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

[yumprint-recipe id=’148′] 

 

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)

[yumprint-recipe id=’145′]

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)

[yumprint-recipe id=’139′] 

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)

[yumprint-recipe id=’136′] 

Raw Lemon Slice (Raw, Paleo, Gluten Free)

IMG_3066 (427x640)One of the lovely things about raw desserts and snacks is that it can be kept in the freezer. Before we left the country, I made up a batch of these Lemon Slices. Some we ate of course, but most of it was kept in the freezer. That way, when we are back, there is a little something there for us to munch on, or to put in snack boxes. IMG_3062 (640x427)

Since discovering doterra essential oils, there is no turning back. I love how many of their oils are food grade, which means it can be added to raw desserts and cooking. This raw lemon slice, I feel, was enhanced by the lemon essential oil that I placed in there. One word of warning though. I find that a little goes a long way! IMG_3064 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’127′]

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

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

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

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

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

[yumprint-recipe id=’115′]

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!

[yumprint-recipe id=’110′]

Toilet Training Adventures + Raw Papaya Salad (Paleo, Clean Eating, Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

IMG_2734 (640x427)Asher is toilet trained! Woohoo! What a milestone…and what a journey it has been. Asher started using the potty real early on- when he was 4 months young. Some thing changed at around the year mark where he just refused to sit on it. He could even tell me that he is scared. My pre assumptions is that he is starting to notice many different kinds of feelings then, and perhaps that was a tad over whelming. I should have persevered though because fast forward, he was no where close to being off his nappies. 

That was when hubby and I discussed doing a dual approach. We read books, brought him to the loo with us, we even showed him you tube clips (yes! they have potty songs too!). We went shopping for underwear and told him what big boys do on the toilet. Then we picked a date- 1st of Jan for us to say good bye to nappies. On the day itself, we simply told him we are saying goodbye to nappies through the day, and we are teaching him to use the toilet. 

The first day was HARD. Our goal was just to help him get acquainted with the toilet. There were close to 20 accidents that day.  By the end of the day, he was comfortable on the toilet. We went through times where he had no realisation that he was going, till he realised but it was too late, to actually doing it on the toilet itself. By the end of the first week, we had moments where we totally felt he was not ready. Day care was really helpful by maintaining consistency (as much as they could), but it was also a regression since it was a new toilet and new people telling him to use the toilet. Smart kid told educators that he goes to the toilet at home but not at school/day care. Other heart string moments was when he asked is mama not happy when he had an accident. Much as I have tried to re assure him it was an accident, I guess I must have showed a disappointed face at times. 

Something clicked by day 8. He was compliant going to the toilet and when we were at a restaurant, he TOLD us he wanted to go. Wow! Day 9, we had a play date where there were NO accidents, went to the toilet with me when he was ready and then later in the day, whispered “go potty” to me. 

Still early days, and we have night and sleep time to go through. There are accidents when he becomes pre occupied. That’s ok. He is still learning. We still need to work out travelling as well, but again, we will just have to cross that path when we are close to it. 

For me, I’m just not sure how quickly that 2 years + have flown by and another milestone clicked. 

Raw Papaya Salad

If you have endured through the toilet training story, well done! I have never been squeamish around topics like this given the nature of my work in my early days with children with autism, and being used to baby sitting but I do agree that having Asher makes me think of toilet as another developmental milestone as natural as it can be! IMG_2737 (640x427)

And of course, while it seems “wrong” to pair our story with food. I can’t help myself but to share this lovely salad recipe. We love our salads in my household. Perhaps more so with hubby and myself as Asher finds salad leaves fibrous for him. I actually don’t have a “proper” recipe for this. It was just shredded vegetables that come together. Asher even tried some. Quick, easy and yummy! Now to find more raw papaya! IMG_2735 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’106′]

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)

[yumprint-recipe id=’99’]

Raw Carrot Cake Bites

Raw carrot cake bitesThere are many raw treats popping up around Perth at the moment. I have my favourites- mainly those that does not use agave as a sweetener. I prefer the use of honey, rice malt, medjool dates or coconut sugar. While there are debates between the level of fructose in each kind of sweetener, I think it is best to use common sense and your taste buds to guide you. Agave does not sit well with me and neither does stevia. Personally, I think that whichever one you choose, less is more. IMG_2624 (640x427)

I love carrot cake. Maybe it is the deception of the goodness of carrots in a cake, but to me, that is comfort food. When hubby and I were in our university days, I fell terribly sick once. I hardly got out of bed and did not have appetite for any thing. Except for a big slice of carrot cake. Well, ok, that one slice was my breakfast, lunch and dinner. Fast forward to 14 years later, I still love a good slice of carrot cake. My taste buds have change of course and I’m finding most cakes are too sweet for me- to the point that I’m unable to enjoy the flavour of the cake while my tastebuds is stinging from the sugar hit. IMG_2630 (640x427)

Still, you can tell my love for it prevailed. For Asher’s full moon celebration, I made carrot cupcakes with cream cheese yogurt swirl. I did as similar layered cake for his 2nd year birthday when it was the combination of carrot and apple that won me over. 

So I guess it is no surprise that I would attempt to make a raw version of carrot cake. If you follow my instagram, you probably noticed that I made one before. My experiment of using  didn’t work the way I envisioned it to be (i know..what was I thinking). This round, I combined coconut butter with coconut milk and it worked so much better. Cream cheese wouldn’t hurt too I am sure. IMG_2625 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’96’]