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Pesto Smoked Salmon and King Prawn Zucchini Kelp Noodles (Gluten Free, Paleo) + Summer

IMG_2519 (640x427)I’m not a big fan of summer as I dislike the HOT weather! But here are some things of what I love about summer

  • Longer days
  • Lighter meals
  • Quicker meal preps with salads back 
  • Seafood
  • Outdoor workouts. Fresh air is good
  • Higher energy levels 
  • Christmas is approaching 
  • Slippers and sandals
  • Shorts and dresses IMG_2521 (640x427)

We have been having heaps of zucchini lately. They are cheap, plentiful and so easy to prepare. My favourite way is to have it spiralised. 2-3 zucchinis with carrots and kelp noodles can last us for 2 dinners and 2 lunches. 

Do you buy store bought pesto? We used to. Then we realised that a bunch of basil costs $2 or free if it is from your garden and we started making our own. I don’t usually have a clear recipe because I whiz up whatever I can find. This version though, has some almonds and parmesan. You can omit the cheese if you like but I love the sharpness of it. IMG_2524 (640x427)

I like a poached egg on it. Just because. Well, I like how the runnyness of the egg goes so well through the noodles. It’s pretty awesome actually. I can have it weekly I think! 

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Paprika Pulled Beef (Gluten free, clean eating, paleo) + Other advantages of bulk cooking

IMG_2239 (640x427)How many times can you “pull” a meat? Many I think! I spotted this gorgeous looking chunk of brisket at the butcher and could not resist myself. It was like the meat was calling for me. I wondered- would it be rendang? or perhaps pulled beef. Hubby pipped up that we have not tried making pulled beef before and the challenge came on! 

Many recipes out there called for the beef to be smothered with bbq sauce. We do not like those sauces as it often has fillers and plenty of sugar in it. Instead we marinated the beef with paprika and made sure the sauce was filled with fresh tomatoes and garlic. I did use some bacon to add flavour. The cinnamon may appear odd but it adds to the sauce for sure. IMG_2240 (640x427)

 The 1+ kg brisket was enough to feed 5 meals. Three dinners and two lunches. It was awesome. Why? It saves time, electricity from cooking and that means when I’m tired, I know there is some pretty lovely tender pulled beef waiting in the fridge for us. Bulk cooking, I realised, provide other benefits too. We do less washing in the week, and the kitchen remains cleanly for longer. That means we can spend post dinner time doing more fun things like reading stories and having a longer bath time. IMG_2241 (640x427)

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Tender Beef Cheeks Curry with Silverbeet (Paleo, Clean Eating, Gluten Free)

Tender Beef Cheeks CurryI have recently discovered that Asher does not mind having a little kick in his food. I found that out accidentally when I did not realise that the soup I gave him was a little spicy. It did not faze him at all and he had 3 bowls of it. 

Gradually, I started incorporating more heat to our food. If I cook a curry, we might give him the chicken without the sauce. I might even put a pinch of paprika powder in our casseroles. He seems to enjoy it, which we are pleased about. IMG_1968 (640x427)

Having some beef cheeks on hand, I decided to make a curry paste to cook it with. There are times that I look at a proper recipe but most of the time, I just blitz up whatever I have on hand with some curry powder, spices, lemongrass and curry leaves. This time round, I actually took measurements! 

The curry powder I have on hand is a mild one. So with it, I added a pinch of chill powder. That provided a gentle kick, to which Asher- who does not eat a lot of beef, gobbled it up. I do realised that if we purchase grass fed good quality beef and lamb, Asher would have more of it. I guess children do know the difference after all! I think I over did the cheeks a little. It was really falling apart and hardly kept it’s shape. Doesn’t matter to Asher though! I loved it when a plan comes together. IMG_1971 (640x427)

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Stuffed Herb Mushrooms + Any suggestions for roasting vegetables?

Stuffed MushroomsStuffed anything is popular in my kitchen. Heck. Any idea or recipes that uses the oven is a winner to me. 

I know the craze over a thermomix. I am tempted. So ever tempted. After all, a machine that chops, cooks, stirs, steam that looks space like is pretty enticing. It does consists of a hefty price tag of $2000 which makes me hesitate. 

Maybe one day we will “invest” in one.

Right now though, I work my handy food processor and oven hard. Especially my oven. Moving into this house, we installed a 1.5 oven. I should have gone for a double oven on hindsight. A typical weeknight dinner consists of a roast chicken, and at least 2 trays of vegetables ready to be roasted. I rotate my vegetables on a weekly basis. So far, I have roasted


-sweet potato









-long beans

-snap and snow peas

– spaghetti squash

– brussel sprouts



Please let me know if there are anything that I have missed out in this list 😉 

Some weeknights, I make stuffed capsicum. This time though, I spotted some gorgeous huge mushrooms at the markets we go to and I thought, why not make stuffed mushrooms. It was such a winner with Asher that he ate 2 huge ones. The bonus was he discovered that he really likes mushrooms! So much so that he can have it for breakfast.IMG_1922 (640x427)

Gotta love a toddler who likes his veges!IMG_1921 (640x427)

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Cinnamon Beef Ribs with Silverbeet + Childled play

Cinnamon Beef RibsI am learning about play lately. Specifically child led play. The notion of letting Asher takes over and just do what he wants while I follow his lead. 

Play has so many layers of meanings to it. A child’s ability to explore in a safe environment, experimenting and working out what goes where and what sounds it makes. I know that if given an option, Asher love having the two of us watching him and being with him play. 

Child led is really a skill. It is so tempting to correct him or encourage him to pick up a different toy. My mind wanders to the messy kitchen or what can I make for dinner next week. Child led play forces me to be present and just enjoy being with him. It tells him that he is important to me. It demonstrates respect to him. IMG_1896 (640x427)

And so we set it up. It was post lunch and I reminded myself to be present. Asher asked me to open a box consisting of 4 mini cars and a car transporter. He wanted me to help him set it up. Then it was a game of sliding the cars. He named the colours and I repeated it, praising him as we go along. His attention went to the bigger cars and attempted to slide the it onto the truck that did not work. We laughed and we started a game of bumper cars. Suddenly he pointed to the slide and he asked me to be on it. I said “mummy is too big” but attempted to slide down which made him laughed. He went under the slide and pointed that out to me. I followed him and it became a game of chasey. His attention went back to the car transporter and started playing with it again. Then he handed me a car and I said “mummy’s turn” and he nodded. That two words turned into a game of turns, and cuddles. He went to the shelves and wanted some help with the cashier toy. We pretended to go shopping and paid for some items. We even pretended to eat an apple and drink some milk. He was having such a ball and giggled each time we pretended to eat something. IMG_1899 (640x427)

25 minutes later, I told him that we have 5 more minutes and then it is nap time. He said “no” and pulled me to a book. We did some reading and I told him we have a minute left. I sang the pack away song and he started helping. He took a book and walked towards the stairs. In bed, I read to him and he gradually drifted off to sleep. 

His behaviour reminded me that there is so much joy in play. So much contentment and just being with him. I’m joining in his world. He loved the attention but most of all, he almost seems to be calmer. As I stared at him sleeping, that 30 minutes reminded me of what being a parent is about. I’m sure fast forward 18 years later, he will not remember these moments. But I do. and that’s what’s matters. 

IMG_1896 (640x427)You hear me talk about the dilemma of making fast dinners but also wanting to add different variety to our meal planning each week. Winter is exciting to me because I can start braising and experimenting with different cuts of meats again. I am a fan of pressure or slow cooking and is determine to utilise our pressure cooker more. At our local markets, I picked up some gorgeous looking beef ribs and decided to experiment using a Pete Evan’s recipe from his Family Food Cook book. The flavours are wonderful, the meat melted in our mouths and it tasted even better the next day. The best bit about this kind of cooking is that that leaves me more time to play! 

And that’s the bit about parenthood that I love. 

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Cashew Basil Pesto (Gluten Free, Paleo, Clean Eating) + Asher’s food journey

IMG_1743 (640x427)Besides breakfasts, dinners are of our favourite meals of our family. We talk, chatter and simply try to rest as we wind down. I would say we endeavour to eat as a family 3-4 times a week, with the rest hubby feeding him while I’m at the gym. Those nights are also appreciated though, as that means hubby and I usually have dinner together later while Asher eats earlier. 

Seeing our little man eat is a joy to me. As such, I empathise with my friends whose children are currently struggling with food. Food is such a big part of our culture that when a child does not eat, the judgement can come fast and hard to the parents. How awful! It really ins’t helpful to say statements such as “why do other kids eat and yours don’t?”, “you have to discipline the child”, “why are you letting him eat just crackers and nothing else”. 

The good news is that it could be a phase, and perhaps later on the child will discover it. Our role as parents is to be consistent and never give up.IMG_1741 (640x427)

On the other hand, friends ask how did we “train” Asher to be a good eater? I will be the first to say he has his good and bad days. The other week, he had gastro and all he wanted was crackers! He was also off meat for a little while, but would attack his vegetables with gusto. Right now, he refuses plain yogurt and cheese. However, he seems fine if we mix yogurt with avocado and pear to make a smoothie bowl for him, or have melted cheese over his stuffed sweet potato or in his scrambled eggs. Red meat is not his favourite but he will take fish and eggs anyday. Having said that, he would love my bacon meat loaf one night and refuse to have it on another. 

As such, I do not think it is a matter of training, but a combination of factors that worked to our favour. I know that he will soon have his preferences (he has master the word “NO” very clearly), and might have his turn of being picky soon. I’m bracing myself for that. 

Looking back, these are some things I did from the beginning that may or may not have contributed 

– Having a wide variety of food/eating as clean as I can while I was pregnant

– Same as above while I was breastfeeding

– even when he was a baby, I ate and cooked clean snacks in front of him or with him in a carrier.

– His first solids was avocado with breastmilk. We stayed away from oatmeal. Avocado has a lot of good fat that is beneficial for little ones.

– I ate a lot of vege sticks in front of him. As such, one of his current favourite snacks is cucumber and capsicum sticks! We have photos of him grabbing it out of my hands when he was 9 months young. 

– I do not have any other snack foods in the house. I do have some plain crackers. 

– I limit pouch food (Only for travelling overseas) and packaged snacks for him. 

– As early as we can, Asher has the same meals as we do. 

– While occasionally he has a bite of cake or even some chocolate in a cookie, we have decided to delay letting him have a piece of chocolate or lollies. He is not even 2. I’m sure there are plenty of times that will happen in the future.

– No soft drinks or juices. I do give him a smoothie at times- but that’s because I wanted him to drink kefir. Otherwise, it’s plain milk and water. 

– I try to bake or make his snacks as much as possible but lately, he has been rejecting my baking! All he prefers are fruits, crackers and vegetable sticks….. oh and my home made custard. 

– Hubby involve him in the garden. Asher would help water our herb garden patch. He would also bring in some herbs for me to use. IMG_1748 (640x427)

We like to make zucchini noodles at home. I wish I have more time to make pesto. When I do though, It’s such a lovely addition to any meal. This pesto is special because not only did Asher and hubby planted the basil plant, Asher also helped me pluck the leaves and place them into the food processor. I remembered that as a bub, he was afraid of the food processor but now, he would happily watch it whirl away. The green is such a vibrant colour too. I made this batch with cashew nuts , lemon zest, juice, garlic and a small handful of parmesan cheese. Good quality olive oil is the key. 

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Cauliflower Cake (Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating)

IMG_1501 (427x640)I love cauliflower. I’m pretty amazed but what we can do with this vegetable. You can make it into a mash, enjoy it roasted with cumin seeds, transform it to a pizza base and now…we can have it in  a cake form! 

I’m really lucky that Asher is a great eater. Yes he has his moments where he does not like cheese and refuse to take yogurt if it is white (can anyone tell me what is that about?!?!). However, he does takes most vegetables and enjoys his meat. IMG_1503 (427x640)

I stumbled into this recipe from Epicurious. Some might call it a fancy cauliflower frittata I suppose. To me, it is a perfect one pot dish- protein and vegetables. All I needed to do was to serve it with some side salad for hubby and myself. That’s dinner done. IMG_1506 (640x427)

The addition of fresh herbs like basil takes it up a notch. I would have love to sprinkle a little chilli into it but then again, that’s me. I like spice in everything! 

The best bit is when Asher asks for “CAKE” for dinner. That is one cake I’m happy to dish out night or day. IMG_1502 (427x640)

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Miso Chicken Cutlets on Zucchini Noodles

IMG_0900 (640x427)The weather is warming up. The sun is shining. Spring is here and summer is approaching!! While I’m embracing salads, there is something warm and comforting having a cooked dinner. I’m still using the oven heaps despite the warm weather- it really is my best used kitchen appliance in the house. Placing marinated meat and putting the timer on allows us to do a little more in the evening.

I’m usually faced with the dilemma on the weekend. I have a little more time now, so I would like to cook something that takes more effort. On the other hand, I prefer to take a step back and “just relaxed”. A break from the kitchen makes us better cooks no? Over the weekend, we did just that. We put food in the oven and went for a family walk. Then we stopped by the playground and played slides with our son.

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Relaxing is easier said than done isn’t it? I have to literally schedule in rest time and “no bakes” days. I’m not very good and switching off and even if I have to switch off, I need to do something. Like reading a magazine or writing a post here. I argue that baking relaxes me- but suddenly I’m stressing over having to cook dinner and bake. Yup! It’s all abit ironic in my head.

Nevertheless, life is a journey. You learn about yourself but only if you give yourself permission to. Every emotion carries a meaning in our life. While I enjoy being productive, I’m learning that having a cup of tea and breathing does wonders to my head and mood. And who says taking a breather isn’t productive?

I’m loving my spiralizer. Zucchini and Carrot noodles makes its appearance pretty often in my household. I enjoy seeing Asher trying to place long strands of veges in his mouth and being proud of himself as he worked out how to eat it. To make sure noodles doesn’t get too wet, I would salt it and squeeze water out of it. Then it’s light sauté in some coconut oil on a pan. The chicken? Easy peasy. Marinating it with tahini, miso, mirin and sesame oil, I simply place the dish in the oven, sprinkle with sesame seed and bake it.

Walking into the home with the lovely chicken aroma hits us. And as Asher would say… it’s “nana” time (He calls banana “nana” and use the same word to communicate that he is hungry).

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Miso Chicken Cutlets on Zucchini Noodles (Serves 4+2)

3 zucchini and 2 carrots spiraled

1 tablespoon of garlic


Around 9 chicken cutlets

1 tablespoon of miso paste

1/4 cup of warm water

1 tsp of sesame oil

1 tablespoon of mirin

1 tablespoon of tahini

1/2 a lemon juiced

To make the marinate, mix miso, lemon, warm water, oil, mirin and tahini in a paste. Spoon over chicken and rub it over. Place in fridge for 30 minutes or so to marinate. Or if you are short of time, bake in pre heated oven for 30 minutes.

Squeeze liquid out of vege noodles. Heat pan and sauté garlic. Add vege noodles and toss gently till it cooks. Place on plates with miso chicken on top.

Indian Style Beef Cheeks on Spinach and Paneer Cheese

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When the going gets busy, I tend to shove food in my mouth. Most days, I portion out my lunches or dinners as I know that I will probably put spoonfuls while thinking or doing other things. Eat fast so that I can get on and do other things is usually what goes through my mind.

While I have learned a lot of things from my hubby, slowing down and chewing is one that I did not expect to learn from him. Over the years, he taught me how to drive, garden, use certain softwares on a computer and even put together some pieces of furniture (still not his forte but he is better than me in that department!).  Food is my area but I realised that I have lots to learn from him.

See, hubby has a healthier relationship with food. He eats when he is hungry. He does not deliberately seek out snacks or treats. I used to feel annoyed that he isn’t liking or appreciating what I make. His response was simply “I’m not always searching for it does not mean I do not like them. I do. Each time I eat it, I’m conscious that I’m enjoying it”. In his way, he is trying to tell me that he is savouring what I make and by chowing down means he isn’t giving the food respect that it deserves.

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During meal times, I teased him that he eats slow to get off duty from feeding Asher. However, he has been brought up to chew his food slowly and deliberately.

For the past week or so, I have been consciously slowing down my speed in eating and drinking a hot beverage. Strangely, this act of slowing down not only makes me tastes my food more but calms me down. I did not realise that my mind is frequently on the go. Eating slow is almost like giving myself permission to enjoy what’s in front of me. Sometimes, I put a timer on for 10 minutes and just eat without checking my phone or iPad. I might flip through a magazine, slowly reading each article while chewing my food. That 10 minutes break in the day recharged me.

Another thing I learned this winter (It’s spring now!) is to cook with different cuts of meats. I usually slow cooked beef cheeks in red wine. Now that we are incorporating family dinners in our menus, it does not seem appropriate to feed Asher red wine infused beef! Instead, I marinated the beef with indian spices and cooked it in beef broth. I love the melt in your mouth meat with the dances of spices on my tongue.

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Indian Style Beef Cheeks (Serves 4 and 3 portions for toddlers- I froze some for a rainy day)

4 generous sizes of beef cheeks cut into half (that makes 8)

1 tablespoon of cumin

1 tablespoon of coriander

2 tsp turmeric

1 tablespoon of garam masala

1 tablespoon of garlic

500 ml of beef stock

1 tomato chopped

1 can of diced tomato

1 cup of button mushrooms

1 cup of peas

1 onion chopped

Marinate beef cheeks overnight with spices. In your pressure cooker or slow cooker, brown beef. Remove and sauté onion and garlic. Add in beef cheeks, stock , peas, mushrooms and tomatoes. Cook in pressure cooker for 45 minutes.

Spinach with Paneer Cheese

1 packet of Paneer cheese cut in cubes

500 grams of baby spinach

1 tablespoon of chopped garlic

Brown cheese cubes. Remove and set aside. Heat some oil up and brown garlic. add spinach and cook till it wilts. Toss paneer cheese through.