Vancouver Outdoor Adventure Show 2017 Giveaway

Being an active family that loves the outdoors, I am pretty excited to be going to the show and also super excited that I can offer you a chance to win a family pass!  I have 2 family passes to give away!!  Enter by leaving a comment on the bottom of this post.

Squamish River, British Columbia
Squamish River, British Columbia

What I love about this show is the chance to get a ton of information in one place.  As a family we haven’t been camping that long and this is a chance to check out all kinds of gear.  Besides the gear, I am looking forward to learning about destinations to fill us with ideas for future adventures and get us excited about planning that next trip.

This is a place to bring the whole family. From our research so far, my son is looking forward to checking out the Whitewater pool and my daughter will be hanging out at Junior Outdoor Adventures.  Myself, I’ve got my eye on Leo’s Camera Photography Workshops and my husband will be checking out the bikes at the Bike Show and Adventures in Cycling. There is something for everyone and I think it will be hard to take it all in.

The Vancouver Outdoor Adventure Show is taking place on March 4 and 5, 2017 at the Vancouver Convention Centre, East Building.

I have 2 Family Passes to give away. To enter leave a comment letting me know what you most want to see at Vancouver Outdoor Adventure Show. Contest open until March 1 at 12:00am.

I have been given free passes to the show as well as 2 additional family passes of 4 tickets to give away in exchange for this post.  All opinions are my own.

Lemon Ricotta Cupcakes

Lemon ricotta cupcakes topped with a little light lemon cream cheese frosting, raspberry fairy dust (crushed freeze dried raspberries) and topped with a raspberry
Lemon Ricotta Cupcakes

These beautiful lemon ricotta cupcakes are so tender and moist they literally melt in your mouth.  They are bursting with bright and sunny lemon flavour.  For those of us who find lemon treats irristible this is a pretty healthy option as they have less fat and less sugar than a typical cupcake. The secrets are in some extra special ingredients: ricotta cheese and olive oil.

Olive oil is a healthy choice for baking and produces a wonderfully rich, moist and tender cake. Olive oil has many health benefits and is recommended as an important part of our diet.   Don’t worry, they won’t taste like olive oil. The generous amounts of lemon zest and lemon juice guarantee the flavour is bright, tangy and unmistakably lemon. Olive oil is part of what makes these delicious cupcakes so terrific, but the ricotta cheese is also part of the magic.

Ricotta, the Italian fresh whey cheese, is completely underrated.  It is creamy and mellow yet beautifully rounds out flavours.  In baking it adds richness and tenderness without adding too much moisture.  It is perfect for making cakes taste richer than they are.

Lemon Ricotta Cake with Fresh Berries
Lemon Ricotta Cake with Fresh Berries

Dressing up these cupcakes is easy.  This time I opted for a light cream cheese frosting and berries, but a simple lemon glaze or whipped cream would be very elegant. To keep it healthier, a little honey sweetened Greek yogurt and fresh berries would be lovely as well.

Lemon Ricotta Cupcakes

7.9 oz all purpose flour*

1/2 teaspoon  baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup ricotta

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 egg

1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

Directions:  Prepare muffin tins by lining with parchment paper liners and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Measure flour and mix in baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  In a separate bowl, mix all the other ingredients until well blended. Combine flour mixture with wet ingredients and blend only until combined (like making muffins).  Scoop into muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes for large cupcakes and about 12 minutes for mini cupcakes. (A 1/4 cup measure works great for the large cupcakes and a medium cookie scoop is perfect for the minis.) This recipe makes 12 large cupcakes or 36 mini cupcakes. It also works well as a cake in a 9 inch round cake pan.

*7.9 oz flour is approx 1 3/4 cup but weighing is recommended for accuracy as flours can differ.

This recipe is adapted from Cooking Light.




Triple Berry Frozen Yogurt Layer Cake


Triple Berry Frozen Yogurt Layer Cake
Triple Berry Frozen Yogurt Layer Cake

It is so exciting to make this cake, but hard to wait until it is finally set and ready to unveil.  I was anxious to see all the layers.  It is so pretty!  I love this mix of pinks and purples with bright red strawberry sauce, and just a little dark chocolate. Perfect for Valentine’s Day.

The key to creating clean layers is to freeze each layer well before pouring the next so that the colours don’t blend together.  I added some fresh raspberries and did a fun swirl pattern on the top layer by spooning drops of the strawberry sauce and using a toothpick to swirl them about. It only takes a few ingredients to make this healthy dessert: berries, yogurt, a little honey, dark chocolate and fruit spread.

Triple Berry Frozen Yogurt Layer Cake

Fruit spreads add sweetness and intensifies the fruit flavour and colour.  They are made without pectin.  Some brands are made without added sugar, and are a healthier choice than jam or jelly. Fruit spreads tend to be chunkier in texture and have a more spreadable consistency. Check the ingredient list and look for one that contains only fruit.

Dark Chocolate Heart and Flower Scribbles

To add an extra special touch to decorate the plates we made some chocolate hearts and flowers.  Melt pure dark chocolate, pour into a parchment cone, snip the end and draw your shapes onto a parchment paper covered cookie sheet.  Pop them into the freezer and they will be firm in only a couple of minutes. I saved this part for an after school activity because I know the kids love it. If you want to try it there are lots of tips and tutorials on line such as this video.

Triple Berry Frozen Yogurt Layer Cake

Raspberry Layer

1 cup frozen raspberries

2 tablespoons Raspberry Spread (All Fruit)

1 cup Greek yogurt, plain, unsweetened

Blueberry Layer

1 cup frozen blueberries

2 tablespoons Blueberry Spread (All Fruit)

1 cup Greek yogurt, plain, unsweetened

Strawberry Layer

1/2 cup frozen strawberries

1 cup Greek Yogurt, plain, unsweetened

Strawberry Sauce

2 cups frozen strawberries

3/4 cups water

1 tablespoon honey (optional, depending on how sweet your strawberries are).

Directions: In a medium saucepan combine frozen fruit and water and cook covered on low until strawberries are soft and mushy.  Remove from heat and purée with an immersion blender until smooth.  Return to heat and cook down until desired consistency.  Add 1 tablespoon honey (or more or less) depending on the sweetness of the berries and your preference) and let cool.  Prepare loaf pan by lining completely with parchment paper. In food processor or blender, process frozen berries, Greek yogurt and fruit spread.  Pour info prepared pan and freeze for at least 30 minutes.  Rinse out food processor and repeat with other berries and preserves, freezing in between layers for at least 30 minutes. After the final layer, freeze until solid, about 4 hours.  Because I was adding in the strawberry swirl to the top layer I did not add as much fruit to the top layer and also did not add any of the fruit preserves.

To serve, remove from freezer and let sit out for approx 10 minutes before slicing.  Drizzle with strawberry sauce and decorate with chocolate hearts or flowers.



Natural Sprinkles for Cookies and Treats

Natural Sprinkles for Cookies and Treats
Natural Sprinkles
Everyone loves cookies and for special occasions decorated cookies are extra special.  However, if you look at the ingredient list on that jar of sprinkles and are not sure about all those colours and chemicals what other options are there? Chocolate chips, melted chocolate to dip, coarse sugar, powdered sugar, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, hemp seeds, chia seeds can all be fun.
When I tried this freeze dried fruit I noticed in the packages some of the dried fruit had become powdery – perfect for sprinkles! The fruit is very dry and crispy so simply crush up what you need. What do you use for to decorate your cookies?

Healthy Handouts for Halloween Trick or Treat

Healthy Handouts for Halloween Trick or Treat
We live in a neighbourhood where Halloween is crazy big.  The displays are awesome with the houses all dressed up, glowing jack-o-lanterns, witches, ghosts, fireworks and more. It is so much fun!  Everyone heads out and enjoys the night. Needless to say, it is a very popular area for kids and some houses report getting 500 kids come to the door to trick or treat.  To top that off the residents are very generous often handing out 2 or 3 treats to every child.  That is a lot of treats which usually means it is a lot of sugar!

With all the tempting sweet treats it is hard to not overindulge, especially when the kids have collected them.  How do we enjoy the holiday but not go overboard on sugar, calories and fat?  Luckily there are more and more healthy options to handout for this Halloween.

Healthy Handouts for Halloween Trick or Treat

Cheese sticks or strings
Mini Fruit cups (in water or juice)
Apple Sauce
Nuts, Seeds, or Trail Mix in small packages
Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate with Fruit or Nuts
What would you add to this list?

Halloween Fun with Fruits and Vegetables

Halloween Fun with Fruits and Vegetables

With Halloween only a little over a week away, party planning is well under way!  This group of fabulously fun ideas with fruits and vegetables makes it easy to include healthy options at Halloween events. These super cute food crafts offer many nutritional benefits and would be wonderful classroom projects or family activities. Adding healthy options encourages everyone to have balance and resist the urge to over indulge at a time when sugary treats are so prevalent and abundant. Happy Halloween!

Please visit these links to check out the tutorials/recipes. 

Vegetable Skeleton from Kraft

Clementine Pumpkins and Banana Ghosts from One Little Project

Apple Bites from Oh She Glows

Cucumber Witch Hats and Celery/Carrot Broomsticks from Little Food Junction

Honeydew Bats from Shaken Together Life

Spooky Spider from Kitchen Fun with my 3 Sons

Jack-o-Lantern Peppers from Hidden Valley

Cucumber Monsters from Pop Sugar

Barley Buttermilk Pancakes

Barley Buttermilk Pancakes with Blueberry Compote, Fresh Strawberries and Maple Yogurt
Barley Buttermilk Pancakes


Is your weekend morning not complete without a stack of cakes, hot off the griddle?  Here is a unique recipe using barley flakes cooked up into delicious hearty pancakes that are substantial enough for the weekend adventure ahead.  Barley flakes are made by steaming barley kernels, rolling and drying them; the same way oats are made into rolled oats.  Barley flakes can be used the same way rolled oats are typically used, have a rich nutty taste and have many health benefits.

Of all the whole grains, barley is the highest in fibre.  It is also high in protein and has many many health advantages.  Barley has been shown to have particular health benefits in diabetes, cancer, heart disease and obesity.  To get the benefits of using barley in your diet find ways to incorporate by substituting it in ways you would typically use other grains such as using barley flour or barley flakes in pancake batter.

There are a couple of ways you can make this pancake batter.  If you have the time (and remember), soak the barley flakes in buttermilk over night in the refrigerator. In the morning finish the recipe, heat the griddle and you are ready to go.  A quick option is to make the whole recipe in the blender, blend until smooth and the batter is ready to use, no soaking required.

Top pancakes with a little syrup or skip it and use fresh fruit or a fruit compote as a healthy alternative. To make a fruit compote or fruit sauce, cook fruit in a little water until soft, remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender.  Return to heat to cook more to thicken or add a tablespoon of chia seeds which will quickly thicken the sauce.  Sweeten if needed.  I like to add a squeeze of lemon to brighten the flavour and a little honey or maple syrup.  Adding yogurt adds a lovely tangy creaminess and dresses up the plate even more.  Sweeten plain yogurt with spices or natural sweeteners which also add great flavour.

Barley Buttermilk Pancakes

1 1/2 cup barley flakes (or 1/2 barley and 1/2 rolled oats)

2 cups buttermilk

3 tbsp applesauce

2 eggs, lightly whisked

2 tbsp oil (I used avocado oil)

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp cinnamon

Directions:  Mix barley flakes, buttermilk and applesauce together in a medium size bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning stir the barley mixture and add the egg, oil and vanilla.  In a small bowl combine flour and baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to barley mixture, mix well and batter is ready to use.

Quick Method:  Blend all ingredients until smooth and batter is ready to go!

Heat griddle to medium high heat and when hot, scoop batter using a 1/4 or 1/2 cup measure.  The cakes are ready to flip over when the edges start to look dry and the batter is forming bubbles on the surface.  Flip and cook on the other side until cooked and golden brown.  Serve immediately with fresh fruit, fruit sauce and yogurt.