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Health & Wellness

Health & Wellness
Health & Wellness



Orzo with Chicken Drumsticks & Mushrooms

Orzo with Chicken Drumstick & Mushroom

Flavorful, moist, and fulfilling, this awesome pasta dish is packed with delicious goodness of mixed mushrooms and tender chicken drumsticks. An epitome of comfort food, approved by my soon-to-be-21mo toddler. I think my hubby likes it better if I'm using chicken tenders or any type of boneless chicken. Haha!

Recipe adapted from here.

(Serves 2 adults & 1 toddler)

Grapeseed oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups mixed mushrooms (fresh shiitake, white oyster, gray oyster), coarsely chopped
3 chicken drumsticks, with fat & skin trimmed off
1/2 cup orzo pasta
1 cup reserved pasta water
Freshly grounded black pepper

How to:

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook according to package directions until al dente. When the orzo is ready, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain the orzo and set aside.

2. In a large frying pan, heat up grapeseed oil over medium heat. Add the chicken drumsticks and cook until they are nicely browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.

3. Add more grapeseed oil to the pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Stir fry until fragrant for about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until softened, for about 10 minutes. Add splashes of reserved pasta water so that the mushrooms won't dry up.

4. Add the drumsticks and give everything in the pan a few good stirs for about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the pasta water and orzo pasta. Cover to cook over medium-low heat until the drumsticks are cooked through and most of the liquid has evaporated, for about 30 minutes.

5. Add a dash of freshly grounded black pepper. Stir to combine and heat through. Serve hot.


This post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs Up (April 2015 Event: Chicken) organized by Zoe (Bake for Happy Kids), Doreen (My Little Favourite DIY) and hosted by Diana (Domestic Goddess Wannabe).


Chicken & Leek Stroganoff (Jamie Oliver)

Chicken & Leek Stroganoff (Jamie's Food Revolution)

I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC) is going on six years of cooking wonderful recipes by awesome chefs! This week, it's this month's potluck week. I choose Jamie's Chicken & Leek Stroganoff from Jamie's Food Revolution. His original recipe requires brown rice, but I substitute it with kamut ditalini, a kind of short tube pasta made from the kamut grain.

Actually, this is the first time I cook Jamie's (Oliver) recipe. Everyone knows this celebrity chef, even if you're not into cooking. His cookbooks can be found easily in major bookstores in Kuala Lumpur. Until today, I still haven't bought any of his cookbooks. I'm not sure why. Haha. 

Recipe adapted from here.

(Serves 2)

1/2 cup kamut ditalini (cooked, drained, and tossed with extra virgin olive oil)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large leek, cleaned well then halved & sliced thin
2 chicken breast fillets, cut into fingers
1 cup white oyster mushrooms, sliced
1 cup cooking cream

How to:

1. Put a large pan on high heat and add olive oil. Add leek with some water. Let it bubble away for 5 minutes, loosely covered. Add chicken, mushrooms, and cooking cream.

2. Stir, bring back to a boil, then turn heat down to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes before turning off the heat.

3. Spoon some pasta onto a plate and serve with stroganoff.

These little tubes are ditalini pasta.

I absolutely love creamy stroganoff!

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC) for this week's theme, April Potluck!


This post is also linked to the event, Little Thumbs Up (April 2015 Event: Chicken) organized by Zoe (Bake for Happy Kids), Doreen (My Little Favourite DIY) and hosted by Diana (Domestic Goddess Wannabe).


Gluten-free Mini Pancakes with Cranberries & Cream Cheese

Gluten-free Mini Pancakes with Cranberries & Cream Cheese

I love pancakes. Easy, versatile, delicious, pretty. Today, I'm using King Arthur Flour's Gluten-free Pancake Mix to make these lovely mini pancakes!

(Makes 10-12 if you scoop the batter with the measuring spoon set's tablespoon)

106g King Arthur Flour's Gluten-free Pancake Mix (that's about 1/4 of 425g)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 medium egg
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon cream cheese

How to:

1. Combine pancake mix, buttermilk, egg, and grapeseed oil in a bowl. Whisk until smooth. Stand for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, stir in dried cranberries and cream cheese. Whisk until smooth again.

2. Heat up a frying pan and lightly grease with vegetable oil.

3. Scoop one tablespoon of batter by using the measuring spoon set's tablespoon onto the hot frying pan.

4. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter to make 10-12 pancakes.

5. Serve warm as it is or garnish with your favorite toppings.

My pancakes are served "naked" without toppings. :)


Light Buttermilk Wholemeal Bread

Here's my latest loaf of homemade bread baked in my Cornell Bread Master bread maker.

Light Buttermilk Wholemeal Bread

Wanna eat healthy homemade bread again, so I bake a loaf of wholemeal bread for breakfast. Homemade bread makes great snack for my 20mo++ toddler too.

Recipe adapted from here.

(Makes a 2lb bread) 

1 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 grade A egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 & 3/4 cups bread flour
1 & 1/4 cups wholemeal bread flour
1 & 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast

How to:

1. By following the bread maker's manual, I have listed the ingredients' sequence correctly - in terms of which ingredient goes into the bread maker first - in the list above.

2. Close the lid, select the "basic" setting, loaf size (2lb), crust type (light), and press start.

3. Once the baking cycle is done, remove the bread pan from the machine to cool down.

Note: Please add the ingredients into the bread pan by following your bread maker's manual.

I love the dome top!

Removed from the bread maker pan.

Light, soft, fluffy slices for breakfast!

Lovely crumbs.

If you're interested, here are some reference links:

1. How I retain the bread loaf's freshness and softness. 

2. Personal tips about using Cornell Bread Master bread maker (at the end of the post).

3. My homemade bread recipes archive. 

4. Functions available on Cornell Bread Master bread maker.


Bring your little ones to "TGV Cinemas Family Friendly" sessions!

Guess what? I'm so happy to find that TGV Cinemas is organizing family-centric activities recently. Before I gave birth to my son, I was an avid cinema-goer. I was a movie addict. I went to the cinema on a weekly basis, that was averagely 4-5 movies per month. I never missed any blockbuster movie.

Then, the baby came and my days of going to the cinema ended. THE END.

Yeah, it has been "The End" for the past 20.5 months.

I missed so many movies. Sobs.

End of last year (December 2014), TGV Cinemas organized Disney's FROZEN Sing-A-Long. I brought my little tot along. It was his first big screen experience. He loved it.

But I haven't brought him to another cinema session since then.....

.....until I heard that TGV Cinemas is launching "Family Friendly" sessions exclusively for parents who wish to introduce the cinema world to their kids starting end of this month!

The cinema hall lights will be dimmed and volume will be lowered just to ensure that our little ones are comfortable during the movie. For parents with babies, fret not! There will be a diaper changing table set up inside the hall.

This is indeed a golden opportunity for parents to sit back, relax and enjoy the movie with the kiddos!

For more info about upcoming family-friendly sessions, please check out TGV Cinemas.

To be honest, I can't wait! :D


Babytots@play (Bukit Jalil) - Creative Play & Learn Centre for Children

Introducing Babytots@play, a creative play and learn center for children as young as 6 months old up to 4 years old.

"Play is our brain's favorite way of learning."
Diane Ackerman

There are four Babytots@play centers in the Klang Valley to date. I have been invited to visit the newest center at Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur with my active little toddler. Thank you so much for having us! :)

Do read on, as there will be a little surprise for you at the end of the post, I promise. :)

Address: 10-1-M, Jalan Jalil Perkasa 15/155B, Aked Esplanad, 57000 Bukit Jalill, Kuala Lumpur (opposite 99 Speedmart)

Contact: 019-691 7221 (Ms Sathyah)

What is Babytots@play?

Babytots@play was founded by Ms Erin Goh in 2012 based on her experience of teaching music and movement in the United Kingdom. Babytots@play is then created as a creative play and learn center for babies and toddlers, specializing in music, movement, sensory play, and creative crafts.

Their motto: Learning Through Play in a Musical Way

Babytots@play (Bukit Jalil) is operated by Ms Sathyah together with her husband since early this year. Ms Sathyah is an authorized licensee for providing Babytots@play programs at her center in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur.

Read this interview to know more about her.

Reception area
Announcement board

Babytots@play programs

Babytots@play offers fun and educational music and movement classes for babies and children for the age group of 6 months to 4 years old.

Research on brain development has shown that any attempt to maximize intellectual growth must begins in the first three years of life. However, research has proven that our intellectual skills not only rely on brain cells, but ultimately depend on the existence of connections between these cells. Sensory-stimulation is an effective exercise for increasing the number of brain cell connections in infants and toddlers.

So, it's never too early for your child to learn through play!

There are three programs:

Baby Boost (6-18 months old)

Baby Boost classes emphasize on age appropriate sensory activities, music & movement, listening skills, lap games, early social skills, bonding, and having lots of fun! The class structure is kept the same throughout which helps the babies feel secure in their environment, and the repetition gives them a familiar routine to follow.

Each session lasts 45 minutes and the baby must be accompanied by a parent or caregiver.

Happy Tots (18-30 months old)

Happy Tots classes run in blocks of 10 weeks. Each block has a musical theme and the multi-sensory play, music, and movement activities are conducted around the theme. Other activities include percussion time, counting, colors, and shapes.

Toddlers attending these classes will learn to develop social skills, active listening, increased concentration, confidence, and self-esteem.

Each session lasts 1 hour, with 4 sessions per month. The toddler must be accompanied by a parent or caregiver.

Boogie Tots (2-1/2 to 4 years old)

Boogie Tots classes are specifically designed to give older toddlers a gentle transition from Happy Tots classes. Lessons are conducted with thematic approach with music and movement activities conducted around the theme. There are also multimedia learning activities including flashcards, workouts, alphabets, numbers, colors, shapes, and more.

There's also a creative arts & crafts session. Parents or caregivers are welcomed to stay with their child during the class, allowing bonding and quality time.

 Each session lasts 2 hours, with 4 sessions per month.

In fact, all three programs encourage bonding between parents and child and at the same time, build friendship with other parents.

Classes in progress

The kids are interacting during class.
The fun-filled creative Art & Craft session.
Each child is accompanied by a parent.
Spot my thrilled toddler at the Happy Tots session!

Spanking new center

Art & Craft room
Art & Craft room
Baby changing room
There's an oven in the baby changing room.
There are different types of toys at the play area.
My toddler is busy exploring every single toy!

Quality play time @ play area

He loves playing so much!
Slam dunk-ing!

On a side note, I'm very happy to be informed that the toys in the center are disinfected on a weekly basis. That gives me peace of mind. :)

Most importantly, my toddler enjoyed himself so much that he didn't want to leave the place. That's the idea you see. When toddlers play, they learn. I was very satisfied with my two visits there because I could see that he was thrilled and his energy was well-spent in learning and discovering new things, and exploring all the toys that he could lay his hands on.


To learn more about Babytots@play (Bukit Jalil), please visit their Facebook page and website. Also, if you're interested to attend their DEMO classes, please call them at 019-691 7221.


Now, here's the little surprise that I promised earlier on. :)

For my readers, you can get RM10 off your first monthly fee! Just mention this code: joyce when you sign up. :)

Oh, and this offer is applicable at ALL Babytots@play centers. Just choose the location most convenient to you:

1) Bandar Botanic (HQ)
40-1, Jalan Mahogani 1/KS7, 41200 Klang (above Mydin)
Contact: 017-210 6112 (Erin Goh)

2) Kemuning Utama
2-1, Jalan Kemuning Prima D33/D, 40400 Shah Alam (nearby Giant)
Contact: 012-352 9800 (Anna Yang)

3) Setia Alam

13-2-1, Jalan Setia Prima (R) U13/R, Setia Alam Seksyen U13, 40170 Shah Alam (next to Am Bank)
Contact: 017-339 7633 (Erin Goh / Sharon Soh)

4) Bukit Jalil 

10-1-M, Jalan Jalil Perkasa 15/155B, Aked Esplanad, 57000 Bukit Jalill, Kuala Lumpur (opposite 99 Speedmart)
Contact: 019-691 7221 (Sathyah)

5) Aman Suria
D-1-37, Jalan PJU 1/45, Aman Suria Damansara, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Contact: 018-395 7116 (Suyin)

Do call them and book your slot today! Your baby/toddler/child will thank you later, I'm sure! :)


Baked Rice Porridge Balls (with a little story)

Baked Rice Porridge Balls

Cute? I make these as a fun treat for my 20mo++ toddler who eats with his eyes. Really. If he likes what he sees, he will eat. If he looks at it with doubt and perhaps disgust, he will shake his head vigorously. If I try to coax him to just try one spoon, he will yell and squirm away.

So, I turn his leftover rice porridge into balls with the hope that he will like and eat them. I'll tell you what happen next.

Here's the porridge - cooked with mixed grain rice, minced pork, chopped shiitake mushroom, enoki mushroom, diced carrots, and goji berries. This is a good combination of ingredients. The porridge smells heavenly.

90% of the porridge is packed in a thermal food jar to bring to the babysitter.

After the remainder of the porridge cools down to room temperature, I roll them into small meatball-sized balls in my palm. I get eight balls. Then, I coat them with store-bought panko breadcrumbs. The balls are baked at 200°C for about 25-30 minutes until they are firm to touch.

The baked balls taste like porridge, with extra crunch from the toasted breadcrumbs. So far so good.

The first thing my boy does is, he squeals in delight and says, "Ball!" Then, he starts squeezing the balls!


To my delight, he eats one handful of a squashed ball!

*victory sign*

Then, he begins to dig around the "grave of dead balls" and pick out all the goji berries that his little fingers can find.

And eat them one by one with glee.

Too bad I forget to snap a photo of the aftermath.



Classic Ratatouille (Jacques Pépin)

Classic Ratatouille (Jacques Pépin)

This week, IHCC is celebrating magnificent French food with the theme C'est Magnifique!


The French cuisine can be quite challenging to an untrained home-cook like moi (me in French). So, for my little, humble celebration, I've chosen Chef Jacques Pépin's Classic Ratatouille.

A note by the Chef himself: Ratatouille is the epitome of Provençal vegetable stews. The vegetables are sautéed individually in oil before being stewed so they keep their shape and texture..... Ratatouille is excellent reheated, and it is superb cold as an hors d’oeuvre topped with small black olives and olive oil.

Recipe adapted from Jacques Pépin from Essential Pépin.

(Serves 2) 

About 1/2 cup olive oil
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium Japanese cucumber, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 small red onions, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
5 ripe tomatoes, coarsely cubed
4 garlic cloves, crushed and very finely chopped
1/2 cup homemade chicken stock

How to:

Note: For detailed directions, please refer Chef Jacques Pépin’s recipe in the link provided above.

1. Heat oil in a large frying pan and sauté the eggplant cubes until browned, remove and transfer to a deep pot. Do the same to the rest of the vegetables except tomatoes.

2. Add tomatoes, garlic, and water to the pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 30 minutes.

3. Remove the cover, increase the heat to medium, and cook for another 20 minutes to reduce some of the liquid; stir once in a while to prevent scorching. Let the ratatouille rest for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Served cold with spaghetti tossed in
extra virgin olive oil and mixed herbs.

Lunch is served!

I keep the leftovers in a casserole dish in the fridge. The next morning, I beat two eggs, add a dash of salt and pepper, and pour it into the casserole dish. Then, I top with homemade breadcrumbs and grated Cheddar cheese. Finally, I bake it at 190°C for about 45 minutes until the top becomes golden brown.

And, this Baked Ratatouille & Spaghetti becomes my lunch that I pack to work. :)

Enjoying my packed home-cooked lunch at work.

So pretty!

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC) for this week's theme, C'est Magnifique!


Protein-packed Banana Donut-Muffins

Protein-packed Banana Donut-Muffins

There's a big bunch of overripe bananas - pisang berangan to be exact - in my kitchen. AGAIN. It's time to turn them into my breakfast. Hahaha!

By the way, I call them donut-muffins because I use a donut pan to bake the muffins and each has a hole in the middle. :D  

Recipe adapted from here.

(Makes 6) 

2 medium ripe bananas
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
1 medium egg, room temperature
1/4 cup molasses sugar
1/4 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 cup freshly grounded flax seeds
1/2 cup freshly grounded oats
1/4 cup lightly toasted white sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

How to:

1. Preheat oven to 175°C. Grease a standard 6-hole muffin pan. Set aside.

Note: I used a donut pan and managed to get 8 donut-muffins.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk oil, egg, and molasses sugar together. Mash the bananas and pour into the mixture, whisk to combine.

Note: I don't mash the bananas too early because I don't want them to become blackish due to oxidization. So, I only mash them when the rest of the wet ingredients are already well combined. 

3. In a separate bowl, stir together dry ingredients (wholemeal flour, ground flax seeds, ground oats, sesame seeds, baking powder). Gently mix with a spatula until just combined. Don't over mix.

4. Spoon into prepared muffin pan and bake for about 20-25 minutes until the tops are firm to touch. Allow to cool before turning out of pan.

I love the crunch!

My breakfast: One plum, one Japanese cucumber, two protein-packed banana donut-muffins with cream cheese.

For more breakfast ideas, visit my blog post: 8 easy breakfast ideas with tips (great for working moms!) 


On a side note, here are some of my previous banana-based recipes:

Chunky Apple & Banana Bake in Milk
Steamed Banana Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Eggless Chocolate Banana Muffins
Apple & Banana Pancake Muffins
Spiced Banana Muffins with Oats Crumble
Banana Ji Dan Gao
2-Ingredient Banana-Oat Bites
Banana & Egg Pancakes
Banana, Egg & Black Sesame Pancakes

Pear, Banana & Cinnamon Pikelets
Easy 4 Ingredients Banana & Cheddar Buttermilk Pancakes

Steamed Moist Banana Cake
Banana Muffin Loaves
Diana Henry's Best Banana Cake
Banana Bread with White Chocolate Chips
Maple Syrup Banana Bread