Pumpkin Nourish Bowl with Apple Pie (Paleo, Gluten Free) + Connection

IMG_3275 (640x427)Connection. 

The hardest bit about being married is to remain connected spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Hubby and I are great team players. We operate our household in sync. From meals, to budget to even parenting- we are the A team. 

As life responsibilities increase (or perceived increase?), it is so easy to fall into the trap of talking about the everyday stuff or coordinating our time table. We became so tired that when we do talk, it is usually about something we have to do. Not how we are, or what we need… but the doingIMG_3277 (640x427)

 At home, I known to say it the way it is without mincing my words. Perhaps too harsh at times. On reflection, it is the way I speak to myself and it is a learning curve on how not to do that- because I never intend to have that sort of harshness to my husband and son. When I become tired though, those tolerances become lower. 

Oddly, sitting and talking is hard for me just as it would hard for my hubby. There is a feeling of being drained. Like every piece of me has been taken away and it is much harder for me to connect emotionally to anyone. There would be some changes soon which I’m looking forward to.

1) We are starting to fall in love with the hills. From gorgeous fruit farms to our favourite cider place… not to mention its only 30 minutes. Even the drive up feels like we are going away somewhere

2) I resigned from one job. In August, I would just focus on having 1 job. That is a relief as it takes up quite bit of my mental head space

3) In July, I’m having a day off each week! What a luxury!

4) Hubby and I are trying to put time aside to just be with each other. Sometimes we don’t have to talk. Just presence is lovely. The other day, I found a cute little card with a love message from him. What a surprise! That used to happen heaps when we were dating so it is nice to feel that there are little touches, rather than us co-existing as life partners. 

5) Every alternate Sunday, Hubby gets the morning to run while I handle breakfasts. I’m recognising how he benefit from alone time too.

So 5 little changes in our household in hope for a more peaceful and loving one. Talk about a mid year review! 

So this little pumpkin nourish bowl was made when I had left over roasted pumpkin. Honestly it’s so easy to eat for breakfast. Top with some apple pie filling, it is warm and comforting as the cold 4C mornings set in. IMG_3278 (640x427)

 

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Pear and Hazelnut Chai Loaf (Paleo Friendly, Gluten Free) + Children’s Party

IMG_3171 (640x427)I had to face one of my fears the other weekend. 

It was a kid’s party. I’m staring at tiny teddies, fairy bread, cordial, meat pies, iced cupcakes. Talk about gluten and sugar filled treats.

I breathe. 

Then I say to myself that… “it’s ok. Asher will be fine.” And was appalled by my own judgement of party food-especially when I spoke about not having judgement previously. IMG_3172 (640x427)

Asher got away with a small triangle of fairy bread and two tiny meat pies. 

There were lollies in the goodie bag, but he only wanted the bubbles. 

Then we ate lunch as a family at a cafe, where Asher tucked into a plate of roasted beetroot, potato, sweet potato, carrots, quinoa with almonds and even sneaked in some spinach leaves. 

All will be ok.Pear loaf

I posted this on Instagram and it was re posted a few times. Totally a favourite in my household.

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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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Travelling with a Toddler + Chinese Almond Cookies (Paleo, Gluten Free)

Chinese Almond CookiesDuring my travels, what I missed most was having the familiarity of my kitchen and ingredients that I know can sit well with our values, principles and food philosophy. I do believe in diversity and regardless of where we are at, our body needs a break from the usual routine. Food included.IMG_1165

I was really impressed with how Asher was with food. He ate pretty much anything and embraced the local food delights. From a typical breakfast of Indian Thosai, to different kuehs -he tried it all. He was a little hit and miss with durian. He didn’t love it but neither did he dislike it. I would just have to keep introducing it to him. IMG_0660

Another thing that we were most proud about was how well he behaved on the plane. We did not need to use gadgets-though we brought it and prepared it in advanced. We put together a goody bag of new puzzles, books and drawing materials. We had small little toys still wrapped up for him to open up on the plane. The funny thing was, it was the safety card at our seat that generated the most interest. He was literally studying it on each flight. Otherwise, snacks, conversation about the plane, reading, toys and nap time kept us sane. IMG_0871

We had quite a lot of misses on the toileting side of things on the plane- to be expected. We brought heaps of clothing but on the way back, we conceded defeat and put him in training pants to reduce the pressure on him and us. Lo behold, he went to the loo on the plane when we stopped asking, and kept his pants dry mostly. He asked for the toilet when we landed and that was sufficient till we got home.I don’t blame him. I’m not a fan of air plane loos myself!IMG_0682

Among the few things that Asher pick up during the trip were

  1. Eating ice cream
  2. He tried some juice
  3. Local fruits like Jambu Air, Jackfruit and Dragon fruit
  4. Smother in love from his grandparents
  5. Sharing food! 
  6. Some cookies and chocolate IMG_0572

Thankfully, I have always kept an open mind that Asher will experience the above some time in his life time. Besides, what’s life without chocolate, cookies and ice cream? Now back at home, Asher continued to eat his usual foods without much complains but was excited about some custard and instant blue berry ice cream (Cue: frozen bananas and blueberries). IMG_3044 (640x427)

I created these cookies as an adaptation of the Chinese Almond Cookies that my family loved for many years. The original recipe was almond meal and icing sugar. This version uses honey. The glaze is what made the yellow of the cookie stands out. My grandmother loved this and would have asked me to make it over and over again. If I could turn that time, I would gladly make them daily…just for her..
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Mango Bread (Paleo, gluten free, dairy free) + Murky Roles

IMG_2866 (640x427)Is being a father/mother = to being a good husband/wife? 

The other day hubby and I had a conversation about roles in parent hood. While it may seem clear cut on what our roles are, it can often be more murky than what it seems. IMG_2869 (427x640)

First up, it does depends on your definition of what a husband or wife should be. For some people, it is about being a partner in life. We uplift each other, we give honest thoughts, we pray. Perhaps we enjoy checking out cafes and coffee. We have heart to heart conversations, have similar thoughts on current affairs. We may share a love for musicals. We do housework together and is there for each other when the going gets tough.We have a good laugh. Most of all we like each other.

Then we have definition of what a parent is like. The usual routine, caring for a child, playing. We may think that providing financially is also one of our roles. IMG_2866 (640x427)

Gently, we teased out the differences. Being a mother/father may contribute being a partner in a relationship but it does not define it. I love seeing hubby being a dad. It gives me great joy when I see hubby plays with Asher or teaching him a skill that I did not even think of teaching. I love seeing how Asher looks up to his dad with those eyes that says “daddy is his hero”. It makes me warm and fuzzy. It fills me with love. Yet I also long for those days and luxuries when I have hubby’s undivided attention. Flowers and gifts. Notes in my lunch box and sweet words. Hubby too realises that he misses being the centre of my attention where I am more flexible in my scheduling, more spontaneous in checking out food places and perhaps less snappiness when I’m tired. He misses my messages on why I love him, and why I respect him. He cares for those evenings when we do not have to rushed to finish getting ready for the next day but just enjoy each other’s company. He would like our conversation to be round us and our dreams/goals- and not just be around what we need to do and need each other to do.

Being a parent is hard work. Being in a marriage and a parent = triple the hard work. The unspoken is that it takes a lot of effort to keep a family together. I certainly appreciate having this conversation to keep me in check, but in reflection of our day to day actions as a couple. IMG_2867 (640x427)

This is one of hubby’s favourite breakfast in summer. The sweetness and creaminess of mango means the bread does not need any other sweeter. Asher for some reason does not like mangos. I think it is the texture (I’m sure he will come around though). Sometimes I may not make something (in order to maximise amount of return for the energy output to make it) because Asher doesn’t eat it as much- but this time, it is for hubby because he likes it. 

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Overdue recipe- Christmas Dark Chocolate Panforte Slice + Dads’ struggles

IMG_2860 (640x427)hello MARCH! Are you sure we are fast approaching and finishing quarter of the year? I absolutely cannot wait to just have a few weeks off. 

I’m not sure what’s going on but January and February seems full on. Clearly our bodies are exhausted. We are starting to have minor colds- which we don’t usually have. We get cranky at each other and we forget things. 

I read somewhere that mums have to learn how to look after themselves- because at the end of the year, if we fall into a heap, EVERYTHING falls into a heap. IMG_2855 (640x427)

So true.

As I read that article though, I feel a tinge of unfairness for dads. Yes, we mums have to look out for each other and for ourselves. We also have it harder on many different levels. Sacrificing income, career advancement, adult conversation, sleep, hobbies, fitness, our bodies,… I remember someone asked me before “so what do you do at mothers group? drink tea?”. I nearly fell off my chair with the audacity of that statement. I thought and still tell my friends that even if we do that, we have earned it. IMG_2862 (640x427)

It is however unfair for dads too. I reflected on some things that fathers may struggle with

  • For some jobs, being a male means it is harder to ask for part time hours (despite policies). Kinda like a bro code where it is unspoken but cannot be broken
  • Awkwardness in parents room sometimes when there are just chairs for breastfeeding mums., and they walk straight in. Almost like they have to learn how to just look straight ahead and see that as no difference to a mum breastfeeding in public/ restaurants.
  • Public restrooms when they are by themselves, and no parents room in sight with a child the opposite sex. 
  • Taking time off to care for children. Hubby’s work place is great but he said there are some work places where it is still expected for mums to take time off when child is sick and less so for dad
  • Dads needing to look after their own mental health or health too. There are dads who golf and go out for drinks, but there are also dads who are exhausted from working and helping out at home. 
  • Bringing out memories of how they were parented and how different they are trying to be. 

The list might be short but I think at times I fall into the trap of forgetting it is tough being a dad too. Panforte

Today’s recipe is quite late but I thought I might document this anyway. I call it a Christmas Panforte slice. I wasn’t planning on writing it up as I did it on a whim last Christmas. It was such a hit and I received lovely comments that I thought I should write it down here for anyone who wants the recipe. We do not often have dried fruits in the house but it was Christmas afteralll. I love the combination of fruits, nuts and spices.It does not require baking- and come to think of it, makes a nice gift any time of the year! And no, it has absolute no relevance to the above post except that when I’m a little tired, it shows how all over the place my thoughts are!IMG_2852 (640x427)

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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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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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Raw Coconut Chocolate Brownies (Raw, Vegan, Paleo, Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

IMG_2271 (427x640)So Asher discovered chocolate. 

He whispered “chocolate cake” the other day when I asked what would he like for morning tea. That reply reminded me of why I should not ask him what he wants but just offer him some options instead. IMG_2277 (640x427)

So we made brownies. Raw ones that goes into the food processor and he can eat via the spoonful. I made a version before using coffee but given that coffee is one that we do not want asher to try, we had to sneakily eat it. This one, was adapted so if he has a square, it would be alright. IMG_2273 (640x427)

Interestingly, it only works with coconut milk. I find that almond milk or normal milk just doesn’t give it the right texture. Perhaps coconut milk gives it a creamier taste. I had to freeze half a batch though. For many reasons including portion control and not snacking on a whole heap of them at once. The other, is that I can show Asher an empty box and said “finished” when in actually fact there is half of it left in the freezer for hubby’s snack. (sneaky sneaky!) IMG_2275 (640x427)

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Fennel Basil Tomato Soup (Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating) + updates on my battle with PCOS

IMG_2213 (640x427)Recently I went for usual routine blood test just to make sure everything is going ok. Asher had wean off breastmilk and my GP wanted to check that my iron and hormones levels are getting back on track. To top if off, I requested to check if my symptoms of PCOS persist or are they under control.

After 3.5 years of clean eating, and exercising, I’m pleased to say that my ovaries are back to its normal size, and there are no other indication of PCOS. My testosterone level remains “normal”. However, I’m still working on making sure my pituitary gland “communicates” with my ovaries to keep everything happy- especially since I have just finished my breast feeding journey and my body may not have calibrated back to it’s usual self. With that, I’m seeking acupuncture and alternative interventions rather than having other intervention. At this stage, my doctor has agreed that any medication might shut my system further. IMG_2207 (640x427)

Does that mean PCOS can be in remission? I think not. Rather, I see PCOS as needing to be managed. It is still early days to be popping champagne but I’m (silently but dancing internally) pleased that the hard work behind working out and eating clean is showing its effect. It reinforces why we are doing what we are doing (Asher being proof).IMG_2208 (427x640)

While I have some other hurdles to go through, it is comforting. My body remains sensitive to weight gain, and in particular, I have to be conscious about feeding myself the right nutrients and balance of clean carbohydrates.

Still, right now, I’m reading my bloods and scans with a smile. I’m taking pause for this moment because hat is music to my ears. IMG_2214 (640x427)

Sometime back, I shared this lovely soup on my Instagram. Hubby has recently requested it again and I thought I would take some time to record this down. While winter is coming to a close and it is Spring, I still take the opportunity to make as many soups as I can. Asher enjoys it, and it is much easier to make a big batch of soup and drink it every alternate day rather than to cook frequently. I love the tangy flavours, but the winner of it is because we pick up an free range pork hock from the markets. The yummy ham with the tangy tomato simply works well. 

Healthy can be delicious too. 

 

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