Cooking · Food · Recipes

Chewy Fudgy Coconut Flour Brownies

All my baking adventures, seem to start with me craving something.

In this case, some chocolate, chewy brownies!

As my husband is on a keto-diet, or at least trying not to fall of the wagon, I thought I’d try making something that he could eat too. Similar to the chocolate chip cookies, I substituted the flour with coconut flour, but this time, I also used Swerve, which is a zero calorie sugar substitute. However, since I didn’t have enough for the full recipe, I still had to use brown sugar.

Swerve is a 1 for 1 substitute for caster sugar. I didn’t know what to expect as I have never baked using Swerve before but it turned out pretty well! A mix of caster sugar will give you the shiny, crispy top crust, and the brown sugar with give you the fudgy, moist and chewy insides of a brownies. Swerve gave the exact same result as white sugar!

If you’re interested in getting Swerve, I bought it from iHerb. Currently, they have granular, confectioners, and brown sugar substitute. They even have ketogenic cake, and cookie mixes. If you don’t have an iHerb account, you can use my code: VRB854 to get 10% of your first purchase.

Anyway, here’s the recipe for my brownies.

Chewy, Fudgy Coconut Flour Brownies

  • Servings: 24 pieces
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A chewy, fudgy, chocolaty snack that is mostly keto-friendly.

Based on this recipe

Ingredients

  • 125g salted butter
  • 230g semi-sweet chocolate bars, chopped*
  • 50g Swerve
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 3 eggs + 1 yolk
  • 2tsp vanilla essence
  • 2tbs coconut flour
  • 10g cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 180g semi-sweet chococlate chips

Directions

  1. Melt butter and chopped chocolate in the microwave, on medium, at 20s intervals. Stir between intervals. Pour melted chocolate into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool for 10mins.
  2. Line the baking pan with parchment paper. Heat the oven at 180°C.
  3. Whisk brown sugar and Swerve into the cooled chocolate/butter mix.
  4. Add egg 1 at a time, and whisk until smooth.
  5. Add in the vanilla essence.
  6. Mix in the flour, cocoa powder, and the salt.
  7. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  8. Pout into the tin and back for 35-55 minutes. At the 35 minute mark, poke the centre to see if it’s cooked. If fully cooked, you’ll only get a few crumbs sticking to the toothpick (or satay stick).
    You might need a longer baking time as the batter is is very liquid, but keep on checking until the brownies are done.
  • You can use any chocolate bar you have at hand. I used left over chocolate fountain couverture chocolate, and it turned out pretty good!

If you’ve tried making the brownies, let me know how they turned out for you. Next project I’m going to attempt is keto-bread. Do let me know if you’re interested in seeing the results of that as well, in the comments below.

Cooking · Food · Recipes

Chewy Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

Have you ever had a craving for something so badly but you don’t really want to spend money on it? 

Well, I had a big hankering for chocolate chip cookies after watching the cookie episode of What’s Eating Dan?, which also inspired me to find a recipe that did require a mixer, since I didn’t have one.

My husband is a self-proclaimed cookie monster, and we usually have to get extra cookies from Subway because the man won’t share. So he was superbly excited when I told him that I want to make cookies, but since the man is on a keto diet, plain flour cookies are out of the question for him.

It just so happens that we had recently bought a big bag of coconut flour, so I substituted the flour with coconut flour. I had to use a lot less coconut flour (only about 1/3 or the original amount) as coconut flour is full of fibre and will soak up a lot of liquid. We also have Swerve, which is a zero calorie sugar substitute but having never baked it with it, I didn’t know if it was going to produce a crispy or a chewy cookie, so I opted to use purely brown sugar like in the recipe.

So this recipe isn’t fully keto but until I can find a more keto sugar substitute that will give me the same chewy cookie texture, I’ll stick with my brown sugar. 

Making the cookies wasn’t so straight forward for me because I made the mistake of using coarse granule brown sugar instead of the fine brown sugar, and that thing won’t whisk! I ended up putting it in the food processor to blend the heck out of it. I’m just glad that it turned out ok.

Protip: USE PROPER BROWN SUGAR !

So anyway, here’s the recipe that I used for my cookies. Let me know how they turn out for you, and if you have any keto cookie recipes to share, please drop me a comment below!

Chewy Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 36 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy

An almost keto-friendly chewy cookies for that cookie monster in your life.

Based on this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 225g butter
  • 320g brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg + 1 yolk
  • 2 tbs vanilla essence*
  • 120g coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt**
  • 10oz bag chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Melt, and brown butter in a shallow pan.***
  2. Add the browned butter into the mixing bowl and allow to cool for 5 mins.
  3. Add in the brown sugar. Whisk for 5 minutes, and rest for 5 minutes. Repeat for 2 more times.
  4. Add in the eggs, and vanilla essence and continue mixing.
  5. Add in the dry ingredients except chocolate chip cookies, and mix well.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips, and mix evenly.
  7. Scoop into balls that are just a little bit smaller than golf balls. Put onto a lined baking tray and flatten it with your fingers.
  8. Bake at 190°C for 7-10mins, until the edges are crispy.
  9. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack to cool further.
  10. Keep in an airtight container. Will last about 2 week, if you don’t finish it as fast as we do.
    Notes:
  • If using vanilla extract, use half the amount
  • Omit if using salted butter
  • Refer to this page for full instructions.
busy mom hacks · Cooking · Food

Busy Mom Hacks: The Electric Lunch Box

In a previous post, I mentioned that I had to create my own system to make baby food that was easy and efficient. Other than front loading the work, the other important part to my system was the Electric Lunchbox (ELB).

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Hello old friend.

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It’s basically a mini steamer. My husband bought ours of Lazada, but you can find it on other online sites like Qoo10 or Shopee. Mine is only has 2 tiers but you can get 3 tiered ones, and even those fancy ones with the ceramic bowls.

Back when I was starting to wean my elder child, some of the mothers were talking about using the electric lunch box to cook their kids’ meals and I was very surprised when my husband bought one for us.

I would come home first from work to drop off my bags. Then I’d pop the frozen stock cubes, purees and rice into the cooker, and I’ll pick up the girl from child care. The electric lunch box will auto shut off when it runs out of water (roughly 20-25 mins if you add water according to the little cup that comes with it), and the porridge is done by the time I come home from picking up my little girl. I’ll just take out the little bowl of porridge to cool, let the girl play for a little bit, and then it’s dinner time!

It’s small and light enough for us to pack into our luggage, that we brought it with us to Vienna, when I had to attend a conference (with husband and baby in tow). And it came superbly handy! We made eggs, couscous, and heated up meals in it when were in the hotel. It made making meals for the little girl (who was just a few weeks shy of her first birthday) so easy with what ever ingredients that we could get at the supermarket.

Nowadays, I use it to prep my purees for the baby boy, and some days, I prep our dinners in there too! Steamed egg with minced meat, and some fish is so easy to do in the ELB. I would totally recommend it to anyone who needs a multi-purpose appliance that takes up very little counter space.

Tell me what are your experiences of using the ELB in the comments, and if you have any recipes, please feel free to share too!

Family · Life

Letter to my 3 year old daughter

29th December 2018

Dear baby girl,

You’re three today! How has the time flown!

Frozen Themed Cake

When we brought you home from the hospital 3 years ago, you were so tiny, so quiet. But now, you’re so tall, so active, and you have such a big, big personality!

You run around playing pretend with everything, your toys, things that aren’t your toys, furniture, and even things that you’re not supposed to play with. It’s such a joy to see you play, though it can get frustrating when you refuse to clean up; but that is one me, I just need to be more patient and teach you to clean up before you move on to a different toy set.

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The child has not napped the entire day.

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You love your baby brother, and he loves you just as much. You make each other laugh, and I’m so glad that both of you are getting along. Mama is sorry that I may not be able to spend as much time with you like we used to, but now we spend time together with Adik. I love that he looks for you when he wakes up, and you smile whenever he looks for you.

You’re going through a picky eating phase and mama needs to remember that it’s normal. I shouldn’t scold you for not eating because, you just might not be angry. But of course, we have to make sure that you’re not eating too much junk food; that you’re getting a balanced diet.

Some days, I forget that you’re only 3 because you act like such a big girl, with a vocabulary that I didn’t know that you have. You may not be enunciating the words clearly for now, but we’re actually having great conversations about your school, your friends, and about your daily life! Only a year ago, you weren’t really speaking as much as we do now!

You (and your brother) are my pride and joy. You may make me scream in frustration some times but you also make me laugh. I miss you when you’re in school, and I miss cuddling the little girl that you were; but it’s so much better when you are the one asking for cuddles.

May He bless you with all the great things in life, and in the hereafter. I want the best for you.

I love you baby girl.

Kisses,

Mama

Family · Life

2018: Reflection and Gratitude

Have you ever looked back on the events of a day, and thought, “Hey, I could have done or reacted better to so and so event.” Or thought, “That was a learning event. I can do this (or not do this) the next time.”

I’ve been trying to reflect on my day and be grateful, because sometimes we lose sight of these things when too many things happen. Reflecting, and gratitude, helps me realise that things are not as bad as they seem, and puts you in a better frame of mind when you struggle with what ever issues that pops by.

Change is the only constant. And this year, the changes are massive and it was a struggle for me to adjust.

1. Being a mom of 2

It was not easy transitioning from being a mom of 1 child, to a mom of 2 kids. Especially when the toddler is not even 2.5 years old and you have a newborn who demands your attention all the time. The hardest thing for me was making sure that my daughter had enough time with me, because I know we both miss each other. Bed time routines used to be just the 2 of us, cuddling and me telling her stories.

Now, it’s me trying to tell her stories while I nursed her baby brother, or having her cuddle up against my back while I latched her brother. I am always grateful for our cuddle time when the baby is asleep first and I get to spend time with her, just like how we used to.

The toughest for me, is when I have to balance the attention to both kids, crying at the same time. Especially when I have to handle both kids on my own.

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All the crying, all the time.

But I did manage it with some help. Some days are better than others, but I’m getting there.

Having a second child showed me that I needed to work on myself more too. I needed more patience, and also, how bad sleep deprivation can affect it.

2. Being Unemployed

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HIRE ME!

I’m very grateful that my previous bosses had arranged so that I got paid maternity while I searched for a new job. What I hadn’t expected at how difficult it is to get one. It’s been 4 months since my contract expired and while I have gone for a few interviews, and got some calls from recruiters, I have yet to get a job offer.

I have always pride myself in being self-sufficient, so when I had to ask my husband for pocket money, it was so hard. I hated having to rely on others but if I can’t rely on my husband, who can I rely on?

I hope that 2019 will bring me a new career that will help me (and my bank account grow), with good hours for my family responsibilities.

3. Learning how to ask for help

Like I mentioned earlier, I hate having to rely on anyone for problems that I can solve by myself but there’s only so much that I can do without being stretched out too thin. Being at home and having to face all the household chores that needed to be done, I was doing that instead of looking for a job. It got to the point where I was doing laundry every day and trying to clean up the house all the damn time, not sleeping, and being cranky. All. The. Damn. Time.

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When my husband told me that I”m being a crankypuss.

So I asked for help with the housework, just so that it frees up my time to actually sit down, edit my resume, and apply for jobs. My husband already is a hands on parent, and he does his share of housework. I just needed help with the laundry because with 2 kids in childcare, there is a lot to wash.

4. Having full control of my household

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When we moved into our home 5 years ago, my mother-in-law lived with us. We didn’t have to buy any furniture as she brought with her all of her furniture from her old house. We didn’t have to go through the whole discussion about what furniture to get (other than bookshelves). In fact, most of the groceries were bought by her. We just cooked what was in the fridge and the pantry.

Now that she’s moved into her own house, we’ve had to get furniture and handle what to feed the family. And it’s been a little tedious but great. It gave us the opportunity to evaluate what we really needed for the house, and also to buy groceries that will suit our dietary needs and budget.

The house is bare with minimal furniture but that means more play area for the kids. We’re eating more vegetables now, and learning to batch cook, and really, really utilise what we have in the pantry and fridge, before doing our groceries.

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Meal prep!

Basically, we not only have full control of the house to do the things we want, they way we want, and learning from our own mistakes, and of course, creating systems that work for our home.

5. Things happen for a reason, and that reason is to serve me

I believe that everything that happened this year is a learning lesson, and a journey for me to be a better person.

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Having a second child means that I have more to love, more reason to push me to work harder to be a better parent.

Being unemployed gave me the opportunity to recover from having kids so close in age, to spend time with them, to rest and refresh myself, and really really think about what I want to do with my career, and see what opportunities I have.

I learnt what my limits are and noone can do it all alone, without something giving way; in this case, my sanity. Asking for help showed me who are the reliable ones that I can trust to have my back, and who do I only ask if I don’t have a choice.

I finally get to feel the excitement of decorating my own home. It took me five years but I get to feel like this home is mine. Budgeting for family meals helped me figure out what creative meals I can come up with to feed the family with what we have, and we’re finally doing batch cooking for meal preps, after talking about it for years.

So 2018 has been a heck of ride, but I learnt a lot. I hope that 2019 brings with it better opportunities for me and my family.

What are your hopes for the new year?

Cooking · Food · Parenting

Busy Mom Hacks: Baby Food

Have you ever wondered if there was a more convenient, more efficient way to prepare baby food? Back when I had my first child, I was working full time. It was pretty easy to handle, until we started introducing solids to my baby girl. Thinking about preparing dinner for the adults, and what to prepare for the baby was a little stressful, especially since I’m rushing from work, and then picking the little girl up, feed her and myself, and get her showered, and ready for bed. A lot of the mothers I talked to said that they will prepare the food with fresh ingredients because it’s not good to give baby frozen food.

I tried, I really tried to do that but it just took too long and by the time the food was prepared, my girl was either asleep, or hangry. Hangry baby makes mommy hangry too. So I decided to do it my way.

As a scientist by training, cooking is a lot like doing experiments, where you combine all your reagents together to get an end result. The end result that I want, is a healthy, easy, porridge that is prepared quickly. So, I front-loaded the work and prepared all the ingredients that I need before hand.

I needed:

  • rice
  • stock
  • vegetables
  • protein

And since I was going to have to blend them all, I made a puree of all the things I needed (meat, vegetables) and stock. All of these I froze in ice cube trays, and just pop them into the steamer and 20 minutes later, Ta Da! I have porridge!

I started out with the veggies by steaming the vegetables singly or in combinations that the baby has tried, and then I blended it all into a smooth puree. I did the same with the meat. I made a stew of either chicken or beef, with what ever root vegetables (carrots, potatoes) I have on hand and the aromatics (onions, garlic, celery). Then I blended the heck out of it and froze it in ice cube trays. Making stock is a lot easier. I would either save some of the broth from the stew I made with the meats, or just make it from scratch.

Here’s a video of how I prepared the rice, and putting all the ingredients together.

How I prep frozen rice and how the porridge is prepared
The end result

But since making this video, I’ve been freezing the washed rice ice trays too, just to cut down on the hassle of needing to scoop out the rice.

I know that there are specialised all-in-one gadgets out there where it allows you to steam and blend, but frankly, the puree stage is only going to be a few short months. I considered getting it in 2016 but I couldn’t justify spending SGD300 for a steamer blender that would take up precious counter space and will only be used for a few months. Also, other mom friends have complained at how difficult it is to wash and keep clean. So I’m thankful that I only a steamer, and a hand-blender to wash.

I discovered that having all of these veg and stock pre-prepared into cubes, is super useful when I’m cooking meals for the adults too. I can just toss the cubes into whatever I’m cooking for extra flavouring. The other day, I used the chicken stock cubes into my garlic butter prawns and it really gave such a wonderful depth of flavour. Multi-purpose use, FTW! I love having the convenience of it that I think I’m going to continue doing my stocks and veggies this way even after my baby boy is not longer eating baby food.

So, what hacks and tricks do you have that has made food prep more efficient for you? Share it with me in the comments below, and if you have any questions about how I prepare my frozen cube ingredients, feel free to ask!

Family · Parenting

How do we stop repeating the mistakes of our parents?

My 3 year old toddler is at a phase where she’s testing my patience, pushing boundaries, and well, basically being a toddler. Some days are easier than others. It was during one of those tough days, my first instinct or reflex was to hit. I pulled the emergency brake from hitting, and reflected as to why that was first reaction I had. That was when I realised that while I was growing up, the first discipline measure I faced was a hit first, and then maybe, maybe, my wrongdoing will be explained. Most of the time, I’m just told not to do something, but never why.

I don’t want my kids to be raised that way.

There are so many different parenting styles; attachment parenting, mindful/respectful parenting. What ever you choose, the core essence of it is to pick what works for you, s long as it is in line with your own core values.

I want to be able to explain to my kids why, what ever it is that they did is wrong, without resorting to, “Because I said so!” The lesson will stick longer if they understand. I want to be a better parent, and break this cycle.

I’ve seen people say that they were caned, hit when they were kids, and they turned out fine. So was I, but if the first reaction you have is to hit, then that is not fine. Especially when the child is still learning how to regulate their emotions. They need understanding, support, and love.

Children mimic what they see. My husband told me when the toddler was hitting me because I wasn’t letting her do something she wanted, “You can’t fight fire with fire. It’ll just be explosive, and harder to calm down.” The husband has had more experience handling kids but even he has days where he doesn’t handle our strong-willed toddler very well. So we try to keep each other grounded, and on the same page when it comes to disciplining our children.

I’ve been reading this in hopes that it’ll give me some pointers on how to deal with a sassy, 3 year old girl who is basically a troll like her daddy, and with a fiery temper like mine. So far, baby girl has been winning coz mama just can’t keep her cool enough, to be able to handle things better. But I’m trying. 

Let me know in the comments below, what are the most challenging things you have when it comes to disciplining your kids? Please share what works and what doesn’t. Please?