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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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)

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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! 

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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

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Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes (Nut Free, Gluten Free, Clean Eating)

Blueberry Ricotta PancakesYes. Another pancake recipe. We pretty much make pancakes on a fortnightly to a weekly basis. Asher really likes his pancakes! Blueberries of course is another favourite of us. IMG_2745 (640x427)

The funny thing is that Asher does not seem to like cheese (or nut butter!?!) by itself. He is generally a great eater so I put it down to personal preference and how that might change as he gets older. We aren’t too fussed about dairy as it does have inflammatory properties, and being Asian just means Asher might be more prone to lactose intolerance later down his life. For us though, it is about teaching him that just because you don’t like one form of food doesn’t necessarily means another form isn’t delicious. 

From time to time we have ricotta in the house. This time round, we included ricotta in to our pancakes. The result was smooth and creamy. He scoffed it down in on time. These are nut free too which will be a handy thing to have in the future for school I’m sure! IMG_2744 (640x427)

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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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Strawberry Banana Loaf (Paleo, Gluten Free, Nut Free) + Meal Prep

IMG_2493 (640x427)Yes, more strawberries. I told you I cannot have enough of this fruit. It was so much fun having a fruit to experiment in the kitchen. This summer will be interesting with a possible abundance of fruits that could appear in our garden. As I type, I can see flowers in our mandarin tree, lemon tree and peach (!?). Hubby has done well. We are thinking of planting strawberries and passionfruit too. I’m only good at using the produce though and all credit goes to hub. Strawberry Banana Loaf

I have been wanting to write about how I do my meal prep for some time. I have learned that spending 1-2 hours of cutting vegetables and marinating meat over the weekend saves me heaps of time through the week. I would even squeeze in another 1 hour or two to bake or do a massive batch cook. It feels so good when a week day appears, and we just need to whip something out of the freezer of fridge and have dinner in front of us within 10 minutes. IMG_2491 (427x640)

We like to have vegetables cooked most nights fresh or have a salads. If it is not  a stir fry, it would be roasting. That means ALOT of prep work for veggies. 

To start of:

Meal plan. I start my meal plan early. Usually by Wednesday, I would have an idea of what to cook for the next week. I would check catalogues for specials, or reply on farmers’ report to tell me what is in season. We usually do a shop on Friday or Saturday. 

Saturday afternoon:

When Asher is asleep, hubby and I would put music on and meal prep. I like a mix current pop and r&b music. Maybe even 90s. Anything that has a beat to it. IMG_7595

In that photo I think I chopped

  • 250 grams grams brussel sprouts 
  • few beetroot
  • 250 grams beans
  • 2x broccoli 
  • 1/2 a cabbage 
  • a few carrots and maybe a bunch of baby carrots washed
  • 250 grams of mushrooms 
  • couple of zucchini (for more recent bakes or salads)
  • 1 Leek
  • silver beet for the tart (I made that tart that day)
  • maybe 1-2 onions 

I have a system in place so do not mess with it. I usually chop what I am going that night first. Then moving on to harder vegetables that require soaking and draining. I like chopping broccoli and beetroot last. Then I put them in boxes, bowls and even oven trays for roasting. Everything is separated out for ease for removal for that day’s meal. 

I probably wouldn’t chop tomatoes in advance or anything that is too soft. Unless I’m making a zucchini salad, I find that they don’t last as long. For chinese cabbage, I like to do it the night before OR i schedule cooking it on a Sunday night. 

With that done, I’m usually relaxed. I like doing it on a Saturday so that Sunday afternoon is spent at parks or playgrounds. Here you go. That is what my fridge looks like after a Saturday of chopping (and I have big fridge!) IMG_8444

As for baking, I like to whip out quick items. This strawberry banana loaf is done in a food processor. Quick and easy. IMG_2487 (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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Rosewater Greek Yogurt Cheesecake with Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote + We live a simple life

Rosewater Greek Yogurt CheesecakeMy love for food makes me want to write about it. What makes me passionate about healthy living is the change I see in myself and my family through this journey. I had bit of a giggle though, when I realised the image I may have portrayed. 

Perhaps a mix of hippy, health conscious, passion filled foodie? Or a health freak? Either way, I want to share that eating right and moving right is not rocket science (although there is science behind it!). It is an effort. Though an effort worthwhile. It is also simple. Yes we avoid gluten, processed food and added sugar mainly. IMG_2305 (640x427)

We embrace protein, vegetables and fruits. We also adore dashes of dairy, rice and even some legumes (mmm…peanut butter) from time to time. Simply put, we listen to our bodies and eat accordingly. There isn’t any right or wrong. What we do know is that we feel the best when we eat heaps of vegetables, some meat and seafood. 

I haven’t put out my meal plan for ages but our meals typically look like this with different options:

Breakfast

2 soft boiled eggs with smoked salmon and sauerkraut. (Or if u r Asher, sometimes he wants 3 eggs)

Greek yogurt with passionfruit or blueberries with my home made granola

the boys might have my home made banana bread/loaf that I made

Asher might have avocado and banana or grilled mushrooms with avocado 

pancakes

Lunch

Whatever we had for dinner before

Afternoon tea

Chia pudding with berries or with home made granola 

handful of nuts 

or whatever I baked/make 

nearly always with my almond milk coffee 

Dinner

Roast chicken + Roast vegetables

Curry + stir fry vegetables + 6 hour slow cooked chinese clear soup of some form (radish and chinese mushrooms last night) 

Pulled pork + spag squash + roasted kale chips 

“Pad thai” Pork with kelp and zucchini noodles

Pork Hock Kale, Carrot and Capsicum Soup

Grilled fish with spinach and avocado salad 

After dinner

Fruits + tea

Dark chocolate

Whatever it is, it is just simple food. I think it is laughable that it is so simple. I find it hard to share or post my dinner ideas because they are that easy. IMG_2300 (640x427)

The other day, I made a greek yogurt cheesecake. YEP! Totally not paleo. Maybe borderline being clean but it was so yummy. I love a good cheesecake but often find them too sweet and heavy. I also like my raw desserts but I think it is bit of an overkill of nuts. I had a sense of achievement when it came out with NO cracks! 

Now, I just have to replicate this again and again!

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Pear Banana and Pecan Loaf (Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean eating, nut Free) + Baking without added sweeteners

Pear Banana Pecan LoafWe found a lovely organic pear shop at the Manning Road markets. Their pears are so sweet and juicy that we cannot help but purchase a few from them each week. 

I have been experimenting baking more without adding any sweeteners to it. No raw honey or rice malt. Just simply the sweetness from the natural fruits. Cinnamon and vanilla naturally enhances the sweetness of most fruits. IMG_2290 (640x427)

We love banana bread in our household. When we first started out eating clean, we found that we needed to add some form of honey in our banana bread to get the desire sweetness. Now, we don’t even need that anymore. The sugar from bananas usually suffice. 

Adding pear though, brought it to another level. I reduced the amount of bananas in this as a small chopped pear is enough to compensate for it. We love the slight crunch of chopped pears that goes so well with pecans. It tasted even better when it is toasted. Asher cannot have enough of it, and I have to say, it makes the mornings that I work a lot easier when he munches down his breakfast faster. 

It is also nut free which makes me think I can refer to this recipe IMG_2293 (640x427)again when he starts school. 

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