding.

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“How can I let someone look after the needs of Asher?”

“Will they take notice of him?”

“Will he eat/drink/sleep well?”

“I’m not a good enough mother for allowing someone else to care for him”

and so forth.

The mothers guilt.

We did our research. During the countless orientation trips we attended, Asher had a great play time. They did art work, and have equipment that resembles a tiny tot gym, and fed him (mostly) good nutritious food. I know he is well looked after there.

How was his first day? He did great. Cried a little as I left but settled not even 2 mins after I stepped out of the door. As I observed him outside the room, he played and engaged with carers and other children. I even felt a sense of pride when he attempted to take his own toy back when another child took it from him.

It took me 30 minutes to move shift my feet closer to the exit. Then it took me another 15 minutes before I physically willed myself to leave.

I’m a sensible person. I can be logical. My heart was heavy as I walked into the car. I felt like a total bad mother for leaving her child to someone else, but yet logically I know he will probably thrive in there with the activities planned. Deep down, I know he will enjoy the interaction. As I sat in the car seat, my eyes became watery. I swiped my phone and re looked at his photos that I have taken in that 45 minutes that I stood outside the room. Then I willed myself to put my phone away, and drove straight to the gym for a workout. I even scheduled a coffee with a friend- a fellow mother who reached out to me for a chat following our Pilates class. I rang the daycare twice, requesting specific information about his nap times, play, food intake, milk intake. As I went in to fetch him that afternoon, he yelled out “mama”, and gave me the biggest cuddle ever. We returned home to his favourite congee and custard for dinner.

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Did it get easier? Perhaps. I have never left my son to be cared for by anyone for close to a day. Not even my hubby who probably had him alone for 3 hours once. Oh hindsight, what did make it easier was that hubby regularly looked after him for an hour or so when I went to the gym.

It’s a strange feeling though- like a new found freedom. Like being alone in the toilet for 5 minutes in peace. Or being able to try on some much needed jumpers and think for 5 minutes if I really wanted it (yup I did!). There was one day, I managed to scheduled in a remedial massage on a weekday! Bliss.

I have since started work (we started day care 2 weeks earlier to give me time to prepare for work- yup, readings and phone conferences) and I will update later about how we are managing. Those early days though, it was as if I put on a fresh pair of glasses whenever I’m with Asher. I made a huge effort to not do any cleaning when I’m with him. While I have always practised being mindful as we play, I realised I can be even more present and enjoy it. I’m less worried about the other stuff because it  really really does not matter.  I missed him terribly when I’m not with him, yet it also gave me a chance to breath and remember that I’m more than a mama.

It will always be a constant juggling act- one that I know will not always be balanced but that’s ok too.

Let’s talk cake now.

Inspired by WholeFoodSimply, I adapted her version and made a coffee cake for us. Pre Asher, we love coffee BUT post Asher we LOVE LOVE LOVE coffee. I try not to have it too much though as I believe it does raise our cortisol levels. I attempt to schedule in coffee free days (some weeks with no success), but generally stick to having one shot of coffee  a day and 1 hour before my gym session. I truly believe that coffee gives me that little boost in my workouts but also lifts my spirits up when it’s 4pm and I’m dead tired from the daily chores. I made this cake as a treat and it was well worth it. Crumbly soft with a crunchy texture. Double yum. Serve with …coffee of course.

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Crumbly Walnut Coffee Chocolate Cake

3 medjool dates presoaked in a shot of nespresso

2.5 cups of almond meal

1 tablespoon of cacao powder

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

1/2 tsp of bicarb soda

1/4 tsp of salt

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla paste

2 tablespoons of coconut oil

handful of crushed walnut

handful of cacao nibs

Crumble Topping

1 cup of pecans

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

1 tablespoon of coconut oil

1 tablespoon of honey or brown rice syrup.

1) Preheat Oven to 180C. Line an 9inch round cake pan with baking paper.

2) To make the cake. Put all the cake ingredients in a food processor and blitzed for 1 minute or so.

3) Spoon into cake tin.

4) Make the crumble. Whiz the crumble ingredients for 30 seconds. Spoon and top it up on the cake. Bake for around 40 minutes but check that the cake does not brown too much in 25 minutes or so. Place a piece of baking paper on it if needed.

5) Cool and serve.