Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mocha Coconut Slab Cake

It only took me a few years, but I'm really excited when friends and family finally understands why I eat the way we believe in. It's not a fad, it's not a diet. I'm no longer wanting to lose weight. All I want is to be strong and healthy. Man, I'm not even looking at being an athlete or look like I have muscles bulging out. Being slim, toned and moving functionally is good for me.

As I persists on, people do not try to talk me out of eating the way I do anymore. In fact, I often think it's strange that we have grown to rely on sugar and processed food over the years and think of that as normal. Why is it not ok to eat food that comes from farms and not factories?

How do I know? We get invited to lunches over at friends and they cook clean for us! We receive invites from our lovely friends and families saying that they want us to eat clean and healthy in their kitchen too. In some ways, I felt a little bad that people are bending over backwards to serve us food that we love. But in other ways, I realised... hey, that's healthy food for them too! It's fuelling their bodies better. We had a lovely salad with green goddness dressing and the hosts tried their hands in making spelt pizza (still not completely clean BUT better than dominos), and then we were invited to another place where I had grilled chicken tenderloins with a pumpkin and feta salad. Oh, how about another lunch where we had grilled chicken winglets, meat balls, kebabs, and beetroot salad to boot. Seriously. They all tastes fantastic and we had a great time.

I'm in awe of people like OMGPaleo, or TheSpunkyCoconut. They make real food tastes even better. I adapted these little babies from Spunky Coconut to bring to my friends of course. They are more like mocha cakes- I wouldn't call them brownies at all. But still a good little treat.

Mocha Coconut Slab Cake 
1 cup of Almond Butter
1/2 cup of nepresso coffee
1 egg
1/4 cup coconut flour
3 tablespoon of cacao powder
2 tablespoons of honey
1 tsp of vanilla paste
1 tsp of baking powder
pinch of salt
Handful of shredded coconut

Pre heat oven to 180C

Put everything in the mixer. Whisk it. Then spoon into lined 8by8 baking pan! Sprinkle coconut on top. Bake for 30 minutes. Done!

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Sweet Potato Coconut Tuna Patties

So there comes a point where I would like to share with you my post pregnancy weight lost. I wrote about my struggles here and here. So right now, I have managed to shed 20 kgs post birth (I dropped 10 kgs after Asher was born) and is now slightly below my pre-pregnancy weight. It wasn't easy and that took me 6 months to achieve it.

 (yes me and my big tum tum and massive weight gain at 37 weeks pregnant)

I was glad though, that my focus wasn't about losing weight initially. It was about getting fitter and fuelling my body right. I started writing a food diary and eating well- like really well. I'm talking clean food 90% of the time and treats 10%. As you have read here, I love my food so it is impossible of to survive on a diet of lettuce leaves and chicken breasts. I eat beef, lamb, seafood, all kinds of vegetables and listened to my body. For snacks, I had eggs, nuts, chia pudding, cheese, home made granola bars and muesli, yogurt and bliss balls (and all the bakes I make!).

Exercise? I went slow. I went for daily walks, then pilates and mums and bubs swimming classes. I returned back to met con, konga and boxing- and here I am. In the process, I won a challenge set by my gym and is now fitter than ever before. I'm not stick thin and is actually the happiest I have been with the way I look. I don't judge myself as much as more importantly, I feel strong.  At the moment, I go to the gym 4x a week- twice met con and twice boxing. I walk with my husband and baby all other days and try to incorporate pilates stretches on other days. When I feel like it, I might throw in a home body workout here and there- but that's not often.

The other day, a good friend told me that she wants to practise clean eating too.  So she came over for lunch after her workout and we tucked into some healthy tuna and sweet potato patties. Oh, the kids loved it too! I feel proud when friends and family believed in what I am doing. Perhaps to the rest of the world, it may seem strange or obsess or I am not eaten "real food". Trust me, I am. When does eating non processed packaged stuff (including breakfast cereals) become real? We have become mesmerised by the media my friends. It's time to get down to the basics I reckon. And enjoy food the way it is supposed to be enjoyed.

Sweet Potato Coconut Tuna Patties (around 16 patties)
1 sweet potato steamed or roasted in oven. Mashed it.
2 cans of tuna
1 chilli chopped
handful of curry leaves chopped
1 tsp of turmeric
1 tablespoon of coconut flour
1 egg

Shredded coconut to coat
Coconut oil to fry

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a spoon or your hands. Shape into patties and fry them in a pan using coconut oil. Serve with a side salad.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pecan Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's almost like I have rediscovered pecans. Once upon a time, I'm mad about walnuts. Then I went on to pine nuts and even cashews. Now, I like to put pecans in all my baking and granola.

From time to time, I do love a good cookie. Hubby likes them in his snack box as they are portable and easy to munch on. Making a good healthy cookie without processed ingredients like white flour can be tricky- especially since I like my cookie a little crispy.

I think you know about my search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Check this and this and this healthy version out... Since we hardly eat flour products, I find it difficult to make cookies at home.

Not anymore. I have the "Make ahead Paleo" cookbook by Tammy and have been experimenting with glee. Her version is the "Kitchen Sink Cookies" but I made a few changes as we generally don't take as much maple syrup on honey. That could have contributed to why my cookie isn't as crispy as well.

 One thing that I learned in this cookbook is the use of arrowroot starch and flour! It really does make the finished product more "normal" cake/cookie tasting. My only complain is that clean cookies usually do not keep well. I re toasted mine the next day and it tasted just as good- if not better as it became crispier!

ps- did you see the photo of my new measuring spoons? They are soooo cool that I'm keeping them aside for props! LOL

Pecan Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies (I made 28 cookies)
1 cup almond flour
3 tablespoon of coconut flour
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of sea salt

2 eggs
2 tsp of vanilla paste
2 tablespoon of maple syrup
splash of almond milk (around 2 tablespoon)
2 tablespoon of coconut oil

1/4 cup of pecans
1/4 cup of cranberries
1/4 cup of chocolate chips

Put baking paper on baking tray. Preheat Oven at 180C. Whisk dry ingredients together. In a jug, mix eggs and other wet ingredients together. Fold wet to dry. Then fold in pecans, cranberries and choc chops. Spoon teaspoons onto baking tray. Flatten it. Bake for 15 minutes till golden.

Toast leftovers the next day.

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Monday, April 07, 2014

Sausage Egg Frittata

I can have this for breakfast, lunch or dinner any day! It's such a quick and simple recipe that I do not know why I have not done this before!

The other day, hubby said to me that he realised how much his views of food has changed since I have tweaked our family meals to become clean and healthy. His line manager treated himself and team to frozen coke. Hubby took a few sips and couldn't have any more. He said he simply felt ill.

Oh that was a proud moment for me.

As a wife and mum, there is nothing more I want than good health for my family. It's such a lovely feeling when even hubby realised that this is a lifestyle change and he felt better because of it.

So sausages- are they really healthy? I believe they can be. We do not have sausages every day. However, I think it is important to find a butcher who can make gluten free and hopefully sugar free sausages with quality meat. Not the rubbish supermarket sausages that we have no idea what's in it. Usually that's full of preservatives, sugar and flour.

That paired with eggs and spinach- ahhhhh....quick and easy meal DONE!

Sausage Egg Frittata (serves 4)
3 or 4 good quality pork sausages casing removed
1 red onion diced
1 tsp of garlic
2 red chill diced
1 cup of spinach leaves
1/4 cup of chives chopped
4 or 5 eggs
1/4 cup almond milk

Preheat Oven at 180C. Saute onion, garlic and chill. Brown sausage mince meat. Fold through spinach leaves. Meanwhile, Whisk eggs with almond milk and chives. When sausage meat is cooked, spoon into oven safe dish. Pour eggs on to sausages. Bake 20-25 minutes till done! Serve warm or cold.

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Thursday, April 03, 2014

Chai Vanilla Almond Panna Cotta

Boy am I excited to share this recipe with you. I have discovered the beauty of gelatine! Our family mainly follow a paleo and/or eating clean menu plan (made by me! ha!). I believe in eating clean most days of the week, and then if I'm out or spotted a treat I really like, I eat without guilt. It's about fuelling my body the best way ever 80-90% of the time but enjoying treats when I like as well.

Many of my friends, especially close family members asked me- but won't I miss the fantastic food like pastas, hawker delights like chicken rice and fried prawn noodles? The answer to me is... no.

I was surprised myself. I think the reason is because I do not deny myself those food completely. It's about being sensible. Hubby had some chicken rice when we were in Singapore, and I happily tucked into his food (he ate my grilled fish and sambal vegetables too!). Besides, who says rice is a bad food? It's really not that bad. It's just that we tend to overdose ourselves on it.

 Oh how about desserts? Those on my instagram would probably remember that I tucked into some beautiful cakes and desserts in Canele Singapore, Antoinette and even at TWG. Not to mention, I asked a friend to baked us some gorgeous matcha opera cakes.

At home though, hubby and I eat clean pretty much most of the time. That's why I like to bake clean treats at home. Reading a few paleo recipe books, I came across the magic of gelatine powder. One evening, I heated up some almond milk with 2 chai tea bags and vanilla paste. Then I dissolved some gelatine powder with hot water, whisk it through the milk, spoon into glasses and placed it in the fridge.

The result? A lovely light "panna cotta" ready for us to eat when Asher is asleep.  In fact, it's a little like the soy bean curd dessert I used to have back home! Certainly something for me to experiment further for sure.

Chai Vanilla Almond Panna Cotta (serves 4)
2 cups of almond milk
1 tablespoon of honey if using unsweetened almond milk
2 chai tea bags
1 tsp of vanilla paste (you can also use vanilla bean- scrap the seeds but also throw in the pod in the milk to let it infuse further)

1/2 tsp of gelatine powder
2 tablespoon of hot water

Infuse tea bags with milk and vanilla on stove top. Let it simmer for around 5 minutes or so. As it cool slightly, dissolve gelatine powder with hot water. Strain the almond milk mixture.

Whisk gelatine into the almond milk mixture. Spoon mixture into separate glasses or ramekins. Serve with some chia seed pudding or like me- with some raspberries and dark chocolate flakes.

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Pecan Banana Bread

One of my favourite things to do is to bake. I simply love the warm comforting smell and taste coming out of the oven and diffusing to the whole house. There is something about baking that helps me to process the day, and even makes me feel a little better if I'm feeling sad, tired or down.

I wrote about my ambivalence about returning to work or staying at home.  I think at the end of the day, it's about what fits for your family and you. I count my blessings that I have a choice. My mum for instance, did not have a choice and had to return to work when I was 3 months young. Again, I'm one of those blessed kids that was surrounded by many loving family members- including my maternal grandmother whom I'm very very close to.

It's a little strange that I am in this position. I remembered that when I was younger, I thought that I will definitely stay at home. I love my mum and she is a strong independent woman who is a fantastic had working role model. But I also recall times when I wished she is at home. Perhaps that is why, I thought that when I am a mum, that decision will come easily to me.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying paid employment. I work in the area of psychology and am very pleased that I am able to reach out to others. It is what God has directed me to do and I have accepted this gift with both hands. But what happens when God bless you with another gift- a gift of life where you can stay at home and nurture a life at the same time?

I'm a big believer of being attune to your child and respond to his needs. As he grows bigger, I believe I will put him in day care anyway for social interaction with adults and children. Having little immediate family around, I do think it is important to expose him to other activities and children besides the games and classes we attend together. It's finding the balance as we go along I think that could be challenging.

My answer is this- I'm going to pray and wait and see.  If a door opens and it is an opportunity that I know God has directed me to, I will go towards it.  However, if the door closes then, I know where I'm being lead to. I think returning to full time work will not be in the equation.

The hard bit for me, is to stay in the moment. To simply enjoy time with Asher and being a housewife. A role I am so proud to be.

This pecan banana bread is from a recipe that I adapted from a friend. Besides baking being therapeutic, it also makes my hubby happy. I wrote before that he wakes early in the morning to go to work, so that he can be home to be with our son in the evening (and for me to head to the gym). Pecan banana bread is a nutritious quick morning breakfast where he could toast eat and go.

And that makes me happy.

Pecan Banana Bread (12 serves)
4 bananas mashed
1/4 cup nut butter of your choice
2 tablespoons of honey
1/4 cup of coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp of vanilla paste
3 eggs
1/4 cup of pecan nuts crushed

handful of crushed pecan nuts

Preheat Oven 180C. Line baking loaf with baking paper.

Whisk honey,  banana, nut butter, vanilla and eggs together. In a separate bowl, place flour, nuts baking powder and soda. Pour wet to dry and fold. Spoon into baking tin. Sprinkle pecan pieces on top. Bake for 35-40 minutes till brown.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Carrot Spinach Salmon Congee - Asher's starting solids.

Most asian families introduce congee to their babies at an early age. It's comforting and filling. Most of all, congee absorbs nutrition from meat or fish through its stock.

We, however, waited a little. Asher started solids at around 5.5 months/6 months. His first food? Mashed up avocado with breast milk. I was surprised as he took to it so quickly. Then it was banana which he disliked (texture perhaps?) and apple which he also didn't like (too sour?). When we travelled back to KL/SG, he tasted sweet potato (japanese variety too! lucky baby), pumpkin, carrot, papaya, pear and....even durian! As his system got used to food, we decided to introduce congee to him at 7 months.

Why? Well, I truly believe that it is harder to digest rice and wheat than vegetables and fruits. For a delicate baby system, it just seems that the right time to introduce congee to him is when he is actually starting to enjoy his solids and ready for a bigger meal. His first congee was threadfin carrot and spinach and he ate it up real quick! I could tell he really enjoyed it.

At the moment, he has congee a few times a week. His favourite would be spinach and carrot with salmon- a combination that seems to work well. As for me? I'm just pleased that he is a good eater.

Carrot Spinach Salmon Congee (Serves 3)
handful of rice
1 bowl of water
100 grams chopped spinach
1/4 of grated carrot
50 grams of salmon

Placed rice and water into a rice cooker. Simmer and cook congee for 1 hour or so. About 20 minutes before serving, place spinach, carrot and salmon in porridge. Just before serving, mashed salmon up making sure there are no bones.

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