Being more mindful of food portions

Being more mindful of food portions

In order to ensure that Mummy gets enough fibre in her diet, I’ve been stir frying a lot more these days. Packing my meals into the size of a mini frying pan helps me check the proportion of each food type and not end up in undereating on vegetables.

This is lunch today, with most of the food being greens. I added some capsicums for colour. Protein is fish seasoned in tamari. Yummy!

Be sure to keep check of your vegetable portions from time to time! 💪 Hoping this habit will rub off on my children in time to come. 😁

Woke up late!

Woke up late!

I jolted out of sleep, one hand on J2, on his bed. It had been a night of interruptions, as J2 woke up twice and had to be pat back to sleep.

I glanced at my watch and realised it was 6.40am. 😱😱😱 Late! And everyone had just woke up…. maybe the weather was just too cooling last night. 😆

There goes… my ‘grand’ breakfast plans were dashed, especially that of my hubby’s and mine, which required some form of cooking over the stove. That wasn’t the part that worried me; I had to quickly get it all out by the next 5 minutes before hubby left for work, and for my boys to eat (before J1 misses the school bus).

Never mind the type of breakfast, I told myself, survival mode now. As long as there’s breakfast packed, I’m done for the first meal. So I took out an already prepared overnight oat sealed mug, hurried to boil water for my Kopi-O, zoomed to get bread and peanut butter out, to spread for hubby and J2, prepared the Kopi-O, before stir frying egg, bacon and spinach for myself. 😅 Thank God, I managed to, and breakfast was dished out and snapped up before we hurried for the school bus.

What a close shave!

Learnt that it’s important to have an already prepared breakfast ready at some corner of the house in future, just in case of a late wake up day like today.

I need to get these items always ready:

1) overnight oats in fridge

2) loaf of bread with peanut butter to stand by (if there is time to prepare something decent)

3) fresh finger fruit such as berries or apricots

4) UHT packet milk

5) nuts such as almond or macadamia

At the moment, these are probably what I can think of, for a grab and go breakfast.

Breakfast is so important as it’s the breaking of a long night’s fast, so it has got to be nutrient packed. However when time is not on our side, we still try to ingest something so as not to starve ourselves till break time or when time permits.

Ok, this signals something… I had better sleep early tonight to avoid another episode tomorrow.😆

Going the extra mile while I can

Going the extra mile while I can

Sometimes I wonder how many more years we get as parents, to see our children through life. In all our efforts to ensure they get the best possible education, pick up the correct values, master life skills and enter our best school choices, we end up feeling exhausted and burnt out.

While I do not have any straightforward answers to exhaustion and burn out, I need to keep reminding myself that ultimately, what really matters, is that I walk the journey with them.

Am I present for them when they need my help?

Do I intentionally spend that one-to-one time with them?

Do they know that I care for them, not as a caregiver or teacher, but a Mother?

Are their emotional needs adequately met and addressed to progress on to the next level?

These are issues that I consider to be mind boggling, since they go through various stages of growing up, and change from time to time.

While the demands of mothering has gone up since the start of the year, I know I cannot slack off in these areas that matter most.

In an effort, before J1 went up the school bus today, I gave him a really big hug and told him that ‘Mummy loves you.’. J2, in response, gave J1 an unexpected bear hug too. ☺️

Spent more time than usual engaging in conversation with J2 after that, and did not try to discount on the quality of time.

Our days are numbered but we do not need to focus on the negativity of it. Make every day count and live it to the fullest. Then life will be without regret.

Need to get rid of ants in the kitchen? No sweat!

Need to get rid of ants in the kitchen? No sweat!

I found the answer to get rid of ants in the kitchen, naturally. 😄

Used to have the problem of having to hunt them down, chase them, kill them at the table top, along the walls, in-between cracks… and these ants are so good with hide and seek. They just know when to appear and when to hide. And it gets on my nerves, because 1 or 2 will appear in my dishes, or even in the water dispenser. 😆

These days, after doing a spring cleaning of the kitchen, they hardly appear. I realised what attracts ants to anywhere isn’t about the presence of food, but about the presence of a certain type of food. Sugary food, in particular. This is purely my own conjecture, so correct me in the comments if I’m wrong, ok? I’m sharing and learning at the same time. 🙂

My mentioning sugary food, I mean any kind of food that contains sugar… and these are the ones that attract ants. It could come in the form of spilt fresh milk, stains from fruit juices, soy sauce and dark soy sauce and obviously, sweet desserts. And so, I eliminated them from the kitchen. (I would sincerely applaud any ant who would like to come stay in it after the cleansing! 😂) Surprisingly, the ants started to get fewer and fewer, and if they do, they came from the stains from eating sweeter fruit. And so I realised that I needn’t go purchase any ant poison to rid the house of it. There is really such a natural way of doing so – by signalling to them that there’s nothing for them to consume, and hence no point to stay on.

Another realisation is that the amount of ants found in the kitchen could be possibly an indication of how many items you own that have sugary content. (Big ‘aha’ moment for me!) So if there are less uninvited minibeasts to your kitchen as you get more conscious of the food you’re bringing in, it sure is a good sign that your diet is not as high in sugar content as before.

Above is what I have left after spring cleaning, and other than the manuka honey, which is in fact sugar, I think there isn’t much left for the ants to feast on. 🤗

Ketogenic meals

Ketogenic meals

Since about 2 months ago, my family and I embarked on ketogenic meals, meals that consist of low carbohydrates and high fats, mainly obtained from whole foods. I am so eager to share this new lifestyle with you as it has brought us plentiful amounts of benefits.

The rationale of this way of eating is to allow the body release energy through the burning of fats and not carbohydrates. In our modern society, the largest portion of our dietary consumption consists of carbohydrates. They come mainly in the form of our staples, such as rice, potatoes, noodles, pasta and grains. Though they make us full, it is hardly nutrition dense. Our body would need to process and burn off these carbs as energy first, in order to start burning fats. In the case where our meals consists mainly of our staples, there is usually an excess of carbs and hence, or bodies find it hard to even start burning off any fat (with exercise), so long as we keep feeding it with carbs whenever we are hungry.

What is the way around? In order to burn fats, we could play around with the numbers by reducing the portion of carbohydrates consumed and increasing the fat content of our meals. We would then want to consider what kinds of carbohydrates are great for our bodies so that we reap maximum benefits for our nutrition sake. These would include plenty of green leafy vegetables, certain low sugared fruits such as berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries), avocadoes and apricots, nuts like almond and macadamia. Selecting what type of food goes into our diet is necessary since everything we eat literally contains carbohydrates! 😌

So what are the benefits that came our way?

My Husband and I, for once, experienced weight loss. We didn’t cut back on food portions, but ate our three meals whole, and stop when we are full. Surprisingly, I cut back close to 5kg in 2 months, and am definitely not on a diet.

For my children and I, our hunger pangs stopped. I try to provide 5% carbs, 20% protein and 75% fat in our meals. With an increased amount of fat in our diet, they took to it well and requested less of snacks and additional portions of food. I had no more power struggles with them on finishing their food, and because of the high fat content of the meals, almost every meal was yummy! I use healthy fats to plan our meals around, like cooking with olive oil or butter, trying to be generous on fatty meat like salmon, bacon, pork belly and chicken skin and encourage eating fatty fruit like avocadoes.

We became more conscious of food in the process. We took to reading food labels, making as conscious an effort as possible, before any purchase. Soy sauce is a passé and I’m using liquid aminos now to replace sauces.

This the book that inspired most of my cooking and learning.

Every day, I’m learning so much in how to prepare nutrition dense meals for the family. Cooking doesn’t become a chore anymore, maybe for the first week or so, when we first started on this journey. These days, I cook all the meals by choice. Planning ahead helps me and it sets the pace right for the day with a mental picture of how the meals will turn out.

For more information on this lifestyle, do check out these links:

Encouraging the learner

Encouraging the learner

As J1 progresses to K2 in 2018, he has been very keen on improving himself. He thrives on attempting workbook exercises on his own and wanting me to teach him ‘what I always teach the Kor Kor’s and Jie Jie’s’ who come for weekly lessons. It’s been very heartening.

While it may be too complicated to bring primary school mathematical concepts down to his preschool level, I attempt to teach him simple ‘counting on’ and ‘taking away’. He was keen on experimenting with my calculator as well, so we took the opportunity to explore ‘division’, using the words ‘sharing equally’ instead.

I hope his enthusiasm in attaining knowledge will continue to be there even as he enters formal education and the rigour of homework, drills and practices takes over. While it may seem mundane and tedious, meaning and purpose in his learning would be an added dimension of motivation for him as he journeys on. 💪

One man’s meat is another man’s poison

One man’s meat is another man’s poison

Food has always been a part of my life, more so, after having children, and needing to see to their developmental wellbeing.

Before having children, food was a means of survival. I eat to live, and nothing really more. I am not a foodie, and am still not quite one. 😆 Since having children, food was like a science that I had to learn to put various ingredients together to make up something decent and delectable. In the recent years, as I explore deeper into food, food became medicine to me. Food has properties, good and bad. I read about them, scrutinised them and applied what was learnt into my (almost) daily cooking. I explored the realm of TCM as well and used herbs to balance out the state of Yin and Yang in the family. Lately, food took on another interesting role, in fact, more complicated than how I used to perceive it… it became ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’. I am still in the initial stages of learning the ropes and everyday is an exciting discovery of something I used to pass off as mundane.

An acute attack almost a month ago was what triggered it all. That was the awakening to this frightening truth. As was any usual Saturday, I stuffed myself with a heavy breakfast of coffee and instant noodles (I haven’t touched them in years!), and… BAM! I was down in pain. With less than 30 minutes to the start of my 4 hour sessions, there was little I could do to salvage myself. I tried. Passed motion, induced vomiting… thank God I could. Yet the pain continued to grow and I was clutching my stomach in the toilet. Cold sweat broke out and I was seen crawling to the room, grabbing my phone to call each student up to cancel lessons. I could not carry on.

Staggered down to the GP with my children holding me, I asked to be seen by the doctor ASAP as I felt I could not hold out any longer. The pain was out of the world and other patients were staring. Yea, but I couldn’t help groaning… what to do leh? 😞

Thankfully the GP saw me and quickly jabbed me with buscopan, a potent painkiller and discharged me with a week of gastric medication. My intense pain had settled within a day, but I continued to experience weakness and dull pain. Decided to look up a gastroenterologist and was found with gallstones and my innocently looking bowl of instant noodles was the culprit. From that incident, I started to look upon food with greater caution.

Food is beneficial, and yet food can also be lethal. As I go into a new season of discovering food, I exercise more discretion in the preparation of meals. I learnt much (as I always do when some illness hits me!😆), and it has been a blessing in disguise to discover that there are two sides of a coin to some foods that are touted beneficial to health. For example, I have read about the extensive uses of turmeric and how it fights inflammation. I have been adding it into rice and even fish. A friend cautioned me against its uses and I later found out that it is not recommended for patients with gallstones. What a timely advice and a lesson learnt, before the onset of a potential attack.

I hope that in the weeks and months ahead, I can gather more insight into this aspect of food and continue to share in this space. Food preparation can be seen as a science, or an art, or a weapon against illnesses/ageing/moods as well. Let us all be mindful of what and how we eat, so that the food we take in can serve to strengthen us and build us up.

Cheers!! 💪