Building a Sense of Community with Little Free Libraries

little free librariesPopping up in neighborhoods all over Calgary are cute little wooden houses filled with books. From one room school houses to gingerbread type themes, these Little Free Libraries are a free book exchange aimed to promote literacy, a love of reading and a sense of community.

When I first noticed these little houses popping up I thought they were pretty neat and the concept of sharing books interesting. I had seen a similar concept before in coffee shops where there was an area where you could take a book or leave a book for free, but these houses intrigued me. What were they all about? Was this some one of a kind random unique idea?

First I was drawn to the designs, some old school houses, bird houses or colorful boxes with unique designs. All of them different, all of them housing books of all kinds, shapes and sizes. I found them in my local neighborhood, near the swimming pool, the grocery store, some at the end of the neighbors front lawn. I have always loved books and though I love to read, I also love to share what I read with others. These houses are a great way to do that.

When I looked more closely I realized that these houses were part of a much larger organization. Started in 2009 by Todd Bol of Wisconsin, there are now 36,000 Little Free Libraries around the world. I thought this was absolutely amazing and such a wonderful idea!

I love how I can literally walk out my front door and around the corner to pick up a book. I love how I can take a book, or share a book, and I love that one of the goals of these little libraries is to promote a sense of community. We tend to spend way too much time in our houses and not always getting to know our neighbours, these libraries provide an opportunity to get out there and meet some of them and share common interests.

I think it’s a great way to get kids interested in reading as well, drawn by the unique houses, they are curious to peek in and check them out. My kids often ask if they can take a look inside when they see one, and though there may not always be a book in there for them, it gets them curious, it gets them thinking and exploring. It is also a great way to encourage them to share books they enjoy, in hopes that someone else will find it and enjoy it as much as they have.

So the next time you see a little house at the end of the road or near the local grocery store go and check it out. You never know what treasures you might find or the people you may meet.

Want to learn more about Little Free Libraries? or start one of your own? Check out the Little Free Library’s website with Frequently Asked Questions and explore the world of possibilities.

Easy Strawberry Banana Dairy Free Ice Cream Recipe

One of the things I definitely miss going dairy free is ice cream. A regular staple at my house when growing up; we often had it after supper, asking my parents hopefully if we could have some. Unless we were out, they usually said yes. Knowing that this was one thing I could not give up completely I set out to find some dairy free ice cream recipes.

dairy free ice cream recipeWhen I first started searching for dairy free ice cream recipes I thought that I would always have to make it in an ice cream maker using some kind of dairy free milk and natural sweetener. But what I have discovered is it can be even simpler than that. In fact it is so easy to make a great creamy, dairy free sugar free ice cream that as soon as you’re done reading this post, you’ll probably hop up and make some. Five minutes, maybe less, honestly you’ll be done.

Not to say that using an ice cream maker and an alternative dairy free milk is not a good option. In fact, I have some super yummy ice cream recipes made with coconut milk, like the peanut butter ice cream, that is so creamy and delicious it is worth the few extra minutes to make it. But sometimes you just want a quick treat. Not too much work and not too much thought being put into it. This is why I like this recipe for a dairy free strawberry banana ice cream. Super simple, super tasty and the only thought you have to put into it is do I have frozen bananas?

Dairy Free Strawberry Banana Ice Cream

This easy dairy free ice cream recipe gives you a nice soft serve ice cream in less than five minutes

dairy free ice cream recipe1 frozen banana (*peel banana before putting into freezer)

1 c. frozen strawberries

Put frozen banana and frozen strawberries into Vitamix blender. (If you do not have a Vitamix, a high powered blender of some kind is recommended due to the fruit being frozen and to prevent burning out your blender. If you have a standard blender, just proceed slower or blend fruit in smaller amounts to prevent burnout). Turn Vitamix on starting at low speed and slowly turn up to high. You may need to use tamper to push frozen fruit down to thoroughly mix. Once you have a soft serve consistency ice cream is ready to serve. Scoop into bowls and enjoy!

This dairy free ice cream recipe can also be made with different kinds of fruit, substituting the strawberries for raspberries or mango, etc. We have found though that the banana is a key part of the recipe in order to get that nice ice cream consistency and should always be present.

This is also a great recipe to make with kids as it is super easy for them to help with by putting the fruit into the blender or turning it on under the direction of an adult. It’s perfect for a hot summer day when you want a yummy cool treat and super quick to make. With just a little pre planning by having frozen fruit ready in the freezer you can literally whip it out in no time!

Celebrating Earth Day with Children through Outdoor Activities

earth day activities for childrenInstilling in children a love and appreciation of the outdoors, nature and the environment at a young age is something that they will take and incorporate throughout their lifetime; growing into the adults that will care for our planet. Earth Day is one of those events that not only brings focus to the importance of caring for our planet but is a great opportunity to involve kids. These Earth Day Activities for Children not only celebrate Earth Day, but are things that children can continue to do everyday.

Why do we celebrate Earth Day? I was asked this once by a small child (my own actually) who was inquisitively looking up at me with wonder in their eyes, waiting patiently for my answer. I paused, thinking how best to answer this child, a future ambassador of the planet, knowing how important it was that they not only understood what Earth Day was but why it was important for them to be part of it.

Earth Day, celebrated on April 22, is a worldwide event in over 193 countries to promote and support the protection of our environment and our planet. Even in 1970, when this event began, people recognized that we needed to protect and look after our environment in order for it to not only be sustainable, but healthy, for both the Earth and for us. This is why it is never too early to involve children in this annual event and teach them that it’s not only about celebrating one day, but about the actions that we should be taking all year long. The importance of looking after and caring for Earth.

Earth Day Activities for Children

Most kids naturally love to be outside. They are curious about the world around them and want to know more. Use these hands on experiences this Earth Day (and every other day) to deepen their appreciation for the natural world showing them the wonder and uniqueness of our environment.

Tree Rubbings

earth day activities for childrenAn easy activity all you need is plain white paper, some crayons and a tree.

  • Place paper against the bark of the tree (smaller children may need help holding the paper).
  • Gently rub crayon over the paper, the pattern of the bark will come through and create a unique design.
  • Cover as much of the paper as you like, then remove the paper from the bark and admire your design

You can also do this with leaves. Gather a number of different leaves then on a flat surface place the leaves with your paper over top. Rub the crayon over the leaf and see the imprint come through. You can do more than one leaf on a page and change your crayons to make them different colors!

Paint Pallet

There are so many different colors in nature. Grab some paint chips from your local hardware store and take them outside.earth day activities for children

  • Give a paint chip to the child
  • Go for a walk with them and find something in nature that matches the color on their paint chip.
  • Once found, don’t pick it! either just notice what it is, take a picture of it, or draw your own picture
  • Now choose a different color paint chip and let’s go again!

Nature Scavenger Hunt

Make a list of things to find outside and go on a hunt. Include things like leaves, sticks, pine cones. Have the children check them off as they find them. Remember, if it is alive and still growing we want it to stay that way, so don’t pick it.

For small children (ages 4 & under) make your list short 3-6 things and go with them on the hunt. For older children you can create a longer list and setting clear boundaries can send them out on their own or in small groups, to find the items. Regardless of their age, I always like to make sure I can see them at all times (and they can see me for safety).

Nature Collage

This is a fun one that kids can get really creative with.

  • Go on a nature walk
  • Have children gather items in nature. These can be things like small rocks, stick, leaves
  • Take the items home or to an area where you can sit down – flat area of grass, picnic table.
  • On a piece of construction paper, glue your nature items on and create a collage or picture

earth day activities for children Before you head out on your walk let children know that they only pick up things that are dead (not growing anymore), so leaves that have already fallen off the trees, or sticks that are on the ground. It is important to teach them one of the most important lessons in nature is to take only pictures, leave only footprints. This allows everything to flourish and grow and go through it’s natural cycle. Plus it leaves these beautiful things for others who come behind us to enjoy!

There are lots of outdoor activities you can do with children that are easy and fun! I recently discovered an idea about creating an outdoor mud pie kitchen! What a fabulous idea and so simple! Really, I think every child should have one, actually even adults would benefit. (You know I am going to make one right away…)

Teaching children to respect and appreciate our planet at an early age is an important value that they will carry into their adult lives. Not only should we participate in days such as Earth Day, it is important to do activities with kids in their daily lives that instill this love and respect for our planet.earth day activities for children

Giving Children Choice – Benefits of Empowering Children in Decision Making

giving children choiceMany children grow up unable to make decisions because they have had little experience in doing so. Teaching decision making greatly benefits them in life.

Life involves making decisions and choices. It is something people do everyday, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously. The value of making conscious mindful decisions and choices is key to living a full and happy life. Children if presented with choice at a young age learn this invaluable tool easily and will greatly benefit them in their adolescent and adult lives.

Benefits of Providing Children with Choice

R. Renee Bembry’s article Giving Children Choices Rather Than Commands sites many benefits to giving children choices starting at a young age. Choices, if presented appropriately, will enable children to learn the benefits of making mindful, conscious decisions.

Giving children choices teaches them how to make decisions, builds their self esteem, develops problem solving skills, independence and makes them feel more powerful and in control of their lives. It teaches them to take ownership of their choices, the value of sacrificing one thing for another and makes them feel that their point of view is valued.

As parents, providing the child with a choice helps to avoid power struggles and reduces frustration while gaining the child’s cooperation. Done correctly this still leaves the parent in control as they are the ones who provide the choices.

How to Provide Choices to a Child

Some parents panic thinking that if they give their child a choice that they will soon be ruling the roost. This is not so, as the parent can choose what the choices will be, and therefore can choose things that they can live with. It is a win win for everyone as the child feels empowered because he gets to choose and the parent still holds the reins by providing choices that they are comfortable with either way.giving children choice

Dr. Khrista Boylan, child psychiatrist, says to start teaching a child how to make decisions, the parent needs to ensure the choice is manageable and realistic for the age of the child. Do not offer choices to children younger than 2 years of age, and not more than 2 options, a or b. The choices need to be realistic, appropriate and acceptable, something the child understands, and the options need to be acceptable to the parent. Do not offer a choice if one of the choices is not acceptable.

As the child gets older one can offer them a broader range of choices. This will help eliminate power struggles with older children.

Parents need to be consistent and let the child choose on a regular basis. It is also important to note that not everything has to be a choice -there are times when as a parent, they must tell the child what to do.

Where to Start Offering Choice

giving children choiceJamie Sullivan’s article Parenting Tips – Why Is Giving Choice Important suggests that the parent start to offer children choice with everyday things like choosing what to wear, what to have for dinner or type of sandwich for lunch. They can be asked for input on family decisions such as what type of outing they would like to go on, or who to invite to play. As they get older the choices can become more complex and where the consequences of their choices become more pertinent. The more opportunities they have to make choices the more they will learn and the more confident they will become in making decisions.

The Value of Good Decision Making

The key to success is knowing the child and what they can handle. This way the parent can provide realistic choices that will ensure the child feels empowered and learns from his experience.

As parents, providing choice builds the foundation for children to make good, sound decisions, where they learn to see the outcomes and accept the consequences (if any) of choosing one over another. This helps them make positive choices in their adolescent years when choices can be potentially life threatening. Teaching them early will only benefit them later in life and develop confident, happy adults.giving children choice

Kids Healthy Cooking – Dairy Free Peanut Butter Ice Cream

sugar free dairy free peanut butter ice creamIce cream. One of the many favorite summer treats, wonderful on a hot summer day. But honestly, great anytime and popular with kids. Growing up in my house ice cream was a staple and often requested after dinner. So when we went dairy free, ice cream was definitely something I missed. But like any change (like when we went sugar free) it was just a matter of shifting gears and finding new recipes to meet our ice cream needs. This is when I discovered this sugar free dairy free peanut butter ice cream.

I had been promising the kids in my Mini Chefs class ice cream for a few classes and many of them kept asking when we were going to make it. In our last class of the session I thought I’d throw it in with our chocolate making, making it a bit of an extra treat. This sugar free dairy free peanut butter ice cream recipe is rich, creamy and delicious. No one would ever know that it did not contain dairy (and don’t worry if peanuts are a concern you can use WOW butter, an awesome substitute for peanut butter. Being in a peanut free facility this is what we used and no one noticed a difference in either look, taste or texture). In fact when we made it in class the kids did not question the ingredients at all. They just heard ‘ice cream’ and were ready to make it and eat it.

sugar free dairy free peanut butter ice creamThis sugar free dairy free peanut butter ice cream recipe is super easy to make with kids. Just put all the ingredients into a blender, blend and then pour into your ice cream maker. If you do not have an ice cream maker, you can take the mixture and put into a freezable container and put in the freezer until firm.

All the kids were bouncing off the walls, waiting for the ice cream to be ready. And when it was, they gobbled it up, most of them asking for some more. I was pleased to be able to finish off the class with something a little more special (and considered a treat), but also still healthy and good for them. By this point, none of them were questioning the ingredients that were going into things, and all of them were willing to try it. Which I think is the greatest success – a child who is willing to at least try it will open up their world of healthy foods and possibilities. Not only with foods, but in other areas of their life as well.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Ingredients:

1- 14 oz. can coconut milk, chilledsugar free dairy free peanut butter ice cream

¾ c. coconut sugar

½ c. natural peanut butter (or WOW butter if need peanut free option)

1 tsp. vanilla

3 tbsp. dark chocolate shavings

Prepare your ice cream maker ahead of time by freezing the canister overnight. You’ll also need a good blender to whip the ice cream mixture.

Combine chilled coconut milk and coconut sugar in blender and whip until sugar is dissolved. Add in peanut butter and vanilla. Whip until mixture is creamy and frothy.

*If it’s hot in your kitchen and the mixture is warm-ish, chill mixture before adding to ice cream maker; it will freeze better is mixture is cold.

Set your freezing canister in place and turn on ice cream maker. Pour mixture into freezing canister. Add in shaved dark chocolate.

Churn until frozen. Depending on your ice cream maker this could take 10-15 minutes or up to 30 minutes.

Make roughly 3 cups. Serve in small single scoops as it is rich.

Original recipe from Gluten Free Goddess

healthy chocolateCooking with kids really can be easy and fun. I had a great time working with these kids, gently expanding their palates and horizons. I was pleased to see how everyone progressed and to hear from parents how what they did in class was being transferred to home. Whether it be a food they now liked, making supper, or helping with clean up.

My greatest joy was the success I had with the more particular eaters, one’s who said they did not like much of anything, but by the end of our classes were not only trying everything but loving what we were making. Those kids had come a long way and really grown. It just goes to show how cooking with kids,  and letting them make their own food not only encourages them to eat it, but also to start trying and experimenting with new things.

Get Energized this Spring- With these Green Smoothie Combinations

green smoothie combinationsGreen smoothies are super good for us. Loaded with many health benefits, they are a great way to load up on antioxidants and vitamins in a delicious way that satisfies our hunger. But did you also know that green smoothies are also a great way to detoxify and eliminate toxins from our body?

I’ve been drinking green smoothies on a regular basis for a number of years now because it is an easy way to get some of those vegetables and leafy greens into my day, without chowing down on salad all the time. Not that there is anything wrong with salad, but sometimes I just don’t want it. Putting it into a smoothie makes it easy, palatable, tasty and easy to digest. The fact that it can also detox is a bonus!

green smoothie combinationsThe trick is what to include in your green smoothie in order to reap these detoxing benefits and have it taste good. Many of the best ingredients for detoxing are bitter and astringent fruits or vegetables and the wrong combination can turn out not tasting very good. I don’t know about you but I have had a few green smoothie combinations that I did not enjoy, basically gulping it down and vowing never to have that one again. I know for some people it is the green color in general that deters them, but I can get past that. For me, it needs to at least taste good or I don’t care how good it is for me, I am not drinking it.

What I have found in general is smoothie combinations are truly personal. A combination I enjoy may not be what someone else does. (I have found this to be true in my own family where I will create a smoothie that I love and the kids don’t care for it or vice versa). Because we all have differing and changing palates this is important to know and honor when creating a green smoothie combination that you like.

green smoothie combinationsWhat I discovered when I participated in a Green Smoothie Challenge recently, was an easy formula to use in creating a great, tasty detox green smoothie. A detailed combo guide and basic directions were provided and then we were encouraged to create from there. The guide included a list of different fruits, vegetables, spices and essential oils to choose from that aided in detoxifying. The challenge itself was to create as many different green smoothie combinations as you wanted over the week long challenge and share them on Facebook.

I thought this was fantastic! With this basic guide I could create smoothies that everyone liked and we’d all reap the benefits. Plus I love a challenge and I dove right in, thinking about and creating combinations that I thought would work well together. Because honestly I like variety and for some reason I had it in my head that there were only a few basic green smoothie combinations and you had to go with those. But with this, I felt like a whole new world had been opened up to me, and I was excited!

Throughout the challenge I ended up creating 3 new green smoothie combinations that I really enjoyed – and one that my daughter loves – it’s now her new favorite. Once I got the hang of it I branched out an experimented a little more than I usually would (like using dandelion greens), feeling more and more confident with each created combination.

3 Great Green Smoothie Combinations

Here are my 3 favorite green smoothie combinations that I created during the challenge

Combo #1

4-5 strawberriestropical green smoothie

3-4 leaves of black kale

1/2 – 1 tsp. vanilla

2-3 leaves of fresh basil

1/2 c. coconut water

Combo #2:

1/2 of lime

Mango

handful of spinach

2-3 leaves mint

1/2 c. water

Combo #3: (my favorite)green smoothie ingredients

1/4 of grapefruit

1/2 of orange

4-5 strawberries

3-4 leaves black kale

4-5 leaves dandelion greens

3/4 – 1 c. water

One important thing to remember when creating your detox green smoothies is to avoid adding milks and juices and stick with water or coconut water for your liquids. This is easier on your body to process and provides the most success in your detox. Give these combinations a try and let me know what you think. Or use the green smoothie combo guide and create your own coming back to share what great combinations you’ve discovered. Whether you’re detoxing or not your body will thank you.

Kids Healthy Cooking – Healthy Chocolate with Natural Sweeteners

healthy chocolateKids and chocolate. They go together well. All the memories of chocolate covered faces, whether from ice cream or pudding or just a good old fashioned chocolate bar. Yes they say too much chocolate is not good for you, but honestly there is such a thing as healthy chocolate.

A lot of the trouble with chocolate is the amount of sugar in it, but chocolate without sugar and natural sweeteners instead, is a different story. Chocolate itself is rich in antioxidants and is actually very good for us. It is the sugar that is the problem.

When I learned to make my own healthy chocolate, I was surprised at how quick and easy it was. It was so easy that I came home and made it with my oldest son, who at the time was only 6. Four simple ingredients gave us our base chocolate, and then we could create whatever we wanted. He loved it! and wanted to make more. Now my twins who are also 6, love making it as well. It is so easy to make with kids.

So when it came to our last class of Mini Chefs, making healthy chocolate was really a no brainer. I wanted a nice sweet, fun, but healthy treat, so this was perfect. In class, we made the plain chocolate and kept it in liquid form for fondue, dipping a variety of fruit into it; such as apples, oranges and bananas. All of the kids loved it! And yes ended up with chocolate faces :)

Raw Organic Chocolate

Ingredients:

Cacao butterhealthy chocolate

Cacao powder

1 vanilla bean

pure maple syrup or honey

*amounts depend on how much chocolate you want to make

Boil water in kettle. Pour boiled water into a large metal bowl, place second smaller metal bowl on top of large bowl so that it sits on top. Place cacao butter into top bowl. Cacao butter will start to melt. While cacao butter is melting slice vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the inside seeds with a spoon. Put seeds into melted cacao, it is ok if cacao butter is not completely melted yet. Stir.

*Be very careful not to get any water into your chocolate as it will not work if you do. If your second bowl sits nicely on top, this should not be an issue as you do not need to lift the second bowl off the one with the water in it until you are done making your chocolate. 

Sift cacao powder into a separate bowl. Once cacao butter is completely melted add 2-4 tablespoons of cacao powder. Taste for desired level of chocolatey-ness. If you’d like it richer add more cacao powder. Once satisfied with amount of cacao powder add natural sweetener of choice. Start with 3 teaspoons and mix. Taste, if desired level of sweetness has not been reached, add 1-2 more tablespoons and taste again. Once level of desired sweetness has been reached you have your base chocolate. This can now be kept liquid and used as a fondue, or can be poured into chocolate molds to form chocolates.

Another option at this point is to add additional ingredients such as nuts, dried fruit, coconut, etc and pour onto a cookie sheet to let set. Chocolate is best set in freezer but may also be set in fridge.healthy chocolate

I had also been promising the kids we would make ice cream for a number of classes and many of them kept asking when we were going to make it. Since it was the last class we did make peanut butter ice cream as well. Sugar free, dairy free and super easy to make with kids. Look for the peanut butter ice cream recipe in the next kids healthy cooking post.

Spring Rally in the Alley

Spring Rally in the AlleyI always love a trip to Heritage Park and this weekend was no exception. I was excited to check out Spring Rally in the Alley an event that I discovered while researching free activities for March Break. It sounded so cool and I couldn’t wait to take the kids and find out what it was all about.

Spring Rally in the Alley runs from March 18-28 and has a variety of activities for kids 3-12. The thing that I love about this is the activities are not just a random bunch of activities they have a theme that connects them! Yes I said I theme and I love a good theme. The Rally is set up around the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Race, which is a real international motorcycle race that happens annually in May or June around the Isle of Man. Apparently, it is a super popular race that lasts two weeks and people who want to participate have to register 3 years in advance!

Spring Rally in the AlleyThis made the Spring Rally in the Alley even more exciting. When you enter, you receive a Milestone Challenge list, which is a passport with all the activities listed on it. You complete the activities in random order and once completed you receive a different colored stamp. Once you complete all the activities or challenges and get your stamps, you come back to the front to receive a ballot to be entered for the Isle of Man prize basket.

Now I am a person who loves going from station to station and collecting my stamps. And what a great way to engage the kids because they wanted all the stamps too! It encourages you to go to every activity and at least check it out. And for me personally, it made me do the “Find the Ride” Scavenger Hunt where you had to answer trivia questions, which I wasn’t really in the mood to do, but I wanted that stamp!

Spring Rally in the AlleyI thought the activities were very well put together, with something of interest for everyone (even my 12 year old enjoyed the remote control cars, selfie and scavenger hunt). There were crafts, where you made your own Rider’s Wristband, Practice Run, where you get to drive a remote control car, and my favorite the Cycle Selfie, where you can dress up in leathers and sit on a 1975 Ducati 860GT for a photo!

Spring Rally in the AlleyChloe loved Racing Down the Isle, where you race a tricycle and learn a little trivia about the actual Isle of Man race. Even after she finished her trivia she kept riding around and around on her trike. We went back to the remote control cars twice as well as the Hill Climb, where you try and get your motorcycle up the hill and just on the edge, before it falls over the cliff.

The bonus to all this? Is Reflections in Chrome – A Motorcycle Retrospective, a temporary exhibit “that sheds a little light and insight on our love affair with these two-wheelers”, is also part of the package. Entrance to Spring Rally in the Alley also gains you entrance to these motorcycles! Featuring 40 bikes from the Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group. And wow, I love motorcycles, so it was super cool to see the evolution of this vehicle, as well as all the shiny new ones.

Though regular winter admission rates apply to Gasoline Alley, Spring Rally in the Alley is an event I would highly recommend for the family this weekend. Kids and adults alike will become quickly engaged and excited about what this event has to offer. And even if you don’t make it out this weekend, Reflections in Chrome goes until April 24th and is definitely worth the visit! (Where you can still have your photo op on the Ducati- because seriously that is super fun)Spring Rally in the Alley

Energy Bites – Easy Healthy Snacks for Kids

energy bitesEnergy bites are a very easy and quick snack that are not only delicious but full of nutrition. They are one of those great recipes that you can basically put anything in them that you like, and they are great to make with kids.

They are easy because you simply put all your ingredients into a bowl and mix together. You then roll them into balls and freeze them for 10 minutes. Done!

The kids in my Mini Chefs really enjoyed making these. There were lots of things to measure and put in, and no one turned up their nose at any of the ingredients. They loved it because they all got a chance to mix and roll their own ball, which was a bit of a sticky process. It didn’t matter to them, as they were really excited to try them out. Even my pickiest eater was licking her fingers after rolling her energy bite – already expressing how much she loved it. I was super pleased! (I had been working hard to find something that this child would enjoy that was really good for her) In fact, when we sat down to eat them she had 3. Yes! Success.

energy bitesNow the original recipe calls for peanut butter, but being in a peanut-free facility we used WOW butter, made from non-GMO soy and allergen free (dairy, gluten, egg) it is a great alternative if needed. It does contain sugar, so not so great if you are avoiding added sugars as well. I can vouch that it tastes just like peanut butter and the kids in the class had no idea whatsoever. It looked and tasted the same to them.

Energy bites are a perfect easy on the go snack, as you can make up a batch ahead of time and just grab them when you need that extra boost. There are also many variations on these balls, you can even create your own adding in or removing whatever you like. Things such as raisins, dried fruit, nuts, cacao powder are just a few of the things you could add in. Once you have the basic recipe that sticks together the options are endless.

Energy Bites

1 c. dry oatmealenergy bites

2/3 c. shredded coconut

½ c. peanut butter (WOW butter is a great non-nut option)

½ c. ground flax seed

½ c. cacao nibs

1/3 c. honey

1 tbsp. chia seeds

1 tsp. vanilla

Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Once thoroughly mixed take approx. 1 teaspoon and roll into a ball – dough will be sticky. Place ball onto a cookie sheet. Continue rolling until all dough has been used. Place balls into freezer for 10 minutes or until firm. Take out and enjoy!

Once frozen balls can be stored in an airtight container and are great quick grab and go snacks.

Makes 20-25 balls

Next week our last class and it’s a good one! We make chocolate and peanut butter ice cream…

Break Free – Free March Break Activities for Kids in Calgary

free march break activitiesI always look forward to the March Break with my kids. It is a time of no alarms, no deadlines, and no rushing to be anywhere. It is a nice break from the regular routine, providing some opportunity for time around home as well as doing some fun activities.

For me, the March Break should be just that, a break. Not a week of jam packed activities that are supposed to be ‘fun’ that leave everyone more tired than when we began. I like to balance out the week and do a couple of unique activities we wouldn’t normally do with the rest of the week, more going with the flow and doing what we feel like.

Living in Calgary, there is no shortage of activities and places to go for kids. We have the zoo, the science center and a multitude of museums, which are all fantastic places to go, but I was on the hunt for places and activities that we could do for free. Because I also believe that March Break should not also leave you broke at the end of it.

I had to hunt a little bit, doing a little research and piece some things together but I finally compiled a list of 10 free march break activities in Calgary. And I have to say some of them are quite unique (and I did not know existed).

10 Free March Break Activities in Calgary

Chapters/ Indigo

Chapters and Indigo stores are offering free spring break activities for kids ages 3-12 years old. From March 21-25 each day has a different theme to explore such as Lego and Superheros. Call your local Chapters/ Indigo store early to reserve your spot as space is limited.

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

free march break activitiesThe Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Nature Center is 36 hectares of nature trails and home to 270 species of birds. It is a beautiful place to take the kids, explore the trails, spot birds of all kinds, and visit the nature center; complete with interpretive exhibits and information about local wildlife. Open Tues-Fri from 10 am – 4 pm.

Devonian Gardens

The Devonian Gardens is a large indoor park and botanical garden located in the downtown core of Calgary. This 1 hectare area contains 550 species of tropical palm trees along meandering walkways, children’s playground, water fountains, ponds teeming with fish and a “living wall.” Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the gardens, or sit on one of the many benches while watching the children play at the park.

Geocaching

Geocaching is a unique way to explore the city. Grab your phone and download the app at geocaching.com and go on your own treasure hunt. Using GPS, find other people’s caches hidden around the city. Bring a pocket of trinkets as when you find the cache you are to leave a token behind. Great places to try geocaching are 12 Mile Coulee, Noseworthy Park, and Fish Creek Park to name a few, but you may find some much closer to your home as well.free march break activities

Disc Golf

Disc golf, also known as frisbee golf, is a flying disc game where the aim is to get the frisbee into the wire basket in as few throws as possible. An outdoor activity, disc golf courses are available in several City of Calgary Parks (click here for list of parks).

Calgary Parks

There are lots of beautiful parks here in our city, such as Bowness, South Glenmore, Edworthy and Prairie Winds. All offer their unique history and flora to enjoy. Pack a picnic, go exploring or just stop at one of the many playgrounds.

ROAR Playpark

free march break activitiesLocated on the lower level of South Center mall, next to SportChek, is the ROAR Playpark. This free, unsupervised play space was created in partnership with the Calgary Zoo and has a zoo theme with lots of interactive components. There is a crawl-through tunnel, slide and climb-on creatures, iPad game stations, beautiful wall murals, and interactive educational sliding panels. This is a great spot to take the kids for imaginative play and a well deserved break for you, while you watch them unwind.

Chinese Cultural Center

Learn about the history of the Chinese community in Calgary as well as tour the Chinese Artifacts Museum. Entrance to the cultural center is free but for the museum and special events there is a small fee.

Calgary Public Library

The Calgary Public Library is always a great place to go with the kids. Not only do they have a plethora of books that kids can spend hours with, they also offer various programs, activities as well as free play areas. The Fish Creek Library boasts a giant chess game, as well as an interactive play area for kids on the upper level.

+15 Art Circuit

The +15 Art Circuit, presented by the City of Calgary Public Art Program, introduces you to 14 interesting pieces from the Civic Art Collection. Easily accessible through the +15 system, this free, self-guided tour is primarily indoors with just a few quick trips outside. You can download the free pdf guide to complete the circuit including map and descriptions of the pieces. This Art Circuit is one of the activities I was most excited to discover and can’t wait to do the tour. How unique!

I was very pleased with the number of free march break activities in Calgary. With a nice mix of indoor and outdoor, arts and active to choose from there certainly is something that everyone can enjoy. I can’t wait to explore a couple of these this week! (though I would love to do them all, it’s a break remember?) Which ones are you going to check out?