Peanut + Coconut Sauce

August 20, 2017

In recent months, I have become very fond of meal planning. I used to be good at creating meals on the fly, and while I suppose I still am (indeed I can create a very tasty plate with eggs, legumes or a grain), I felt the need to freshen things up, while closely watching our food budget. Writing a weekly list for our dinners helps me branch out of my go-to repertoire and cook more efficiently. I’ll search for bookmarked recipes or Joan and I will flip through cookbooks in search of inspiration (“This looks good, let’s make it a dinner!”, she’ll say to every single picture). I’m now far more organised in my produce shopping, and far less likely to dash to the shops multiple times over the course of the week, overspending and wasting what I haven’t thoughtfully used. It also helps me ensure that our diet is varied and nourishing, taking into consideration our preferences, requirements and cravings. Truthfully, it’s made me love my job of nurturing my family even more than I already did.

I tend to meal plan when Joan is happily playing on her own, when the three of us are in the car with Ben driving, or when snuggling Joan in bed as I wait for her to fall asleep. I’ll take note of what we have in the fridge and pantry, refer to my bookmarked “must try” list of recipes, and assess any particular cravings we may have. I then ask Ben for his “eta”s for the upcoming week, meaning his estimated time of arrival home (as these change day-to-day, week-to-week), and plan our meals accordingly. We mostly eat dinner as a family, however if Ben is due home late (which for us, is after 6:30pm), I’ll feed Joan first. I love eating together, the three of us at the table talking about the day and being silly. I also really enjoy the meals when it’s just us two. For months and months and months (and months and months) I used to remain beside Joan while she slept, both during the day and from around 7pm, when she would usually be tired for bed. It’s only recently that she’s stopped being so wakeful and dependent on me in that regard, so it’s a real treat for Ben and I to sit on the couch together with dinner and Netflix (with the volume playing! And no subtitles!). We both enjoy spaghetti for date nights, so I often put pasta on the menu if Ben’s having a late night. It’s also a meal I know Joan will happily eat, without me needing to eat alongside her for modelling purposes. I save new dishes for the nights she’s not eating alone. When we’re all together, I gravitate towards things that require a little more “action time” in the kitchen, things that need a hot pan and my full attention, instead of simply simmering away for hours in a pot. And rice. Together, we have rice. Rice with curries, rice with dahl and rice with peanut + coconut sauce. I make sure to save these dishes for when Ben is home in time for dinner. There’s something about rice that makes him feel particularly nourished. Many of Ben’s family meals growing up involved rice, so I’m sure that influences his affection. I feel the same way about lentils and tuna casserole, and it warms my heart to know that we’re creating the same kind of associations for Joan.

Earlier this week I planned on making this peanut + coconut sauce for when Ben was working from home. A 5pm dinner meant I was able to take photographs before it became too dark, so, here they are. Dinner photographs are a rarity this time of year. Next week I’m planning on making falafel bowls and a recipe from Julia’s new cookbook. I’m still pondering what else to put on my list.

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Happenings 7.8.17

August 7, 2017

* written over the months of July and beginning of August.

DOING: sitting on our couch. For a little while, Joan was back to needing me close when she slept, but that’s passed (for now). These days I often find myself journalling during her nap, curled up on the couch with a hot drink.

HEARING: the Pride & Prejudice soundtrack (the Keira knightly version), playing via YouTube. I’ve got headphones in and it’s loud. I love loud piano. To think of all the years I yelled down the hall to my older brother, “Stop playing piano so loudly!”. Ha.

LOOKING: forward to Joan’s second birthday. We’re having a party with a small group of loved ones on the day she turns two. There’ll be coffee + breakfast food + cake, as well as balloons and bubbles. Joan has been interested in birthdays for a while, ever since she began associating them with cake + candles (what’s not to love?). Most days, at random moments, she will announce, “Joanie birfday Awwwwgust!”, and I have been itching to throw her a special party with a few of her favourite people.

DRINKING: A turmeric latte (like my previous happenings post, made with this powder I was kindly sent to sample). I drink one of these golden beauties at least three times a week, as I find them supremely warming in this frosty weather. I’ve also been drinking a lot of green tea lately. Years ago I was bonkers for the stuff, but I went off it when I was pregnant with Joan. Green tea is now back in my life, many days replacing my morning coffee *GASP!!!!* I’ve been a coffee lover for a long time, but since coming home from Byron Bay (where I was having two cups most days, mind you), I haven’t wanted it as often. I think this change in desire is mostly due to the fact that I now have dedicated work times, and I’m not simply trying to fit it in here and there. I adore the ritual of making a coffee, the flavour, too, but I REALLY love the buzz it gives me, the boost in productivity. When Joan was younger and napping more often (and for longer blocks), I would fuel myself with a cup of coffee and work while she slept (and I also craved a cup to help keep me awake). These days, I cannot realistically get work done this way. She doesn’t nap long enough (an hour, if I’m lucky), so I cannot properly sink my teeth into anything. Paying bills, organising and writing blog posts, I can do. Work? Nope. So I save it for the hours I have dedicated childcare (which in my case, involves family coming over) and on the weekends when Ben is home. I didn’t realise coffee for me was so inextricably linked to work, but there you go.

WANTING: an outdoor couch. I have my eye on this one. I dream about lounging on it while breastfeeding a newborn next year in the Spring or Summer time…

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Mini Frittatas

July 23, 2017

I’ve never been a good napper. Joan is asleep right now and I’m tired enough to join her, but familiar enough with myself to know I wouldn’t drift off. When I wake in the morning, I’m ready to go, no matter how sleepy. Snoozing? Nope. “Let’s get up and DO STUFF!” When Joan woke at 5am this morning and insisted, despite being tired, that we get up, I had a funny realisation that, though I wished she hadn’t woken me quite so early, I couldn’t feel mad. Her and I are similar so many ways (“Let’s get up and DO STUFF!”), a truth revealed more and more every day.

I’m tired. But I still want to talk about the frittatas that Joan and I made this morning. Cooking is our favourite rainy day activity. Last year I went through a period of making these mini egg muffins each week. They’re perfect snacking fodder, eaten cold from the fridge or quickly warmed. They even freeze well. Somehow I got out of the habit, and it was pleasing to both of us to bring them back. I’ve made many versions of these frittatas, and have come to know that it is supremely important to use flavourful ingredients. If you skimp on the cheese or use lackluster fillings, they won’t taste very good. Add sharp parmesan or feta, and leftover roasted vegetables, and they’ll be marvellous. My favourite combination to date has been roasted pumpkin + chopped parsley + leftover lentils + feta.

For this version, I had baby spinach in the fridge, as well as leftover cooked quinoa and roasted sweet potato, so that all went in, along with eggs, parmesan cheese and a little turmeric (I’m still on the bandwagon of introducing Joan to interesting flavours and textures so she *hopefully* continues to accept them, hence the turmeric). Joan helped, adding cheese to the bowl and giving everything a whisk. She even spooned some of the mixture into the holes and only spilt a small amount, so there’s a win! Cooking together is fun and messy.

Joan devoured a frittata warm from the oven and then asked for more, which I consider another win. She’s still getting used to leaves – the texture and flavour is a tough one to learn to love. Joan sees me adding spinach to green smoothies and I’ll always put leafy greens on her plate at meal times (not every time, just when we have them, which is often), but that’s mainly so she gets used to them being a part of our meals and sees Ben and I eating them. She never eagerly eats leaves herself (maybe a lick here and there), usually she will pick them up and put them to the side. Today, though, she ate loads of spinach and even grabbed a rogue, uncooked leaf and bit into it, MULTIPLE TIMES. My friend Vanessa has some excellent thoughts on this topic over on her blog, so check that out if you’re keen for more toddler food talk. Over here, we’re continuing to expose Joan to a range of foods without pressuring her, and little by little she’s coming to accept certain things that she previously wouldn’t touch, like pumpkin, cheese, blueberries and, apparently, spinach.

Alright, let’s frittata.
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Byron Bay

July 15, 2017

We’re home after our trip to Byron Bay. The break was good for us. This was our first proper family holiday (as in, Joan and I weren’t simply tagging along Ben’s work trip), and it was utter bliss. We filled our bodies with air and sunshine, and nourished ourselves abundantly. We went on long walks in nature, sipped kombucha in the afternoon sun, and each day lazed for a few moments on an outdoor couch with a book. These daily rituals made us feel alive and contented, so we’re bringing them home with us. I’m currently on the hunt for an outdoor couch and over the weekend, I re-organised areas in our home and lives that don’t fit. Things are good. I feel light and bright and beautiful. And happy to be home. The events of last month completely knocked Ben and I around, and our time away was rejuvenating. It gifted us clarity and vitality, and left us feeling, somehow, better than ever, despite everything that has happened.

After the physically + emotionally tumultuous month of June, we’ve pressed “reset” and are back living our normal lives. Ben has returned to work and I’m once more caring for Joan and our house full-time, along with my own projects and small amount of work here and there. We’re back, yet with more clarity as to how we wish to live day-to-day. The nausea has gone and I’m feeling like myself again. I’m liking cooking again. I’m liking coffee again. I’m liking food in general again. And we’re contemplating trying for a second baby, again. After a few more months of rest, that is. We’re back. And yet we won’t ever be the same. This wound has changed us. Our miscarriage added a layer of heavy and hurt to our souls that we are simply learning to live with. Though we also find ourselves with an extra layer of gratitude, for what we have now and what we will have in the future.

Speaking of gratitude, Joan is at a supremely fun age. Every age has its wondrous moments (along with normal developmental challenges, of course) but this one right now, just over a month from two years old, is particularly wonderful. She communicates with ease, as words, assessments and stories flow out of her. Grown-up words and sentences are spoken with adorable, personalised quirks, which we’re attempting to imprint in our minds before she outgrows them. At the moment, “Seagull” = “SeaGYLE”, and “parmesan cheese” = “pama cheese”, which sounds very similar to “palm trees” (= “pama tree”), of which there were many in Byron Bay. This led Joan to tell her very own joke, looking up at a palm tree and saying in jest, “Hey pama tree, can I have some pama cheese for my pasta?”. She cracks us, and herself, up. On our holiday, away from the tug of daily life, I could completely and utterly enjoy her. Ben, too. I am going to do more of this back home – make time to just be together, unhurried. My life is already slow and gentle and filled with these everyday bliss moments, but I want more of it.

This post was supposed to be about Byron Bay and, as usual, I got carried away talking about our lives. I suppose I’m thankful for the energy and peace our holiday gave us. Each September when I was growing up, my family drove to Byron Bay for a break, staying in a pink house at Wategos Beach. Ben and I now dream of a yearly Byron Bay holiday for our little family, though perhaps a tad more frugally than this trip, where we properly splurged and pampered ourselves. Isn’t that a lovely thought? Here are some pictures from our holiday. At the end of the post, I have written a list of our favourite places to eat and things to do, as well as notes on where we stayed.
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Happenings 25.6.17

June 25, 2017

DOING: sitting on the bed, typing. Ben and Joan have gone to collect our vegetable from the farm. I asked him to bring me back a vegetable juice. I might have a coffee soon. Over the past few days, coffee has become appealing again.

HEARING: the crickets, chirping outside. Is it even cricket season?

LOOKING: forward to Byron Bay. I am indescribably excited for nature, hikes, smoothies, fancy organic produce, reading (I need another book), watching shows with Ben while Joan sleeps, and hanging out in our lovely AirBnB pad.

DRINKING: A few days ago I bought myself a bottle of kombucha and every evening I’ve been taking to it. Ooooh the kombucha I’ll have in Byron… I’ve also been drinking raw cacao (this recipe) and turmeric lattes (made with this powder I was kindly sent to sample – see pic above). Fresh veggie juices, too.

WANTING: Ben to hurry home with that juice. I find fresh vegetable juice, say with carrot + beetroot + celery + ginger + lemon, to be an instant mood-lifter, body bouncing, happiness-inducer.

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June 15, 2017

After tomorrow morning, we won’t have to wait anymore. We’ll know for sure that our baby has stopped growing. We’ll know for sure that I’ll be having a procedure to remove the pregnancy. We’ll know for sure that the next few months mean rest, recovery and doing what feels good. Things like writing and cooking and walking. Tomorrow we’ll know for sure that in a few weeks, Ben, Joan and I will pack our bags and scoot off to Byron Bay for a holiday. Because why not? We’re firmly in “let’s live this life and treat ourselves” mode. This week has been hard. I feel so incredibly drained. Drained from processing the news that this pregnancy looked to be on its way out. Drained from feeling all the feelings that come up when you hear the baby you dreamed about is not going to be. Drained from grieving this little life who was such a dear thought. Drained. Tired. Ready to move on.

I’m not someone who represses feelings and deals with them later. When times are hard, without conscious choice, I open my heart and flood myself with feelings. I cry and feel and talk and write and share. And then I pause, because doing so is intense and sometimes I need to not feel. This week, I have found comfort and distraction in winter walks, belly laughs with Joan and BBC’s Pride and Prejudice. These things have helped me rest my brain and filled my heart with pure joy. I suspect I’ll do a lot more of this next week, too. Every morning when I wake, I am still slapped in the face with this new reality. And it hurts so, so bad to have that jolt, that shock and realisation that this is not just a bad dream. But we’re getting used to it. I remember struggling with the waking shock when my brother died, too. Fuck. Life. It’s full.

So, here we are, waiting for one more day. My Mother-in-law is playing in the living room with Joan, and I’m taking a few hours to rest and work and write, whatever feels good in the moment. Ben is working from home because he wants to be close. And, to be honest, I’m scared of having a miscarriage without him nearby. I have prepared myself to receive the news tomorrow that my hormone levels are very low and there is now no heartbeat, no growth. No baby. As much as one can prepare themselves. I still feel nauseated, because regardless of whether my baby is growing, there are still hormones in my body, and on top of that, this whole ordeal is sickening. But you know what? Even though I feel sick and sad and the thought of feeling any more is exhausting, I’m ok. Working in the field of pre and post-natal nutrition has given me a great understanding of the hardships that come with pregnancy. With creating life comes the risk of losing life, and I always, always knew and accepted this. My mother had a miscarriage between my younger brother and myself, and I expected on my journey to three babies, I would have one too. It’s just oftentimes part of the deal, part of the process to healthy babies. And to be honest, the fact that we were able to become pregnant at all is something that brings me immense joy and gratitude. We’ll lose this baby, but I WAS PREGNANT. That is a big, big deal and every second, even now, the knowledge warms my heart. And I can’t help but feel excited for my next pregnancy, my next baby.

We all process things differently and are comforted by different things. While the fact of how common miscarriage is may cause some fear, it has always been a comfort to me to know that it is not under my control. This is a time to surrender to the process, to trust my body and my wise babies. When I was pregnant with Joan, if ever I felt worried or began to overthink, I would tell myself to “trust”, and I’d breathe easy. I’ve been saying “trust” to myself a lot this week. Surrendering is liberating. And while I’ve grieved and cried NO and longed for this baby, the thing that shines through it all, the thing that makes me feel best, is recognising and articulating my gratitude. Because I do feel so incredibly grateful to be growing babies, and I wholly accept this painful experience as part of the process to meeting our next, healthy baby. I’m not trying to sugar coat things or bring on a lesson to make it all worth it. This is just how I feel. This is just me, folks, my feelings raw and unedited and for no-one else’s benefit but my own. Writing gives me clarity and punctuates the good I feel amongst the hurt.

Ooomf. I’m exhausted. To feel grief and gratitude and excitement and sadness all at once is a lot. I’m tired of feeling, tired of waiting. I defrosted a serve of beef rendang from the freezer so tonight, when Joan is asleep, Ben and I can skip the dishes and snuggle, watching House of Cards and searching for Byron Bay houses on Air BnB. Escaping feels good right now.

UPDATE: while my hormone levels are increasing, my baby appears to have stopped developing. As we expected, I will be having a procedure next week to remove the pregnancy tissue. We are receiving great care, I feel connected to my OB and am thankful for the way she affirmed how common miscarriage is and that it’s just part of making babies. She said it while I was thinking it. She said it in an understanding and caring, yet relaxed manner, and I am so grateful for that.

I’m no stranger to loss, to life not going quite as you’d like. Losing my brother was the hardest thing I have ever had to live through. And yet, I also know that so much good can come from the bad times. I’m excited for our good to come out of this – for Joan to be a big sister to a little baby we could never imagine NOT having, who won’t have been able to be here if this current pregnancy was viable. And though Joan will be little older than we’d begun to imagine, I think this will actually make the transition easier, for her and myself. So it’s a strange thing, the way I feel. To feel sad but also know that things will be even better than I could have hoped. Reminding myself of this and trusting in the process is what makes me feel like dancing around the room with Joan, it’s what makes me want to keep those baby slippers my mum bought on my bedside table. I can’t NOT feel excited, folks. I just can’t.

A few days after I missed my period. May 11th, 2017.

Heidi xo

Almond Butter Smoothie

June 7, 2017

almond butter banana smoothie

Thankfully, when Joan woke just a moment ago following a brief 30 minute nap, she stopped repeating “Wake up!” and drifted back to sleep. It appears even my perpetually congested self can sing her back to sleep. So here I am, snuggling my babe with a stuffy nose, writing about breakfast.

This morning I made a smoothie that tasted too darn good, I had to share it with you. I’ve got a number of smoothie recipes on the blog, smoothie bowls, too, and they’re not very different from this version. But it made me happy, so up it goes.

Ok, I just had a coughing fit and she stayed asleep. Perhaps it’ll be a long one!

Update: it wasn’t.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

May 29, 2017

chocolate chip cookies 1
I have crumbs on my neck and down my back. I noticed them while singing Joan to sleep just now, and realised they must have come from the cookies we baked this morning. We’ve baked a lot of cookies this past month. So much so, that if I were to offer Joan a cookie upon waking, there’s a good chance she’d say no*, because she’s entirely sick of them. How’s that for food habituation?

Cookies began covering my counter following a craving for chocolate chip bites. And then I got to thinking it would be neat to create a nut-free version of this recipe (which I adore and make often) for my clients with nut-free kids. Over the weeks, I trialled many different recipes and received vastly different results, ranging from “fine” to “oh good Lord, no”. We ate batches made with regular wholemeal flour, wholegrain spelt and unbleached white spelt (unbleached spelt, either wholegrain or white, won); with and without tahini (it’s a great addition), using honey instead of maple (the honey cookie was baaaaaaad, so in order to compensate for the price of maple syrup, I reduced the portion); with baking soda and with baking powder (soda works best); and with cacao nibs in place of chocolate (dark chocolate, all the way). It seems I won’t have to tire Joan with constant offerings of “choket chip cookie”s for a while, because, friends, we have ourselves a winner. The cookie I crowned is simple to assemble, bakes in no time, is nut-free AND egg-free (which means Joan’s egg-free pal can eat them), and, most importantly, fulfils the expectations one develops when those three glorious words, “chocolate chip cookie”, are paired together.
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Happenings 18.5.17

May 18, 2017

ben joan home
* written over the end of April/beginning of May, in dribs and drabs as I catch moments here and there.

DOING: sitting in bed, next to sleeping Joan and a mound of soft toys. It’s 6:47pm. Ben and I planned a date dinner, so I fed Joan early and got her to bed. A pot of water for pasta is coming to the boil as I wait for him to get home from work.

HEARING: the white noise app, “Heavy rain”, drowning out the noise I make while typing on my laptop.

READING:  In my last post, I mentioned that I wasn’t super into this book, but it really picked up towards the end and had some good twists. I also liked reading about the frosty Icelandic setting while tucked up in bed. Yesterday I got an alert from the library that this book is ready for me to collect, so that’s next on my list.

LOOKING: forward to dinner. I am HUNGRY. Whenever Ben and I decide to have a date meal, it’s usually pasta. Yesterday I took a portion of lentil + tomato ragu from the freezer, and we’ll eat it with spaghetti and, as always, a greedy portion of parmesan cheese.

And right in front of me is a vase full of green and white. Flowers in my bedroom make me happy.
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A simple crumble

May 7, 2017


I had a cookie recipe all lined up to share with you (a chocolate chip cookie recipe, at that), but then I went and made crumble for breakfast, and here we are. After sharing the process on Instagram stories, I received a number of requests for a more detailed recipe. Ben and Joan have gone to the shops for bread, spring onions and a vegetable juice, and I stayed home to write. The Amélie Soundtrack is playing in the background, only slightly louder than the rain hitting the windows, and I’m hoping to get this done before they return. Today feels like a lazy, woollen jumper-wearing, ‘Joan take the lead and order us around’ kind of day. I expect we’ll be having tea parties and pretending to cook scrambled eggs. We may even make real scrambled eggs for lunch.

I grew up eating apple crumble regularly, at least monthly. Does my memory serve me correctly, Mum? It was our most frequent dessert, that I know for sure. Mum’s crumble uses butter, as do most recipes out there, however, months ago, when I saw a recipe that required neither melting butter nor working it in with my hands, I jumped at it. Any recipe with olive oil and maple syrup tends to be a favourite in this house (in fact, those chocolate chip cookies are made with olive oil and maple syrup, too). And although it doesn’t taste quite as delicious as my mum’s crumble, the process is so incredibly simple and satisfying that it has become our default recipe. Here it is. And a happy Sunday to you.

p.s. cookie recipe soon.
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