Raw Berry and Lemon Slice + Expectations

IMG_3319 (640x427)It has been a journey of self acceptance with my weight gain and loss journey. From time to time, there will be circumstances that would make me question if I’m doing the right thing or should I be “achieving more”. 

Walking out of an appointment recently, it was suggested that the judgement of self was too high. A general checkup with a kind and warm doctor suggests that perhaps I have too much on my plate. I laughed. In case you are wondering, my physical health is great! Doc was more concerned about the level of expectations I have. IMG_3321 (640x427)

I laughed because deep down I have a fighter voice that query  “is it enough” and “what could be better”. There is a certain drive that carries me. As a child, I was taught that it is the effort and self- discovery that counts more so than the results. 

As a parent, I wondered if I carry that towards Ash. Did I suggest that he should know more because there is always something more to learn? Or have I provided a “I recognise the effort and I am proud” vibe? 

As a wife, did I ever come across as always wanting more? Have I pushed my husband more than what he is ready for OR is it because of MY own expectations, but not recognising where he wants to be and what he wants? IMG_3323 (640x427)

As someone who loves good, health and fitness, what is the point of being on the quest of “being better” because it is endless. Still, not wanting to fall into the trap of being “getting by”. 

Improvement I think is never enough. It is however a fine line between the intention of improving and competition with self. At the end of the day, there is no finishing line. It is about what we do best in God’s plan for us. 

I love this refreshing slice. It’s a raw slice that I have attempted 2 variations (in my quest to “perfect” this). A raspberry and a blueberry version. Personally, I like the blueberry version better. Asher thinks it is “Ice cream cake” as it is creamy and filled with natural sweetness from the berries. IMG_3324 (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 Peanut Butter Slice aka “Snickers” (Paleo, Raw, Clean Eating, Gluten Free, Dairy Free) + Coping with changes

IMG_3142 (640x427)It has been a busy few months. It is now May but time just seem to be ticking quickly away. So far we have,

  • Travelled
  • I have had a few stressful encounters at work 
  • Job offer followed by job change
  • Making the decision to slow down and focus on one job rather than two
  • Being immersed in the world of essential oils. Learning and using them
  • Making some goals around fitness and hitting them 

I have also learned to be kinder to myself and my family. That was a hard one to realise. As I become grouchier and grouchier, the realisation that I have not been taking time to re charge dawn on me. The decision to leave one job and focus on one was not an easy one. In the midst of trying to weigh up the pros and cons, thinking about how to make it work while still focusing on doing “my job right” ultimately lead to the biggest sacrifice.Salted Peanut Butter Caramel Slice

My family.

The symptoms were there. Snappy. Unable to be present focused. Feeling like I’m always in a rush. Feeling unappreciated. Forgetting things. 

So here we go again. Is there ever such thing as lesson learnt? While those indicators were there, it took me a while to realise what was going on. So to re focus I did

  • Decided not to schedule any thing for a day or two of the month. I did that on the past Monday and boy, Asher and I had heaps of fun together
  • There was a week when I had to swop work days. Instead of taking Asher out, I took a day out. I ran errands, met up with a friend for lunch and baked. No cleaning allowed. 
  • I spoke to hubby and he realised that perhaps he has been in the rush himself that he didn’t see the signs. So we made some changes there including scheduling some time to check in with each other.
  • There were some afternoons where I napped with Asher. Rest somehow is quite liberating.

There could be a few more changes in the next few months. Winding down a job, increasing time in one. Adapting to my current job. Still, I’m writing this list to remind me that it is ok to not having it all “balanced” all at once

Of course, indulging in what I love. Playing with my favourite ingredient recently- Peanut butter. I absolutely love this raw Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Chocolate Slice. It actually resembles snickers! IMG_3139 (640x427)

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Wild Orange and Peppermint Raw Chocolate (Raw) + Essential Oils Uses

IMG_3068 (640x427)My first encounter with essential oils was in high school. My mother introduced it to me. She would use an oil burner and use lavender, creating a calm home environment especially when I was studying for exams. At university days, I would be burning the mid night oil (haha! pun intended) with the soft glow of a tea light burner, with the oils burning in a bath of water. 

We have all been there with different smells invoking different emotions. Lavender invokes feelings of calmness and relaxation. I love the smell of geranium and bergamot too. IMG_3072 (640x427)

Fast forward to Dec 2015 when I decided to take the plunge in learning more about the home uses of essential oils. Over the past few months, I have discovered soooo many ways of using them that I think I got my money’s worth. As an introduction, I found out that

  1. Essential oils is best used in a diffuser. That retains the benefits of the oil as it is diffuse using the coldness of water rather than heat. 
  2. When diffusing at night, it helped Asher to sleep through (More often than none) during some tricky times such as a cold or when he is coming down with some form of sickness. I did not know essential oils can help fight off sickness naturally.
  3. We can make up roller blends suitable for little kids for different reasons. E.g. immune support. We definitely use those on day care days!
  4. We can make up spray bottles to help with bruises, insect bites..etc. So HANDY for kids. I even have a purse version
  5. Concentration and focus for us. Diffusing or a spray bottle for it
  6. Supporting different health issues such as headaches, sinus, pains, and hormonal balances 
  7. Cleaning! 
  8. and then we have food 

I have never thought that essential oils can be added to food. It sort of make sense doesn’t it when we have chocolate scented with pure essential oils. The easiest example that come to mind is the use of peppermint essence in our cooking when we could be using pure peppermint oil instead.IMG_3074 (640x427)

 Armed with my cool little collection of essential oils, I decided to add wild orange to a batch of chocolate. I love to store a batch of raw chocolate in my freezer. It takes up a few minutes to make them up, but they are so yummy. I would often sneak a small chocolate bark post lunch for that sweet finish. 

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Raw Lemon Slice (Raw, Paleo, Gluten Free)

IMG_3066 (427x640)One of the lovely things about raw desserts and snacks is that it can be kept in the freezer. Before we left the country, I made up a batch of these Lemon Slices. Some we ate of course, but most of it was kept in the freezer. That way, when we are back, there is a little something there for us to munch on, or to put in snack boxes. IMG_3062 (640x427)

Since discovering doterra essential oils, there is no turning back. I love how many of their oils are food grade, which means it can be added to raw desserts and cooking. This raw lemon slice, I feel, was enhanced by the lemon essential oil that I placed in there. One word of warning though. I find that a little goes a long way! IMG_3064 (640x427)

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Peppermint Slice (Raw, Paleo, Gluten Free) + My little 15 minutes break

Peppermint SliceOne of my 2016 goals is to learn more about essential oils. So much so that I splurge and bought a kit together with a diffuser. Since I was a teenager, I have always used some form of essential oils. I love that how smell influence our feelings, and mood. I like the kind of warmness it brings to a room. While I am aware of the positive health benefits, I have not really investigate or study them. This year is the year. #self development 

So with some peppermint essential oil on hand, I decided to experiment and use 1-2 drops in my peppermint slice rather than essence. My theory is that having real oils is probably more potent if not better than a possible artificially made essence? The result though was a yummy slice that is not over powering. While I’m not usually a peppermint person, I do find that less is more, before it crosses over the line from being refreshing to over powering. IMG_2835 (640x427)

One of my current things to do is to make a raw treat every few weeks and pop them in the freezer. On weeks that I’m extremely busy or when I just need a little treat at the end of the day, that is available. It is so much easier to pack this for Hubby’s snack box too- it usually thaw out a little by mid morning. 

I’m learning how to allocate an afternoon a week when Asher naps to just sit and read. I’m still not overly great at this as I gravitate towards my work laptop or general packing things away. Friday afternoons though, I do find that I need to give my brain a little rest from multi tasking. My thing is to sit down with some form of reading material, berries and a cup of tea on hand. Perhaps sometimes with a mini treat like this slice. With the age of technology and multi tasking, that is a treat. Quietness and stillness. It may sound too simple but simplicity is what we need at times. IMG_2830 (427x640)

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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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Double Chocolate Almost Raw Brownie (Raw, Paleo, Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Double chocolate brownieSome stress is un-necessary. Some stress is unpreventable. On most things, I like to think that I am in control of how I feel and think. As life goes on, it is clear that we cannot control other people’s behaviours and that could cause a direct stress or consequence to us- be it of no fault except I had a child and I want to return to work part time. IMG_2705 (640x427)

I can either walk away or stay to be firm. I chose to be firm. Over the past year of juggling between private and government work, I have learned to trust in myself just a tad more. Perhaps age got to do with it as well. Loyalty has nothing to do with it. Facts, remaining calm and staying present focus helps- there isn’t any point bringing up narratives or content. It is what it is. IMG_2704 (640x427)

It isn’t pleasant and I count myself blessed that I have a supportive network + a union that helps.  In a govern setting, this is probably more of an apparent issue than in a private setting where I may not even have a battle. I’m also conscious that this is a wider systemic issue and I just happen to be in the perfect storm. I’m not sure of the outcome, I just know that I’m not giving up. It makes me mad that in this time and day, we have to go through issues like this when it can be easily prevented if protocols and processes are followed. 

On some days, only chocolate would do. 

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Salted Caramel with Nut Praline Slice (Gluten Free, Paleo, Clean eating, Raw) + Work mates

Salted caramel Praline sliceIn the kitchen of where I work has a poster near the doorway. It states what the team values. 

“someone who can bake”

I love it when the team has got its priorities right. IMG_2647 (640x427)

When it became my turn to provide morning tea though, my mind races. What can I bring that could potentially be a crowd pleaser, something perhaps a little different but also refined sugar free? IMG_2649 (640x427)

I was anxious. This is a team that is used to having gorgeous home made cakes made with traditional flour and sugar. Each time, I felt tongue tied when I explain why I’m not a fan of gluten, sugar or anything refined. I was conscious it could make me stick out like a sore thumb but still wanting to stand my ground of our food philosophy.

This slice was inspired by the Merrymaker sisters’ snickers cake. My biggest take away from their recipe was the gorgeous nut praline. Starting from there, I created my layers and made it to suit my taste. 

It was gone by the end of the day and that was all the confirmation I needed. 

If you are looking for a cool christmas treat to bring or make, this would be a lovely one to try!IMG_2652 (640x427)

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Raw Carrot Cake Bites

Raw carrot cake bitesThere are many raw treats popping up around Perth at the moment. I have my favourites- mainly those that does not use agave as a sweetener. I prefer the use of honey, rice malt, medjool dates or coconut sugar. While there are debates between the level of fructose in each kind of sweetener, I think it is best to use common sense and your taste buds to guide you. Agave does not sit well with me and neither does stevia. Personally, I think that whichever one you choose, less is more. IMG_2624 (640x427)

I love carrot cake. Maybe it is the deception of the goodness of carrots in a cake, but to me, that is comfort food. When hubby and I were in our university days, I fell terribly sick once. I hardly got out of bed and did not have appetite for any thing. Except for a big slice of carrot cake. Well, ok, that one slice was my breakfast, lunch and dinner. Fast forward to 14 years later, I still love a good slice of carrot cake. My taste buds have change of course and I’m finding most cakes are too sweet for me- to the point that I’m unable to enjoy the flavour of the cake while my tastebuds is stinging from the sugar hit. IMG_2630 (640x427)

Still, you can tell my love for it prevailed. For Asher’s full moon celebration, I made carrot cupcakes with cream cheese yogurt swirl. I did as similar layered cake for his 2nd year birthday when it was the combination of carrot and apple that won me over. 

So I guess it is no surprise that I would attempt to make a raw version of carrot cake. If you follow my instagram, you probably noticed that I made one before. My experiment of using  didn’t work the way I envisioned it to be (i know..what was I thinking). This round, I combined coconut butter with coconut milk and it worked so much better. Cream cheese wouldn’t hurt too I am sure. IMG_2625 (640x427)

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