Tag Archives: kitchen fun

iPhoneography // Eating my Words

PhotoPhotoPhotoLong ago during my university days, I nannied for a family that had taught their son to open pistachio nuts by placing them inside a towel and smashing them with a hammer.  I must admit that at the time I thought it was a little crazy… The danger! The noise! The mess!  Oy.

But take a look at what took place in our kitchen this morning…  Yes, I’m totally eating my words, and yes, I taught my daughter how to smash open peanut shells using a giant, heavy hammer.  While I thought it was slightly insane years ago, now I think it’s sort of brilliant.  Not only is it fun, but it encourages both hand-eye coordination, motor skill development, and independence too!  

Gracen had an absolute blast with it, and for me, that makes eating my words plenty worth it. ☺


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Nutrient-Packed Cookie Dough Boys

Nutrient Packed Cookie Dough Boys | Mama Papa BubbaThe other night, I had the absolute pleasure of joining several other Vancouver mom bloggers at Whole Foods for evening with Aspen Clean, a local eco-friendly cleaner and cleaning company.  While there, Whole Foods totally spoiled us with delicious green smoothies, all kinds of yummy nutrient-packed salads, and the yummiest ever {vegan, gluten-free} cookie dough balls.  Our healthy eating specialist, Sarah, made them while we watched, and not only were they quick and easy to whip up, but the giant bowl full disappeared in a matter of minutes – a sure sign of their deliciousness. As soon as I tasted {my first} one, I knew that Grae would just love them.  So today, we got our ingredients and whipped up a batch.  My suspicions were right – Grae did  love them.

IMG 9442Here’s our lineup of ingredients….  Pecans, dates {soaked in water}, coconut, raisins, sea salt, cinnamon, coconut oil, and vanilla.  Now, I have to say that the original recipe includes coconut manna (also known as coconut butter) and not coconut oil…  In fact, our healthy eating specialist explained that coconut oil is just the fat squeezed out of the coconut meat, while coconut manna is the coconut meat and fat combined, making it much more nutrient-rich.  The trouble is, our local grocery store doesn’t carry coconut manna, so we had to improvise.  While maybe not as healthy, the recipe still turned out great!

IMG 9445Anyways, onto actually making the cookie dough boys!  First up, we drained {almost all of} the water our dates had been soaking in and blended them in our food processor.  (Word to the wise, be sure your dates don’t still have the pits in them before blending. Oy.)

IMG 9447We processed them until nearly smooth, but not perfectly pureed.  Because it was such a small batch, it did take several rounds of stopping the machine, scraping down the sides, and then doing it again, but that just meant more jobs for my little helper, which she of course loved.

IMG 9449With the date paste saved in a separate bowl for later, Miss G added our coconut and pecans to the food processor.  Call us lazy, but we didn’t even wash out the processor bowl in between as it seemed like sort of an unnecessary step.

IMG 9453Then we pureed the coconut and pecans until they were meal-like.

IMG 9454Next up, Grae dumped all of the other ingredients (save the raisins) into the food processor with the coconut/pecan mixture.

IMG 9455Then we processed it all until it started to come together in a mass.

IMG 9459Here’s what it looked like when done.

IMG 9469The last step was to mix the raisins in by hand.

IMG 9476With our dough complete, we rolled it into balls using about a tablespoon of the mixture at a time.

IMG 9460And because Miss G is no longer a huge fan of raisins, before mixing them in, we set aside a part of the mixture.  To set Grae’s balls apart from the other, she rolled them in coconut, which was a lovely addition.

IMG 9466The verdict?  Delicious!  They’re sweet and satisfying just like a good dessert, but come sans all of the sugar and fat regular desserts have.  A definite success!

{Nutrient-packed} Cookie Dough Boys

(*this is a Health Starts Here recipe from Whole Foods)

  • 1/4 cup of date paste (we used 5 large majool dates)
  • 2 cups of pecans
  • 1 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut manna (or as we used, 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • dash of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup of raisins

Soak the dates in room temperature water for an hour (you can cut down soaking time by using hot water), drain off almost all of the water, and purée the fruit until fairly smooth.  Set aside.

Blend pecans and coconut flakes in a food processor until meal-like.  Add all other ingredients, save the raisins.  Process until the mixture starts coming together in a large mass.

Dump dough into a large bowl and incorporate raisins by hand.  Taking 1 tablespoon scoops, roll the dough to create balls.  Roll in coconut or crushed nuts if desired.

Eat, refrigerate, or freeze.



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Healthier Peanut Butter Oat Cookies

Healthier Peanut Butter Oat CookiesGracen and I have experimented with making many different versions of healthier peanut butter cookies – cream cheese ones, two ingredient ones, banana-based ones – but sadly, none have ever turned out really well.   Late this afternoon, however, when she randomly declared that “We should make cookies! Yummy no sugar ones that Gracen can have – YEAAAAAAAAH!”,  we came up with our first batch that actually taste like real peanut butter cookies.  Only they’re much healthier. ☺  Here’s our new go-to peanut butter cookie recipe…

Healthier Peanut Butter Oat Cookies (based off of this recipe by Weelicious)

  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons of good honey
  • 1 cup of all-natural peanut butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups of wholewheat flour
  • 1 cup of old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Using a mixer, cream the coconut oil and honey together until smooth.  Add the peanut butter, egg, maple syrup, and vanilla and mix again until smooth.  

Add all of the dry ingredients to a separate bowl and whisk to combine.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix just until combined.  Scoop out 1 tablespoon balls of dough and flatten with a floured fork. (For an additional nutrition boost, you could roll the balls in chia seeds or hemp hearts before flattening.)

Bake for 9 or 10 minutes, then cool and serve.


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Make Your Own Pizza Station

Over the course of the last week or so, the one thing Gracen can’t stop talking about is ‘when she gets bigger’.  So far, she’s told me she’s excited to get bigger so she can cross the road by herself, ‘work at a job’, walk in parking lots alone, drive a car, and go to university (Eesh…slow down, baby girl).  Part of me wants to curl up and cry, and the other part is incredibly proud that she desires such independence and self-sufficiency at 2.75 years old.

Making Your Own Pizza Lunch Station | Mama Papa BubbaWhile I’m not ready to hand over the car keys or let her navigate her way across a busy road just yet, I am ready {and more than happy} to let her put together some of her own meals. Given the proper set up, it’s something she’s totally capable of and she’s so, so, sooo proud after having done so.  A couple of days ago, she created her own breakfast banana split, and today she assembled her own quick and easy pizza lunch.

To make is super simple, we skipped pizza dough all together and used wholewheat Middle Eastern flatbreads instead.  These work perfectly, but wholewheat tortilla shells, pitas, and even bagels (cut in half of course) are great too.  Together, we cut up a bunch of stuff we had in the fridge (grilled chicken, red and yellow peppers, zucchini, and mango) and I set it all out, along with some grated fresh mozzarella and pesto, in a little pizza making station for my girl.

IMG 8347We’ve done this many times now, and what I’ve learned is that it’s best to let her create her pizza masterpiece directly on the parchment-lined baking sheet we’ll use to bake the pizzas.  After that, I kind of just let her go.  I’m a big fan of not directing our activities all that much (well except when it comes to safety, I guess), and really, it doesn’t matter which order the toppings go on in all that much.  The finished product will undoubtedly be delicious no matter what.  

IMG 8349That being said, we’ve made our favourite from scratch pizza together so many times in the past, she pretty much sticks to the sauce, cheese, toppings order.  And when this girl does toppings, she does toppings!

IMG 8351Here’s her mini pizza, ready for the oven.  I cook ours for about 5 to 8 minutes at 350 degrees, then crank up the temperature and broil them for just a minute at the end.

IMG 8354I can’t even explain how proud Miss G is after creating her meal on her own… She exudes pride.  And my personal opinion is that when kids take part in creating food, they are much more likely to eat it.

IMG 8355The verdict?  A total hit.  A pizza assembling station is always a hit in our house. 


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Sharp Knife Practice

Sharp Knife Cutting Practice | Mama Papa BubbaI’m well aware that many people may think I’m crazy, but recently, I’ve been helping Gracen learn how to safely use sharp knives while cooking.  She’s been helping in the kitchen since shortly after her first birthday, and is becoming an expert pourer, mixer, peeler, and grater, so this felt like a natural next step.  I fully subscribe to the notion that children, even wee ones, are very capable little human beings… More so than we often give them credit for.  So, given her kitchen experience, her ability to follow instructions, and her generally cautious nature, I felt like she was ready.  Plus, I sort of feel that being handed a cucumber to cut and a butter knife to do the job must feel a little insulting.  

IMG 9761Wouldn’t you trust this innocent little face? ☺

IMG 9762When she’s practicing her cutting skills, I like to give Grae my favourite tomato knife.  It’s quite sharp, but it doesn’t have a pointed tip and it doesn’t seem to easily puncture the skin – perhaps because it’s serrated?   I also make sure to give her soft foods that have at least one flat side (no rolling) and are long and thinnish (more space for holding).

IMG 9763So far, we’ve been focusing on holding the food at the far end and really being aware of where the knife is in relation to her little fingers.

IMG 9767This morning, while we were at the grocery store, I let Grae pick out what she wanted to cut.  First on her list was cantaloupe.

IMG 9769She also selected a dragon fruit and a couple of kiwi fruits…

IMG 9777Perfect for a fruit salad!  Overall, she’s doing really well with it.  I still always stay close to her and monitor her chopping carefully, and I did ask her to slow down a little bit today, but for the most part, she can safely use a sharp knife on her own.

IMG 9778The best part is how proud she is of herself.  Chopping up all the fruit for a big bowl of fruit salad while using a sharp knife = official big girl status.  


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{Healthy} Tropical Fruit Popsicles

Healthy Tropical Fruit Popsicles | Mama Papa BubbaWith 1/2 a crate of mango in the fridge and our supply of banana fudgesicles and avocado kiwi pops dwindling after last week’s burst of hot weather, Gracen I set out to make a yummy new batch of popsicles this afternoon. And yummy they are! The combination of mango, pineapple, coconut, and lime makes them taste just like something you’d sip on vacation while sunning on a gorgeous beach… Delicious!

IMG 9668Here’s our lineup of ingredients… Pineapple chunks (we used frozen because it’s what we had on hand, but fresh would be even better), mango chunks, a lime, one ripe banana, coconut milk, and Grae’s addition – unsweetened shredded coconut.

Juicing LimeWe began by juicing our lime and threw both the juice and the pulp into our food processor…

IMG 9676Along with everything else, except the shredded coconut.

IMG 9681Then we blended everything up until completely smooth while this little monkey gave our food processor some love.

IMG 9683Next, we added the shredded coconut and gave the mixture just a couple of pulses to mix it in.  At this point, we had a little taste test and decided to add in a teaspoon of good honey because our mango was very tart (totally optional, of course).

IMG 9686Now while it does mean dirtying another dish, I always like to pour our popsicle mixture into a large measuring cup before filling the moulds.  It’s so much easier and quicker than clumsy me attempting to pour straight from the food processor.  Of course, if you use a blender, this won’t be an issue.

IMG 9691After I fill the moulds, Miss G’s job is to place a ‘stick’ in each one.  When she was done, she desperately wanted a popsicle to eat (particularly, “the green and blue one on the riiiiiight”) .

IMG 9687Luckily, the disappointment that came with me telling her they’d need to sit in the freezer for several hours first was kicked to the curb with the offer of drinking up the leftover mixture, smoothie style.

IMG 9781Healthy Tropical Fruit Popsicles

  • 3 small mangos
  • 1 cup of pineapple
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • juice and pulp from 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons of unsweetened shredded coconut
  • honey (optional)

Juice lime and add both the juice and pulp to a food processor or blender.  Blend until smooth.  Add the shredded coconut and pulse just long enough to mix it in.  Taste your mixture and add a small amount of honey if desired. Pour into moulds and freeze for several hours.



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Healthier Mini Mason Jar {Birthday} Cheesecakes

Healthier Mini Mason Jar Cheesecakes | Mama Papa BubbaYesterday, when I told Gracen that we’d be celebrating Papa’s birthday soon, the first thing she said was, “We need to make a cake!”  Then she went on about painting him party hats and getting 3 pink gifts, but I digress.  Originally, I was thinking about doing two cakes.  Something delicious and wildly unhealthy from Pioneer Woman for Brad, and something wholesome, wholewheat, and sugar/butter-free for Miss G to enjoy.  Buuuuut, when I thought about doing a cheesecake for Brad (one of his favourites), I realized that I could probably do a modified version that would suit everyone’s needs since cheesecake is mostly just cream cheese. My main obstacle was coming up with a yummy crust without using the usual graham wafer/sugar/butter combo, but I played around a little bit  and I’m happy to report and it turned out really well.

As for the cheesecake itself, I wasn’t sure about it at first.  It tasted good fresh out of the oven, but it was light and bubbly instead of thick and dense the way proper cheesecake is supposed to be.  In the words of my husband, it tasted “healthyish”.  I had come to terms with the fact that I’d have to do some recipe revamping in the future, until we tasted it again tonight.  After sitting in the refrigerator overnight, it had densed up significantly and was actually really good!  Good enough to make again, that’s for sure.

IMG 8983Here’s the lineup of ingredients my little sous chef and I used to make our mini mason jar cheesecakes…  Sour cream, cream cheese, lemon zest, pure maple syrup, pure vanilla, almonds, an egg, and coconut.  Plus the mini mason jars themselves, of course.  5 of these little jelly jars works perfectly with this recipe.

Crust makingTo make our crust, we added some coconut, some raw almonds, a little bit of pure maple syrup, and a little bit of pure vanilla into our food processor and blended until it was thick and sticky.

CrustThen we scooped the crust mixture evenly into our 5 jars, and Miss G used a cork to flatten them out.

IMG 9007IMG 9010This was the end result.

CheesecakeWith our crusts ready to go, we switched our focus over to the actual cheesecake part.  First, we added our room temperature cream cheese and egg into our mixer and beat until smooth.  

IMG 9023Next we added our sour cream, pure maple syrup, pure vanilla, and lemon zest, and mixed again.

IMG 9029Baking is ridiculously fun, wouldn’t you agree?

IMG 9033IMG 9037With our cheesecake filling prepared, we poured the mixture evenly into our 5 mason jars.

IMG 9052Then we placed them into a high-walled baking dish, filled it halfway up the jars with hot water, and baked the entire thing.

IMG 9066When they’d finished baking, I topped the ones for Gracen and I with stewed blueberries…

IMG 9058And the birthday boy’s with deliciously naughty Nutella.  Of course the options are endless really…  Fresh berries, shredded coconut, sliced bananas, or mini dark chocolate chips would all make yummy toppings too.  

The biggest perks to these little desserts is that they already come in a storage container, they’re super easy to hand out at parties, and they tuck easily into picnic baskets and backpacks for a treat on the go.

Healthier Mini Mason Jar Cheesecakes

{adapted from this recipe}

  • 5 4 oz. mason jars
  • 1/3 cup of raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup of unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 250 grams of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup of sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2.5 tablespoons of pure maple syrup

Blend almonds, coconut, maple syrup, and vanilla in a food processor until thick and paste-like.  Divide the mixture equally into 5 mini mason jars and use a cork to create a flat, even crust.

In a mixer, combine the cream cheese and egg until smooth.  Add in the sour cream, vanilla, lemon zest, and pure maple syrup and mix again.  

Pour the cream cheese mixture evenly into the 5 mason jars.  Place the jars in a high-walled baking dish, fill it with water until halfway up the jars, and bake for 30 minutes at 325 degrees.

Allow to cool on the counter.  Top with toppings of your choice before or after refrigerating overnight.



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Healthier Banana Fudgesicles

Healthier Banana Fudgesicles | Mama Papa BubbaThe other night, Brad went out for Saturday night movie treats after G was in bed.  I requested a fudgesicle, and he came home with a box of 18.  Oy. Several fudgesicles into the box, I decided we’d better come up with a healthier version, stat.

IMG 8717Here’s our line up of ingredients…  Frozen banana chunks, cocoa powder, pure maple syrup, and  pure vanilla.  Plus a popsicle mould of course.

One ingredient ice creamIMG 8724To get started, we basically turned out frozen bananas into one ingredient ice cream by adding small batches into our food processor at a time, blending them into a thick soft serve texture. 

IMG 8726IMG 8728Next, we added some cocoa, a little bit of pure maple syrup, and a little bit of pure vanilla, and blended everything up again to create thick, chocolatey soft serve.

IMG 8731And that’s it.  We simply scooped the soft serve into our popsicle moulds and popped them in the freezer overnight.  

IMG 8931This was the end result.  Thick chocolatey banana pops that are bound to satisfy a sweet tooth or chocolate craving.

IMG 8941What does Miss G think? Well, after finishing her first one, she turned to see mine still almost whole, and said, “Mine’s a little bit almost all gone, Mama, so I want to trade wif you.” as if she was doing me a favour – hah!  Thanks for thinking of your mama, Miss G.

Healthier Banana Fudgesicles

  • 3 medium bananas, frozen
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of pure maple syrup (truly optional – they’d be sweet enough without)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla

Blend bananas in a food processor until they reach a thick soft serve consistency.  Add in the cocoa, maple syrup, and vanilla and blend again.  Scoop mixture into popsicle moulds and freeze overnight.



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Healthier Chocolatey {Kamut} Puff Squares

Healthier Chocolate Kamut Puff Squares | Mama Papa BubbaNow that Miss G is a little bit older, we’ve definitely loosened up a little in terms of what she eats.  While ‘treats’ in the past may have included roasted chickpeas, kale chips, or popsicles made with almost strictly mango and yogurt (all things that pack a pretty decent nutritional punch), nowadays, some ‘treats’ are simply treats… Things that are yummy and not oozing in nutritional value.  That being said, we do try to keep them on the healthy side, using whole, organic ingredients whenever possible. 

After fairly successfully creating a yummy and healthier crispy rice treat recipe, I decided we would try to redo another classic children’s treat… Chocolate puffed wheat squares.  It took a little bit of experimenting, but I think we found a pretty awesome alternate recipe.  Here’s how we made them…

IMG 8609First, the lineup of ingredients…  Coconut oil, unsweetened cocoa powder, kamut puffs, pure vanilla, pure maple syrup, brown rice syrup, and cashew butter.

IMG 8611To start off, we added our coconut oil, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, and cashew butter to a large pot.

IMG 8615Of course finding a spoon licking volunteer wasn’t hard. 

IMG 8616Then Miss G measured out the kamut puffs into a large bowl…

IMG 8619While I stirred the wet ingredients over at the stove. Just as it started to form slow bubbles, I turned off the heat, added the vanilla, and gave it another quick stir.

IMG 8621Then we poured the wet mixture into the kamut puff bowl and Miss G mixed everything up well.

IMG 8625When it was mixed well, we poured the mixture out onto a parchment-line baking pan (my smaller one was already in use and this one was too big so we only used half of it) and used slightly wet hands to press everything down firmly.

IMG 8634After about 30 minutes in the fridge, we took our chocolately dessert out of the pan and cut it into squares.

IMG 8649The verdict?  Gracen LOVED them (as did I).  When I asked her how they were, her response was, “So, so, sooooooooo yummy!”

IMG 8637The other way I know they are decent?  When I left for a 30 minute run around the neighbourhood, there were 10 squares sitting on parchment paper on the butcher block.  When I got home?  3 and some crumbs – THREE! (Proof is in my Instagram feed – mamapapabububa).  Apparently they are husband approved also.

Healthier Chocolately {Kamut} Puff Squares

  • 1/2 cup of organic brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 cup of cashew butter
  • 1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla
  • 4 1/2  cups of kamut puffs

Measure the brown rice syrup, cashew butter, maple syrup, cocoa, and coconut oil into a large pot.  Warm over medium heat, stirring almost constantly.  When the mixture is hot and just about to bubble, turn off the heat, add the vanilla, and give it another quick stir. 

Add in the kamut puffs and mix well to ensure the cereal is evenly coated with the sticky mixture.  

Dump the mixture into a parchment-lined baking pan or scoop into a greased muffin cups and press it down firmly.  Pop the pan into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to allow the treats to set.

Cut and enjoy!


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Apple Crumble Dessert Popcorn

Apple Crumble Dessert Popcorn | Mama Papa BubbaOh my goodness.  After our morning cooking class at Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. where the lovely Suz shared more of her secrets, Gracen and I whipped up a batch of this sweet, satisfying popcorn treat.  It’s ridiculously delicious.  

IMG 8561Here’s the line-up of ingredients…  Pure maple syrup, coconut oil, dried apples (we dehydrated our own, but you can just as easily buy unsweetened, unsulphered ones at the store), popping corn, cinnamon, and sliced raw almonds (not pictured because ours were toasting in the oven).

IMG 8564To start off, we added our coconut oil, popping corn, and cinnamon into a pot (thanks to my lovely friend Tairalyn who reminded me that putting seasonings directly in the pot is a brilliant idea).  We have this fancy popcorn popping pot (which we adore!), but any decent quality pot will do.  Warm your oil, popcorn seeds, and cinnamon over medium heat until the seeds start popping.  Shake the pot back and forth over the element almost constantly once the popping begins.

IMG 8567When the popping has finished, we had a delicious, slightly coconut-y popcorn, evenly coated in warm cinnamon.

ApplesNext, we chopped up our apples, put them in a bowl, and drizzled our maple syrup on top.  

MixingThen my freshly bathed sous chef dumped the mixture on the popcorn and mixed it all up with her hands.

IMG 8580The last step was sprinkling the generously toasted almonds on top and giving the popcorn one final mix.  

IMG 8593Depending on how much will power you have, you can either eat it immediately, or lay it out on a baking sheet and let it lose some of its stickiness for a few minutes – both ways are delicious (though we definitely know how the ‘served immediately’ kind tastes like better than the ‘wait’ kind).

IMG 8584When I asked Grae what she thought of it, she replied with “Nummy!”, “Sweet!”, and “Delicious!” in between ‘mmmmmmmm’ sounds.  My guess is that she liked it every bit as much as I did.


Apple Crumble Dessert Popcorn (inspired by Suz of Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company)

  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup of popcorn seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 cup of unsweetened, unsulphered dried apples
  • 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup of raw sliced almonds, toasted until golden brown

Toast sliced almonds in an oven set at 200 degrees.

Put coconut oil, popcorn seeds, and cinnamon into a large, heavy pot and pop over medium heat.

Roughly chop dried apples and drizzle the maple syrup on top.  Dump the apple/syrup mixture on top of the popcorn and mix well by hand.  Sprinkle toasted almonds on top and mix again.

Serve immediately or let sit on a baking sheet for 5 – 10 minutes before serving.



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