Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Family Trip to China

We were blessed this April to take a trip as a family to China.  Why China?  I have a sister who lives there with her family.  For the last 13 years or so, they have taught overseas at various international schools.  For the last 3 years they have been working in Shanghai.

I was extremely excited when my husband gave us the plane tickets at Christmas time, but as time grew closer I started to get nervous.  The 13 hour plane ride, the 12 hour time difference, the packing, the planning, how was this all going to play out, especially with a one year old?  How was I going to feel knowing I stuck on an airplane for so long?

As usual, the worry was for nothing. God took great care of us.  My mother in law said when she thought of us while on our trip, she pictured a cross over our heads and that is how I felt.

Our trip was filled with sight seeing, shopping, a lot of walking and great food.  Although there are so many great historic and touristic places to visit in China, we kept this trip simple as to not overwhelm us or the kids.
Read on if you want to get a quick glimpse of our trip.

 Getting ready for a "rough" sleep in the hotel before we fly out the next morning :)
We spent the night in Montreal before taking our 13 hour direct flight to Shangai

 Yeah for good food in the Air Canada Lounge

Almost time to take off.

Our welcome sign :)

 A trip to a traditional "wet market" in Xui Jing.  It was quite the experience for us.
Not at all like a typical Canadian grocery store.   

"Hey is that a black chicken?"
My middle daughter LOVED the wet market and asked to return many times.  
She enjoyed looking at the fish, frogs, turtles and pig's heads!

The busy streets of Shanghai.  It was a holiday that day and the streets were packed.

 Tai Kang Lu, one of the few places with old traditional buildings.

Very busy!  

My handsome husband and if you can't tell, my gorgeous sister.

 These two loved the shopping
in the old streets.

A view from the Bund, a popular tourist area and  second tallest 
building in the world; the Shanghai Tower.

A few cool kids waiting for the subway.  These children had a lot of pictures taken
perhaps due to the blond hair and blue eyes.  Many people were also surprised 
that we have three children!

My favourite picture.  Isn't he so adorable?

In Shanghai, you can find many restaurants and stores that will have some English.  This restaurant however was strictly in Chinese.  We had a great time just pointing to the menu and "blindly" picking out our lunch.  I was so proud of the kids, they would eat whatever was given.  I honestly had no idea what I ate that day but it was tasty.

Even our little guy was using his chopsticks.  

When on vacation, we often look for smoothie bars.  They are a great way to get some 
additional nutrients and easy for all members of the family.

On a less healthy note, my husband felt I should post this.  Yes, we ate breakfast at McDonalds...once!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Banana Oat Blender Muffins (Dairy, Gluten and Refined Sugar Free Options)

Muffins are a common breakfast or snack item around here.  I like how they can be quick and easy to make.  They are also easy to adapt to include variety of ingredients.  This recipe is definitely a simple one.  I like it more as a base and can be adapted with other spices, fruits, nuts or shredded vegetables. 

  • 2 cups oats (regular or gluten free)
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup organic greek or regular yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • toppings or fillers: chocolate chips, blueberries, nuts, coconut, dried fruit, zucchini/carrots?

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and prepare muffin tray.
  2. Combine all ingredients into blender except if you want whole pieces of nuts, fruits, etc.  Add those in after blending.
  3. Blend until batter is smooth.
  4. Add your additional fillers if desired and stir.
  5. Pour into muffin tray 3/4 full.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Pina Colada Chia Pudding Parfaits with Raspberries (Dairy, Gluten and Refine Sugar Free)

Chia seeds are a great source of fibre, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, iron and manganese.  In other words, great brain and bone food :)  These parfaits are easy to make and make a great breakfast or snack.

Ingredients (serves 3-4)
  • 1 1/4 cup coconut milk (I used canned)
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/2-1 cup chopped pineapple
  • 1/2-1 cup chopped raspberries
  • shredded unsweetened coconut for topping

  1. Make the chia pudding by adding coconut milk, chia, maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt into a bowl and stir to fully combine.  Let sit for set in the fridge for about 1 hour or overnight.  If possible stir once in between so the chia seeds don't stick together.
  2. Layer parfaits with chia, pineapple, raspberries, repeat.  Sprinkle with coconut if desired.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Happy 1st Birthday To Our Little Boy

This weekend we celebrated our little one's first birthday!  Where did the year go?  I desperately tried to slow time down this past year, however it still seemed to just speed on.  We have thoroughly enjoyed watching him grow and seeing the positive impact his presence has made on the girls.  We have all been so blessed by him.
Blowing out his candle

Is this for me?

We made the day into a train theme, as it is also the theme of his bedroom.  My father in law has passed down an old electric train which has become a focal point in the nursery.  
1950's toy train

The girls were thrilled to help decorate the dining room and worked hard at creating trains for the decorations.

Not wanting to create too much work for myself, I made two kinds of cupcakes instead of a cake.  A carrot cupcake (sorry no recipe posted) and my chocolate cupcakes with chocolate date icing. Okay, maybe that doesn't sound that simple ;)

Greek yogurt made a great topping for his cupcake,
he devoured it!

On Sunday we also took the opportunity to thank God for our little boy and to acknowledge this blessing through a child dedication at our church. A Child dedication is a public commitment you make before God. The dedication service provides an opportunity to express your desire to lead and spiritually nurture your child in cooperation with the Holy Spirit.   We are so thankful to have been able to share these celebrations with family and friends.

Our little family with our Pastor

A Few More Photos of the Day
I must be explaining something really exciting ;)

Enjoying a New Book

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Almond, Coconut Date Balls (Dairy, Egg, Gluten, Grain and Sugar Free)

I was at a store this week and of course hungry!  Isn't that always the case, being around food makes you hungry.  It is definitely a struggle being out and finding healthy or healthier snack items and I don't always have something I can bring along from home.
I was pleased to find a snack containing dates, coconut and almonds so I picked them up.  It was then, that I remembered I used to make cookie balls more often.  They are so versatile and can be very simple to make.  Here is definitely an easy, quick recipe that is not only tasty but can easy be taken along.

Ingredients (makes 10-15 balls)

  • 2 cups soft dates*
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut 
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra unsweetened shredded coconut for rolling
*I usually soften mine by letting them sit in hot water for about 30 minutes and then squeezing most of the water out.

  1. Combine all ingredients except the extra coconut for rolling and place in a blender or in a bowl with an immersion blender.
  2. Blend ingredients until all large pieces of date are cut evenly.
  3. Place the 3 tablespoons of remaining coconut onto a plate.
  4. Using your hands take about a tablespoon amount of dough and roll in into a ball.
  5. Roll the ball into the coconut until it is fully covered.
  6. Place all completed balls into covered container and store in the fridge for 1 week or freezer.
  7. Enjoy.