Banana Chia Pudding (Paleo, Gluten Free, Vegan)

img_3427-640x427Recently I had 4 gorgeous days to myself. The whole zika virus in Singapore and Malaysia means I was advised not to travel. The decision did not come easy as the trip was to celebrate my brother in law’s wedding. It was meant to be a family affair, one that hubby and I looked forward to for months. Still, being pregnant means there are more risks- one that we are not willing to take with reported cases of mircophely associated with the zika virus. After giving it some thought, we decided to have hubby and Ash travel without me. 

I mentioned in my previous post that this pregnancy has somewhat been different for me. The first one was full of excitement and joy. I was sick but happily sick. I might be spewing in the toilet and looking grey for most of the pregnancy, but the idea of having a baby- one that we were told we could never have, just seem so overwhelmingly blessed. I struggled big time with working then as the nature of my work means long hours and travel in the car. 

This pregnancy is our 2nd miracle. We have defy odds. With the pregnancy comes joy in the first second and panic in the second. Many thoughts flew through my mind. I have just settled back to regular work. One that I enjoy going to, feeling challenged and stimulated. As most would agree, the people you work with are just as important as the work. I was beginning to feel like I am settling. Then bam. Pregnancy means I would have to take time off and with much uncertainty to where I will go when I return. 

Then it is the awareness. The awareness of what will come ahead. The sleep deprivation, the thoughts of juggling with a pre scholar and a baby, the labour process- or in my case, awareness that the doctor would recommend c-section the 2nd time round, the cries that you may never soothe, the concern that I may not be able to give this baby as much as I did with Ash… img_3430-640x427

It also came with a lot of nos and rejections. The no travel to Asia to see my parents/in laws/bil wedding, the no you got to rest because you have some spotting and cramps, the no you have to stop doing so much, the no you have to reduce intensity of the workout, the no the darn pants won’t fit anymore… and of course, the no to Ash when he wanted me but I had no more fuel to give. Then we were put on a ‘higher risk” list as bub came out positive with one indicated of down syndrome. Suddenly, the focus was more on knowing that his heart will be ok, and there are no deformities. When that happened, the guilt set in on how can I worry with SUCH LITTLE things when this little life may not have even existed? 

This verse struck firmly in mind. 

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7 

God is good and our prayers have been answered. Things will work out eventually. Right now, we are back to being at the low risk marker. I’m feeling better. And the trip? It was a blessing in disguise because I have not experienced 4 whole glorious days to myself … in what I cannot remember when. 

What did I enjoy?

-HOT drinks and meals

-On my own agenda. A quick duck to the shops? No problems! 

-Groceries done in 30 minutes

-Shopping. Proper shopping

-Silence

-Sleep

-Concentrating on a friend’s conversation

-Clean house

-Less laundry

-No crumbs

-I can play the music I want to hear! 

-Being by myself in the toilet and shower

-Hot long showers

-Did I mention sleep? 

So the 4 days ended and I’m definitely feeling more refreshed. The madness will begin and it will be a long time till I get this freedom again. 

I’m sharing this lovely pudding that I have been having for a snack (or post dinner 4th meal of the day). It’s quick, easy and definitely healthy and tasty. img_3433-640x427

[yumprint-recipe id=’148′] 

 

Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies (Paleo, Gluten Free, Dairy Free) + Respecting the process

IMG_3156 (640x427)When it comes to my self image, it is always a work in progress. You can read about what I wrote about self image, scales talk and food judgement in respective links. Over the past few months, I have more good days than bad. On those good days, I often am reminded by how far I have come and is respecting the process.

I accept that my body is mine and it is different. It has been through childhood obesity, and a fear of fitness. Some fears remain- I still struggle to participate in group sports games (although have actually attempted basketball and some form of soccer). I am the girl whose head just seem to attract any flying balls even when I am simply running OR standing minding my own business. I feel clumsy when I do any kind  of coordination exercises. I still cannot do a high box jump- not a lack of ability but my brain and my legs just can’t seem to communicate, and any technical work on weights takes me ages to master. I can hardly skip, and Asher will probably learn how to cycle before I do.  Heavy weights remain a challenge but I am getting better at it. IMG_3155 (640x427)

So with that into consideration, I’m doing ok. I do not have the toned arms that I envisioned myself having or the clear 6 pack (it’s just hiding). I feel soft some days and tougher on others. Like a dear friend once mentioned- me feeling crapped about myself or saying I feel soft or my tummy seems less firm may indicate other issues such as digestive or immunity rather than my immediate fear of “going backwards”. In reality, the core of the issue is that I have an underlying fear that I will return to my previous self in no time.IMG_3158 (640x427)

My fear is not unjustified. Look at this news article recently. I think healthy weight itself can be a mystery. For most, the formula isn’t too complicated. I took the “Low fat and just cardio like crazy” route and lost 32 kgs the first round. It wasn’t sustainable but I did it. Then, the 2nd time I did it, I took the “Nourish, eat well and just move smartly” method. Worked for me too. Still, with my experimentation of not weighing myself did result in some weight gain, I had to learn how to dial back food. 

The truth is, I may have to be careful for the rest of my life. However, I have embraced a few differences. I do not count calories anymore or keep a food diary. I try to eat well, and be kind to myself. The only “rules” I have is to always start with small bites, and avoid mainly gluten or refined sugar. If i do want to indulge in an extra coffee, I can. If I want to munch on a bliss ball, yes. I just stay away from processed food. I still cook most meals and move regularly. 

One thing I did note though, and with hubby’s observation..is that since I have started hitting my own goals on chin ups, pull ups, turkish get ups and doing double jb squats… I stand taller. I’m less self conscious. There is something about going against what I thought I could not do previously that helped. 

It will always be a journey of self. One that I’m learning not to rush it but respect the process. 

Oh, and enjoy this bickie with my coffee. It’s crumbier and easy. Yes it has some coconut sugar in it. But hey, it’s all relative. IMG_3154 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’135′] 

Orange Carrot Thyme Muffins (Gluten Free, Paleo, Dairy free. Nut Free) + Toddler woes

IMG_3150 (640x427)I have heard and known about the terrible 2s. While it is often viewed as the child being difficult, I looked it as if things just seem overwhelming for a 2-3 year old child. Plus, they are learning how to work the system. While we have beautiful days, we have not so good days too. 

So it came no surprise that for the past few weeks or so, the word “no” or even when I do not use the word but it implied the same thing, tears followed. Logically I know. The frontal lobe is developing and this little person is suddenly faced with what it seems uncontrollable flood of emotions. That of course, is that it can sometimes come with impulsiveness. As a parent, all I can do is to recognise that, being present, set boundaries, pray that the penny will drop and keep going. Showing empathy can be a struggle, but often my “you are disappointed are you?” and “that’s frustrating” was followed by tears, and a burrow into my shoulders. Then a quiet “yeah…” with a gentle nod. I’m learning how to sit with it. To let him accept that we have all these feelings and that is ok. There are moments where I even say “You can cry it out”, and to my surprise, there are times when he would tell me “not ready mummy.  I want to cry”. Oh what  a sweetheart. 

But it has a few magical moments too. Those “sorry mummy” and when I probe further it was “Asher did not listen”, or those spontaneous cuddles and “I love you very much Mama”. IMG_3149 (640x427)

I have often commented to my friends that my relationship with God has deepen since being a parent. Why? Well, let’s just say the amount of times I pray now probably tripled or even quadruple pre Asher days. I count myself as patient but boy, I had to walk away a few times and come back. There was one day, where I had to literally remove myself as I could feel myself tipping over the edge. Soon though, Asher came, apologies were given, the talk was made and cuddles were given. 

Just playing around with a few flavours here for a quick muffin snack. At one point, we went a tad crazy at the markets- coming home with way too many oranges. Now, you probably know that one of my favourite cake to make is orange. It’s too easy. Steam an orange and that provides both the moisture and sweetness to a cake. I don’t have to zest or juice either. Given that my time now is mainly to deal with temper tantrums, seeing the food processor in action is strangely calming…. 

I’m a big fan of adding vegetables to each meal. What’s the difference with a cake then? While we love herbs, I have only recently learned how to pair herbs with baked goods. This is one of my attempts. IMG_3152 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’134′] 

Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon Crunch (Nut Free, Paleo, Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

IMG_2781 (640x427)Sometimes, only a muffin could do the trick. Muffins are great for many occasions. 

  1. Breakfasts
  2. Snack time- morning or afternoon
  3. Sneaking vegetables in
  4. Portable
  5. Quick and easy to make 

And those are just 5 reasons that I can think of. IMG_2778 (640x427)

Truth is, I’m very lucky. My son eats vegetables. Yep. I know. It’s God-sent. I know of many fussy kiddies and am just secretly glad that my son eats them. I see my girlfriends struggle and attempt so many different ways to get their children to have vegetables and fruits, and I really do feel their pain. IMG_2780 (640x427)

So why do I still include vegetables in muffins? I guess I believe that it is the most easy and natural way to bind ingredients with the natural goodness of starchy vegetables. Pumpkin is so versatile. I tend to have some stash away in the freezer. These muffins didn’t take me long to whip up at all, and I didn’t need to put in any sweetener the mixture, though I did add a touch of honey to the crunch topping. 

Another one for me to remember when Asher starts school! 

[yumprint-recipe id=’112′] 

Tuna Pumpkin Patties (Gluten Free, Paleo, Clean Eating, Nut Free, Dairy Free) + Play

Pumpkin Tuna PattiesI’m catching up on my toddler’s food series! One of the things I like doing for Asher on days home with him is to make lunches. Some days we have a mix of left overs. Other days, I make him a soba noodle stir fry, or even sushi. Yes, we have grains for Asher from time to time in our household. 

My days off are so precious with him. To be honest, it doesn’t feel like a “day off” but more like a “day on”. It is  a chance for us to learn, play and socialise. We have play dates. We have swimming lessons. Sometimes we put on music and we dance. We head to a library and borrow books. I view these activities as crucial to his social development. He learn from us socialising with others. He gets to enjoy being around books. In a cafe, he understands how to hold his cup properly (and we are still working on neatness/spoon and fork skills). At home, we learned that household chores need to be done (He puts away his clothes, toys and books). He cooks with me (maths with counting and fire danger). We do groceries. We paint. We do play dough. Sometimes, we do too much and I learn to back off and have a PJs morning from time to time. IMG_2751 (640x427)

Letting him lead with play is so interesting. He makes me play with cars, using boxes as different “stations”. We go “shopping” with him making me hold the basket in a certain way- down o the bit where we need to scan food to pay for it. He wants me to chase him around the house and even play ball. He builds lego hybrid vehicles of a digger and fire engine. 

Of course, we also have those days where he has to learn about his feeling. Those floor tantrums. Tears. It’s all part of toddlerhood. Most times, I sit with him, stroke him and say when he is ready I am here. Maintaining consistency and natural consequences is what we tend to use for discipline. 

I digress. Since Asher likes anything “Pancake”. Making fritters for him seems like a no brainer. I always roast extra pumpkin or sweet potato to freeze. Combine with tuna and eggs, these fritters are jam packed with great protein and vegetables. Serving it on lighting mcqueen plate is optional but necessary. IMG_2750 (640x427)

Tuna

[yumprint-recipe id=’109′] 

Guilt Free Time out + Powerhouse Pumpkin Slice (Paleo, Clean Eating, Gluten Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free)

IMG_2740 (640x427)Earlier in the month, hubby and I spoke about our goals for this year. We dig deep and discussed having more time together as a couple. We discussed having individual time to ourselves. We spoke about our individual journey with God and needing to dive deeper spiritually. We chatted about family time and knowing when to say no- simplifying our routine. 

Time out individually, couple and as family can seem like an oxymoron. Truth me told, we need all 3. Individually and as a couple to strengthen our marriage but also to make us stronger as parents. When I asked hubby what would he like to see change. He replied “you to stress less”. That short sentence made me paused. At the bottom of my heart, I know why. When I’m less stressed, I give more. I see more and I do more. I’m kinder. I’m happier and I tend to be more present focused. IMG_2743 (640x427)

Yet on the other hand, I’m so conscious about us being an individualistic society that we need to see systemically what is required. My grandmother never had “time out” yet she had to manage. She just made do because that’s what she had to do. She did however, work closely with her large family and neighbours. She had a sense of humour. Her attitude was to do the best she can. She told me about liking what she does.

 The more we see that as a problem. The more we tend to feel guilty. IMG_2739 (640x427)

The thing is, time out is a term for re charging. Those days, my grandmother’s re charge was to have a cigarette. She was cranky as and she was “scary” in terms of her temper. She took panadols to deal with the pain. She had her bad days too but had to push on. She had to do what she needed to do. Looking back, I can see why she is strong but I can also see why her struggles to look after her body optimally lead to health issues. IMG_2740 (640x427)

My re charge? to do daily devotionals more regularly. To sit and read. To be ok with taking sick leave when I am sick. To have an occasional outing with friends. And if it all falls apart at times, it is to say that’s ok and just go with it! 

This powerhouse slice was invented in my kitchen when I was looking at an eggless but also less/no refined sugar alternative to bind a slice together. Often recipes call for a huge amount of rice malt/honey or brown sugar. I thought pumpkin might be an idea to add great carbs, but also a natural sweetness to it. This is more of a chewy slice rather than a crispy one. I think it is a powerhouse because it has great fats, good carbs and protein all in one. Best, it is easily portable for snacks. 

Oh, what will you be doing for Australia day tomorrow? We aren’t too sure yet, but it will definitely incorporate some family time together! 🙂

HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY FOR TOMORROW! 

[yumprint-recipe id=’107′]

Apple Blueberry Lemon Loaf (Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating, Dairy free and Nut Free)

IMG_2694 (640x427)You know my love for creating breakfasts. We have a great start to the new year with the public holidays. That usually means I try to make something up fresh for all of us. On other days though, I like to whip up a loaf of some sort and toast it for breakfasts for the boys. IMG_2699 (640x427)

I’m a little boring for breakfasts usually- I like my predictable yogurt with home made granola or eggs for breakfasts at home. Somehow, I find comfort in that. At times though, I do break the tradition and have waffles, pancakes or even a slice of loaf.

Breakfasts for lunch or snack? That’s a different story. You can find me eating eggs anytime of the day, or a sneaking in a spoonful of nut butter. Perhaps even toasting up a slice of banana bread before my workouts. Apple Blueberry Lemon Loaf

I love love love this loaf that I made some time back. A very simple Apple Blueberry Lemon Loaf. The sweetness of apples is balanced by the tartness of lemon and blueberries. It is nut free as well which is a good school item if that’s in your territory (not too far for me too!). 

[yumprint-recipe id=’102′]

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. 

 

[yumprint-recipe id=’97’] 

 

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)

[yumprint-recipe id=’93’]

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)

[yumprint-recipe id=’84’]