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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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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Banana Tahini Mousse Slice (Raw, Vegan, Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating) + Thanks mum and dad!

Banana Tahini Mousse SliceIt’s nearly the end of OCTOBER! Which means I’m turning another year older soon. I honestly feel that this year has gone so quick. A blink and we are seeing Halloween and christmas decorations up.

Since having Asher, I have a greater appreciation of birthdays. Being an only child, it felt like birthdays were all about me. It isn’t. My poor mother had to endure many hours of labour, and having to give birth to me by herself without my dad or family members around. She had no pain relief, and after that, her baby was taken away to the nursery. She had to ask the nurse to bring me to her. Then it was the recovery which wasn’t easy either. IMG_2371 (640x427)

The option of not working was not there. Mum returned to work within 3 months of having me. She gave up an opportunity to pursue her degree as I was too young. She worked shifts and continued that till I was in primary school. I could still remember waiting at operating theatres while she was on call. I was fascinated by the ins and outs, and would often had a bag (?!) of books with me- reading till mum was ready to come get me. 

I was under the care of my grandmother till I was 16 years old. There was 1 break (when I was 4-5 years old) but the best care was still with my grandmother. I stayed with my grandmother for quite a few years; returning to my parents’ household on weekends. I saw my parents nightly for dinner and homework tuition. IMG_2369 (640x427)

I count myself really blessed because I had 3 very capable and hardworking women as my role models. Three because my aunty was still staying with us when I was a child. Everyone lend a helping hand and I grew up surrounded by family. I witnessed how my mother and grandmother worked hard for the family. My grandmother was a networker and I recall she seem to know everyone in the neighbourhood and was able to obtain casual jobs for cash. She was very resourceful. My mother did return to University and completed her degree. She moved into more specialised nursing but yet always seem to prioritised and gave me time. I recall having lunch dates with mum on Sundays where we enjoyed mushroom soup at Delifrance (and my tuna croissant!) Together, the women taught me how to give, love and work hard. 

Over the years, I have a great relationship with my mother. She is one I count on to have a frank conversation with. She provides me with down to earth advice. She is present. We are great shopping partners too- it is not rare that we exit a shop buying the same pair of shoes in different sizes (The sales girls were very amused especially when my grandmother was alive and 3 of us loving our shoes). She gave up time and money to be with me when I had Asher. IMG_2368 (640x427)

Then of course I have my father. My dad’s patience amazes me. He has this quiet calmness to him that never fails. When he retired, he said all he wants is to be at home because he spent his life working and not being there. His heart is always with his family. He taught me to persist on- even when the going gets tough. He helped me dream big and always encourage me to reach for the stars even when I do fall on the fluffy clouds. It was he who place the bar up high when it came to my education. He never compromise and told me I would complete my education, reaching post graduate levels (Something that is rare and almost never encouraged during his time since I am a girl). 

So on my week of my birthday. I want to thank my parents who always shower me with unconditional love and sacrifice. Many times I have erred and have come across as insensitive- that I do apologise. We are one family and I’m blessed to be your daughter. 

IMG_2374 (640x427)In celebration, I was inspired and wanted to experiment with tahini more. Chris from Tales of a Kitchen made an awesome Triple Tahini Fudge which I replicated. I was so pumped by her that I made this. So here is a smooth Banana Tahini Mousse Slice for us. I promise I will make this again when my parents are here. I miss you guys- especially my coffee dates with mum.

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Choc Chip Chickpea Cookies (Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free) + Working Mum Guilt

IMG_1720 (640x427)We were having a conversation about the working mum guilt. I’m not talking about the feeling I have walking away from my son as he settles in day care. I’m talking about the kinda of guilt I feel at work. 

The flexibility that I receive at work is amazing. If Asher is sick, I can shift things around- sometimes working evenings and even on days that I’m not supposed to be on. Mostly, it is a system of trust. As long as I get my work done, and I’m contactable, the organisation is happy. There is also a certain accountability where I let people know what I’m doing and where I am. I think that is fair. 

The other side of the coin is that with a flexible work place, it means the expectation is that we have to respond to the organisation’s flexibility. Changing work days, times and training days to suit. While we can always say no, I often find myself saying yes because I think it is only fair that the organisation and myself work together collaboratively.

There are times though, that I remind myself to say no. It’s very easy to let time and tasks get away and suddenly, it gets stressful trying to coordinate everyone’s timetable. That is when the sneaky guilt sets in. Being part time makes me more aware of each hour I have is precious- more in a being productive way. It does, however, feel “less productive” as naturally, things are sometimes completed slower with less days in the week. The momentum can get lost by the time I returned to the topic that was on hand 2 days back. 

On the others side of the coin, this allows me to take a breather from the topic at hand. It allowed me to slow down to sit on the issue for a little and not react. 

My dear husband reminded me the other day, that part of the reason why I choose to do part time work is to be present with Asher. To enjoy our little family and channel my energy in attuning to us. He said he noted that as proud of him with the way I handle work and home, he observed that while physically I’m not working, my brain is there. I was “slowing down and thinking”. 

There is a common perception that part time mummies have it easy. The perfect work life balance so it seems. I think on many levels, that is true. I like it that my brain is used for something other than mummy and family duties- and that I’m impacting on other families. I love the flexibility and the evidenced based focus. I believe though, that we work hard for it. I may not be at work, but my mind drifts to work at times because it makes my work day more efficient. I have already thought about it and am ready to action. 

At the back of my head, there is that voice. The voice that tells me that I’m not doing my best at work or at home. I feel torn. The exhaustion is part of trying to juggle both. Is there such thing as work life balance? Perhaps. One thing for sure, it means I have to take the good with the bad. I have great weeks and not so great weeks, and that is ok. After all, I’m role modelling to my little boy on how to say no, switch off, and have strong work ethics. 

Speaking of my little boy, I discovered this chickpea cookies recipes a few months back. A good and close friend shared it with me. Now, we are not big wheat or legumes eaters. Mostly we avoid it. I know that legumes can be inflammatory hence less is more. From time to time, we have it and it seems to sits ok with us. This is one of those occasion. Plus I was curious! 

The result was a moist, fudgy cookie! The texture was crumby just like a cookie should be! I used mayvers nut butter and tahini  and it worked a treat. I think if I added in a full 1/2 cup tahini, it would have been too bitter. IMG_1721 (640x427)

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