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

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Asher turned 3! A gluten free, healthy and mostly paleo party.

Oh hello there! Welcome back to my little space. I haven’t been far. Just pre-occupied with a few things. This time however, I’m back to document Asher’s 3rd Birthday Celebrations. 

birthday set up

This year, I have been sucked in the whole concept of birthday parties. Asher, having his love for wheels suggested one day he likes a fire engine theme party (what would a 2ish year old know right?!). Anyway, having hear his sales pitch of his list of guests and his love for fire engines, I was sucked right in (didn’t take much) and went researching how do I give a fire engine theme party.

I did take the easy way out, and managed to come across a 1960s vintage fire engine that is being re vamped for kids parties. From there, it just seems certain that we are having a fire engine theme party. 

Our family continued to lived with our philosophy of eating- as healthy and as real as it can be. From that, food planning was easy. An afternoon spread of: 

 

birthday cake

Asher’s Strawberry and Chocolate Birthday Cake with Ganache and Coconut Caramel. 

I’m not sure what I was thinking and used coconut/tapiaco- not an usual blend for a big party. It turned out “okish” but certainly not my best bakes so far. 

fruit kebabs

Fruit Kebabs that appeared to be gone in an instant… 

fruit jellyFruit Jelly- Made of grass fed gelatine, coconut water, strawberries and kiwi. I buy my gelatine from here. I’m really happy with this jelly and made it quite a few times for parties/pot lucks or just because. 

miso butter

Miso Butter Chicken- Something warm for winter

smoked salmon loaf

my all time favourite! Smoked Salmon Mediterranean Loaf. Adapted from this recipe here

vege and dipsDips and Veges- Featuring my Cashew “Cream Cheese” and Chives Dip. LOVING nutritional yeast. Who would have thought blender cashews and nutritional yeast and chives would give such lovely protein hit of a dip? A lovely friend brought a gorgeous garlic and herb dip. 

cheese platterCheese and Nuts

sushiSushi

13754134_10153740997178091_7595983491908787864_n

Sweet Potato Chips 

That’s pretty much it! We went against the usual norms I guess but it is food that we would generally have + a few treats (like sushi, cheese, sweet potato chips..). 

asher birthday 3rd

I love how much fun our little man enjoyed himself!

13686596_10153740997488091_5151506763638500218_nI wish we have a photo of him running away when the tap was being turned on! Still, he enjoyed every minute and thought it was very special.

asher 3 flowers

From a blink of any eye, my little baby is turning into a little boy (Big boy he would correct me). His cheekiness, laughs and that twinkle in his eyes. His sense of humour, affectionate ways, cautious, empathic, yet curious amazes me. Not to mention how creative he is starting to become, stacking things, role playing and building… I cannot imagine what he would be like when he is 4, but the beauty of parenthood means I get to enjoy him. The way he is. Right now. 

 

 

Wild Orange Coconut Caramel Jelly Slice + Mum Talk

IMG_3217 (640x427)I have written about mindful play before. Just being present and attending to Asher settles in. He delights in the closeness and undivided attention. I’m struggle with it though, as there are some days that I just want to get things done. Given that Ash is now older, I can set timelines and inform him that I will play with him when a certain chore is complete or if he helps me out, it could be quicker (*disclaimer that it may not be but at least it involves him and he feels like he is helping).IMG_3216 (640x427)

Not just chores. There are days where emotionally I feel so drained that I almost feel like I have nothing else to give. Those days are warning signs as I pretty much feel like a zombie walking around. Asher usual “mummy, come play with me” elicit an irritation. Those days are usually associated with someone being sick, sleep deprivation or a combination of sickness, work and accepting too many responsibilities/appointments. 

I have learned that for my personality type, my mind becomes overly stimulated and I need to be retreated back to quietness to still my brain. Not that easy when you have a toddler wanting your attention every minute! 

So far, self care strategies is holding me. Looking forward to my quiet drive to work as I grab a coffee at my favourite deli. Heading off to a workout. Having a shower by myself. Even just making sure I have my essential oils with me. Eating well and trying to sleep in time. 

And if all else fails, hand child to husband. 

I have been loving making raw treats in my kitchen AND on top of that, utilising my growing essential oil collection with it. This one features one of my firm favourites at the beginning Wild Orange. The other reason why I adore this was because it uses gelatine which is grass fed and gut healing. Not the stuff we can grab from supermarkets baking shelves though. This one I bought from I Quit Sugar. I call it my Wild Orange Coconut Caramel Jelly Slice. IMG_3215 (640x427)

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Matcha Goji Slice (Raw, Paleo, Gluten Free) + Food Judgement P2

IMG_3162 (640x427)Would it be a surprise to you if I say that our food decisions are evolving? At certain points of my life, I have become strict- often having “good food” and “bad food”. I followed strictly to my meal plans, and had great success in achieving several goals. In the process, I discover that there is no such thing as good or bad food- it is food that your body can manage and feel good in. 

Most people I know, would not say “I feel bad eating real food”. While I do have a bite of non-gluten, non-paleo and sugar filled, wheat filled desserts or meals here and there, I eat there being informed that they are for taste and enjoyment. Not health reasons. I still cringe when people think I’m restrictive or “am forever on a diet”. Is health diet a good enough reason? Matcha Goji Slice

The other day, we went out for dinner. It was relaxing, I had a glass of sparkling and ate mostly the meat and vegetables. I had a few bites of a wonderful tasting goats cheese ball (deep fried of course and Asher finished MINE!), and perhaps one of the crispy cracker that went with the guacamole. Perhaps it was my body not being used to gluten, or there was something there that I reacted to- but boy for nearly a week did my gut suffered 😦 While it was not as bad as previously, I was feeling sluggish, together with feelings of bloated, with odd hunger but with no appetite. It seriously reminded me of my IBS days, but in a milder form. IMG_3160 (640x427)

That totally reminded me of why we eat the way we do. I do not regret that dinner, it was a happy occasion and the food tasted wonderful. It did however, remind me that no one else need to judge about my health but me. 

Did I ever mention that I like raw desserts? Oh yes. Must be a million times. This simple Matcha Goji Slice is very low in sugar, gluten free, paleo friendly, high in anti oxidants and tastes like home. Note to self- investing in good quality matcha is a must. I suspect that poorer quality oxidises even quicker. IMG_3163 (640x427)

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Salted Caramel Coffee Slice with Chocolate Swirls (Paleo, Gluten Free and Dairy Free) + 16 years in Australia

I arrived in Australia in 2000. 2 huge luggage cases full of stationery* and “must haves”. My mother and grandmother came with me. As an interim place to stay, I was housed in St Thomas along UWA. I was a teenager. Fresh out of secondary school. I was excited and fearless.IMG_2754 (640x427)

I moved into a little shared housing. For the first time in my life, I learned how to cook, do my laundry and clean the house. My mother checked in with me but together with my grandmother, they left following a week and a half in Perth. They decided that it was time that their little girl grow up and just learn how to be independent. 

I have never been away from them before. Till this day, I still remember how sad my grandmother’s eyes looked but how she smiled courageously. Over the years, I had the privilege of her visiting for long periods of time through my University life. Those memories are precious. Coffee Caramel Slice

There is much to write on. I was home sick. I wrecked up $300 bills worth of calls to friends and text messages to my family. In those days, we even had “icq” to connect with friends. My best girl friends would save money and call me. I would purchase “calling cards” and use public phones. I survived on packaged pasta sachets, and would drenched every thing with oyster sauce. Indo mee was a staple. With an fried egg of course. IMG_2757 (640x427)

The better memories. Road trips. Late night suppers. Chats with friends. The rush to get my thesis(es) done-till the point I was sleeping surrounded by papers and books. The eerie corridor of the university labs at 1am. Learning new “words” in the aussie slang. Enjoying pub food and wineries. Embracing different cultures. Loving cafes and coffees. 

Then, with a blink of an eye… I’m in Australia for longer than I was in Singapore. IMG_2761 (640x427)

This year, marked the start of the 17th year. Fleetingly, the thought came in my head a few times about this. After all, I consider myself a Singaporean and still holds a Singapore passport. Yet, I also identify myself with Australia. This is my home now. I have a son who is Australian. A husband who will soon hold an Australian passport. We love our life here. 

It’s a start of more to come. 

What is best to celebrate with a slice. A relatively creamy slice with the almond butter, coconut milk and tahini. It’s pretty addictive. I find it hard to stop at one! IMG_2759 (640x427)

*I still have left over stationery!

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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! 

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Toilet Training Adventures + Raw Papaya Salad (Paleo, Clean Eating, Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

IMG_2734 (640x427)Asher is toilet trained! Woohoo! What a milestone…and what a journey it has been. Asher started using the potty real early on- when he was 4 months young. Some thing changed at around the year mark where he just refused to sit on it. He could even tell me that he is scared. My pre assumptions is that he is starting to notice many different kinds of feelings then, and perhaps that was a tad over whelming. I should have persevered though because fast forward, he was no where close to being off his nappies. 

That was when hubby and I discussed doing a dual approach. We read books, brought him to the loo with us, we even showed him you tube clips (yes! they have potty songs too!). We went shopping for underwear and told him what big boys do on the toilet. Then we picked a date- 1st of Jan for us to say good bye to nappies. On the day itself, we simply told him we are saying goodbye to nappies through the day, and we are teaching him to use the toilet. 

The first day was HARD. Our goal was just to help him get acquainted with the toilet. There were close to 20 accidents that day.  By the end of the day, he was comfortable on the toilet. We went through times where he had no realisation that he was going, till he realised but it was too late, to actually doing it on the toilet itself. By the end of the first week, we had moments where we totally felt he was not ready. Day care was really helpful by maintaining consistency (as much as they could), but it was also a regression since it was a new toilet and new people telling him to use the toilet. Smart kid told educators that he goes to the toilet at home but not at school/day care. Other heart string moments was when he asked is mama not happy when he had an accident. Much as I have tried to re assure him it was an accident, I guess I must have showed a disappointed face at times. 

Something clicked by day 8. He was compliant going to the toilet and when we were at a restaurant, he TOLD us he wanted to go. Wow! Day 9, we had a play date where there were NO accidents, went to the toilet with me when he was ready and then later in the day, whispered “go potty” to me. 

Still early days, and we have night and sleep time to go through. There are accidents when he becomes pre occupied. That’s ok. He is still learning. We still need to work out travelling as well, but again, we will just have to cross that path when we are close to it. 

For me, I’m just not sure how quickly that 2 years + have flown by and another milestone clicked. 

Raw Papaya Salad

If you have endured through the toilet training story, well done! I have never been squeamish around topics like this given the nature of my work in my early days with children with autism, and being used to baby sitting but I do agree that having Asher makes me think of toilet as another developmental milestone as natural as it can be! IMG_2737 (640x427)

And of course, while it seems “wrong” to pair our story with food. I can’t help myself but to share this lovely salad recipe. We love our salads in my household. Perhaps more so with hubby and myself as Asher finds salad leaves fibrous for him. I actually don’t have a “proper” recipe for this. It was just shredded vegetables that come together. Asher even tried some. Quick, easy and yummy! Now to find more raw papaya! IMG_2735 (640x427)

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Hazelnut and Macadamia Cookies (Paleo, Gluten Free) + embracing challenges

Hazelnut and Macadamia CookiesSomeone said to me this week that the beauty of life is that there will always be ups and downs. It can never always be up. The downs make us grow as a person. 

There is a choice of whether or not we fight those feeling or embrace it. 

I grew up in a family with strong female personalities. My grandmother raised 3 kids herself.  My mother is firm, no nonsense who achieved her university degree as a mature aged student. Not only do I have the blood in me, but also I grew up with those values. To be fair, it is not just the females, my father has always been hard working and drilled morals in me even as a young child. IMG_2727 (640x427)

So what happened between Nov-Jan tested me big time. While I never considered myself as very career driven, I like to think of myself as an instrument to God’s work. I was 14 when the career option of being a psychologist resounded in me. I went wiht that, and never looked back since. I love my work despite its challenges. The event made me realise how vulnerable mothers or anyone wanting part time are, in returning back to work. 

 Uncertainty, difficult conversations and changes face me. A psychiatrist whom I worked with said that given that I am Asian, a woman and a mother means I am a minority. A minority whose culture and personality is more naturally inclined to quit and leave quietly. He warmly said to me to be firm. While the events or comments are by no means racist, rather they are to point out what is naturally against myself. What the psychiatrist said sat with me for a while. IMG_2729 (640x427)

So if this is a period of growth, then I would need to embrace these feelings. It is uncomfortable. It is challenging. It is not the end of the world. I have a plan and I tend to stick to it. Accept these feelings, run with it. We may be surprised by the outcome. 

In the mean time, I am challenging myself to the kitchen. My love for nut butter remains and having spotted Health Nut Foods, I could not resist getting some for ourselves. Our first was Cinnamon Mac. Absolutely delicious. In a cookie? Double the delish. Sandwiched with more nut butter? Ooopsie. What have I done… IMG_2723 (640x427)

ps- take 1 and savour it with coffee. 

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HOT HOT HOT! A Easy Summer Salad with Miso Almond Coconut Dressing

Miso almond dressingThere are times when I do question why do I continue to blog. I do not have a wide audience and really, this is more of a way for me to record down the recipes that I enjoy creating and thoughts of reflection. Then it became a routine and I simply just enjoy penning down some thoughts without the usual rules and boundaries of report writing! IMG_2710 (427x640)

Perhaps that is why my posts are shorter and shorter. It doesn’t mean I stop creating food though. Far for it! I am just finding it harder to find time to write, preferring to spend time with Asher and hubby instead. Still, I find it relaxing and will probably continue to do so. I just have to find the right balance and not feel that I need to put rules on myself in writing a post. IMG_2714 (640x427)

I’m finding it hard to write about the sort of main meals we have- it’s really easy and simple these days. We love a good salad and I made this dressing the other night and thought…hey, that’s really nice! Asher is really enjoying dipping things now and he really liked dipping blanched vegetables in this “sauce”. It’s a simple salad to whip up on hot days!

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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!). 

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