cocont chocolate balls

Chocolate Coconut Protein Brownie Balls

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of a good protein bar was formerly obliged to lay down an enormous sum.” ~Jane Austen, Protein and Providence

Perhaps this happened to be the unfortunate case many a year back, but happily this conundrum need not plague you any longer, as I am agreeably disposed to share with you a recipe that will deliver the most pleasing  bite of protein you could ever hope to find. You are most welcome.

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So whip yourself up a bunch of of these beauties, lift some weights and sit down to a cup of tea and a beautiful bite of protein.

…and chocolate. Don’t forget the chocolate.

They are handsome too, which a protein bite ought to be, if they possibly can.

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Chocolate Coconut Protein Brownie Balls

makes about 20

Ingredients

Base

1 cup soaked almonds (soak overnight)

½ cup coconut, desiccated

½ cup cacao

¾ cup (3 x 30g scoops) chocolate protein (100% whey and naturally sweetened)

1 tsp salt

½ cup apple sauce

1/5 cup coconut milk

½ cup coconut flour

Chocolate coating

2 tbsp honey

4 tbsp coconut oil

4 tbsp cacao desiccated coconut, for rolling

Method

1. Grind soaked almonds in food processor, starting on low and then going to high.

2. Add all other ingredients for the base and process.

3. Work the mixture into balls. Be ready to get your hands dirty! If the mixture is a little dry, add a little more coconut milk until the mixture is  of a workable texture; if it is too wet, add more coconut flour.

4. Mix together honey, coconut oil and cocoa.

5. Roll the balls in the chocolate coating, and then roll in coconut.

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6. Place the balls on a tray lined with baking paper and put in the freezer for 1 hour.

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7. They are now ready to eat!

8. To store, keep the balls in an airtight container in the freezer. To serve, remove from freezer and let sit for 5-10 minutes to soften.

Enjoy pre or post workout for a quick (and beautiful) delivery of protein!

*Note: These are not very sweet and are very low sugar on purpose. They suit my not-so-sweet tooth, but if you want extra sweetness, you could try adding some honey, maple syrup, or liquid stevia to the base mixture.

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The Inseparable Nature of Love and Law

I want to encourage you to ask yourself as I am asking myself: “Am I exhibiting a balance of law and love in my life?”

Allow me to illustrate the problem I am addressing. You may have heard about the Westboro Baptist church, our lovely religious friends who are notorious for waving around loud, angry banners that say in big, bold letters, “God hates [homosexuals].”

I have chosen not to use the actual word they have used. If you really want to see an example their negative approach you can check out their website. It’s really not worth your time though, let me assure you.

Well anyway, all I can say to them is “thank you” – for making it hard for the rest of us who are actually trying to help people and show love.

This kind of behaviour is obviously not helpful. Besides this message being very obviously wrong (God does NOT hate the homosexual but rather homosexuality), this approach is not the way to win people over. It is over-emphasizing law and forgetting love.

“Okay, but… so what?” You might be thinking. “I do not wave around banners and say that God hates gays!”

Well, maybe not, but my husband and I have recognized a dangerous trend in the Lord’s church. It seems that whenever the blights of society are mentioned, homosexuality is inevitably thrown out as an example—and oftentimes exclusively. It is a little frustrating.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that it should be preached on—but it is an obvious wrong to most people found in the audience of any Bible-believing church.

The reason we find it incredibly frustrating is because other more needful and applicable applications are being neglected while we hammer away at things that most of the audience has no inclination towards. You end up either cultivating hearts that are proud in their lack of homosexuality and comfortable in their lack of faith, works, and love—or minds that crave for balance and practical application that end up leaving the church entirely (just see the Focus Press Survey “Why I Left the Church.” Very eye-opening).

Interestingly, Paul says that those who are lazy and those who become busybodies are worthy of discipline by the church body (2 Thessalonians 3:7-14), yet I hear relatively few lessons that preach against laziness and gossip. Maybe there would not be so many people saying “Amen.”

I am afraid that we are missing the depth, balance, and beauty of the Bible while avidly riding our hobby horses around.

It makes me sad that the bad reputation and unbalanced preaching in the name of Christianity precedes my behaviour and taints people’s view of how I am going to react before I even get a chance to open my mouth. It is because of the militant behaviour of some (like the aforementioned) that homosexuality has become an issue that people often bring up when I say I am a Christian. It’s like a test. “Are you one of those intolerant, closed-minded people? Are you homophobic?”

I am quick to point out that if what I have is really a phobia, then I must be just as homophobic as I am alcoholic-o-phobic, fornicator-o-phobic, or liar-o-phobic. As all of these practices are contrary to my beliefs, I simply cannot agree with them—but that does not mean I treat those who are ensnared by them differently to anyone else. Disagreeing with what an individual is doing does not mean that I stop loving them or trying to help them.

This is where love harmonises with law.

There is no contradiction between law and love, though human reasoning would have it to be so. I can say that I still love them because love is not an acceptance of someone regardless of what they have done. A true love for others will not allow me to simply agree and be content with the way that their lives are headed, but causes me to act in every way out of a loving, living and active concern for their souls. Love—true agape love—demands that we do what is best for each soul, because true love always seeks what is best for another. Love demands law.

It serves us well to remember that even God, our perfect example of love, does not accept everyone, though He loves everyone. God wants us to teach all of His will and love all people enough to help them to become what He wants them to become (cf. Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Peter 3:9; et. al.). We need to show the same love to everyone—God doesn’t rank sins and neither should we. He places the murderer and the prostitute beside liars and the spiritually fearful (cf. Revelation 21:8).

Please, let’s be balanced. Let’s treat all people and sins equally. Let’s live and teach the law in love.

Love and law are inseparable.

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 How can we achieve a balance of love and law?

1. Remember where you have come from (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

No matter how good you are, you have not always been good. You have made mistakes. Remember that you have done things to hurt God just as any other person has. If you have changed, so too can anyone else.

2. Remember that how you say something is just as important as what you are saying (Ephesians 4:15).

Your mother was right when she told you “It is not what you said, it’s how you said it.” Even if you are telling someone the truth, you can turn someone completely off a beautiful truth by using ugly words or offering them at inappropriate times. The truth is beautiful and liberating. Do your best to present it in an attractive package so people can see it for what it is.

3. Consider how you would like to be treated (Matthew 7:12).

Think about how you would like someone to talk to you if you were caught up in a sin, and treat others accordingly. Would you want someone to love you enough to tell you the truth? How would you like that truth to be communicated to you? The golden rule is easy to forget, but it is vital part of living the way that God wants us to live.

4. Remember the end of a lost soul (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

No matter who someone is or what they have done, you do not want them to suffer because you did not tell them the truth in a loving way. Let it not be said of you, “You never mentioned Him to me!” or, “I thought you couldn’t possibly have the truth because you were so unloving!”

5. Remember that all sins need to be lovingly addressed—law is love (Acts 20:27).

Yes, homosexuality, abortion, fornication, and immodesty exist in the world. Yes, the supporters of and participants in these sins are growing in number. Yes, this is sad for society. However there are many other things wrong with society, many of them much closer to home and able to be applied to our very selves. Be active in opposing all that is wrong—not just a certain set of obvious sins.

6. Never compromise (2 Timothy 4:2, 3)

Sure, a lot of what we believe is not popular right now and people are going to call us intolerant and close-minded—that is okay. Let them. If you have done your best to say what you need to in love, then you have done your part. Love dictates how we say things—but love will not let us compromise in what we say. Love is not separate from truth.

7. Remember that while we are told to “root out, to pull down and to destroy, and throw down” false practices, we are also told to “to build and to plant” (cf. Jeremiah 1:10)

When our Christianity is always on the offensive, we can become blinded to the fact that we need to be encouraging those who are doing the right thing. Remember that the more people who are encouraged to be strong and stay strong, the better society will be for future generations. People can easily become discouraged if all they hear about is how bad everything and everyone is. Be active in supporting, encouraging, and upholding as examples those who go out of their way to help the poor, show kindness, encourage others, and build strong families.

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Articles and Resources on How to Achieve Balance:

Balanced Preaching, Focus Magazine

Preachers Take That Hobby Horse Out to Pasture, Plain Simple Faith

Get Your Shine On, Preacher’s Favourite Passage

Balancing Doctrine and Discernment, Neal Pollard

Not the “Same Love” as 1 Corinthians 13, Cindy Colley –[I particularly like what her son said to her in the 2nd paragraph]

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Perfectly Light and Fluffy Gluten Free Pizza Crust

My search for the perfect gluten free base recipe is over. I can now rest in peace.  This is arguably the best gluten free pizza base I have ever tasted–and I have tasted a lot of gluten free pizza bases.

Usually gluten free pizzas are tough, crumbly and okay tasting–but not really a substitute for a real pizza.

But not this pizza base. This pizza base is amazing.

A little bit of genius.

I don’t want to brag, but hey… it is the best.

My gluten-free-hating husband said that this was excellent (much to his surprise and mine), and after tasting the gluten free pizza, my sister actually switched from the wheat version I had made to devour more of the deliciously light and fluffy gluten free version. It was just that good.

This recipe is made from a blend of rice, sweet potato and arrowroot flours, and contains no xantham gum, no cornstarch or cornflour and no expensive pre-mixed gluten free flours (blech).

It can also be ready in under an hour.

Quick, easy, totally from scratch and totally delicious. What more could you want?

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Perfectly Light and Fluffy Gluten Free Pizza Crust

Makes 2 medium pizza bases

Ingredients

200g sweet potato flour

180g brown rice flour

50g arrowroot flour

50g white rice flour

15g yeast

1 tsp salt

1 tsp oregano

25ml olive oil (plus extra for coating)

250ml very warm water

30ml honey

1 large egg

Method

  1. Mix together flours, yeast, salt and oregano.
  2. Mix together oil, water and honey separately.
  3. Mix two mixes together–half way through add the egg–mix together well.
  4. Let rise for 30-45 minutes
  5. Line pizza pan with baking paper.
  6. Cover paper in olive oil.
  7. Press half of mixture onto paper in pan.
  8. Cover dough with a layer of  olive oil (lug olive oil into the centre and spread with your hands).
  9. Bake for 10-15 minutes @200C (fan-forced), or until the base is slightly browned on the edges (if you want crispy edges, take out halfway and cover in olive oil again).
  10. Add sauce, cheese and favourite toppings and bake for another 10-12 minutes, or until topping are sufficiently cooked.

Voila! The perfectly perfect gluten free pizza base! Can you see how light and fluffy?!

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For a perfect whole wheat pizza recipe, Danelle at Weed ‘Em and Reap has a very easy, fail-proof recipe that I make at least a fortnight for the handsome hubs. I fashioned this recipe after her amazing one.

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Zucchini, olive and egg topped gluten free pizza crust

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shortcakes

Strawberry Shortcakes with Vanilla Maple Coconut Cream {Paleo}

Let’s face it—pecans are amazing, fresh strawberries are divine and maple syrup can make anything taste like a party. This shortcake base turns out beautifully and being subtly sweet and soft, pairs perfectly with the fresh strawberries and maple coconut cream.

This gorgeous dessert is so impressive in its appearance that it can be proudly presented at any occasion, and will be pleasing to any palate. Your guests will not even notice that it is grain free. My husband, who is not a grain-free baked-goods fan, thought the cake was delicious—though he did have ice cream instead of the coconut cream (he is not a coconut cream fan).

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Enjoy a dessert can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes and cater for many food allergies and special diets—being dairy free, grain free, gluten free and refined sugar free.

Tweet: Amazing #paleo #glutenfree #grainfree #Strawberry Shortcakes in less than 30 minutes! http://ctt.ec/A_2C2+Tweet: Amazing #paleo #glutenfree #grainfree #Strawberry Shortcakes in less than 30 minutes! http://ctt.ec/A_2C2+

So these are not strawberry pancakes—but regardless, while you are making these you should really watch this short little video and fill your mind with this catchy tune. You can replace the word “pancakes” with “shortcakes” if it puts your mind at ease. I watched this clever little example of my slightly twisted sense of humour first of all about 5 years ago and I have had it stuck in my head ever since.

You are welcome.

Now, to the sweet business…

Strawberry Shortcakes

Ingredients

1 cup pecans, finely ground

80ml coconut oil

3 tbsp honey

4 tbsp coconut flour

½ tsp baking powder

Generous pinch of salt

1 egg

approx.. 300g fresh strawberries

 Method

  1. Pulse pecans into a fine texture in a food processor.
  2. Add coconut flour, salt and baking powder to the processor and blend.
  3. Add coconut oil, egg and honey to food processor and blend well. This should be a very sticky—and delicious!—mixture.
  4. Line the bottom of a loaf tin with baking paper and grease the sides with coconut oil or butter.
  5. Bake @ 180 for 15 minutes
  6. Let cool for 5 minutes, then gently remove the cake.
  7. Cut into desired serving size.
  8. Top each piece with sliced strawberries.
  9. Serve immediately with Vanilla Maple Coconut Cream.

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This recipe was featured on Real Food Friday!

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maple cream

Vanilla Maple Coconut Cream {Vegan; Paleo}

This dairy free alternative to cream is incredibly luscious, as well as easy to make. Enjoy this by generously adding a dollop to pancakes, waffles or your favourite dessert, such as Strawberry Shortcakes, Paleo Waffles, or Orange and Ginger Raspberry Muffins.

maple cream

Vanilla Maple Coconut Cream

Ingredients

200ml coconut cream (from full fat coconut milk)

2 tbsp maple syrup

1 vanilla bean

 Method

  1. Place full fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight
  2. Remove the cream that forms as a top layer
  3. Mix in maple syrup and the contents of the vanilla bean.
  4. Keep in the fridge until it is time to serve.

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A view from the inside.

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Delicious!

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It Is Not About Me: The Example Jesus Really Wanted Us to Follow

A book that was fairly recently (well, ok, maybe 8 years ago–but stay with me) made into a movie is the story Eat, Pray, Love. The premise for the book is a disillusioned woman in an unhappy marriage relationship who leaves her husband and travels the world, to “discover herself.”

Sony Pictures gives this brief synopsis of the movie: “In her travels, she discovers the true pleasure of nourishment by eating in Italy; the power of prayer in India, and, finally and unexpectedly, the inner peace and balance of true love in Bali.”

To put it bluntly, a woman travels the word and finds “happiness” in food, meditation, and short-term, uncommitted sexual (and adulterous) relationships. In reality, this woman sought and apparently found her happiness in pursuing selfishness.

The world around  us unfortunately promotes this selfish, me-driven attitude, saying that you should pursue whatever kind of a life makes you happy. The problem is that people do not really know what will make them truly happy. It does not really work out like this woman on the movie screen.

The truth is that selfishness—though it may bring a kind of happiness temporarily—does not really bring lasting and true satisfaction of any kind.

In the pursuit of happiness people often find that satisfaction is always at an arm’s length; and that a little more is never enough. Pursuing a life led by one’s own idea of what will make them happy leads a person to continual dissatisfaction, as they will eventually find that they are filling a bag that is full of holes (cf. Haggai 1:4-6). It will never become full. It will never be enough.

It will never be enough because that kind of a life is not what we were placed upon this earth to live. We are not meant to live to our own selfish means. We are meant to live to love and serve others. We are meant to reflect the attitude of Christ.

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:3-5).

Interestingly, as much as Christ is our example, there is only one time that He said Himself that He was our example—a time when He was as selfless as one could possibly be.

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (John 13:14, 15).

Upon examining the account of Jesus that comes from John 13, I see an example of service and selflessness that goes far beyond the kind that the world requires and certainly presents a challenge for me to live up to.

So, turn your Bibles to the book of John chapter 13, open your hearts and examine with me the kind of attitude of mind we should all be striving to achieve.

Jesus was willing to serve regardless of the time.

We read at the beginning of this chapter that Jesus knew what He was about to suffer (v.1, 3).

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1).

We need to realize that even though Jesus was God come as a man, He was still deeply affected by the thought of the pain and suffering He was going to experience. It was going to be painful, and as a man He did not want to endure that pain. It is not true that “He had no tears for His own griefs,” as the song says. He went through mental anguish thinking about His death and what He was going to suffer (Matthew 26:37-39).

If there was ever a time when Jesus could have used the situation as an excuse not to serve, this certainly would have been it.

Yet, though He knew that He was about to suffer and experience a cruel death on the cross; He still took the time to teach the disciples a valuable lesson. Jesus was willing to lay aside His personal feelings and use every opportunity to help others.

What should our attitude be?

We should always be willing to serve others, no matter what we are going through or what situation we are in.

The world will lie and tell you that there are situations during which any kind of behavior is acceptable, during which no one’s needs come above your own—such as when you have had a bad day, you are tired, you are sick, or when a loved one has died.

Is it surprising to you that I have said this is a lie? Unfortunately the world has packaged selfishness in a pretty, attractive and easy-to-be-understood box; but the truth is that if the Lord has told us one thing, then the opposite is a lie.

We need to remember that—regardless of what everyone else is saying—Jesus, our example, was always willing to help and heal no matter His emotional or physical state (Matthew 14:13-16).

We are to never grow tired of doing good (Galatians 6:9). Do not let an opportunity to do good slip you by because you were having a bad day, or were “not in the mood” (Galatians 6:10).

Jesus was willing to serve regardless of the task.

Jesus had the right to ask others to wash his feet, but was humble enough to go ahead and complete the task Himself (John 13:4, 5). The task of washing feet during this time usually fell on the lowest of servants, and was certainly not a task for a Master Teacher.

“Jesus [...] rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him” (John 13:3-5).

Peter recognized the fact that Jesus was far above this role that He had assumed, and was indignant at the idea of Jesus washing his feet (v.6, 8). Jesus told Peter that there was a purpose to His washing their feet, which He would explain later (v.7).

Jesus was willing to lay aside His rights in order to serve others and show them a good example (v.13-15).

What should our attitude be?

We should be willing to serve others no matter what that means we have to do. Some tasks are unpleasant, but they need to be done nevertheless. Is washing feet a pleasant thing to do? Does one start the day saying, “I sure hope I can wash some feet today?”

Well actually, maybe a pedicurist does. But then, I have never understood why anybody would want to be a pedicurist.

Anyway, regardless of what it is we find enjoyable, there are things that are generally considered undesirable jobs. The kind that one thinks of, “I hope I do not get chosen for that job.”

How about volunteering for that job next time? Take the one that no one wants. Take the one that you do not want. Volunteer yourself for the dirty jobs.

No task can be beneath us if Jesus Himself took on a task befitting the lowliest servant (John 13:13, 14). Jesus looked around and saw a need that needed to be filled and a lesson that needed to be taught. Always seek to fill the needs of those around you and show them Christ through your actions.

Jesus was willing to serve regardless of the target.

Jesus knew He was about to be denied, abandoned and betrayed by those in the room with Him, yet He still washed their feet (v.11).

Think about this for a moment:

  • Peter was going to deny Him (v.38).
  • Judas was going to betray Him (v.2).
  • All the disciples were going to flee from Him (Matthew 26:56).

Despite all this, Jesus was willing to lay aside the wrongs these people were going to do and see them as souls—souls that needed someone to teach them the right way to act.

Incredible, isn’t it?

What should our attitude be?

As hard as it may be at times, we should be willing to serve others regardless of what they have done to us.

The world believes that we do not need to be kind to those who are not kind to us, but Jesus taught us a different way to be. I love the following verse, because it is so radically different from what anyone around us would say to us if we asked their opinion:

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil” (Luke 6:32-35).

We need to realize that as much as anyone has done to us, they certainly have not hurt us as much as these men were about to hurt Jesus.

We need to be able to see each person as a soul, and serve them so that we may save them.

Suggestions:

  1. Pray for those who treat you badly (Luke 6:28). This really works. Whenever I catch myself thinking badly of another person, I remind myself that that person needs to go on my prayer list. I then pray for them—for time, for opportunity, for something in their lives that will help them to change if need be. It is hard at first, but it soon becomes difficult to think badly of a person you are praying for better things for.
  2. Go out of your way to be kind to those who treat you badly. I have heard of people who have changed others opinions of them completely—simply because they refused to let that person’s behavior determine their own. Also, I find that when I am focused on serving a person who has hurt me, I feel much more kindly towards them. Be the stronger person. Do not allow them to change the way you behave. You will benefit so much more than you can imagine, gaining the peace and patience that only a heart of selflessness can bring.

If Jesus served the people who were going to betray Him to be crucified, then surely we too can learn serve others no matter who they are or what they have done to us.

Though the world may teach that we should do “whatever makes us happy,” we need to be more like Jesus and be willing to:

  • Lay aside our personal feelings and needs—always being ready to use an opportunity to help others.
  • Lay aside our rights in order to serve others and show them a good example.
  • Lay aside the wrongs people do and see them as souls—souls that need someone to teach them the right way to act.

I like something that my husband said during a sermon once:

“The church is not about me, it is about Him [Christ], it is not about what I can receive, but about what He has already given; and what I can now do for others to bring Him the glory.”

We give our life in service because if our Lord and Master could bow down to wash His disciples’ feet, we can also bow down to help our brethren (John 13:14-15).

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kale salad

Kale, Beet, Apple and Walnut Salad with Walnut Cranberry Dressing {Paleo; Vegan}

I have a confession to make.

This is seriously the first time I have ever bought kale.

Shocking, I know. You can stop reading now in disgust, if you wish.

You see, here in Singapore I had only seen bunches for $15, and then last week I came across a deal that set me up with two beautiful bunches for only $7.99. Really, how can that be resisted?

The only problem I had then (apart from the problem of hauling it back in my grandma cart with it’s big green leaves sticking out and running over people’s toes on the public tranport) was, what to do with these big green things!

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I started out making a simple salad, and ended up falling in love. I have to admit I got a little obsessive over this leafy green beauty (just ask my sister).

Some people say this vegetable is bitter, but I didn’t find it to be so. If it is bitter at all, the sweetness of the cranberry and the beautiful nuttiness of the walnuts in the home made dressing balance out the kale wonderfully.

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Isn’t it beautiful? Get this striking side dish on your table today!

Kale, Beet, Apple and Walnut Salad

Ingredients

2 beets

2 carrots

1 green apple

¼ small green cabbage

¼ small red cabbage

3 stalks kale

½ cup walnuts

Method

  1. Peel the beets, cut the tops off the carrots and core the apples.
  2. Shred the beetroot, carrots, apple and cabbage in a food processor, or alternatively grate the first three and then finely slice up the cabbage.
  3. Cut the kale in to thin ribbons.
  4. Serve with dressing and walnuts.

walnut cranberry dressing

Walnut Cranberry Dressing

Ingredients

50ml walnut oil

100ml ACV

½ cup cranberries  (I used frozen and then defrosted cranberries)

1 pinch of salt

2 tbsp honey, melted (I live in Singapore, mine is always melted!)

Method

Place all ingredient in a food processor and blend until smooth, starting from a low setting and working up to a higher. Mix through salad or serve on the side in a jar.

Enjoy!

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An Almost Perfect Picture: Social Media and Self Control

It was an almost perfect picture.

I was sitting in one of my favourite cafés and sipping a latte happily when a family walked in—a mother with her two children. They all ordered their respective drinks, sat down and for at least half an hour they sat there, all happily employed.

But there was a problem with the picture. Though physically present with her children, this parent was noticeably absent from her children mentally. I observed that her hand and eyes were glued to her cell phone—and when she did smile, it was at its glaring screen. The daughter had headphones in her ears and the son was occupied with an iPad. Not once did word pass between the three of them once they sat down.

Though the picture was almost complete, the picture was broken. It was not quite perfect. This family was together, but at the same time not together.

Seeing this almost-perfect picture made me reflect. I asked myself, “How many potentially perfect pictures have I ruined? Am I ever absent while present?”

I honestly had to confess that too many times I have been guilty of being just like the woman I was observing. I have ruined moments.

I have had periods in my life during which I spent many wasted hours on social media and such like—daily. There have been times when I have felt like I could not go a day without checking my Facebook updates—like maybe the world would stop if I did, or at least I would lose all my friends.

This kind of relationship with social media is unfortunately all too common. But is this really a problem that we have to worry about?

Yes, unfortunately, it is.

I recently read an article that in Singapore they are pushing to have children who are addicted to technology recognized as having an addiction that needs attention. They said that among those children who accessed social media many times a day there were much higher instances of depression, isolation, low self-esteem and lack of focus.

Have you seen and experienced the signs and symptoms of what the experts are now recognizing as a problem? I know that I have.

  • I have seen too many children at the park yelling that they want to be pushed on the swing while parents wave them off because their phone is vibrating with exciting new gossip.
  • I have seen too many couples stare at cell phones instead of each other while dining at a fancy restaurant.
  • I have seen too many children being babysat by Youtube.
  • I have had too many friends ignore what I’m saying because they have to check their phone to communicate with all the people who are not present.
  • I know too many people who cannot go a few hours (let alone a day) without checking their social media accounts.
  • I myself have spent too many hours trawling Facebook timelines and Pinterest boards while neglecting the relationships and responsibilities around me.

I know for a fact that when I spend too much time socializing virtually that my husband, family, church family, friends, self-worth, and ultimately my relationship with God all suffer as a consequence.

The verse which had made me truly re-evaluate myself and seek to change my habits was this one:

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV).

When I saw this verse I stopped and asked myself, “Can I honestly say that I am making the best use of my time? Am I taking the time to prepare myself for the challenges that lie before me? Am I taking the time to put what I am learning from God’s word into practice? Are the hours I am spending on Facebook and such like each day a wise use of my time?”

…and at that time I had to honestly answer myself, “No.”

While I realize that social media can be a great way of keeping in touch and—if we use it right—encouraging others; we all need to honestly examine ourselves and see whether social media is enhancing our lives or overtaking them. Questions you could ask yourself might be:

  • Do I feel like I must check my preferred social media site daily, or even multiple times a day?
  • Do I feel like if I didn’t have social media, I would be cut off and be missing something?
  • Do my family and friends have to fight to get my attention over social media?
  • Do I go to the internet for comfort and advice, or those around me?
  • Am I known as being a person who is always on social media?
  • Do I neglect meeting my responsibilities (focus/duties at work and school/duties in the home) in favour of spending time on the internet?

Recently, without knowing how it really happened, my husband and I found ourselves becoming a little too attached to technology. We were gravitating to the computer as soon as dinner was over, staying up late—and as a consequence, reserving little time for each other and feeling disconnected.

My husband and I decided that we were spending too much time on the internet to the neglect of each other and that something needed to be done. We were an imperfect picture. So we decided to lay down some basic ground rules for our house:

  • Turn off the internet at 8pm every night and leave it off until the morning.
  • Use the time after dinner to get our chores and assignments done (this at the moment means that Patrick does the dishes while I do my assignments. I cook, he cleans. I have the best husband in the world!).
  • Get to bed earlier rather than staying up later “relaxing” with technology.
  • Do all work at the office and then leave the computer at work (in Patrick’s case).
  • Have technology-free dates.
  • Remove the internet from our phones.

These rules we have made may seem strict, but in some way it is necessary to demonstrate that technology does not have a hold over us; because we are striving to live by the rule that Paul lived by. Paul realized that there were a lot of things in life that were perfectly okay, but had to be used within limits. In his words:

‘“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything’ (1 Corinthians 6:12 ESV).

We look forward to the time where we can have children and instill in them a proper respect for technology—but for now, we are working on our own habits. We do not want our children to be born into a home overrun by technology. We do not want technology to have a hold over us or them. We want to be available for those around us when they need us. We want to be more in touch with reality. We want to be focused on what is really important—free from distractions.

Are you in control of your use social media, or does it have control of you? Is it helping you achieve your purposes, or is it dominating your life?

I have seen too many people miss beautiful moments and opportunities because of social media—make the decision to stop missing out!

Look up. Reach out. Show love. Live life.

Life is too short to be exchanging opportunities and beautiful moments for a pseudo-reality.

Somehow our ancestors used to live without social media. If you cannot imagine how, then it is probably time to lay down some rules for yourself.

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Related Resources and Reads:

Push in Singapore to Make Smartphone Addiction a Recognized Disorder

A Letter To My Boys (The Real Reason I Say No To Electronics) 

Look Up – A Poem That Will Inspire You to Put Down Your Smartphone  [Please note: there is one mildly offensive word in this video (not four letter, just coarse)--but the overall message is brilliant and very thought-provoking. If this will upset you, please don't watch.]

‘Technology Addiction’ – How Should It Be Treated?

(Linked to Titus 2uesdays; What You Wish WednesdayGrowing in Grace Thursday; Thrive at Home Thursday; Homemaking Link UpModest Monday; Make a Difference Mondays; Essential FridaysRecommendations Saturday; So Much At Home)

Question: How do you ensure that social media is not in control of your family? Comment below!

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Orange and Cinnamon Loaf (Paleo Fruit Cake Sans Raisins) {Grain, Dairy and Refined-Sugar Free}

According to urban dictionary, to have a fear of raisins is called inyaphobia. But what is it called when one has a fear of raisins only when they are found in fruit cake? I don’t know.

What I do know how I developed this fear of raisin-filled cakes. The night is forever branded upon my memory. I was 14. We had a Halloween-themed party and someone had the nerve to put a fruit cake on the table, labeling it “blow-fly cake.” Just… why? I loved fruit cake but I couldn’t eat it that night. It made me realise how much raisins really do have the texture that you could imagine a blow fly having.

*shudder*

This wasn’t the last time I had fruit cake, mind you; but upon every thought of that nasty Halloween trick I have found myself able to withstand the best of fruit cakes. Nastiness. Don’t you ever do that to your kids, people! BeFunky_DSC00642.jpg Fast-forward 12 years and I hand over a slice of an experimental cake to my dear sister and force her to be my guinea pig ask her what she thinks of my invention.

“It’s good!” she exclaimed, then after chewing it thoughtfully for a while, she added, “It’s just like fruit cake without the gross raisins!”

It was that moment I realized that was exactly what I had been tasting.

She was exactly right.

I had managed to invent a paleo cake reminiscent of a Christmas fruit cake–yet improved by the omission of the dreaded smoosh and yuckiness of raisins and the addition of the delightful crunch and nuttiness that only pecans can provide. As well as being raisin free, it is also free from grains, dairy and refined-sugar! What more could you want?

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Orange and Cinnamon Loaf (Raisin-less Fruit Cake)

Ingredients

1 cup coconut flour

120g almond flour

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

3 heaped tsp cinnamon (plus extra for dusting)

contents of 6 vanilla bean pods (or 1-2 tsp vanilla essence–haven’t tried, just a guess)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup coconut milk**

4 eggs

10 dates

1/3 cup of honey

5 tbsp paleo marmalade (make this recipe! It’s super easy and delicious!)

butter or coconut oil (dairy free option) for greasing

1 handful pecans, roughly-chopped

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Add together the first 7 ingredients in a food processor.
  3. Mix together the coconut milk and eggs in a separate bowl.
  4. Add milk and egg mixture with dates to food processor and blend–starting on low and slowly turning up the speed.
  5. Add honey and marmalade and blend.
  6. Pour batter into greased loaf tin.
  7. Sprinkle pecans over the top and press them into the batter lightly, then dust generously with cinnamon (in my opinion, you can never have enough!).
  8. Bake for 45-60 mins, or until knife comes out clean.
  9. Let cool in tin for 15 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
  10. Keep in an airtight container. In my opinion, this cake tastes best (and more like that Christmas fruit cake with no raisins) after sitting for a day or two.

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**Please note: I use fresh coconut milk which is naturally thicker–one of the joys of being in Singapore! If you use canned coconut milk, then I suggest that you put your coconut milk in the fridge in a bowl or jar and substitute half of the milk with the cream that forms on top to ensure a more creamy consistency.

(Linked to Allergy Free Wednesdays, Gluten Free Wednesdays, Waste Not Want Not Wednesdays, Real Food Fridays, Fight Back Friday, Naturally Sweet Tuesdays, Fat Tuesday; Homestead Barn Hop; The Yuck Stops Here)

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Blessed Are They That Mourn: Having the Right Attitude Towards Wrong {Video}

{This video is for ladies’ viewing  only. Thank you!}

“Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

How does this verse make any sense? What could the Lord possibly have meant by “Happy are they that are sad?”

In a world that thinks little of right and wrong, and certainly of learning to be sad in order to be happy—how can this verse apply to us?

This lesson examines and considers:

  1. What is this verse talking about?
  2. What does godly sorrow look like?
  3. How does this verse apply to us today?

Here are the slides for the presentation (that you can see half of in the video above!).

Blessed Are They That Mourn by Chantelle Marie Swayne

Join me in my journey as I learn the BEST ways to care for mind, body, soul and family! ♥

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