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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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Carrot and Cauliflower Soup (Paleo, Clean Eating)

Carrot and Cauliflower SoupOne of the things I do when I’m feeling a tad overwhelmed is to de clutter and clean. It is almost like I feel calmer through the process but by knowing that the house is cleaner and toys has its place. On the other side of the coin, wanting to clean and organise is something I’m trying to not stress about because I would much rather play with trains, run around or do colouring with Asher. 

It’s the same with cooking and baking. The irony of life is that I love to create things in the kitchen. I like that when we put different ingredients together, they turn into something edible, smells lovely and warms our tummies up. As life takes over, I find myself “over thinking” meals, feeling hurried while I cook or that I have not baked for a while. Hubby starts frowning when I said “oh! Here’s 20 minutes! Let me whip something up in the kitchen for yours and Asher’s breakfast”. He was seeing signs that I’m doing that for the sake of doing rather than actually enjoying the process. IMG_2172 (640x427)

It’s one of those little life long lessons that I’m learning this year. Enjoying the process. I accept that there will be days or weeks where cooking or baking is part of what I do as life. The enjoyment bit comes after all the chores are completed and kitchen bench is wiped clean. Then there are more special times when an idea arrive for how I can put ingredients together to create something and I excitedly venture to the kitchen to see if it works together. 

I mentioned batch up cooking before and that soups is one of my favourite things to do. There is just something magical about the warmth of a bowl of soup. Maybe it is my Cantonese heritage where soups is just what we have-though probably more as a supplement than a whole meal. Or that I know I can have all the nutrients in a bowl- protein, carbohydrates and heaps of vegetables. IMG_2171 (640x427)

This soup is so simple that I wasn’t even going to take a photo of it or record what I did. I just don’t photograph or ladle soups neatly! Then my dearest hubby ladled it up ever so perfectly and even top it with crispy chorizo with precision. I was so impressed that it didn’t looked the usual hurried way that I do it usually. 

And so here it is. My Carrot and Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Chorizo. (officially making it the 4 C soup!)

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Chorizo Lamb Kale Soup

IMG_1801 (640x427)The cold is starting to set in. The mornings and nights are chilly but in the day, it’s actually quite pleasant. While most people dislike the cold, I’m neutral. I love what it comes with- cosy blankets, hot drinks, boots, sweaters and most of all the comfort food. 

I love soups. For many reasons. The biggest one is that it is easy to make a big pot that will lasts a long way. Two dinners and sometimes, even for 2 lunches. Plus, it is usually quick to whip up provided we have some stock in the freezer. I love letting it simmer on the stove, or in my pressure cooker. We do not own a slow cooker (as I’m an appliance hoarder!) but I would imagine that it is an useful tool setting up to “cook and forget”. IMG_1810 (640x427)

In our household, we seem to prefer chunky soups with a bite. Not only that, we like having red meat in it. I think with the pressure cooking or slow cooking, the meat seems to just melt in your mouth. We find that Asher seem have a little more red meat if it is in the form of a soup too. 

Whenever we have a lamb roast, I tend to keep the bones. Adding to the pot would be some celery leaves, carrots, tomatoes, and whatever that is left in my fridge really. Bay leaves, pepper corns and perhaps some herbs from the garden are all added to the pot. Simmer in my pressure cooker for 1-2 hours and I let it cool. I tend to separate it into 2 cups each or in ice cubes for cooking. I used to purchase packet stocks but I have since realised how much more cost efficient- not to mention it is a good use of bones that are left from roasting. I do the same with chicken frames- I freeze them after making a roast, and often have a few slow brewing away or in my pressure cooker. I tend to make stock once a month depending on how much soups or pressure cooking we do. IMG_1808 (640x427)

Chorizo is a favourite in our household. Ever since we found Eurochef, we never buy any other kind of chorizos anymore. They do use pink salt as the preservatives but that’s pretty much it. I love that it is handmade and all natural. In fact, we do most of our shopping at the local Manning Road Markets. Local and fresh! The way we love it. 

I had some left over pesto and drizzle some over it. It was truly divined. And bowl of comfort. After a long day of work, that was what I crave for. Simple food. IMG_1811 (640x427)

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Water Cress Pork Ribs Soup (Paleo, Chinese, Gluten Free)

IMG_1234 (640x427)I realised that it is very tricky to make Chinese broth soups pretty in photos. For some reason, they just seem to be soup in a bowl (which is what they are of course, but I struggle to make it look presentable). Perhaps I should hunt down some prettier bowls soon or experiment with using different angles! More than often, this becomes a quick shot and then it’s at our dinner table. 

Photography skills aside, I was really excited to find watercress at the Manning Road markets. I have been hunting them for ages and suddenly they appeared along with our favourite salad leaves. I know that watercress is often used in salads, but I cannot resist making a soup that I grew up with.IMG_1230 (640x427)

Watercress is known for it’s superfood qualities. It topped the charts in its’ high vitamins and mineral contents. My grandmother must have known instinctively what was good for us when she was alive because she loved feeding us watercress. It cools our bodies down she says. Very important in the hot days of Singapore. 

 Having some pork ribs in hand, I made a broth with red dates and goji berries. Just before I serve the soup, I brought the liquid to boil and added the vegetables. It’s as easy as that. Asher loves sipping the soup, having some leaves and eating the pork. I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that Asher can feel my grandmother’s love as he grows up. 

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Roasted Pumpkin and Carrot Soup

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Ok, I’m a cheapie at heart. How can I resist when carrots are on sale at $1kg? I ended up with 3 kgs of carrots in my fridge. That’s quite a lot of carrots! I wrote often about my love for soups. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Making a big batch means I cook less- that means less washing up and more time spent baking and playing with Asher. That’s a big win for me!

I realised that this year, I have not made pumpkin soup. Horror of all horror. How can I forget that? I make pumpkin soup every year. It’s one of my winter favourites. So late in winter and early spring, I roasted pumpkin and those 1 kg of carrot and cooked it with home made stock. Stunning result. As I was putting my hand blender through it, I realised… hey! This actually looks like baby food! So Asher’s dinner is sorted too. Another win!

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Hubby wanted some meat. So just before serving, we pan fried a few slices of chopped up chorizo. It makes a perfect garnish I think!

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Roasted Pumpkin and Carrot Soup (Serves 6 and 3 baby portions)

1 pumpkin halved

1 kg of carrot chopped

1 tablespoon of honey

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 tablespoon of cumin

salt

500 ml of chicken stock

1 tablespoon of garlic

1 onion chopped

pan fried chorizo to serve

Pre Heat oven at 200C. Drizzle oil, honey, cumin and salt over pumpkin and carrot. Roast for 45 minutes. Cool vegetables down. Heat a deep pot with oil and sauté garlic and onion. Spoon pumpkin into the pot together with the chopped up carrot. Simmer with stock for 20-25 minutes. Cool and blitz with a hand blender. Serve warm with pan fried chorizo for the adults.

Radish, Mushroom and Chicken Soup

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Every week, usually a Monday or Tuesday, I attempt to make a Chinese soup. As a cantonese, soups are usually part of my meals when I grew up. It was a side dish. But it isn’t a side dish as its significance. It’s where mothers and grandmothers show their love. See, soups are where nourishment begins. The Cantonese believes that soup heals. From strengthening the spleen, to boasting up immunity, there is a soup for it.

It’s easy to see why. In the paleo world, there is an excitement with bone broth. My grandmother used to tell me that soups are one of the most nourishing part of a meal- you get nutrition from the bones, meat and all sorts of vege goodness in it. We have herb soups too but vegetable based soups are more common.

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As I stood at a local grocer recently. I stared at the radishes. Somewhere in my memory filed away, we used to have radish soup. The Cantonese believe that radishes are “cooling” and helps with digestion. At home, I placed radishes, dried mushrooms, dried oysters scallops together with some ribs and slow cooked it for 8 hours.

What hubby said though touches my heart.

“You have managed to capture the love of grandma in this soup.”

And that’s enough for me to continue brewing chinese soups for my family.

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White Radish, Mushroom and Chicken Soup

1 Chicken Breast

1 (around 200 grams) of peeled and chopped white radish

1 carrot peeled and cubed

handful- around 10 dried shitake mushrooms dehyrdated with hot water

handful of seedless red dates

2 dried scallops

3 dried oysters

Place all in a slow cooker or thermal cooker. Boil and simmer for 8 hours.

Cream of Leek and Cauliflower Soup

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I’m a big believer of soups. Every week, I would prepare our food menu and soup will be included in there. It’s tasty, and provides a warm, fuzzy feeling whenever we have it. Soups are perhaps the grown up version of baby purees. Now that I’m cooking more for the family, soups are a great addition to Asher’s repertoire of dinners with us.

Coconut Milk is my new “Must have” in the fridge or pantry. In the fridge for those “oops, I need frosting” moments, and in the pantries for curries and soups. They add great flavour to everything- I even made a Tuna mornay the other night with it. A little goes a long way for us so I’m not afraid to use it in our meals from time to time.

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Soups are also a fantastic way of clearing the fridge of vegetables. Some nights, we have a “whatever we have left” in the fridge soups. Often, I’m surprised by how that extra carrot, or cabbage changes the texture and sweetness of the soup all together.

This one though, was planned. We haven’t been eating much cauliflower lately as it gave Asher too much tummy discomfort in my early days of breastfeeding. Now that he is alot older, and can tolerate it more, we have started re introducing cauliflower again. Cauliflower provides that lovely creamy thick texture to soups which I miss.

Our greatest joy of course is that Asher loved it too.

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Cream of Leek and Cauliflower Soup (Serves 4 and a baby)

2 leeks sliced

2 red onions diced

1 tablespoon of minced garlic

1 tablespoon of coconut oil

1 large head of cauliflower diced

1/4 cup of coconut milk (more if you like)

1 tsp of cumin spice

1 tsp of coriander spice

1 ltre of chicken stock

Optional- slivers of bacon pieces.

Saute garlic, leek and onions in coconut oil till soft and brown.Add in cauliflower with spices and stock. Simmer for 20 minutes or so and cool. Put a hand blender through it. Re heat it with coconut milk and serve warm with or without bacon pieces.