Mini Pasta Pie and Fruit skewers: Low Sugar Cooking with Kids at the Expat Kitchen

So last week, I wrote about paediatric dental hygiene talk at Expat Kitchen that I was invited to attend by Colgate Singapore. Whilst we were there, the ladies behind Expat Kitchen had us cooking an easy-peasy healthy, low sugar meal together with our children!

We made a simple pasta-bake for lunch and for dessert, the children assembled their own fruit skewers.

Mini Pasta Pie Recipe

  • A 12-cup muffin tray or a dozen disposable mini-pie tins
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • assorted mixed steamed vegetables (we used broccoli, sweet potato, corn, carrot and peas)
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 500g dry pasta (we used shell pasta)
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated mozzerella cheese
  • salt and pepper (to taste)


Getting the ingredients ready

Getting the ingredients ready

  1. Preheat oven to 190C
  2. Cook pasta according to packet instructions
  3. Press the tin of chopped tomatoes through a sieve to make it fine and remove seeds

    Expat Kitchen Pro-tip: Use italian brands of tinned tomatoes as they are naturally less sour and acidic than their american counterparts!

  4. Heat olive oil over medium heat and fry onions until translucent and glossy
  5. Add garlic and cook until fragrant
  6. Stir in tomato, tomato paste, oregano and sugar (if needed) and increase heat until the sauce is boiling

    Expat Kitchen Pro-tip: Sugar is optional as it is used counter the sour taste of tomatoes!

  7. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Combine the pasta, sauce, vegetables and cheddar cheese in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

    Assembling the pasta pies

    Assembling the pasta pies

  9. Dish out mixture into muffin tins and top with grated mozzarella cheese
  10. Bake for 35-40 minutes until cheese has melted
  11. Eat and Enjoy!
Tasty tasty tasty

Tasty tasty tasty!!!

For the fruit skewers:

Cut assorted fruits (we used strawberries, coranges, pineapples, watermelon and kiwi) into chunks and slide onto bamboo skewers! Simple and pretty!



(Thanks again to Colgate Singapore and Expat Kitchen for inviting us to attend this workshop!)

Rock down to electric avenue (with Bodytec Singapore – and an awesome giveaway!)

So it’s been several months since I started exercising with Bodytec Singapore (you can read about my experience here), and I figured that it was time for an update!

All wired up

All wired up

I am pleased to let you know that after several sessions with Bodytec Singapore, I have noticed the following changes:

  1. I feel generally much more energetic, and less sluggish during my week.
  2. My posture has improved and I am experiencing less backache at the end of the day.
  3. I have definitely toned up and am looking noticeably healthier. In fact, several of my relatives have commented on my apparent weight loss (I say ‘apparent’ because I haven’t actually lost physical weight, however, I because I am trimmer all round, I am noticeably slimmer).
  4. I am much stronger. This is most obvious when I’m trying to carry a sleeping Little E on one shoulder whilst juggling 5 large bags of groceries in my other hand.
  5. I fit well into my skinny jeans. SKINNY JEANS!!!

I really want to thank Bodytec Singapore for a wonderful fitness experience. I can hardly believe how fast I started to see results!

Anyhow, I enjoyed my experience with Bodytec so much, that I really wanted to share it with all of you folk out there in cyberspace…and so…

A Special Something for Owls Well Readers: Bodytec Singapore is most generously sponsoring a giveaway of 12 fitness sessions to one lucky Owls Well Reader! Woohoo!

To take part in this awesome giveaway, all you have to do is:

1. Be a fan of the Owl Well Facebook Page

2. Head over to the Bodytec Singapore website and then leave a comment below telling me ONE interesting thing that you have learned and why you think this will be helpful to you. Don’t forget to include your email address! (If you would like to send me the email address privately, leave a comment for the other answers, then email me at 4owlswell [at] gmail [dot] com)

(Giveaway is open to readers in Singapore and will end at midnight on 30th Sept 2014. Winners will be picked via – just make sure you complete all 2 easy steps!)

Good luck!

Update: This giveaway is now closed and the winner has been emailed. Thanks for playing!

Singing the body electric (with Bodytec Singapore)

So, now that both J and Little E are in school, I have around some time in the morning to run errands and do the chores, which leaves me with about an hour to Do My Own Thing, which in RAWKmum terms is the equivalent of striking gold.

I normally use this golden hour to catch up on correspondence, write, read a book and basically do anything that I want, alone and entirely uninterrupted.

The Barn Owl has been trying his best to encourage me to get back into exercising more regularly, which is something that I have wanted to do since Little E was born, but here we are, three years on, and this exercising malarky hasn’t materialised yet. Additionally, despite being a RAWKmum, I have not been able to lose the last of my post-pregnancy…um…bounce. And it is beginning to bother me.

However, here’s what usually happens whenever I attempt to start exercising:

Day 1: Walk down to the local gym. Wander around examining all the various implements of torture. Feel intimidated. Watch other people sweating it out on the treadmill. Wow, that looks intense. Decide to have a go on the exercise bike for 20 minutes. Actually cycle for 5 minutes before getting bored. Okay fine, I’ll do another 5 minutes of cycling. Bored now. Leave.

Day 2: Walk down to the local gym. Consider the implements of torture. Nope, still too intimidated. Watch other people sweating it out on the treadmill. I don’t think they’ve gotten off the treadmill since yesterday. Decide to have a go on the exercise bike for 15 minutes next to Lady Spandex who appears to be training for the Tour de France. Feel like a loser after 10 minutes. Leave.

Day 3: Walk down to the local gym. Feel tired just watching other people sweating it out on the treadmill. Leave.

This is why when I won 12 sessions with Bodytec Singapore at a recent giveaway by Honeycombers Singapore, I was really really excited! Thank you, Honeycombers!

Last week, I headed down for a trial session at Bodytec’s brand spanking new fitness studio at Turf City.


Bodytec in the early morning light

Bodytec Studios specialises in fitness training using Electro-Muscular Stimulation (EMS). This is a fitness technique that is already widely used across Europe and in the USA and works on the basis that muscle fibres in the body react by contracting when stimulated by an electrical current, whether the stimuli is from an external source such as an electrode, or from internal bioelectric impulses travelling along the central nervous system.

I know that EMS-training is often used (in other countries) in conjunction with occupational therapy and physiotherapy for patients undergoing rehabilitation as it is both impact-free and joint friendly. In fact, one of my good friends in the UK was loaned a home EMS-machine by her physiotherapist during her post-partum recovery period, to help to passively tone up her abdominal muscles whilst she watched TV for 20 minutes every day!

When I got to Bodytec Studios, I met Stanley, the manager and personal trainer, who gave me a set of comfortable training clothes – a basic black tee and tights – to wear. Shoes are optional, so I decided to go barefoot. I was then helped into the full Bodytec training suit, which had been dampened with water (which is why disposable undergarments are also provided).

All wired up

All wired up and ready to go

I was really glad that there is a maximum capacity of two people training in the studio at any one time, so there was no one around to laugh at me being lame and uncoordinated. Except Stanley, and he was extremely non-judgemental and patient.

Stanley turned on the EMS-machine (I shut my eyes at this point, waiting to be zapped with a bolt of lightning), and to be perfectly honest, it actually was all very pleasant, very much like sitting in a massage chair. Then came the exercise – 20 minutes of simple movements like squats and bicep curls, nothing particularly strenuous, with Stanley on hand to correct posture and provide support. I can see why this is a great workout for people with joint problems and injuries and the elderly.

At the end of it, I felt tired all over, just as if I’d been doing aerobics for 20 minutes, but without the shortness of breath that comes with exertion. After a good hot shower, a quick rub down with some fluffy white towels, and a cool drink of water, I felt completely refreshed and energised!

What a great start to the day!

I enjoyed it so much that I’ve decided to go ahead with the full 12 sessions that Bodytec Singapore offered me – and I’ll be keeping you posted as to how things go!

If you would like to give EMS fitness training at BodyTec a go, you can sign yourself up for a free trial session at the new Turf City fitness centre anytime from now until the 22nd May 2014 – and you can even bring a friend along and enjoy a complimentary cup of coffee in the studio afterwards!

Bodytec Studios (click here to go to the website)
200 Turf Club Road
#01-34C The Grandstand
Singapore 287994
Tel: 6466 0638

Terrariums are Fun: A guide to making your own

For my birthday last year, my good friend A (from A Skip Hop and a Jump) gave me a really cool gift – an afternoon at a Terrarium workshop with Rosebud’s own UK-trained florist, Cindy. Thanks, A!

Now, unlike my friend A, who used to moonlight at a florists during her school days, I am absolutely terrible at looking after all things green and growing. This is a job that I usually leave to The Husband, who used to work in a garden centre in his spare time.

However, I do love having plants in the household and I was intrigued by the idea of making a closed ecological system in a bottle which will flourish without too much interference on my part! I managed to convince the Aged Ps to babysit the two owlets whilst I traipsed down to International Plaza for a girly floral afternoon out!

Tips and Tools for Terrarium Making

Tips and Tools for Terrarium Making

We started out the workshop with Cindy showing us all the tools needed to make a terrarium. We were each given the following:

  1. A clean glass jar with a wide neck and a lid that gives a good seal
  2. A pair of chopsticks (to use for handling the seedlings)
  3. A plastic spoon (to use as a scoop)
  4. A plastic cocktail muddler
  5. Crushed pebbles or coarse sand
  6. Organic potting soil
  7. Pretty pebbles and tiny ornaments
  8. A selection of seedlings of the type that survive well in low light conditions
  9. A dry paintbrush
The groundwork

The groundwork

We started out by choosing crushed pebbles or coarse sand in contrasting colours. These crushed pebbles are placed at the bottom of the terrarium to provide adequate drainage for the plants and to prevent roots of the plant from sitting in pools of water.

Our terrariums were to have a fairytale, miniature garden theme, which is why we used brightly coloured pebbles, but if you prefer a more natural look, you can use crushed river stones or sand.

We started out by scooping in two layers of pebbles, packing each layer down with the plastic cocktail muddler. The difficult part was making sure that each layer was exactly even at the top.

Then, we added a layer of organic soil and packed that down as tightly as possible. The potting soil that we used had a nice, fresh scent and was very pleasant, with a nice crumbly texture. If your potting mix is the stinky kind, then you should probably add some charcoal in to absorb unpleasant smells.

The drainage and soil layers should each be around an inch thick, but a good rule of thumb to follow is make sure that the depth of the ground layers is about a third the height of the container that you are using.

Now with the groundwork completed, it is time to add the plants! Cindy, our long-suffering trainer, had already separated out all the little plantlets into groups of three, each carefully compressed together in a tight root ball for potting.

The most difficult bit

The most difficult bit – planting.

Using the plastic spoons and chopsticks, we each carefully scooped out a small hole in the centre of our garden and maneuvered our little plants into position with all the precision of a surgeon. When the plants were firmly plugged into place, we added more soil to cover up the root ball, packing it down firmly but carefully around the plant with the muddler, then used a dry paint brush to dust off any bits of soil clinging to the plant leaves.

My plants seemed to be sagging to one side, so Cindy advised me to use the blunt end of my chopsticks to push some large stones into the soil under the plant to prop it up whilst also anchoring the root ball in place.

Adding embellishments

Adding embellishments for that final touch

With our little plants happily rooted, now it was time to decorate our bottle gardens with colourful crushed pebbles and embellishments. We used small smooth stones that had a nice even colour, as well as tiny ceramic, wood or plastic ornaments to embellish our terrariums.

I picked out a little blue moon rabbit, and a cheerful red toadstool on a bed of blue and yellow pebbles. These were neatly taped to either toothpicks or attached to floral wires and pushed firmly into the soil.

A few squirts of water down the sides of the jar, then the lids went on and we were done!

SkipHop and I with our completed Terrariums

Posing with our completed Terrariums

After this, we would only have to add more water every few weeks, and occasionally open the jar up for a few minutes to let the excess condensation evaporate and stop it from clouding the glass. As Cindy said, ‘What’s the point of making a garden that you can’t see?’

It’s been a month since we made the terrariums, and I’m pleased to say that as a result of Cindy’s advice and supervision at the start, all three of my little plants have survived and are growing very well! They seem to do best under flourescent light, as direct sunlight magnified by the curved glass of the bottle seems to burn them. I have even had to prune back one of my little plants because it was growing almost up to the top of the jar!

I am tempted to make a few more little terrariums with J and Little E – I think it would be fun for them and give them a good excuse to mess about with dirt and pebbles.