Category Archives: Health

Vegan Chickpeas and Sweet Potato Curry

This is the first time ever, I made this curry. Actually I created this recipe with throwing ingredients together after rummaging my brain and pantry to make something out of nothing. I wasn’t too sure about the combination of sweet potato, chickpeas and mushroom but the result astounded me. It turned out fantastic. I was ecstatic.

My hubby always says that I prepare best and exquisite meals when I put together whatever is available in the fridge and pantry. I guess, I just love the challenge of preparing a meal that everyone will love with limited resources.

I should document these crisis creations as I face these situation more often than I would like being a busy mom.

This curry is full of flavour. It has a big hit of chilli, thick and rich gravy, balance of spice, earthiness, sweetness and also packed a punch with hint of lemon juice.

Without further ado, I’m very excited to share this recipe. I hope you will love it as much as I enjoyed it,

Ingredients

4 tablespoons of oil
1 medium size onion finely sliced
1-2 green cardamom pods
1-2 cloves
A small sprig of cinnamon
2 medium size tomatoes cubed
5 green chillies sliced in half (or adjust per your liking)
1 sweet potato (peeled and cubed)
1 can of chickpeas (400g)
750ml of water or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 bay leaves
A handful of dried tea-tree mushroom (soak it in hot water for 10 minutes to rehydrate it)
4 cloves of chopped garlic
A small piece of chopped ginger
Salt as per taste
Lemon juice (half lemon squeezed)

In a pan, heat oil and add cinnamon, cloves and cardamom and toss it for few seconds to release its aroma. Fry onion until golden brown on a medium heat.

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Add chillies, tomatoes and cubed sweet potatoes cook it for 5 minutes until tomato and potato softens.

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Add chickpeas and all dry spices (cumin, turmeric, coriander, curry powder, garam masala powder, chilli powder) and salt and cook it for few minutes to cook rawness of the spices.

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Add bay leaves and add liquid. Cover the pot with a lid and cook it for 5 minutes until the liquid comes to boil.

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Add tea-tree mushroom and cook it in a gentle simmer for 15 minutes until the gravy thickens and chickpeas and potatoes are soft.

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Add lemon juice and stir it. Serve it with bowl of rice or rotis. Enjoy.

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Note: For non vegetarians, substitute water with chicken or beef stock and add a chicken stock cube to make it meatier.

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Dairy-free Banana Cake

This is a very delicious recipe that I love to bake. It’s so easy to make and the cake is so moist.
It’s dairy free and healthy as you use olive oil instead of better.

I improvised the regular banana cake recipe by substituting butter with olive oil due to an personal incident.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts that my baby boy had infant eczema. It was difficult time for me as I was trying to adjust into motherhood, recovering from caesarean and also managing his eczema.

One day, while bubba was napping away in my lap, I was watching Oscars live on TV. I was snacking on chezel. In his sleep, bubba tried to scratch himself, I saw that and I hold his hands to stop him from scratching. The residue of chezels in my fingers must have touched his skin. All of a sudden he broke into hives. As this was the first time that he reacted so bad to external allergen, I freaked out. Due to this incident I assumed that it might be something in chezels that he’s allergic to. I read the content and thought it might be the milk solids. I did some research online and got information on how baby could be allergy to dairy. As I was exclusively breastfeeding at that time and he hadn’t started solids yet. I thought I will remove dairy from my diet for 3 weeks and see if that will cure his eczema.

I went dairy free and was not taking any milk, butter or any food that has dairy content. Surprisingly most of my regular diet consisted some sort of dairy. I was reading labels on all food before buying or consuming it.
I couldn’t eat biscuits or even chips as most of these food labels said ‘milk solid’.

It was 3 weeks of pure endurance and self discipline. No eating out or take away, no KFC, no desserts.

As I was running very low in energy and craving for a cake, I decided to find a recipe that’s dairy free.

I remembered a time when a work colleague brought muffins for morning tea. It was strawberry muffin which was really yummy. Everyone asked her for recipe and she said she used olive oil instead of butter as she’s very health conscious.

So I decided bake a banana cake (which I bake all the time) and instead of using butter, I used olive oil. Normally I would put 3 tablespoons of milk in the mix, but for my dairy-free version , I omitted if from the recipe.

The cake itself turned out great and ever since then I now use this recipe.

Ingredients:

4 med sized Banana ( or 2 large ones)
1 cup of olive oil
4 eggs

2 cups of flour
1 cup of raw sugar
3 teaspoon of baking powder
Dash of cinnamon powder
Chopped nuts for texture

In a blender, purée bananas and add 1 cup of oil to purée and blend. Add 4 eggs and blend to make a thick mixture.

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In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients and add chopped nuts (I used cashew and almonds). Then add the wet mixture and whisk it to make together to make a thick batter. Add a dash of cinnamon and mix.

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Pour the mixture into greased baking tin ( greased with olive oil spray). Put it into preheated oven at 180 degree Celsius for an hour. After an hour, check the cake by inserting a skewer in th middle of the cake, if it comes out clean, it’s ready to be served.
Best served warm with a cuppa.
Enjoy.

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Food Allergy: Fact or psychological manifestation

I know the topic of my post is quite outrageous as food allergy is a known medical condition that affects people and can be fatal in some cases. Food allergy is caused when your immune system thinks a food as a harmful invader and releases histamine and other chemicals to protect the body from harm. The symptoms can include hives, swelling, wheezing, shortness of breath, vomiting, diarrhea, and respiratory distress etc.

I know this first hand as my baby boy might be allergic to certain food. We haven’t figured out yet and haven’t done allergy testing so it’s still a speculation and I’m hoping it’s only that.

I’m a new mom and it’s been quite enthralling experience for me. From pelvis dysfunction to 24 hours labour and baby was jaundiced for a whole month and then to top it off he’s got infant eczema. It hasn’t been smooth sailing ride into motherhood. Not only I learnt to take care of a new baby, learnt to wake up at ungodly hours and soothe a screaming baby, I have learned to take care of his eczema. I’m not complaining and when I look at my baby all these problems seem trivial.

I’m just trying to share my experience to people who might stumble upon my blog someday. I’m trying to put all these information out there so that they don’t have to dive into these unknown territories like I did. I will share my other experiences in future posts.

Now let focus on the issue at hand. I’m delving into this issue today because I had quite a scare his morning. It started out as a normal day. I massaged baby to moisture his skin as a normal routine to manage his eczema (which is lot better now, thank god). I made a wheat cereal as it was going to be introduced to him for the first time. He ate without any fuss (he’s such a happy baby). After his morning feed, he was playing on the floor, rolling around the carpet while I had my breakkie. When I finished he wanted to nap so I rocked him to sleep. Within half an hour, he started to wake up and cry. Then I saw it, he had broken into hives all over his face. The hives were quite severe than last time when it happened (will do another post next time on the first experience).
I quickly got cool wet towel and wiped his face to remove any residue of allergens he may had contact with. But it spread to his neck. I took off his onesies to check and he’s broken into hives all over his body. I was so freaked out. I called my hubby and he told me to wipe with wet cloth and it will go away. It was looking more severe than before and my baby was scratching away and crying. He had red patches all over his face and body and nappy area too.

I called the GP and the lady was like there’s no appointment now. I screamed on the phone saying it’s an emergency and she told me to take her to ER.

I called my hubby and told him to rush back home so we could take baby to ER.

I filled the bath and put him in the water. I showered him with water to ensure that he had no contact with allergen. But it didn’t help. The hives look red and angry and I was stressing out trying to calm my baby. After the bath, I massaged him with steroid cream and Cetaphil cream to subside his itch.

I was dressing up the baby and my hubby arrived. By then, I’ve calmed down a bit and could think as well. I told hubby, we will just take baby to GP as it’s 5 mins away from home on the way to hospital. We went to GP and told the receptionist that it’s urgent that we see the doctor now. She looked at the baby and said let me see if I can get a nurse to look at him. As we were waiting, my baby started to talk and play with his daddy. He was smiling at people passing by.

After a while, the nurse called us in, she had a look at baby and said he seems very happy to be in any pain. I explained eveything and she checked him and then called the doc. Doc said he definitely reacted to some allergen, it might be the wheat cereal he had. He said to monitor for any changes or severity in the symptoms. He prescribed over the counter antihistamine.

I could see my baby was getting better but I was still shaken. We went to chemist and got antihistamine. As we arrived home, my baby’s hive was almost gone, he had few red patches. My hubby decided to stayed home and look after bub. I was so grateful to have him home as I was very distressed and felt drained.

We have been monitoring bub now. He is happy and his hives are gone.

This event made me ponder about food allergy. Both hubby and I have no food allergy or intolerance and there’s no history in the family. I’m left wondering where did it came from. Where I came from, food allergy is almost unheard of. I never knew that allergies like eczema and hay fever even existed until I migrated to Australia and then became a sufferer myself for past few years.

I came from a place, where you feed babies anything and everything when they start solids like lentils, meat, salt and spices. Babies are massaged with oil everyday and then sleeps soaking the sun for hours. There’s no danger of harmful uv rays. The babies dishes doesn’t have to sterlised. It’s not even washed in hot water as that’s not as easily available as it is here. People are not too fussed about personal hygiene either. I’m not saying that it’s a good thing but that is the way of life.

What I’m trying to say is that’s how we grew up. But with my baby, he was born here in Australia. We have been doing things by the book. Hubby and I are very neat people regardless of our background. I’ve to admit I’m bit obsessed with washing hands and hubby has kind of OCD ( ya I know, match made in heaven) . It’s such a irony that my baby had eczema and suspected food allergy.

We grew up playing in dirt, eating everything, never wearing sunscreen when we went out, hanging out with others kids who were bit carefree about hygiene. Regardless of all this, I never heard of anyone suffering eczema or food allergy.

So that’s made me contemplate have we gone so far with cleanliness and hygiene that our body’s immune system has weakened. We are so focused on living in a germ free environment that a tiny fleck of dust causes our body to think it is attacking our immune system. We have almost become a society living in a purified air bubble. In this modern day and age, due to limited exposure to natural environment, our body’s resistance power is very low.

So my experience yesterday taught me to expose him to natural environment more so he can build of resilience towards it. And not to be too uptight about sterile surrounding.

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