At the beginning of June, I had my company retreat. (That’s only 2 months ago… I’m doing well!) The second day we had “team building” activities and I chose to go caving.
At the beginning, I was wondering what the heck I had gotten myself into.
It was dark. We had to clip into a rope. It was a bit slippery.
It was only until I successfully went through the first practise “squeeze” that I started to enjoy myself. It’s funny how doing something successfully boosts your confidence enough to give you the boost to continue on and enjoy yourself!
It was kind of crazy going through the “big squeeze”, where you had to riggle through a tiny hole that the helmet barely fit through, pushing yourself a few inches at a time with your feet and hands.
It ended up being really awesome – slithering through holes, climbing up and down rocks to get between “rooms” and generally getting very dirty. Totally worth it!
At the end of our adventure, we went to the Grotto. So pretty!
Soda straws from the ceiling
After a while we all turned off our headlamps and it was dark. I know I shouldn’t be surprised at that, but even when you’re in a dark room at night, there’s still a little light that your eyes can adjust to. Nope. Obviously not in a cave.
The happiest thing was this mushroom growing.
All clean at the beginning…
All dirty at the end!
Have you ever done something that pushed your comfort levels but ended up enjoying it?
For July’s Secret Recipe Club, I was paired with Emily of Life on Food. Emily moved around the States a lot growing up, she even spent a semester in Paris (lucky!) and now spends her time looking at buildings (slightly jealous – part of me has always wanted to do things related to architecture). She love cooking from scratch and experiencing life with her Husband, who loves to help her. Lucky girl! :)
I had a bag of peaches that I bought at the farmer’s market this week that I needed to use up. I looked at Emily’s delicious peach recipes: Peach Mango Lassi, Peach and Blackberry Crisp, and Peach and Blueberry Buckle. In the end, I chose the buckle as it looked amazing and is the easiest to send along with Mr. Bean to work.
I made a few changes, like making it gluten free and using less sugar. I meant to make it vegan, but I couldn’t find coconut yoghurt at the store and didn’t have time to go to the health food store, so I said “what the heck” and used goat yoghurt and an egg. I used some almond flour to add some protein to offset some of the sugar, so it totally makes this a legit breakfast. :)
Gluten and Refined Sugar Free Peach Blueberry Buckle (with Vegan Option)
1/2 c. tapioca starch
1/4 c. potato starch
1/3 c. each almond, rice and millet flour
1 tsp. xanthan gum
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. dairy free margarine
1/2 c. coconut palm sugar (heaping)
1 egg or egg replacer
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 c. yoghurt (I used goat, for vegan use coconut)
4 peaches, cut into 8 slices
1 pint of blueberries
1/2 c. sliced almonds
- Preheat oven and line an 8 x 8″ pan with parchment paper
- Whisk together all the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer, beat the margarine and sugar together until fluffy (2 – 3 min). Add the egg, vanilla and apple cider vinegar and beat until combined.
- With the mixer on low, add half the flour, then the yoghurt and the remainder of flour, mixing well between additions.
- Fold in the sliced peaches and blueberries. Scrape into your prepared pan and smooth out.
- Sprinkle the sliced almond over the batter.
- Bake for 50 – 60 minutes, or until multiple toothpicks come out clean.
- Cool slightly before serving.
- Enjoy with or without (coconut) ice cream!
Please check out Group D’s recipes below!
There was a guy like this who captured exactly how I feel when I’m skiing. No pictures allowed unfortunately.
How did almost two months pass so quickly? You mean this trip wasn’t just yesterday? Oh man. I guess I’ve been busy! :) Thankfully, there are lots of good memories and pictures from it to remember the fun!
Also, good company! When I’m with my sister, we have fun:
We saw some really happy things – like this ecobus!
And the pink pi house:
This wasn’t so much fun, but was quite the accomplishment – there is a flight of stairs from the river level to the Plains of Abraham – this view is only about half way up.
We had dinner at the La Saute Lapin – “The Jumping Rabbit” and it was really well decorated. Really great food as well – very gluten free friendly! I don’t think I’ve eaten that much bread in a single day for a really long time…
Started with a Green Salad with GF Croutons
Cassoulet with Rabbit Leg pour Moi
Duck Poutine for Mr. Bean
Charcuterie Board for the Sister complete with GF bread
What’s your favourite memory from a recent trip?
For June’s Secret Recipe Club, I was paired with Nicole of I am a Honey Bee. Nicole is also a lover of Boston Terriers, beaches, and food! She recently had her daughter, Autumn, and she is so cute! Nicole also goes on lots of adventures and eats tons of delicious looking food – yum! On top of that, she has tons of delicious recipes on her blog, including these s’mores campfire banana splits, a legitamite Horiatiki salad, and sauteed green beans with lemon and almonds. After much humming and hawing, I ended up choosing her Watermelon Tomato Feta Salad, which is perfect for summer – especially since we’re actually starting to have nicer weather around here!
I didn’t change anything except the dressing – I’m not a huge dressing person, so I cut it back to 1/4 c. liquid total and added the lime zest.
It turned out really well! The flavours worked together quite well and both Mr. Bean and I went back for seconds! (He even tried to eat the one I was photographing before I was done with it!)
Watermelon Tomato Feta Salad
3/4 of 1 small watermelon, 1″ diced
1 english cucumber, diced
1 lb cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small block of feta, crumbled
Finely sliced red onion, to taste (I used about a quarter of a small one)
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and Pepper to Taste
- Toss together all the ingredients.
- Squeeze lime juice into a glass 1 c. measuring cup. Add enough olive oil to measure 1/4 c. Add zest, salt and pepper and whisk to combine.
- Pour dressing over salad, toss lightly to coat and serve immediately.
Please check out the rest of Group D’s recipes below:
For May’s Secret Recipe Club, I was paired with Erin of The Spiffy Cookie! She literally has the cutest little cookie figure – especially the one that has its eyes closed! Erin is definitely a smart cookie – she has a PhD in Microbiology! Plus, she thinks chocolate and peanut butter is the best combination ever!
She even has a whole list of gluten free recipes! I’m happy to know that I’m not the only person who struggles to get up more than 30 minutes before I need to get out the door! She has so many delicious looking recipes like these Avocado Brownies, Raspberry Mango Margarita Pie, Banana Foster Muffins and these Cinnamon Apple Quinoa Parfaits.
In the end, I chose her Peanut Butter Apple Raisin Bars. I made them gluten free, vegan and reduced the sugar in half. Even then, I found them to be quite sweet, although the glaze is good as it adds extra moisture.
They were delicious! The best part were the apples, especially since they got drenched in the glaze. Yum! I sent them along with Mr. Bean to work and his coworkers loved them! They didn’t last very long!
Gluten Free Vegan Peanut Butter Apple Raisin Bars
1/2 c. each brown rice, sorghum and millet flours *(if you don’t have one of these flours, just use more of what you have)
1/2 c. each tapioca and potato starch
1 1/4 tsp. xathan gum
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp raisins, finely diced
1/2 c. dairy free margarine (use soy free buttery spread to make soy free)
1 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. peanut butter (I used Adams all natural crunchy)
2 eggs or egg replacers (1 tbsp. powder + 1/4 c. almond or other dairy free milk)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1+ c. finely diced apples
Almond Milk (I used 4 tbsp as my peanut butter was really quite hard
2 tbsp. peanut butter
2 tbsp. almond milk (my peanut butter was fairly hard, so I added an extra tablespoon of milk)
1 c. sifted icing sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Line a 13″ x 9″ pan with parchment paper (I used a 15″ x 10″ cookie sheet).
- In a small sauce pan, melt maragarine and sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and add the peanut butter, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool.
- Shift the flours and whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Stir in the diced raisins. Set aside.
- Add eggs one at a time to the peanut butter mixture, stirring until combined. Mix in the vanilla extract.
- Pour peanut butter mixture into the dry ingredients, add the apples and stir until combined. Add extra milk if necessary to make the batter more easily spreadable.
- Transfer batter onto prepared pan and spread the batter into the corners.
- Bake in oven for ~20 min for a 15″ x 10″ cookie sheet or ~30min for a 13″ x 9″ pan. The bars should be slightly golden on top and edges are slightly brown.
- Remove and place on a rack to cook.
- As the bars cool, prepare the the glaze by whisking together the icing sugar, peanut butter, almond milk and vanilla extract. Add more milk/sugar to get it to the correct consistency for drizzling.
- Drizzle the glaze over the bars and cut into squares.
Please check out the rest of Group D’s recipes by clicking the link below!