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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)

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Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Nam Jim Sauce (Paleo, Clean eating, Gluten Free) + Judgement on what other people eat

I have learnt that there is no “one size fits all”.  IMG_1616 (640x427)

I meant it in the way of meals and food. 

Fitness and health is a journey. Everyone has their own set of circumstances that require individualisation. What works for me may not work for you. 

I have my fair share of comments about “Why are you being careful about carbs intake?”, “relax a little! Just eat!” or “you exercise right? Just eat what you want”

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We have all heard of stories where the fittest person we know was diagnosed with cancer, while the person who drank ate and partied stayed healthy. 

I was diagnosed with PCOS around 3 years ago. Thankfully, I am not insulin resistant. However, I know I am at a higher risk of it. Thats the biggest reason why I eat and train the way I do. High intensity but at a shorter period of time. Eating cleanly as much as possible rather than having refined food that poses little to no nutritional value to my body. To make it slightly more complicated, I had IBS when I was in my late teens. While it is usually under control, I have times where it flared up- most recently after a mild bout of gastro. Both conditions made me more aware of how I eat. IMG_1615 (427x640)

Who knows what is the fitness and health journey of the person next to you? I realised now, that instead of being judgemental, is to just listen. The person next to me might have a tougher health journey than myself. 

For some people, being a vegan works. For others, they enjoy oats. Some like their pasta, whereas others react badly to gluten. Then there are people who respond sensitively to some foods but that does not necessary mean they are allergic to it. 

Creating meals is a joy. Eating is a joy. Fuelling our bodies right makes it moves better and feel better. That’s the primary reason of why we eat clean. Surely listening to your body and learning what makes it tick better is the way to go? 

I struggle with the word “diet”. While it means “the way we eat”, it appears to have a negative notation around it. For our family, we aim to have less processed food. Aiming for whole foods such as vegetables, meat and seafood. We found that too much gluten or dairy makes us bloated and sluggish. For me, it could even trigger abdominal discomfort. 

The questions I frequently get are

1) Do I eat bread?

Yes and No. I do not eat bread on a daily basis for breakfasts. Occasionally when we are out, I may have a little rye toast if I feel like it. My tummy tends to feel heavy after having bread. However, on my heavy work out days, I tend to feel better with additional carbohydrates which depending on where we are, I might choose sweet potato/oats or a small piece of rye toast.

How about breakfasts then? I love eggs. However, I also have some greek yogurt and on Sunday, we cook a fry up of a sausage, spinach, mushrooms and tomato. 

2) You are asian, how about rice and noodles?

We cook rice weekly. Perhaps once a week or twice. I don’t have an issue with rice. I have some occasionally and again on higher intensity work out days. I like that rice has some nutritional value plus it provides resistant starch which is good for gut health. (I recall those days when I was sick, and a bowl of hot steaming congee seems to soothe the tummy). However, I’m conscious that rice is easy to over eat, plus with my PCOS, I tend to be more conscious about the amount of white rice I’m having.

I’m not a fan of yellow noodles but will share some pho with rice noodles from time to time. At home, we prefer cooking with kelp noodles, zucchini noodles and occasionally sweet potato noodles. 

3) Do you have milk in your coffee? What about dairy?

I have almond milk in my fridge and tend to add a splash of that to my coffee at home. If I’m out, I love a good almond milk long mac. However, I go full cream long mac if that is not available. 

I can’t have too much dairy. It makes my tummy goes all funny…A few small slithers of cheese here and there? Not a problem. I seem to be ok with greek yogurt- maybe a 3/4 times a week in small (100-120grams) portions appears to be ok. 

4) Do I cook with sauces?

I have coconut aminos and fish sauce. I do not cook with oyster sauce. I love having ginger, sesame oil and garlic as seasoning. I also use dried herbs. 

5) Do I eat desserts when I’m out?

Of course I do! Hubby and I share. Indulgence. We eat and enjoy. Is it totally nourishing and good for us? Probably not. But we eat knowing that it is for enjoyment and not so much for physical health. 

6) Do I think my “diet” is restrictive?

No way. When is eating clean restrictive? It makes me more conscious about what I put in my body for sure! 

7) Why I identify myself with being a cheeky paleo?

I like the term clean eating. I think that fits us the best. In general though, I like the basics of paleo- eating more vegetables with good sources of meat/seafood. I do like to have some clean paleoified cakes and treats here and there. I think if I want to have dessert, it’s best to have it as nourishing as possible. However, I’m all for REAL chocolate! 



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This simple salad is made up of mainly wombok or Chinese cabbage. Often, I fall into the tray of using mixed mesclun leaves or baby spinach to make up our salads. I find that finely shredded chinese cabbage has a lovely texture and crunch to it. Top with some cashews and a tangy dressing, it was a light dinner but a satisfying one. A friend passed me this nam jim recipe. I modified it as I did not add sugar to it. Instead, I love the lemon juice, fish sauce, sesame oil and the hit of chilli. 

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Tahini Zucchini Carrot Salad (Raw, Paleo, Gluten Free)

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I realised that it is difficult to live with a recovering perfectionist. My poor hubby often gets the brunt of it. Living with a perfectionist means for him, I’m always on a mission.

– Eating clean

– Creating and making most if not all of our meals and snacks

– Moving efficiently. My workout times are precious times.

– Making sure that Asher is stimulated. Thinking about different concepts and games to play.

– Creating better recipes. I have made a lemon tart 3 times in a week because I didn’t quite get it right. 

– Being the best I can at work means sometimes I do work on most evenings and have my mind ticking away on it even when I’m supposed to rest. 

I stopped myself the other afternoon in realisation how blunt, and even unkind when I was on the phone with him. Often, I do my meal prep the night before, and for one ingredient, hubby had chopped chorizo roughly. 

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In a rush of me trying to get dinner done, wanting to complete a few household chores, making Asher’s lunch and prep for an outing that afternoon means I was in a rush. That was still no excuse for being unkind. With the filter not on, I said “darling, why is the chorizo chopped in such big pieces! That’s not how I usually do it”.

As quickly as it came, it made me realised how ungrateful and rude I was. He apologised and said “oh! I’m sorry, I just did it without thinking”. That shattered my heart. I quickly regrouped and said “no, it was not your fault. I was in a hurry and rushed and in the scheme of things.. it does not matter really. I’m sorry for being rude”. 

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It highlighted to me how kind and how generous my husband was. How he tried to help but I dis credited him. 

A girlfriend and I had lunch the other day and asked how do we make our marriage work? We seem happy and content to the outside world. The truth is, we are a work in progress. In our pre marriage counselling sessions, I realised I am often abrasive and impatient. He is the patient one. I want answers now, while he needed time to digest things. Fast forward nearly 6 years of marriage, I’m still practising holding my tongue and being patient. He tries to speed up and is learning how to verbalise how he feels. 

It is what makes our marriage ticks. We agree that we are a work in progress and continue to work on ourselves to strengthen our relationship. It is not perfect but we do not strive to be. We strive to be partners in life. 

This is our current favourite salad. A big bowl of zucchini noodles. Sometimes, I would make it with kelp noodles and place them in a container. This huge salad would last us 4-5 days, meaning that I need to prep dinner less. I would dress them up differently. Sometimes a nut butter dressing suits us. Other times with just olive oil and drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Who would have thought raw zucchini noodles are so delicious? Certainly a game changer when it comes to salads. One thing did not change. We eat from ONE big bowl to save washing up. 

And that is us too. 🙂 

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Thai Larb Salad

Hello 2014! Truth be told, the year 2013 passed really quickly for me. I have not worked since mid June 2013, and it is as if time stopped when Asher arrived.

However, I felt that much has changed in our lives. Yes, having a baby means we rarely head out in the evenings. That is a positive thing as we took time to wind down, relax and get things organised for the next day. Yes, there are sacrifices that we made. We are much more conscious about expenditure and we eat out less. We try not to plan too many things through the day as that seem to make Asher more cranky.

Personally though, having a baby tested me big time. I love to be in control. Guess what, having a baby means I have to think this differently. Yes, things do not always get done- that’s ok. It will get done another day. Asher needs me to get on the floor to play with him as soon as I can. I have to remind myself, a baby isn’t a baby for long. He is going to grow and one day, I’m going to miss having this time with him. After all, it is a huge luxury to be home with him for the first year of his life.

Organisation. I have two nappy bags. A bigger one with everything in it- spare clothes for me, a small rattle/book toy, spare nappies, change of clothes for him, wet wipes, lip balm, tissues..etc. It’s truly a mummy’s bag. More often though, I travel with a smaller sling bag with the bigger bag in the car. That is also a change mat which makes my life so much easier when he decides to “go” in the car and there isn’t a change room anywhere in sight.

Flexibility and time management. Asher is the most awake and alert in the morning and right after his nap. I try to time and plan any activity around that period of time. We have a routine, but we do not run on a tight schedule. Oh, and always leave 5-10 minutes earlier than what I think we need.

Relationship. This is an interesting one. As I’m home more often, hubby gets less stressed about needing to share his load of housework. Clothes are actually folded (more often), floors are clean. I try to do more while it is not always possible, so that when he is home, he gets more time with Asher. However, I certainly appreciate hubby even more when he hangs the clothes out before I wake up, and do the occasional vacuum! Not only that, we learn to speak to each other in a calmer manner. We argue less as the focus is us as a family-perhaps less as an individual. That is the biggest change. We think the big picture more. I love him more because I see all the smaller things he did before and all the sacrifices he has to made. Most of all, how much he adores Asher and us as a family.

 I thought I might start the new year with a fresh new recipe. It is thai inspired and packed full of flavours. It’s also one of my “quick no fuss” meals to have handy for the week. Hubby recently started a herb garden so I’m looking forward to having fresh basil in our cooking very soon.

Thai Larb Salad (serves 4)
500 grams pork mince
1 tsp garlic
2 chili padi chopped
2-3 sprigs of spring onion chopped
1 red onion chopped
1 carrot chopped
1 capsicum chopped
3-4 button mushrooms chopped
1 tablespoon of soy
1 tablespoon of mirin
2-3 tablespoon of fish sauce
white pepper
2 tablespoon of pine nuts or cashew nuts

4 bunches of basil leaves

Cos lettuce to serve with.

Saute red onion, chill and garlic till done. Brown mince. Add all the vegetables with a splash of water if the mixture gets too dry. Add in all sauces and cool well. You can either toast pine nuts and add to it or add it in the pan straight up. Just before serving, add 2 bunches of basil leaves to the pan and toss through. The heat should wilt the leaves gently.

Serve on a bed of cos lettuce and more basil leaves.

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Lamb Meatballs Salad with Yogurt Chives Dressing

Eating from a plate is easier than eating from two plates. First up, there is less washing. Second, I only have to plate up one plate. Third, there is some pleasure from sharing a plate with someone that you love.

Making lamb meat balls and grilling them up are easy. Assembling a salad? quick and clean. One of the things hubby and I have been trying to do is to sit and enjoy dinner without rush and interruptions. That is a luxury- even with a couple without kids! Clutter and noise seems to fill our day and we are learning how to cut back on distractions.

As the weather warms up, our meals get lighter. But just barely. The other day, I had a salmon and brie cheese for lunch and I nearly forget how delicious simple salads are. I am sure, there will be more to fill our plate…and to share in months to come.

Lamb Meatballs Salad with Yogurt Chives Dressing 
500 grams lamb mice (I mixed mine with some pork mince)
handful of pine nuts
1/4 cup almond meal
1 egg
salt and pepper
few drops of tobasco sauce
dash of Worcestershire sauce

Mixed salad leaves, avocado and cherry tomatoes

Chive Yogurt Dressing
3 tablespoon of greek yogurt
1/4 lemon juice
small bunch of chives chopped finely

Marinate lamb mince for 10 minutes or so. Shape into meatballs and pan fry them.

Meanwhile, assemble salad and make dressing. Place everything on one plate. Dig in!


Garlic Prawns, Smoked Salmon and Avocado Salad

I am such a fan of 10-15 mins preparation meals. The best way to do it seems to be making meal plans and making sure I have quick ingredients on hand. Prawns and Salmon are such lovely protein, and easy to prepare. At times, we would purchase shelled prawns, or just shell them immediately when we come home. Frying prawns in some oil, garlic, chill, and combine it with smoked salmon and salad. A meal done. It’s so simple, that I was actually thinking it doesn’t need a recipe! I make a quick dressing by whisking lemon juice, olive oil and sesame seeds. Monday’s meals… easy peasy right?

Tadah! Meal done.

Do you have such recipes at home?

Garlic Prawns, Smoked Salmon and Avocado Salad (seves 4)
300 grams peeled prawns
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 chili padi

 250 grams smoked salmon
1 avocado chopped
1 lebanese cucumber chopped
 1 cup of cherry tomatoes
4 cups of salad leaves

 Dressing 2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon of lemon juice 1 tsp sesame seeds Cook prawns quickly with oil, garlic and chill. Cool slightly. Combine it with other ingredients. Toss dressing through! EAT! 😉


Indian Style Chicken Quinoa Salad

You have probably caught on the news that quinoa is a wonder food. Well, all ingredients are pretty wonderful to me, but quinoa has a special quality to it. It is a high protein seed.

The nutritious factor of this ingredients make its very appealing. Not to mention the nutty taste to it as well. Tigerfish from Tecacape use it regularly and so does a few other bloggers.

Now that I have got used to having complex carbs around 3 days a week, hubby and I love how good it feels in our bodies. It’s amazing how much our digestive system adapts and I feel likes bloated and sluggish. This doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy food- which is what some of our friends seem to have misunderstood. It means I have to be more creative than ever without sacrificing taste. We still love our food and sweets!

I paired our chicken salad up with some indian spiced quinoa- I love the aroma of mustard seeds popping in oil with some cumin and garam masala spice. With some grilled chicken and spinach, it means a very tasty and fulfilling meal.

Indian Style Chicken Quinoa Salad 

2 chicken breasts- quartered

1 tablespoon of oil
1 tablespoon of mustard seed
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 tsp of chili powder
1 tsp of garam masala
1 tsp of garlic 
1 cup of quinoa
2 cups of stock of water

4-5 cups of spinach or mixed salad leaves
chopped chili for garnish

Grilled chicken till done. Sliced
In a pot, heat oil and add mustard seeds. Once it starts to brown, add all other spices and fry it for around 2 mins. Add garlic and quinoa. Add water or stock. Simmer for 5-10 mins till quinoa is done. Toss it with chicken and mixed salad leaves. Garnish with chili if desired.


Thai Pork Larb Salad

It’s coming up to the long weekend and I am glad. Nothing like an extra few days to rest up and recharge. At the same time, it’s also a time to reflect and thank our wonderful Lord for sacrificing for us.

This is another low carb recipe that I love. Mince is so easy to use and reasonably priced that it’s hard to resist. I’m embracing lemongrass, ginger and garlic in this one. I wish I have some mint on hand and basil because I am sure it will add more flavours in the salad. I added some cashew for the added crunch factor.

I usually have my doubts on Asian salads. I mean, growing up, we rarely have salads. The first salad I had was Mum teaching me how to make egg mayo sandwiches-if that is even considered as a salad (the egg bit I mean). But then, we rarely had thai food either.

My neighbour gave us some limes and I am going crazy about them. It’s not often that we have limes because they are quite pricey at the markets. I tend to use lemons instead. However, I have to admit that limes still win in terms of adding the zing to this dish!

Thai Pork Larb Salad (serves 4)
400 grams lean pork mince
2 stalks of lemongrass white bit chopped
2 tsp of garlic
2 red chill chopped
4 cm knob ginger grated
few mushrooms-shitake if you have, I used button chopped
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 tsp of sugar if you like, but I did not add any

Fresh salad leaves
4 limes-for each meal.
handful of cashew nuts

Heat pan till hot. Saute garlic lemon grass, chill and ginger. Brown pork mince. Add in mushrooms. Stir through fish sauce. Taste. Season if needed. Top on salad leaves with lime and cashew nuts.


San Choy Bow

San Choy Bow is one of those dishes that regularly appear in chinese restaurants in Perth. It’s considered as a staple- yet we have never tasted it at home before. It’s one of those dishes, that I wondered when Chinese restaurants decides on their menus, obtain inspiration from different parts of China, Singapore and Malaysia and call it “Chinese”. Nothing wrong with that, just my curiosity that’s all! 😉

Making it at home is fun. Wrapping the lettuce with hot pipping mince mixture, topping it with peanuts, crunching them up and biting into it. YuM! Cold and hot together.

I’m not sure if this is the authentic version- it’s one of those quick home cooked meals that I came up. I omitted water chestnuts but think they will be a good addition. Dried chopped shitake mushrooms were added and I do like the texture it creates.

What is your favourite Chinese order at a restaurant? In Singapore, it would be the yam ring basket filled with seafood and chicken! In Perth, probably yam duck (noticed my fondness for yam?!)

San Choy Bow (serves 4-5)
300 grams chicken mince
1 small red onion chopped
1 tablespoon garlic
2 red chill padi chopped
2 tablespoon of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
1 tsp of minced ginger
2 tablespoon of hua tiao jiu
1 tsp of sesame oil
2 spring onions chopped

50 grams of roasted peanuts
ice berg lettuce- separated in cups.

Saute garlic, ginger, chili and onion till done. Cook chicken mince, breaking it as you go along. Add in all sauces and mix well. Cook for around 5-8 minutes. Then add the chinese cooking wine. Drizzle sesame oil and finish it with spring onions. Serve with lettuce cups and roasted peanuts.


Miso Salmon with Brown Rice Chickpea Salad

The title of the post almost sounds like it is from an organic cafe restaurant isn’t it? In all honesty, I am surprised that I have taken so well in reducing and even at one point, cutting back all carbs (including fruits). The results so far, I can assure you, is worth it! Like what hubby once said “happy wife=happy life”

Coming back to this dish, I realised that my favourite way of prepping salmon is just to pan fried it. It’s simple, non complicated and retain great flavours. This time round, I had some miso paste on hand and used it to make a dressing.

This is also the first time that I cook brown rice at home. Again, hubby and I actually was surprised that we liked the nutty taste of it! My mother in law usually mix brown and white rice together when she cooks and now I know why!

Miso Salmon with Brown Rice Chickpea Salad (serves 4)
3-4 pieces of Salmon

1 cup of brown rice
1 can of chickpea
1/2 pun net of cherry tomatoes halved
1 shredded carrot
150 grams of snow pea sprouts

2 tsp of miso paste
1 tablespoon of mirin
2 tablespoon of water
1 red chill chopped
squeeze of lemon juice

Pan fry salmon till done. Meanwhile, cook brown rice with water (around 3 cm above rice).

Make dressing by heating miso paste,water and miring and chill in a saucepan. Taste and season. Squeeze lemon juice.

Assemble salad by tossing brown rice, chickpeas, all salad leaves together. Place on plates. Place salmon on top of salad, drizzle dressing over it.