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Pumpkin Pancakes (Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean eating) + Update on views of fitness and food

Pumpkin PancakesIt’s nearly the end of the year. I thought I would like to update myself (and if you are reading) about my thoughts on fitness, food and body image. I have written about scales talkfood judgement, and also my fitness routine. Things have changed since Feb 2015! 

There are many reasons. One is that I truly believe fitness is a journey. It does sound cliche, but the more I work out, the more I’m realising other reasons to do so. Yes, it started off as aesthetics, then it was the fear of returning to where I was. Gradually it became a competition with myself on how far I can push my body. Now, I’m at a space where I work out to feel good, be healthy, have energy, be strong and have fun. Do I want to pump out more pull ups? Oh you bet I do! Do I want to run faster, yep or tackle heavier weights? it’s there.

I have also learned though, that it is ok to take breaks. I used to feel SO bad about missing a session. Now, if I missed one, over the weekdays, I might choose to let it go, do something on my usual rest day, or turn on a HITT session. A good stretch or remedial massage is a fitness session too. 

Another big change is that my really really awesome gym closed in July 2015. I.grieved.big.time. Thankfully, the people that I work out together felt the same way and so we decided to do something about our grief and channelled it into our own workout sessions. We even have a name! I just have to remember it. 

I have a workout buddy now too. We decided that we want to continue the momentum and practice kettle bells. We bought some equipment and transformed one of my living areas into a home gym. 

My current work out routine

Monday- Metcon

Tuesday- Weights/Kbs

Wednesday- Boxing

Thursday- HITT or KBs

Friday- Rest day

Saturday- boxing

Sunday- Rest day 

Active rest days are the best. I walk, swim, run around, dance with Asher or do a BIG stretch. 

The biggest change of course is probably my mindset. 

I tracked food in June after discovering a couple of my pants became a little too tight (aka bursting) for my liking. I turned a notch down in snacking and returned to just sensible 3 meals with a snack before workout. I practiced being kind to myself and slip a coffee when I need or feel like one instead of berating myself for too much caffeine. I savoured dark chocolate and ate my berries. I continued to do what I used to do- which is to ask myself is the food item for pleasure or nourishment or both. Enjoying my food rather than freaking out.

I stopped weighing myself. 

Surprise surprise. My pants fit, I’m feeling better and I actually conquered turkish get ups. Plus hit a few PB with lifting weights. 

So what’s next?

  • Install a pull up bar
  • Continue to practice sensible eating. 
  • Continue with weights and hopefully able to deadlight heavier 
  • Be kind to self

Speaking of kindness, we are not in the US and I am more than aware that pumpkin season is sort of over. Here in my household though, it feels like pumpkin season is weekly. Asher is into pancakes and here is my attempt to include in a good dose of antioxidants and beta-carotene  in him. A dollop of coconut yogurt or yogurt completes it. Or if you are Asher, plain is the best way. 

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My toddler’s choice: Sweet Potato, Carrot and Apple Muffins (Paleo, Clean Eating, Gluten Free)

Sweet Potato, apple and carrot MuffinsI appreciate my off days with Asher. We laugh, giggle and try to make the most of it.

It is not always fun and games though. There are things in life that we have to attend to regardless of how much fun is it to have fun with a toddler. 

Yes, you will find me multi tasking on some mornings. Perhaps trying to encourage Asher to eat his breakfast while doing a batch up cook. You might even see me folding clothes while trying to have a conversation with my dad over FaceTime. In between, the oven might ring and I will rush to check one of our bakes or a meal that is cooking, while making sure Asher stays out of the way of the hot oven.  The floor would need vacuuming and a mop. The toilets would be scrubbed and bed sheets changed. That, and it is not even 9am yet. IMG_2431 (640x427)

We have some mornings when Asher wakes bright and early at 5:30am, excited to face the day while I grudging wash up and get change. 

These muffins were made during one of those mornings. I decided to make the most out of it with a toddler who clearly would not return back to bed and wanted to “play”. I gathered up some ingredients and allow him to “design his own muffin”. IMG_2425 (640x427)

He chose 

  • sweet potato
  • carrots
  • apples
  • walnuts

If you are wondering what I put on the table… In addition to the above, we had yogurt, feta, almonds and pistachios. 

Not a bad combi I think. It could have been something like feta, apples and pistachios (come to think of it, it wouldn’t have been that odd either). 

Presenting my toddler’s muffin. if you are game enough to give it a try. IMG_2429 (640x427)

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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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Hazelnut Coffee Cookies with a Chocolate Drizzle (Paleo, Gluten Free, Eating Clean)+ Eating Socially

IMG_2163 (640x427)One of the challenges about choosing a lifestyle on clean eating is saying “no” at social events. Having worked on site and at home for about a year following Asher’s birth means there is little or no reason to have food with colleagues on site. Usually there would be some salad options or cold meats that I would happily have. At other social events, I would simply choose vegetables and meat, avoiding any sauces or baked goods usually. I make exceptions of course. When I know how much effort the host makes or it simply looks too good to say no to, I pick my battles and choose to indulge. 

Having start work in a clinic recently, it hit me that colleagues bond by eating. Being invited to a few morning teas means it is inevitable that I will look odd sitting there with my cup of green tea and not partaking in any of those delicious looking brownies or lemon tart that is on display. On my first day, I choose to have a slice of dark chocolate tart. The birthday girl said it was dark chocolate with some custard powder. The headache that I had after that lingered for hours and that totally reminded me of how my body has responded to not having too much sugar and processed food after a while. All a little strange though as I still have small bites of sweet desserts when I dine out with hubby or with friends, but I have not had one of those headaches for a while. It was a tiny wedge too which again, reminds me of how easily sugar or processed ingredients add up. IMG_2165 (640x427)

Since then, I have been careful to avoid most sweet treats at work. I explained that my body appeared to not respond well to sugar, gluten and processed foods in general and have been advised to avoid them. So far, it worked and it didn’t look too awkward with my hot cup of tea and conversations. What reinforced me was the recent check up where my bloods and ultrasound showed PCOS symptoms as being managed. My GP stressed that I need to continue to be vigilant about my diet. In my head, I know that if I ever choose to indulge, it has to be awesomely good (and be willing to bear with the effects after. Not at work for sure!) 

I think to the outside world, it must seem contradicting. A piece of dark chocolate, a spoonful of cake or taste of ice-cream seems ok but not a slice of chocolate tart? How controlling do one has to be in food then? Is it borderline being food obsessed or having an eating disorder? I can see why those questions can start to occur. IMG_2159 (640x427)

We headed out to dinner the other day with some friends. We had slow cooked beef ribs with carrots, sausage with sauerkraut and a bunch of other sides. For dessert, between the 4 of us and 2 toddlers, we had pumpkin pie and panna cotta with meringue and lemon curd. Did I taste any? Of course I did. Did I stop after some small bites? Yep. I was able to put my fork down after enjoying some. I tasted it enough to enjoy and did not feel like having any more. Did I freak? Not really. Naturally though, I did not want any other fruit or other foods when I came home except for a hot rooibos tea. The next day, I ate what I usually do on a Sunday. 

It is about seeing the whole picture. Loving my food means I like to try new things. Yet, I have to be conscious and in tune with how my body will react to it. Did I die from having that chocolate tart and headache? Nope. Did I obsess around it? Nope. I live and learn. I like to think it is about maturity and reading my body better. There are people with food allergies (think coeliac and nut allergies) and health conditions (e.g. diabetes) where people have no qualms saying it is ok to be selective. I truly think that there is no one size fits all and if that works for your family and body, then we should embrace it.  I would also like to think that it is ok to give myself permission to make that judgment on whether or not I want to eat that. Food is to be nourishing and enjoyed. IMG_2166 (640x427)

I made these hazelnut coffee cookies one Friday afternoon when hubby had a tough week. I know he loves cookies and the smell of freshly baked goods when he walk in the door. Having some hazelnut meal at home, I paired it with coffee which turned out really lovely. It didn’t taste crisp for long though and I had to double baked it. still, I enjoyed that hazelnut crunch and change from almond meal. That is one cookie that I’m good with feeding my family (except for Asher with the coffee!) with. 

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Imperfect Salted Caramel Slice (paleo, not so paleo, gluten free, clean eating, raw)

Imperfect Salted Caramel SliceI hesitated writing about this recipe because I wanted to fine tuned a few things. Hubby, being the biggest encourager that he is, insisted that I take some photos- despite the chocolate being a little rough, and my cutting of the slice is uneven as. His logic was that I make the decision later, but he loved this slice so much that he doesn’t see why I shouldn’t be sharing it. 

He reminded me that perfection can be a good and bad trait. I wrote about how in my desperation to “get it right”, I have once made a lemon tart 3 times. I wasn’t happy with the based once, the curd 2nd, and there was some cracks on my 3rd. Funny though, that once I put that to rest, the next tart I made- the base came out the way I wanted it to be. Sometimes, the best thing that one can do is to “put it down” and try again sometime later. IMG_1833 (640x427)

Have you ever experienced that? 

I can recall as a child, my mother used to coach me in doing my homework. I wasn’t a good student. I laughed and cringe now, as I became somewhat like a nerd when I was in University. Pre university days? Not so. Mum can probably fill up a book on stories of my whinging, running away (yes! I literally ran away from maths!), and down right resistant in completing any school work. Her persistence in me taught me exactly that trait. In some ways, she taught me what perfection stands for because she never give up. At the same time, when I was in secondary school and she found me in tears over some maths question (I guess by now you know my love-hate relationship with maths…), she encouraged me to take breaks and to re visit them again. IMG_1837 (640x427)

How many times do we persist on with something head on, only to become increasingly frustrated and stressed? Cortisol has been known to increase productivity. We know that through the stress curve, having some cortisol and adrenaline get things going quicker. However, we also know that it will come a point, where productivity falls. Your other instincts will kick in (aka fight or flight), and nothing just seem to make sense anymore. 

The little slice reminded me of just that. My imperfections are there for a reason. It’s ok to sit with that. Who knows, I may come back with a better and prettier slice. Just this moment though, sitting with it does not mean I’m giving up. It simply means exactly that. Pondering, savouring and taking in the moment. IMG_1836 (427x640)

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