Thursday, 30 January 2014

My jog interrupted

After 3 whole months of food and fun, resuming my forgotten fitness regime was very difficult.
What should have been in practise since the beginning of this year only started yesterday.
The first five minutes into my jog was the hardest but I managed to continue for another 25 minutes. A 30 minutes jog! Yippie! I was simply elated that I had managed to tackle it.

Although it was interrupted with many short intervals but...
It did not matter that after each short (extremely short) run around the park I had to stop and say hello to Persley.
Checking to see whether I say hello to Persley

It did not matter that I had to slow down and push my jogging companion who was having a giggling time with the swing and waited anxiously for me to make funny sound each time I was close enough to give her a push.

It did not matter that I had to stop and pick up her crayons which had fallen under the slide.

Who would have known, a playground can offer so much to joggers. I turned the see-saw into an obstacle and jumped over it during my run (was quite helpful and I could feel my heart pumping faster).

Watching me use the playground as an obstacle course, my toddler pursued too. The only difference, I think she managed to do more than I! "Aren't I suppose to be the one doing more to shed off the excess weight gained during the holidays?" I asked, to which she responded with a chuckle.

My cheeky monkey relishing the fact that she is getting more runs than I in the park

So nowadays, I make it a point to wear proper attire before walking out of the house because I don't want a repeat of my friendliest jog ever incident.

Although it may not be the usual approach to jogging but it's a much better option than sitting down and watching my kids. Plus I get some adrenaline pumping through me with hopes that it may count as some cardiovascular work done for the day.

Going to have my cuppa for the day with a slice of chocolate bread. I think I've earned it.

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For some healthy recipes, please head over to my Recipes page

Linking up with Greta

Tuesday, 28 January 2014


Chocolates, is the one word which somehow makes many happy, especially the younger one.
They don't really care who made these chocolates or what type of cacao beans were used for it. To them it just is a treat. A wonderful, soft and messy treat.
Chocolates comes in many forms, sizes, textures and flavours thanks to the ingenuity of chocolate makers who add an inexhaustible list of fruits, nuts and more.
During Christmas I was lucky enough to receive a box of chocolate from Hotel Chocolat (that is not a spelling error). It was their special edition for Christmas but is still available year round. And in that box was a beautiful drawstring bag filled with 35 individually wrapped Christmas shapes of solid milk, white and caramel milk chocolates.

The drawstring bag looked like the bag Santa would heave over his shoulder. Imagine playing Santa at Christmas and letting your guest take a lucky dip and see which one they get!
The chocolates were very tasty. They weren't overly sweet but sweet enough for the kids to enjoy.
It had three shapes, Bell, Angel and Penguin. My favourite was the Penguin.

To know more, check out Hotel Chocolat by British Cocoa Grower & Chocolatier
"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt" Charles M. Schulz

Disclaimer: I received this box chocolate for review purpose. All opinion are my own.

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Thursday, 23 January 2014

Irresistible fried food, not necessarily is bad for you (Philips)

I loved watching I Dream of Jeannie when I was a kid and would play make belief that I had her powers.
I was amazed watching her clean up her house and set the table with a gourmet meal fit for kings, in a blink of an eye.

A mother of 3 energetic children, would truly benefit from a genie. Imagine waking up every day to a clean house and buffet breakfast. What more could one wish for?

Reality bites

But my life is far from the scenario above and involves a lot laborious hours (labour of love). All that I can achieve in a blink of an eye, is some shut eye. My house may not be spic and span and the food served is most certainly limited in variety, but we make do with whatever it is that I can manage.

Food served may be simple and sometimes just consist of a dish or two, but I try my best to ensure it's nutritious and packed with wholesome goodness. I am always searching for kids' approved, easy to prepare and healthy meals. The choices weren't many because my kids are very hard to please and they tend to stick to the tried and tested food. Unfortunately for me, this meant they liked everything fried while I hate frying because it's  messy and dangerous too-chances of getting hot oil splatters on my hands and face.

Furthermore, fried food (like the infamous french fries) is widely regarded as among the most notorious of nutritional villains. But, does that mean you must shun away from it? I don't, because I have found a good way to enjoy these fried food.

Behold, the Philips Viva Collection Airfryer that can fry, bake, grill, reheat and roast. My solution to serving food that is crispy on the outside and tender inside.

Now I can fry so many types of food with minimal mess and oil. Which, is not only good for my family but the river too. Deep frying, apart from being 'dangerous' for me was also wasteful because I don't like to reuse oil which was used to fry my food and discarding the used oil was always a big issue (flushing it down your sink hole or drains is not recommended).

I received this demo Airfryer from Philip in a bid to change my opinions on fried food (which it has) and how it could help me prepare easy, fuss-free, mess-free and quick food. What intrigued me the most was its promise to cook food with very little oil/fat. Some recipes featured in their recipe booklet, asked for as little as 1 tablespoon of oil! This is made possible thanks to its Patented Rapid Air technology which combines hot air with grill component to 'fry' food. Using less oil also means that the Airfryer offers a healthier alternative to deep frying, up to 80% less fat to cook food. 

Crash test dummy-my journey to airfried food

Like a mad scientist I began doing my research, googling everything there is to know about this little gadget that was sitting boxed up in my living room.
I wanted to make full use of this opportunity presented to me and cook as many dishes as possible before it was boxed up and sent back to Philips.

With a toddler in the house, it's hard to predict how the day will fan out, so I always cooked whenever she was napping. This meant cooking very early in the morning and always reheating the food before serving it (fried food losses its crispness when reheated). But with the Airfryer, I am able to serve freshly fried food to my family in matter of minutes.

The food result may be similar to baking in an oven but with less energy consumption, quick and lesser utensils to wash afterwards.

With the Airfryer, I would do all the necessary prepping while she naps, store it into the fridge and chuck it into the Airfryer just minutes before it's serving time. It's so pleasing to watch my kids enjoy hot cooked homemade meal after school. Cleaning up is also breezier because lesser oil used means, lesser scrubbing required to remove grease of my tableware. Even cleaning the Airfryer is fairly easy as it has only two components which needs to be washed each time - the basket and the pan.

I will be sharing 3 recipes (one each issue). All these recipes will have one thing in common, they were made with a toddler in mind and I will be using the Airfryer to cook these.

Today's recipe: Fried Garoupa (fish)

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes 

The ingredients:

2 Fillet, de-boned (using a tweezer) and cut into squares
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste (optional)

The method

Preheat the Airfryer to 185'c (which takes about 5 mins)
Rub oil and salt on the fish
Once preheated, carefully place a baking sheet on the airfryer's basket and fill it up with the fish. Cook for about 20-25 minutes. You know the fish is ready when it flakes easily.

This is the best feature, i.e the Airfryer quietly does its work without any supervision and announces with a "DING!" once your food is ready. Which gives me the opportunity to spend some quality time with my baby while the food is cooking, at the same time!

Serving suggestion:

For my toddler

I served the fish with some steamed broccoli and garlic infused butter.

To make the butter you'll need:
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 clove garlic, minced

Heat the garlic for 15 seconds and mash it with a spoon. Add butter and heat for another 10 seconds in the microwave. Drizzle this butter onto the fish and steamed broccoli, and serve immediately.

For the whole family

I turned the rest of the fish into spicy sambal curry fish to be served with hot roti (chapatti) for dinner. Since the fish was already fried, this dish took just minutes to prepare and if your airfryer comes with the additional cake pan, you could cook it in the airfryer itself. That is a real time saver.

What is Airfryer

Key Features
  • Patented Rapid Air Technology - combines hot air with grill component to 'fry' food
  • In-built time - lets you set cooking times of up to 30 mins
  • Adjustable temperature control - cooks food at steady rate up to 200'C
  • Food separator accessory - lets you cook multiple food items at th same time without mixing the flovours
  • Integrated air filter - reduces vapours and odours
  • 30 minutes timer with auto shut-off
  • Product dimension (W x H x D) 287 x 315 x 384 mm
  • Capacity 800gm
  • Weight appliance 7kg
  • Cord length 0.8 m
  • Voltage 230v
  • Ready signal and temperature light
  • Cool-touch handgrips
Retail Price
  • RM1,190

Other wonders this little gadget can do

Grilled Salmon
The basket could only hold two medium sized salmon and takes about 15-20 minutes to grill these at 180'C (preheated). Overlapping salmon is not recommended as you won't get the crispness and will end up with unevenly cooked salmon. Trust me, I've tried.

Life Simplified note: Thanks to Philip's Airfryer, I am able to serve freshly fried food every time with a little advance planning and prepping. Life is so much simplified with these wonderful small kitchen appliances.

Thank you for stopping by at A cuppa for my thoughts

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Disclosure: I was not paid in cash to write up this recipe but received an airfryer from Philips

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

How to beat my unnecessary snacking?

(updated from my previous post because I found my photographs which mysteriously appeared in my handphone back-up storage)

Motherhood does weird and wonderful things. I would have never thought of leading a group-buy for fruits but here I am doing it. Getting decent fruits at decent price was becoming tough and my kids were getting bored of apples, oranges, pineapples and bananas. Thanks to a group of mamas who have been doing this sort of group-buy, I managed to convince them to rope me in and show me the magic.

Each time I have a group-buy, a sweet natural and fresh scent envelopes my whole kitchen. I wished this scent would stay forever because it's very uplifting and invigorating.
"It smells like a fruit store!" my daughter said as she walked into the kitchen.

As I was busy sorting these many boxes of fruits, my youngest child grabbed herself a bag and began picking some fruits and putting them into the bag. While at it, she picked up a couple of avocados and bit into its hard skin. I think it must have been bitter because she went "Yuk!" and threw down the bag filled with avocados. Hopefully it didn't put her off avocado because I planned to repeat my no-cook, cold avocado cream soup.
 Image: Avocado Soup
It's amazing how much a humble fruit like avocado can do. I made avocado and tomato salad which was easy, quick and tasty. Had my morning toast with strawberry, avocado and balsamic vinegar topping (a friend's recipe) and although it looked good but I wasn't ready for the explosive taste in my mouth.

There were also some red dragon fruit and mangoes which I used to make my no-recipe pink juice. My kids call it Pink Panther. I used equal amounts of dragon fruit and mango to make this smoothie with a splash of lemon juice and some mint leaves which you could crush or just leave them whole. I like to leave them whole in my tall glass because of the refreshing taste it leaves in your mouth when you bite into it.

Strawberries are my favourite. I was never fond of them not until recently when I discovered they taste awesome in my overnight oats or served with chilled yogurt. Usually I have it with some plump and juicy cherries but since these were out of season, strawberries alone did the job.

With a fridge well stocked with fresh fruits, I decided to spice up my morning ice blended my mixing equal amounts of avocado, banana and strawberry. The result was not as sweet as my usual fruit blend (banana + milk) but palatable.

I tried juicing grapes but it was too thick and the flavor was not to my liking. It was left in my fridge (forgotten) for a couple days and when I found it, it tasted terrible. Let's just say it was like wine gone bad and never intended to make wine in the first place.

I am glad I had a chance to do this because these fruits are far better than what I usually snack on.
It's a horrible ritual I have picked up and no matter how full I would be after dinner, I must open my cupboards and refrigerator and peek inside, searching for some late night snacks.

I hope I can maintain this (buying fresh fruits, not late night snacking) for months to come.

What's your snack and how do you beat the craving for it?

Lets get connected:

Now you can follow me by email (fill email address here) to get new post notifications delivered directly into your mailbox or you could follow my Facebook page Life Simplified to get more recipes and tips in making life a little more laid back or we can connect via twitter.

Thank you for stopping by at A Cuppa For My Thoughts

Linking up with Greta

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The power of words

Stick and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.

I used to sing this nursery rhyme each time my children returned from school angry and sad because some kid in school had taunted them with name-calling.
No matter what I said or how I tried to persuade them to ignore these name-calling taunts, it never quite worked.
Despite their best efforts to put on a smile (maybe because they wanted me to stop singing and persuading), they couldn't really mask their anger. Instead, a sense of sinister aura was prevalent.

Usually they would linger on the sofa with their school uniforms' still on while I would be rushing them to shower and get ready for lunch. But not on these days because they would be eager to be out of my sight and confine themselves in the solitary of their room, where they can plot on getting even with the kids who caused them shame. On any other given day I would have relished such peace and taken advantage of it with a long and overdue uninterrupted nap but NO! My bloody mummy genes wants me to stick around in case they needed me.

It took me a while to realize that I don't follow what I preach. In all honesty, at times (more often than not) I get so worked up when I find myself in the similar situation as my children. Name-calling may not affect me but there are many other instances that do. So, who am I kidding?
I, the so called adult who is supposed to be more rational and matured as explained in Child vs. Adult, can get affected with words hurled at me, so how can I then expect my young children NOT to be affected?

It's about time I ditched this phrase and start realizing that words can truly hurt, even the younger ones, ESPECIALLY the younger ones. This phrase should be changed to; Stick and stones may break my bones but words will break my spirit.

Words, once hurled cannot be retracted

A couple of months back, I realised my eldest child who used to come to me for almost everything had suddenly stopped. Instead, she started asking for her father and became rather quiet around me. If any conversation was struck between us, it always turned into a battle of wits with sarcastic answers or responds from her which felt like nails going across a chalk board. It made me so mad that I wanted to bury my head in a tub of water and scream.
When I confided to my husband, he told me that I had been very harsh and hard on them. I was always very quick to judge and blame. That I would have blurted a mouthful of regrettable words even before assessing what had actually happened. I knew then, I had to change and be more careful with my words. I hoped that she would change too because this was not how I envisioned my relationship to be with my daughters.

It's never too late for a change.

I began paying more attention to the way I spoke. I even stopped being rigid and difficult. I told myself that it was OK if the house was untidy or for them to snack (sometimes) in front of the TV. They would still be responsible to clean up but I wouldn't blow my top off if some crumbs were still visible.
It was also fine if they wanted to get wet while watering the plants and leave a trail of muddy footprints all the way to the bathroom.

It sounds very trivial but if you are obsessed with always wanting a clean and tidy house, it can spell mayhem because my mood gets affected with the way the house is.
An untidy house means clustered thoughts and this leads to me forgetting my new mission - to stop shouting, not be harsh and be more careful with my words.

So every night, I would get the kids to help me put things where they belong and voila! This has helped tremendously. Waking up to a neat home gives me a good feeling. I function better too because there is no nagging voice at the back my head rushing me to clean up the mess (I don't function well when I get stressed and all worked up).
This new routine is a keeper because my kids have started showing a lot of initiation. They would pick up toys and put them in the right place. I used to find the dirty clothes everywhere BUT in the laundry basket. But now they would in the basket and towel hung on the rack to dry. 

It's a new beginning

Luckily for me, my change was accepted and now we are able to talk without arguing. Things are almost back to normal and she (my eldest) has started doing things and behaving the way she used too. She would put her head on my lap or cuddle up with me while watching TV. She has even started flashing her brilliant smile when she spots me standing at the school gate.
Communication has improved and it's wonderful to have my daughters back. We joke a little more and laugh a little louder.
It almost feels like falling in love, all over again.
Every year, friends and loved ones make new year's resolution but I stopped long ago because I could never stick by it.
Was it be because the resolutions I made were mostly crappy and unimportant? Perhaps.
However, this year (2014) I am making one. I am doing so because it is important and the future of my children somehow depends on it. I know I will have the will power to stick by it because I have already been doing it.
What about you? Have you made any resolutions yet?

Happy New Year

Lets get connected:

Now you can follow me by email (fill email address here) to get new post notifications delivered directly into your mailbox or you could follow my Facebook page Life Simplified to get more recipes and tips in making life a little more laid back or we can connect via twitter.

Thank you for stopping by at A Cuppa For My Thoughts


Linking up with Greta