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Zucchini Apple Chai Spiced Loaf (Gluten Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

IMG_2546 (640x427)I’m not sure what happened but there was one week when we had 4 zucchinis in the fridge. Planing got a little wrong here perhaps or I was just nervous about not having enough (?) zucchinis for our meals. I like to rotate our vegetables on a weekly basis, but somehow there are some vegetables that would frequently, if not weekly be in our shopping baskets. Asher has his moments too and at this stage, mushrooms are his favourites. We would count carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, and capsicums as staples too.  I would say that zucchinis have been a frequent occurrence perhaps in the past year or so- especially when we bought our spiraliser and have been spirialising vegetables for dinners. Zucchini Apple Chai Spiced Loaf

I have not made a zucchini chocolate cake yet, but have paired it with apple to make this loaf. I’m such a big fan of loaves. This, toasted with a hint of butter is delicious in the morning for breakfast. Or with a side of coffee for my 4 pm slump time. Either way, I really like loaves because they are easy to make, forgiving and makes a nutritious “bread” if we feel like having some. 

For the past 2 months or so, I have been experimenting not adding any other sweetener other than just a fruit to bakes. So far so good although I think for bakes involving cacao, some honey or rice malt is unavoidable. My stance is that if there is no need for it, then let’s not add it for habit sake.IMG_2544 (640x427)

In an ironic way, I’m also a little more relaxed when baking about the use of sweeteners. Like all ingredients, I’m seeing it as how to use it effectively. I recognise that that tsp of honey or coconut sugar is harmless mostly, if we take care of our lives in a wholesome manner. 

I have always maintain that our relationship with ourselves, food and others is evolving. Practicing being kind to self can be hard work!

Not making this loaf though. What other pairing goes well with zucchini I wonder? IMG_2546 (640x427)

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“Red Velvet” Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Yogurt Frosting (Nut Free, Clean Eating, Gluten Free)

IMG_2219 (640x427)I hand these little cupcakes out to Asher’s educators on his birthday.  I was so happy with my experimentation that I made another batch for some friends. They look so decadent and pretty. I wait for their response. “Oh, it tastes like a normal cupcake” they say. 

Healthy baking can be delicious and pretty too. People often associate healthy and clean eating as lettuce leaves with plain grilled chicken breasts.  I like to challenge that for sure. IMG_2216 (640x427)

Truth be told I have not made cupcakes since Asher was 1 month old (When I made carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting). I’m not a great froster and so I never quite had the patience for them. This time round, I was “in the zone” and actually thought to myself that I could do this! 

These red velvet cupcakes are made with beetroot and coconut flour. Somehow, I managed to find the ratio that works. It isn’t too eggy, and it looks and tastes like cake. My only issue is that I’m used to not having much sweetness now, hence mostly I’m good with the sweetness coming from the beetroot. The cacao though does gives it a bitter after taste so I have to consciously add 2-3 tbsp of honey more than what I would do usually to give it a lift. Still, 3 tbsp + sweetness from beetroot for 12 cupcakes is pretty good I say. IMG_2220 (640x427)

Now I would be the first to admit that the frosting is not paleo. It has cream cheese AND yogurt in it. You can choose to make a butter cream frosting, or whip up some coconut cream one. Or you can do a double chocolate by melting some dark chocolate with coconut milk to make a ganache! Now that would be decadent. IMG_2221 (640x427)

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Asher’s 2nd Birthday Construction Theme Party (Paleo, Clean Eating)

20150725-IMG_3117 (640x427)Finally a chance to record what we did for Asher’s birthday. This year has gone particularly fast and it seems like yesterday when we had Asher’s 1st birthday bash

What a contrast a year made. Last year, Asher was shy and a little shell shocked. This year, he had fun and greeted almost everyone at the door. 20150725-IMG_3132 (640x427)

We noticed that he has an interest in all things that has wheels. With a few construction sites on the way to swimming and shops, he is frequently pointing out to us what those construction vehicles are. With that in mind, we decided to throw up a small party featuring construction! 20150725-IMG_3220 (640x427)

Last year, we threw a party and catered for around 60+ people for lunch. This year, we hosted an afternoon tea for 30 adults and 10 kids. We kept the menu simple but with a range that would hopefully suit everyone. Once again, I decided that we would have food that we would feed our family usually and avoided adding any menu items with refined sugar and minimally processed ingredients.

The best thing about it being a construction theme is that everything is as rustic as it can be. Very much our style 😉 It was definitely home made! For our decorations, we kept it simple and had balloons with a “Happy Birthday” sign across the play room. The sign was on when we hosted an early joint birthday celebrations with mothers’ group and we kept it there! We found a $7 flag banner with pictures of trucks from spot light, and got a roll of yellow/black tape as a border decoration from Bunnings. All in all, decorations plus the take home goodie bag costed us around $100. 

For our savoury items: 

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Sweet Potato Frittata 

20150725-IMG_3136 (640x427)Vietnamese Smoked Salmon Roll with zucchini, avocado and carrot 

Miso Chicken Nibbles 

20150725-IMG_3139 (640x427)Sushi

20150725-IMG_3140 (640x427)Popcorn that we popped ourselves

20150725-IMG_3142 (640x427)Cheese platter 


For our sweets

20150725-IMG_3115 (640x427)Lemon Tart – A walnut and date crust with a lemon custard on top, Tapioca Kueh which an Auntie made, Fruits and banana dipped in my home made chocolate and toasted coconut.

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Apple and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Yogurt and Dark Chocolate Coconut Ganache

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I was most proud of the cake because other than the cream cheese, it was pretty much paleo, clean and healthy. With only 6 tsp of honey for a 3 layer 9 inch cake + 14 cupcakes, it tasted sweet with the apple and carrot combined. The whole cake was GONE by the end of the party. Looking at pininterest for decoration ideas, all I did was to place 3 small construction figures on the cake with some home made chocolate chia cookie crumbs for decoration. Looking at the photos, I could have done a better job with the frosting- perhaps frosting a layer first, chilling it before placing a thicker layer on it. Lesson learnt 😉 20150725-IMG_3326 (640x427)

The cheeky boy was very much in love with all his party and that’s all it matters!

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My little boy is turning 2…. + Matcha Walnut Cakes to celebrate (Clean Eating, Paleo, Gluten Free)

IMG_5664You may have noticed that recently, I have been writing a lot more on Asher. I think it has something to do with the month of July. I become quite sentimental. I’m still not sure where all the time goes but 2 years ago, I was awaiting for his arrival and here he is now.2 years ago today, I was about to go into labour. 

Perhaps it is because he is a miracle baby.A baby we were told we cannot have. Or perhaps it is just because I am a mother and mothers get a little emotional at times.

Allow me to indulge in being a proud mama. IMG_5589

This year, it has been a year of learning, play and growth. My little explorer. I will return to do a post on what are his current play but I have noticed he is starting to use imaginative play recently. Oh, and then  his speech. He loves pointing things out and telling us all the things he noticed. He is starting to speak in short sentences. “Momma, apple chips please” and “daddy goes to work. On work bus!”. He might tell me “Mummy, arm hurts” wanting me to kiss him and then smile to say “all better”. He is starting to count and sing his alphabets. IMG_6046

His little personality is starting to emerge. Sometimes he can be a little shy. Hiding behind me or wanting heaps of cuddles when someone new visits. He looks at the person blankly, almost not quite sure what to do. When he warm up, oh boy there is his voice. He would run and run. Having that glint in his eye, challenging you to chase him. Matcha almond cakes

How affectionate he can be. Using both hands to grab my face to plant me big kisses. Insisting on holding my hand as we walk in shops. Saying “I love you mummy” at the most unexpected times. Stroking my face as he falls asleep. 

How fair he is. Everything comes in 3. There must be one for daddy, one for mummy and one for Asher. Inventing his lyrics with “Ba ba black sheep. have you any wool. Yes sir yes sir, 3 bags full. One for Asher, one for mummy and one for daddy (who lives with us!).”  IMG_5640

The challenging times has begun of course with the toddler tantrums happening. Over the smallest things at times such as not having the right colour cup. Orange is your favourite it seems. Or perhaps when he is tired. Sometimes, nothing seems to go his way at all. Most days though, Asher tends to manage alright at the moment. IMG_6091

Favourite food? It’s hard to tell but Asher loves sweet potato. Corn is another favourite. I would make him some stir fry buckwheat noodles and he would smash that. Mushrooms is another winner. Not to mention squash, zucchini and even broccoli. Eggs is a classic in our household. Fruits like berries and oranges (here is the word again!) gets his attention. He doesn’t mind meat as much these days too and would happily eat pulled pork, beef ribs or even lamb cutlets. Soups makes him excited. We became lucky in that department that he enjoys whatever we cook. IMG_5875

How about my experience as a mother this year? So much joy. While Asher still wakes at times at night, sleep can still hit us hard from time to time. I’m also finding that the 2nd year is a lot about being present with him. For hubby and I, we are starting to get better with the sleep deprivation haze and time management. We cherish our evenings together and sometimes we would sneak into Asher’s room to watch him sleep.IMG_1987 (640x427)

I will be back with details of his birthday party. Right now though, I’m having a cup of tea and enjoying these Matcha Almond Walnut Cakes. Aren’t they adorable? Perhaps not as cute as my son. Matcha to me just goes so well with both almond and walnut. I love the little crunch of the walnuts as I bite into these cakes. You can choose to add more honey as well since matcha does has a little bitter undertone to it. To us though, we love that the green tea flavour shines through. 


Happy 2nd Birthday to my little man! IMG_1993 (640x427)

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

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

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

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

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

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

– I am mindful that it may become an obsession. 

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

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

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

So the results of my 3 months experiment? 

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

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

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

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Apple Crumble Cake (Paleo, Gluten Free)

IMG_1399 (427x640)I wouldn’t say that my dad and I have the closest relationship. He spent many years of his life working hard for us. I recall that as a child, he would be home past 7pm, and would work weekends as well. Whenever he is home, I would play hair dresser with him *cutting his hair*, or making him cups of tea. My dad would encourage me to read, and would always greet me with a big smile regardless of how tired he was. 

I left home when I was 16. He encouraged me to follow my dreams and path. The only instruction he gave me was that I have to finish what I have started (which was what lead me to complete my post graduate degree in the same discipline as what I started with). Over the years, my spoken mandarin became weaker. And as that happen, dad and I found it tricky to communicate at times. IMG_1393 (640x427)

One thing never change though, his dedication to his family never fails to amaze me. A hardworking man, he chose his family over friendships and hobbies. 

It has been more than 10 years since I celebrated his birthday with him. This year, he was in Perth and what a blast we had. From heading to a winery for lunch before his birthday, to having dim sum on the day itself. Asher clapped his hands and gave him cuddles. I had a chance to bake him a cake. IMG_1398 (640x427)

A very moist but naturally sweet cake. My favourite is bitting into the crumble topping. The crunch is irresistible. I hope you will enjoy this too.IMG_1404 (640x427)

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Happy Birthday to ME! Orange Almond Cake

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GASP! I’m another year older. What a year it has been. Last year, I had 4 month young Asher celebrating with us. Now he is 15 months young! Every year, we learn more. This year I learned

– that sleep is a wonderful commodity.

– coffee makes me happy

– slowing down is a joy.

– family is everything.

– that balance to be fit, strong and happy with my physical appearance.

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– I have drawn closer to my parents following my grandmother’s passing.

– work is work. While I enjoy what I do, my priority remains family.

– I might love my bargains, but quality matters more when it comes to shopping.

Today is family day. Life simplest pleasures. Having a day out with my boys makes me happy. Oh. Yes. And a slice of cake.

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This is another experiment of mine that I loved! Steaming the orange brings out the sweetness and juice. It was moist and satisfying. One recipe to keep for sure.

Orange Almond Cake

1 cup of almond meal

1/4 cup Coconut flour

1.5 tsp baking powder

pinch salt

4 eggs

1 tablespoon of honey

1 tsp vanilla paste

1 orange steamed for 45 minutes.

Optional- orange glaze.

half an orange juiced

1 orange zest

1 tsp of honey

1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds

Pre heat Oven 180C. Place chopped steamed orange in a food processor. Blitz it for 1 minute. Then add all other ingredients. Switch it on and watch it come together. Spoon into a lined 9 inch cake tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes till done! To make the orange glaze, place half an orange juiced, zest and honey in a saucepan. Gently heat it up till it thickens slightly. Spoon onto warm cake. Top with some toasted sliced almonds. Serve with greek yogurt.

Lemon Almond Cake with Coconut Milk Frosting

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I have often said that this blog have watch me grown. As a person, and in my experimentation of food. Behind me though, are great friends and family who support me by trying out and giving me feedback on my experimentations. Some aren’t too pretty, and others are average. Funny enough, when something worked out, it surprises me.

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I have a few friends close to my heart. I made this cake for this girl whom not only do I think is super sweet, caring, fiercely loyal but also one of the first who embrace our change in clean living. In fact, I think she was one of the first who got me going on it too. We exchanged recipes, motivate each other and just did mini cheer dances when the other hit a milestone whether at a workout, or mastering a recipe.

Another friend who I think is one of the most creative people I know suggested a surprise party for her. Excitedly, we came out with a “Bringing New York to Perth” theme. That one afternoon, we had New York theme street signs around the house, complete with a cut out of the skyline of New York. Well, I can’t help myself but to bake a cake can I?

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She loves lemons. I thought, alright! Why not a multi layer cake with lemon curd and coconut frosting? I aimed for 6 layers (jumbo size? America? got the connection? ha!) and thank goodness I did because I ended up with 3! The remainder were cracked and wasn’t usable but they were yummy test cakes.

I learned a few lessons from this cake. Like how to make whipped coconut frosting (It’s super yummy!), how to frost a cake and how to make a healthy lemon curd.

Teresa Cutter is where the cake inspiration cake from. She was a contributor to House and Garden Magazine before and I tore some recipes to keep. I adapted and changed a few things but mainly stuck to her ratios because it works!

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Lemon Almond Cake with Coconut Milk Frosting (Makes around 4-5  9 inches cake)

4 cups of almond meal

4 tsp of baking powder

1 cup of lemon juice

zest from 2 lemons

8 eggs- separated

2 tsp of vanilla paste

1/2 cup of honey

For the Lemon Curd

3 eggs

1/2 cup of lemon juice

zest from two lemons

1/4 cup of coconut oil

1 tsp of arrowroot flour (if needed)

1/4 cup of honey

For the Coconut Milk Frosting 

4 cans of Ayam Brand Coconut Milk

1 tsp of vanilla paste

First to make the cake:

1) Preheat Oven to 170C, Line baking cake tins with baking paper.

2) Whisk egg whites till soft peaks appear. Spoon into another bowl and clean bowl.

3) In another bowl, mix almond meal and baking powder together.

4) Back to the mixer, whisk yolks, honey and vanilla together.

5) Add in the almond meal and mix till combined well. Separate equally into bowls. Spoon the first into the baking tin. (I bake 2 layers at once).

6) Cool cakes completely.

To make the lemon curd (make it the day before frosting the cake):

1) Whisk eggs and honey in a saucepan over low heat. Gently add in the lemon juice and keep whisking. Add in zest.

2) Slowly add in the coconut oil till it becomes nice and shiny. It should thickens as it continues heating.

3) If it is still very liquid after 15 mins, sprinkle some arrowroot. But beware as the mixture will thicken after cooling.

4) Strain the curd, refrain from licking fingers.

5) Fridge it to thicken further.

To make the Frosting (Make frosting when cake is cooling):

1) Fridge coconut milk at least 24 hours.

2) Spoon top layer of cream out and reserve the rest for soups or smoothies.

3) Whisk on high with vanilla paste till it becomes whipped. Fridge it to thicken it further.

Assembling the cake

1) Make sure the cake is completely cool.

2) Spread a thin layer of coconut frosting on top of one layer and a few tablespoons of lemon curd. Repeat for remaining layers.

3) Do a crumb frosting first. Roughly frost the whole cake with coconut frosting till it is covered. Fridge it. This step means the frosting thickens further and stops crumbs from showing in your final frosting.

4) Frost cake after 15 minutes.

5) Add finishing touches like toasted coconut as a garnish.