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A Simple Orange Coconut Cake with Cream Cheese Yogurt Frosting (Not quite paleo, gluten free) + Christmas and Feasting

Simple orange coconut cakeIt’s beginning to look a lot like christmas…

I’m a huge fan of christmas. The decorations come up, the songs are playing and presents wrapped. It is a time to remind ourselves of the love that God has sent us.IMG_2660 (640x427)

It is also when people seem to think we can “let it go” and “indulge”. Instead of an “all or nothing” thinking, I prefer to think of it like any other day or time of the week. We decide consciously if we are going to eat it. Sometimes we may take a bite and decide against it (I’m the girl who takes the smallest slice/taste, nibble on it and then go have a bigger helping if I like it). If I have a glass of wine, I’m going to enjoy the glass. I choose to say no when I want to say no. If I say yes, I choose to enjoy it.IMG_2671 (640x427)

I view the same way with birthdays or any other special occasions. I know that the slice of cake will not cause me to gain 5 kg. Maybe christmas means we are expose to more of these treats. I think it is perfectly ok to have them. It is not about using it as an excuse to go crazy. 

There are many articles about feasting and “eating healthy” at Christmas. The formula I believe can be simple. More veggies, more salad, some protein and enjoy the treats- but acknowledge they are treats. Move and enjoy moving. 

I made this cake for my birthday back in October. I love oranges and I wanted to share cake with my dearest workout mates. It is really simple but it hit a spot in me. Perhaps it was my birthday, or that it is a layered cake. This year, I learned that celebrations are best with people I enjoy around me. IMG_2675 (640x427)

Cake can be nutrients dense with the right ingredients. Then, we can enjoy every bite and every slice with pleasure. This Christmas, I’m going to practice being kind, being less critical and really just treat food the way it is suppose to be treated. Food. Nourishing. Enjoyment. 

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Apple Crumble Cakes (paleo, gluten free) + How I de stress

IMG_2634 (427x640)What? Only a week since my last strawberry post.. No! Strawberry withdrawn symptoms already. So at the farmers market we go to, I walked past a sign that says 2 boxes for $7. They looked big, luscious and practically calling my name. So into our basket (stroller) they went. IMG_2636 (640x427)

Once I got home though, I realised that these strawberries weren’t going to last for long. That’s ok because I have plans to make the banana strawberry loaf again… only to realise that my bananas aren’t ripe enough. I know. Tragedy. 

I do love a good crumble. With some macadamias in the pantry, I decided to whip some of these baby cakes out. Crunch on top and softness of the cake beneath it. It was yum.Apple and Strawberry Crumble Cakes

Baking is my de-stressor. I’m not a good “relaxer” my mind whirls and I can’t stop thinking. Being a mum makes it worse as I’m constantly planning ahead. Doing something though means it takes off my mind off the constant stream of thoughts. Baking and exercises are both things that forces me to focus.

So this is a result of one of my “de-stress” mornings. Thanks to Asher, I generally wake at around 6am, if not earlier anyway. It is not uncommon for me to bake either before he wakes or while he is eating his breakfast. That sets my day right. 

How do you de-stress? hit me with more ideas. 

 

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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)

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Rosewater, Orange and Passionfruit Loaf with Coconut Frosting (Dairy free, Nut Free, Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating) + I’m grateful for…

IMG_2382 (640x427)Say WHAT? It’s my birthday TOMORROW! I’m another year older?!?! They say that time moves faster when you have a child and I do agree with that statement. 

It has been a special year with me learning how to juggle with work and family. IMG_2381 (640x427)

I am grateful for

  1. Having work arrangements that fit into our family life
  2. Being able to experience and be a mum
  3. Having a great relationship with my parents and in laws 
  4. Having a hubby who puts our family ahead and loves us
  5. Being surrounded by like minded friends. I know who I can always count on for a chat and a coffee
  6. Health
  7. Living in a country that is safe and conducive for a family to be in
  8. Friends to workout with
  9. Hot coffee
  10. ChocolateIMG_2391 (640x427)
  11. Cheese
  12. Strawberries and Blueberries 
  13. Tea
  14. Humour
  15. Books and magazines
  16. Workout routines
  17. Being alive and having our basic needs met
  18. Smell of spring
  19. Sleep 
  20. More importantly, our Father in heaven who always seem to know what we needRosewater Passionfruit Orange Loaf

Having quite a few passionfruit in our fruit basket, I paired that with a juicy orange to make this cake. The showstopper for me though, is the frosting. It brought the this simple tea loaf to the next level I think. I usually steer away from making any form of frosting as I find that cakes generally do not require any more sugar! This one though, balances out the acidity from the orange. Try it and let me know!IMG_2386 (640x427)

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Strawberry Crumble Cake (Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating) + Have that choice of eating well

IMG_2312 (640x427)This crumble cake was inspired purely because I had left over Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote left. Yes, we could have just have it for breakfast with our granola, but I thought it would make a wonderful moist filling for mini cakes. Truth is, I love strawberries. I am always finding ways to use them. 

To follow up with my previous post about simple food, I hope that I’m sending a message that healthy is delicious. I want Asher to grow up appreciating food. I hope to share the good news that it is ok to nourish our bodies. It is not hard and it is definitely a choice.  

Sometimes I am asked the question on how does my hubby feel about all these? IMG_2319 (640x427)

We see us as a team. He saw the journey I went through and my battle with obesity. He saw how I battle with PCOS and our struggle with infertility. He watches documentaries. He witnessed his mother battling cancer and autoimmunity issues. He ate the food and he enjoyed it. 

Besides, we eat steaks. We have sweet potato chips. To him, we have not “lost” much if not any. What we had to do though, is to re adjust our food budget. We had to eat out less and cut back on other things to spend more money on vegetables, fruits and meat. On top of that, we love to shop at our local farmers market- which can be a tad pricier but so much fresher. Once hubby tasted the fruits, there was no turning back. 

How about traditional chinese meals? We still have time, just less of the sauces. If we travel overseas, we eat. We recognise that it is a small percentage of our meals overall so as long as it doesn’t make our tummy hurt, we don’t see a problem. IMG_2318 (640x427)

Same goes to eating out. I do think it is much easier to do so here than in Asia countries where there are processed carbohydrates everywhere. Even my own mother brings her lunch to work because she found that there are way too much processed food at foodcourt in the hospital she works in! 

But back to Strawberry Crumble Cakes. That’s the reason why I experiment. I want hubby and Asher to know that we can have healthy treats that fuel the body. They make us feel good- all the time. Not just the 5 minutes that will pass our lips. IMG_2321 (640x427)

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Lemon Pistachio Cakes (Gluten Free, Nut Free, Clean eating, Paleo) + Life as a working mum

IMG_2250 (640x427)My mind ticks and turns. I have this list of things running in my head all the time. 

Having said that, working 3 days seem to be working for us. We dropped some other commitments and I find that the “long weekend” I have with Asher is working. How do I know?

  • We are starting to get into the groove of weekend bulk cutting/cooking
  • I’m falling into the routine of when to do certain household chores like clothes folding and general cleaning
  • I can focus and work those 3 days, yet feel that I have time with AsherIMG_2249 (640x427)

Of course there are weeks where it feels a little more tiring than usual. Hubby commented that he notices that by Thursday, I look shattered. I may look that way but it is also a sense of relieve that I get to spend that wonderful full day with Asher on Friday. We have pj mornings where we stay in doors, get some household chores completed but we would also draw/paint or create something in the kitchen. Sometimes I would make pancakes which apparently is his favourite food at the moment! IMG_2252 (427x640)

These lemon pistachio cakes were created during one of those friday mornings. Since I love cooking and baking, I can’t help but want to involve Asher in it. Sometimes he is very enthusiastic and wants to beat the eggs up or fold in ingredients. Other times he can be curious and want to know what each item is. There are also times where he prefer to do his own thing and leave me to my own devices. 

I used almond milk but feel free to use usual milk or a water down version of coconut milk if you like. I love pistachios. In chinese they are known as “Happy Fruit”. They are pretty expensive though and I use it sparingly. IMG_2251 (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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Mini Orange Coconut Cakes (paleo, gluten free, nutfree, dairy free) + How I survive early mornings and late nights

Orange Coconut CakeYou know those days where setting the alarm is important? It hardly exists in my household anymore. Asher loves waking up early in the mornings. We rejoiced when he wakes between 6-7am. Sometimes it is between 5:30-6:30am. It’s what makes parenthood interesting. You never know what time you will wake. Take this morning, he woke up at 6:50am aka meaning I had a SLEEP IN! How good was that! 

I’m finding it really tricky to sleep earlier though. Since starting work, those quiet evenings when Asher sleeps becomes even more precious. He usually goes to bed between 7:30-8pm. It does varies depending on his nap times and if we are out on weekends. Generally though, he is asleep by 8:30pm latest. Hubby and I would then clean up, prep for the next day, put a load of washing on and watch an episode of Masterchef with a bowl of fruits and hot tea. That is when we attempt to have a decent conversation and plan for the weekend or whatever event we have on. That means we try to get to bed by 11pm, though realistically, it’s closer to 11:30pm. 

IMG_1929 (640x427)So if we have sleep between 11:30pm-5:30am, that’s around 6 hours. Give and take an additional hour or so. Hey, pretty good right? Not on the nights where Asher has difficulty settling or falls sick. On average, Asher will wake once a night. Most nights, it doesn’t  take long to re settle him. He just want to know we are around and nearby. A comfort hug and light strokes and he is back down in 15 minutes. Other nights, we have NO idea why he is up. We would have gone through the list and he would still be upset. It could be toddler nightmares or teething. Whatever the case is, we try to comfort him the best we can by being present. 

So really? On some nights, one of us will have less than 5 hours of sleep. Maybe 3-4 hours. How do we manage to get through the day?IMG_1925 (640x427)

– Hubby and I try to take turns. We learned that it is easier to take turns by days. So at least one of us have a decent night sleep on some nights. This usually makes the next night more bearable.

– Coffee. I would need a shot by 4pm. I try to delay drinking coffee till the late afternoon when I really need it. Some people struggle with sleep having coffee so late in the day. I need it to stay awake till 11pm!! hubby would have his earlier in the morning though. 

– We have a mattress in Asher’s room. Some nights, it is just easier to sleep there or with him on the mattress. That buys us an additional hr or two sleep. Plus it’s more comfortable than sleeping on the carpet. 

– Eat well. I cannot stress how important nutrition is. Just keeping vegetable sticks, nuts, protein like eggs around helps to keep the sugar level balance and not range for sweets when the 3pm slumps hits. Also, breakfast. If I have to wake at 5:30am, give me my food! 

– I may look like a zombie at the gym at 5:30pm but I always feel better after a workout. That endorphins hit is so good…

– First thing I do when I wake up is to hit the loo, brush my teeth and wash my face. Part of my morning routine is put on make up and going out clothes. That helps me feel a little more human and look slightly more presentable. 

– Keep busy. I try not to think about how little or much sleep I have. I just have to keep moving and doing things. 

– On days that I do not work and put Asher down for a nap, I might rest with him. It might be between 10-20 minutes but it makes a big difference. 

– Having something positive to look forward to. On weekends, we have family lunches. A good coffee always makes me happy. And a trip to the farmers markets. 

I like to think that I can be more productive if I wake earlier. On my work days, I tell myself that I get an extra 30 minutes or so with Asher before work begins. On my non-work days,  I might do a quick vacuum around the house before our swimming class. I might schedule in an activity with Asher. Like these cakes for instance. Asher has developed a curiosity  around what we do in the kitchen. Plus he loves oranges. IMG_1924 (427x640)

Using the pressure cooker, I steamed the orange for 15 minutes while he ate breakfast. Then all I did was to sit him on the bench, and get him to tip measured out ingredients into the food processor. He watches it whirls while giving me a cuddle (It still scares him a little!), and then we try spooning it to the little cups. I place it in the oven, and tell him that he made it. He patiently waited for those cakes to come out of the oven, cool and had one before his swimming class. Then he looked at me and said “asher made” with that bright look in his eyes.

That made me melt a little. Perhaps that 5:30am wake up was worth it (who am I kidding…?!?) 

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