Smacked right in my 2nd Trimester….

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Woah! A blink and it’s already October. My last post was in July! While I managed to write in my first trimester, hitting the 2nd trimester was getting into me. A few challenges hit us as we had to navigate through this pregnancy. A few scares + exhaustion + nausea over took me. Yes, you read it right. I’m still experiencing morning sickness although it is certainly a lot better as the weeks goes by. Things are certainly looking up and I’m feeling much better. 

I haven’t stopped cooking and baking. If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook, you will noticed that I’m still cooking away. Even more so as I went on gumtree and bought Thermomix. Yes! After hesitating for 2 years, we decided that I will need another sous chef as we approach being parents of 2. My food processor is starting to show it’s age after 7+ years of weekly use so we decided to splurge on a fancy machine. 

My post today though is an update of how I have been managing fitness and food through the 2nd trimester. I still have not yet weighed myself but using clothes and what I can do as workout as a gauge. 

What has not changed?

  • I still workout 4-5 times a week. 
  • I continue to do boxing, HITT, weight training and metabolic conditioning
  • We continue to eat with a focus of nutrition
  • My meals and snacks are usually planned out 

What has changed?

  • My workouts have been modified. At week 20, I realised I can’t do full burpees anymore. At week 22, I get an odd sensation even doing a modified burpeee (without pushups). I regressed and do squat with a wall pushups. I’m finding I can’t run as much, or do jumping lunges/squats. Abs workout are more pilates core movements. 
  • I take breaks and slow down. If I have a harder workout on Monday, Tuesdays are gentler.
  • I eat more carbs. On the days I work out, or the morning after, I tend to indulge with two slices of sprouted bread. 
  • If I feel more hungry, I eat. I don’t use to have morning tea, but I find that I do get hungry 2-3 hours, so it is better to anticipate it and have something ready than to eat “whatever”. 
  • My snacks have changed. I eat even more protein. I snack on eggs, greek yogurt, cheese, nut butters, bananas, nuts, avocado… Basically, it has more variety and I’m eating more often. I’m eating more dairy simply because I feel like it. 
  • I try to sleep more. 
  • I drink a lot of ginger tea
  • My coffee intake has decreased. Probably an average of 2 coffees a week. 

Compared to my last pregnancy, I certainly do not get the cravings for refined carbohydrates as much. Perhaps it is about reading my body better, or by increasing unrefined carbs, it get what it needs. 

My mood has been terrible for the first 20 weeks. I felt that I was walking in a cloudy haze, feeling absolutely miserable. Constant nausea, exhaustion, and trying to meet my expectations of how I do my job, operate at home and being a present focus mum was so not working. Many times I resorted to the I-baysitter, using devices to keep Ash entertain while I lie on the couch. I even fell asleep reading him a story before! Poor kid. Learning how to scale back and say no was something that has never been easy for me. It was also what prompted me to take a break from blogging and just focus on getting my health back on track. I take naps when I do get Ash down for one. If I’m unwell, I totally stop exercising for a few days. I started scaling back on some commitments. 

I’m not sure when I will be back writing. I do still want to use this space to reflect on this pregnancy and document more food experiments. I’m still very much active on Facebook and Instagram so please hop that that see more. Till the next time, take care 🙂 

 

img_4587Me and Bump at around 20 weeks

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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WIN: Circa Home Limited Edition Honey Flower and Sandalwood Gift Pack

*This post is brought to you by Nuffnang and Circa Home

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The fresh scent of honey and sandalwood fills the room. Sweetness of honey together with the musky smells of sandalwood hits my nose, making me smile. 

 

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What are you grateful for today? 

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I am grateful for the the cuddles and laughs together with my little boy.

I am grateful for the workout with my awesome buddy, and together we did some personal bests. 

I am grateful for the warm almond milk coffee when I needed a break. 

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Product Review: Circa Home Limited Edition Honeyflower and Sandalwood Classic Candle

The little things that make a home smells like a home. A classy blue box awaits me, together with a note book entitled “Today I am grateful for…” When Nuffnang, together with Circa Home invited me to review their newest addition to their gorgeous range of home products, I was eager. 

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If you are inhaling something, you need to make sure it is of the best quality. With a toddler at home, I make sure that the candles we have are 100% soy with natural wicks used. They create the least carbon monoxide, making it safe for everyone in the family. Each candle is hand made in Australia and is filled with the warmth oils of Sandalwood and Honey. 

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Did you notice the gorgeous typography on the candle? I love the gold classy print, adding a touch of class to our living space. Gratitude. Often we move quick through the day, forgetting to slow down to see the important things in life. The sweet scent and wording reminded me that it is ok to take a moment and be mindful and thankful of all that we have. A hug in a candle. That was what it felt like. 

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I dig deeper. Check the whole range out. There is something for everyone. If you prefer a non candle option, Circa Home created Fragrance Diffuser-perhaps for your bathroom? They even have an electric wax warmer, designed to be in rooms where the warm scent lingers without a naked flame. 

WIN: A Limited Edition Gratitude Gift Pack

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The good people at Circa Home is giving away a gorgeous limited edition Gratitude Gift Pack. Just in time too for Mother’s Day! The best thing is that the pack is for YOU and someone special. Follow the link to enter this fantastic competition.

Prize includes:
2 x Honeyflower & Sandalwood Classic Candles
2 x Honeyflower & Sandalwood Fragrance Diffusers
2 x Honeyflower & Sandalwood Scented Soy Melts
2 x Limited Edition Gratitude Electric Wax Warmers
(RRP $251.60)

Competition commences Monday 11 April and closes Sunday 1 May 2016. Open to Australian residents aged 18 and over.T&C here

What are YOU grateful for? 

*Although this is a sponsored post, the views are of my own. 

Review: Baby Bumkins Wet Wipes

 

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(Where are the wet wipes!)

Ever since Asher arrived, I came to know about the wonderful use of wet wipes. They can be used for EVERYTHING. I wipe down trolleys, high chairs, change tables, grubby hands, and dare I say it, even on my own clothes/bag. A good friend whose husband is getting into the field of dermatology, told me to look out for wipes without MI (methylisothiazolinone). It seems MI is linked to rashes, allergy reactions and possible eczema. With Asher being predispose (both hubby and I have mild eczema), we wanted to err on the side of caution. 

Since then, I’m conscious about the type of wet wipes we use. We changed all our wipes to organic ones without MI. Our friends reminded us that the ingredient will linger when we wipe down chairs and equipment, which of course will have contact with the child’s skin. The down side of course is the cost. 

Other things we look out for when purchasing wipes are 1) fragrance free, 2) good size so that we can give little Asher a good wipe without using 5-6 of them!),  3) moist enough and 4) Does not make my skin feel dry or Asher’s skin go red/sore/nappy rash. 

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When Baby Bumkins arrived in the mail, I was cautious yet keen to try them out.

I received

1×3 value pack 80 sheets of Fragrance Free Baby Bumkins Wipes (RRP $9.99)

1 x 80 sheets of Fragrance Free Baby Bumkins Wipes (RRP $3.99)

and 

1x 80 sheets of Lightly Fragrant Baby Bumkin Wipes (RRP $3.99)

 

A quick research show that they do not have MI. They are dermatological tested and are free from nasty chemicals. Much to my surprise, they are soft, moist and does not have any artificial smell. I love how they pop out easily with the opening. After trailing them for 3 days, there were no rashes or any allergic reactions. Hubby voted for them, saying that he prefers the thickness of these wipes in comparison to the ones we usually use! Big ticks for me if hubby loves them too. My favourite would be the fragrance free ones.  With the value pack of $9.99 for 3, they are definitely more budget friendly. 

We are definitely going to look out for them in the shops. Baby Bumkins is a new brand that will be made available in IGA stores. 

 

This product talk is brought to you by Nuffnang and Baby Bumkins. Opinions and thoughts are of my own. 

 

 

The night before…. + Dark Almond Coconut Cookies

4742_87415738090_7739815_nIt was 6 years ago. Friends and family gathered. It was the night before. 

On the 23rd of April 2009. The day before we got signed on the dotted line. I don’t remember much, except that I felt the butterflies in my stomach, the quiet excitedness that I’m marrying the man that I love. 

Every year, I write a post on what I learned and what I aim to achieve in our married life for the next year. This year though, I thought I would do something in addition to that. I wanted to pause and recall those moments 6 years ago. 

So often life gets ahead of us. We rush and run. Work gets ahead. Having Asher changes things. It’s really easy to let time slips through our fingers and forget why we are here in the first place. 

6 years ago. The day before. 

I don’t remember much but I remember how I felt. 4742_87420313090_8171419_n

I was a ball of emotions. I don’t remember feeling fear. I remember feeling a sense of calm. I prayed. It was like I just knew that the decision will be the right one. I remembered thinking back my health scare (where I found a lump on my neck- turned out to be nothing), and how hubby held my hand and said he will be there. I recall those days where I was overweight and was heavier (and taller) than him while we were dating. That did not faze him. I thought back of my anxiety while writing my thesis. He greeted me with coffee. I closed my eyes and remembered how we prayed together, when we did not know if we should move our relationship forward. I giggle as I recall how anxious he was when he asked me to be his girlfriend and even more so when he asked me to marry him. 

Fast forward. 6 years. The day before we signed the papers. 

I want to remember those feelings because in this journey of 6 years. It was the level of commitment. Steadfastness. Kindness and forgiveness that brought us here. IMG_1660 (427x640)

I want to hold these feelings tight and close to me. It has been a lovely 6 years and I’m sure more to come. Dark Chocolate Almond Coconut Cookies

These cookies have been 10 years in the making.  I know how much hubby loves these. I’m pleased to say my last experimentation worked. Coconut sugar was the key. It add the melt in your mouth texture, and not a lot was needed as well. You deserve every bite my darling! Thanks for the patience, as I made these gems!IMG_1658 (427x640)

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Date and Coconut Loaf (Paleo, Gluten Free)

IMG_1253 (640x427)Counting our blessings takes practice. Going through life, it is very easy to take things for granted or see our challenges as huge. The “big picture” is often not seen as we focus on the difficulty that we are facing currently. 

I saw Asher having a mini melt down when I took his toy car away the other day (because it was lunch time and we eat first then play). It reminded me that to him, it must feel like the end of the world when something upsetting happen. The “big picture” is that he learn how to focus on his food and hunger/full cues and not be overly distracted (Which he usually is) if he has a toy car in hand at the same time. 

Applying this in our adult life can be somewhat tricky. Hubby and I were talking about our goals and plans for this year as a family and as a couple. We spoke about our work and the direction this year may bring. There is a level of uncertainty for me as I’m currently on a contract till mid year. We pondered questions such as is it the right time for me to increase my days of work, or continue my current hours. We discussed our travel plans. Then we talked about his work and career path. IMG_1250 (640x427)

Sneakingly, those doubtful words creeped in. “Oh what if my contract does not get renewed or I’m not offered a permanent position?” I asked anxiously. Hubby then spoke about how nice it would be to work closer to home or one with more flexibility. oh and “Oh too bad we cannot travel to whatever place for some time”. 

Then it hit us. Have we missed the point completely? To count our blessings that we have jobs that pay the bills, and a house to return to. Food on our table, and clothes that we can wear. Time on the weekend that we spend together as a family. Friends that we trust and speak to. Technology that allows us to connect with overseas family and friends. 

We may not know what is around the corner. One thing for sure, is that we need to count our blessings that we are together as a family. Yes, those uncertainties will always be present. God’s big picture may not always be revealed. IMG_1254 (640x427)

This year, we are learning to take deep breathes and roll with what may come our way. 

I made this Date and Coconut Loaf out of a whim one afternoon. It’s light and crumby and goes very well with Earl Grey or coffee. My delight is when Asher wants “more cake” and when hubby returns home after a hard day at work, and have something sweet and freshly baked for him. IMG_1252 (640x427)

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Review: Sunsol 10+ Muesli Range + Homemade Muesli Bars Recipe

GIVEAWAY ALERT!

This product talk is brought to you by Nuffnang and Sunsol.

We are celebrating the New Year by giving you a chance to eat your way to good health in January.

Towards the end of 2014, I was notified by Nuffnang that Sunsol has recently updated their muesli recipes. Curiously, I accepted their invitation to try the range. I would add that given that I follow the principles of eating clean and paleo, it may appear strange that I would try oats or muesli. The bad camp literature of having oats would discuss digestion issues, sugar spikes and how it comes from the wheat or processed food category.

When it comes to food, I struggle with being in a box strictly. I honestly believe that everyone bodies are different and we have to figure out what works for you. What works for me may be different for you- it takes courage, time and determination with a dose of patience to discover if certain food causes issues for you.

Through some experimentation, I found that I do react to lactose, sugar and some degree of gluten. Reactions to me mean low energy, digestive issues, feeling sluggish, bloatedness and headaches. Rice is a grain that I’m ok with in low quantity. Oats is an interesting one because I’m undecided about it. Before being on eating clean/paleo, we would have oat porridge for breakfast nearly every day for winter. I have since discovered that those sachets that I bought contained heaps of sugar and instant oats just doesn’t quite cut it for stabilising blood sugar levels or my appetite for the matter. However, I added oats to my home made granola as a strategy to increase my milk supply during breastfeeding and I found that not only it did worked in milk supply, I did not have that hunger/sugar slump.

The answer really, is how I eat oats. Small quantity with plenty of seeds, coconut and nuts worked. 

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Having receive the offer to try the Sunsol 10+’s new recipes and blend of muesli, I jumped on their website to have a look at the nutritional panel and ingredients list. To my surprise, it was full of good for you ingredients like nuts, coconut, and seeds. I like that it has a range of 6 blends of muesli- which means you can pick the one that suits your dietary requirements the best. It ranges from Ancient Grains, to Nut Lover to different Fruit Blends. I would say that for the fruit ranges, the sugar content can be still a tad high (because fruit does contain sugar after all), but the Nut Lover and Ancient Grain Blends contain 1.9grams and 11 grams respectively per 100grams. The fruit sugar ranged from 17-20 grams per 100 grams. I noted that the Fruit Lover has the highest amount but the Orchard Fruits and Almonds have the least in that range.

I compared it with other muesli ranges (Since I make my own these days, I’m a little out of touch with the market range. Do note that the Sunsol range featured in the comparison was their old recipe) and do think that the current Sunsol 10+  range stands out with their new blends and lower sugar content approach.

I would say that the Nut Lover blend is my favourite because it has a good mix of 10 different ingredients including almonds, walnuts, macadamias and cashews. Ancient Grains come in a close second. I’m a fan of high nutrient dense food and the ingredients list on Ancient Grains is pretty impressive with amaranth and chia.

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So how do I eat it? Remember how I said portion size is important? It is rare for me to eat a bowl of muesli by itself. I would prefer to pair it with some fat. What I have done is to sprinkle a tablespoon or two on my yogurt. I would have it with blueberries. I like the crunch from the nuts and that it is not sweet at all (From the Nut Lover Blend)

I have also done it in overnight oats style. I call it Salted Almond Butter Overnight Oats– mixing the 1 cup of Ancient Grains Blend with 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, 1/2 of coconut milk, 1/2 cup of almond milk, 1 tablespoon of nut butter, and a pinch of salt. It is so simple that I’m not sure if I call it a recipe.  This makes a lovely summer breakfast for my hubby who is on the go in the morning at 6am. I sprinkled with some toasted coconut and blueberries. Hubby is not usually an overnight oats person and in his words, he said “I can get used to this!”

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Given that Sunsol 10+ Muesli was so generous in giving me 6 packets, I have also experimented and made some muesli slices. In my world, this is considered as a treat food. Asher loves baby muesli bars and I’m trying to reduce reliance on baby package food when we are out and a bouts. Hence, I used some muesli to make little bars for him. My parents also enjoyed it for their afternoon tea. It is a great travelling snack/portable breakfast.

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I made a batch for hubby’s work colleagues and it was a hit! He came back saying that people were surprised by the crunch texture and natural sweetness coming from the honey and fruits. My parents requested the same batch for them to bring back home! I guess if I could sway MORE people to eat better, rely less on packaged sugar filled muesli bars, I’m happy.

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If you have come to the end of my post, lucky you! ONE very lucky reader will receive 

1 x hamper which includes: 4 packets of Muesli, together with a Storage Container and a Spoon

For your chance to win, tell me “Which is your favourite Sunsol 10+ Muesli and why?” 

T&C

 *for Australian residents.

Corn Fritters

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Would you believe that Asher is now 15 months young? I’m really a little amazed by how quickly our little man has grown. I’m counting my lucky stars because he likes vegetables (at least for now) and chomps down vege sticks, broccoli, carrots and capsicum like there is no tomorrow. He enjoys his finger food too which was why I have been making different sort of fritters if you are following my instagram.

It was hard to keep my hands off them when they are fresh out of the pan. Making use of coconut flour again, these fritters are fluffy on the inside and slightly crisp on the outside. Seriously yum!

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Corn Fritters (makes around 18)

1 cup of corn kernels

some chopped up spinach

1/2 capsicuned diced finely

1/4 cup coconut flour

5 eggs

pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients. Dollop a tablespoon of it on a hot pan with some oil. Flip fritters over after 4 minutes. EAT!

 

Ginger Salted Egg Yolk Prawns

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Big juicy prawns stared at me at the supermarkets. I recall how every Chinese New Year, grandmother will splurge and get the biggest, sweetest prawns. It represents HA HA (Spoken in Cantonese). Her wish for our new year, is to have lots of laughter and happy moments.

So many days, I whisper Asher’s little achievements to the air or think to myself “Oh she will laugh if she sees Asher saying duck or hammer his little tool box”. I wish I can tell her how my first day went back at work and discuss the Chinese soups I have been making.

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I have been reconnecting with my grand auntie. Sometimes a death in the family reminds you of how precious these moments are with the seniors in the family. I love my grand auntie. She is hilarious and full of economy food tips. She has also taken me under her wings a little. Every phone session, I urge Asher to call her “ah tai”- a term reserved for my grandmother but fittingly for my grand auntie as well.

It’s heart warming.

Looking at the prawns, I decided to cook it in a wine broth with salted egg yolks. Something that both my grandmother and grandaunt will approve I think. Salted egg yolks is really expensive over here. $9.60 for 6. Grandmother used to remind me that salted egg yolks is a peasant dish. They preserve these juicy eggs as their ducks laid them. They tastes really sweet and salty with a richness to it so  less is more. With 4 salted egg yolks close to their expiry date, I used 1 in this dish balanced by the ginger and the wine broth.

That way, we can eat smiling.

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Ginger Salted Egg Yolk Prawns

700 grams of tiger prawns

1 knob of ginger sliced

1/2 cup of chinese wine (I used huo thiong jiu)

1 salted egg raw

1 bunch of spring onions

1 chili chopped

1 tablespoon of chopped garlic.

In a hot wok, heat oil and brown garlic, ginger and chill. Quickly add the prawns and fry till lightly pink. Simmer with the wine and salted egg yolk. Lastly, toss in the spring onions. Serve quickly.

Coconut Berry Muffins

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I spoke about using left over ingredients. One of the things I do at the end of the week is to plan and create recipes that make use of what is left in our fridge. We have a HUGE fridge and generally, it’s emptied of vegetables and fruits by Friday. The shelves are stack full earlier and will slowly emptied by then too. I dislike wastage and try to make use of left over coconut milk or cheese if they are close to their use by date.

So on that day, I had coconut milk that I wanted to use. I ran out of almond meal and only have some coconut flour left. Thankfully, I have quite a few eggs left. The first batch was quite eggy, hence I reduced the number of eggs and added a little more coconut milk to balance off the ratio of coconut flour. Hence this recipe was created!

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Coconut Berry Muffins (Makes around 16)

2/3 cup of coconut flour

5 eggs

1.5 cups of coconut millk

1 tsp of vanilla paste

1 tsp of bicarb soda

2 tablespoon of lemon juice

1 tablespoon of honey or rice malt syrup

1 cups of frozen berries

Directions:

1) Preheat Oven to 180C. Prepare muffin cups.

2) Whisk wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients like coconut flour and bicarb together. Fold wet to dry, adding berries last.

3) spoon into muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes or so till golden brown.