Wacky Cake: The Easiest Chocolate Cake You'll Ever Make

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Wacky Cake is seriously the easiest chocolate cake you’ll ever make. I discovered it last year when my mom made it for my daughter. My mom got the recipe from my aunt… meanwhile, a close friend says she’s been making it for years. I cannot believe I did not know about this recipe before then! I am telling you - this chocolate cake is not only simple to make it is delicious!

According to Wikipedia, Wacky Cake may have been created as the result of rationing during World War II, when milk and eggs were scarce. “The cake is considered a popular delicacy at bake sales in numerous rural regions of the United States.” Given how simple it is to make and how delicious it is - I can see why!

Wacky Cake Recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Celsius

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 3 tbsp cocoa

  • 1 cup of white sugar

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a 9x9 pan. Once they are mixed, make three wells and then pour in:

Wacky Cake: The Easiest Chocolate Cake You'll Ever Make

Wacky Cake: The Easiest Chocolate Cake You'll Ever Make

  • 1 tbsp vinegar (into one well)

  • 1 tsp vanilla (into the other)

  • 5 tbsp oil (into the third well, don’t worry if it spills over)

Pour 1 cup of water over everything and then mix together with a fork. Once well mixed, pour 1 cup of chocolate chips over the batter (you can also add chopped pecans, if desired).

Bake for 30 minutes.

Mixing up the Wacky Cake: The Easiest Chocolate Cake You'll Ever Make

When the cake comes out of the oven take a knife and spread the melted chocolate chips over the top of the cake as though it is icing… and you’re done! Alternatively, you can omit the chocolate chips and sprinkle icing sugar over the top or use buttercream icing. This cake takes less than an hour from start to finish and is so good. My daughter asks for it all the time and I always make it for guests.

Baked Wacky Cake: The Easiest Chocolate Cake You'll Ever Make

Do you have a go-to dessert recipe? Have you made a wacky cake before? Leave a comment and let us know!

Simple Cakewalk Ideas

It’s that time of year again! It’s cakewalk season at many schools! I will admit it – when I see the cakewalk memo in my daughter’s school bag I let out a big ol’ sigh. It’s not because I am opposed to cake walks, but because I am not a talented cake decorator and I hate the idea of disappointing the hundreds of little faces who walk from cake-to-cake trying to decide where to put their tickets. 

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If you’re not familiar with a cakewalk, it’s a school fundraiser where a bunch of cakes and cupcakes (typically bought or baked by parents) are lined up on tables typically in a gymnasium. The kids walk around looking at all of the cakes and cupcakes, and then pay for tickets to deposit in the bags or boxes belonging to the cakes they hope to win. Once all of the kids have done this, tickets are drawn and kids win cakes! Usually it’s one cake/package of cupcakes per kid.

The pressure is on to get the cake with the most tickets!  

Or is it?  

I have learned over the years that most kids don’t really care what the cakes or cupcakes look like – especially the younger kids. What they do care about is the amount of chocolate, candy and sugar the cake has! The more the merrier! 

Having said this, it doesn’t alleviate the pressure as much as it should for me. I would love to be a talented cake decorator, but I am anything but! Every time I see a cake walk memo my mind spins with ideas of what I should create versus what I CAN create. I would love to be that mom who can create a life size minion cake that looks so realistic that you expect it to talk (this cake actually existed at one of my daughter’s cake walks – that mom is one heck of a cake decorator let me tell you!). 

I know some parents purchase baked goods and I believe that is great if that works for them because for me, it’s all about participating. I, however, like to bake (it’s the decorating part I loathe). So, I try and bake something “attractive” for each cake walk. The first couple of years I would bake a cake similar to what you see below from the blog of Mrs Rachel Brady. A simple chocolate cake with chocolate icing and Smarties as polka dots. Perfect.

Easy chocolate birthday cake via  Mrs Rachel Brady

Easy chocolate birthday cake via Mrs Rachel Brady

Then my daughter mentioned that many parents make cupcakes and break them into four containers with six cupcakes each or six containers with four cupcakes each. Genius! This means there are more “cakes” for the kids to win and covers off any parents who may not have contributed. So, now I make cupcakes. 

My standby, “Oh crap, I forgot the cakewalk is tomorrow!” cupcake is ‘worms and dirt.’ It’s the chocolate cupcakes and chocolate icing or crumbled up cookie topping with gummy worms. Quick and simple to make and a hit with the younger kids (so I hear anyway).

This year I wanted to venture out of my comfort zone. I asked on Twitter if anyone had thoughts and made it clear that cake decorating it not my forté. It was recommended that I check out Pinterest, but the only cakes I ever saw on there were way out of my talent-league. But then someone sent me a link to cakewalk cake ideas on Pinterest and right away I spotted something I could do! It was simple, fun and cute!

The little piggies cupcakes were so easy to make and when I dropped them off the students collecting the cakes thought they were adorable! I can see myself making these again for the next cakewalk. 

Simple Cake Walk Ideas - Little Piggie Cupcakes

Suffice to say, I have learned to accept that I will never be the minion cake-making parent. Instead I am proud of myself for contributing something to every cakewalk my daughter has been a part of and that I made something that hopefully made a kid smile. Albeit, sometimes that kid is my own because she notices there are no tickets for my contribution and chooses to put her tickets in to win it. ;)

Are you a talented cake decorator? What are your favourite cake walk ideas?

The New Canada’s Food Guide: Encouraging Healthy Eating

The new Canada Food Guide was released on January 22, 2019, and before its publication there was a lot of speculation surrounding what foods would be eliminated and what foods that were previously highlighted would be minimized. In truth, the new Canada’s food guide encourages healthy food choices. They want Canadians to, "make it a habit of eating a variety of healthy food each day."

What does this mean? It means eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grain foods and protein foods – including protein that come from plants. It also means limiting highly processed foods (note: they do not say to avoid them altogether, but to eat them less often and in small amounts).

The picture on the new Canada’s food guide shows a plate half-filled with vegetables and fruits, with the other half split between protein foods and whole grain foods. Gone are the graphics for milk, yogurts and meats. Instead, meat protein shares its space with protein from nuts, tofu and legumes.

My favourite addition is to, “make water your drink of choice.” There is no substitute for the healthiness and necessity of water. We are mostly made from water, so it’s no wonder we should be focusing our beverage choices on water as opposed to sugary and artificially-flavoured drinks. 

The new Canada’s food guide also focuses on healthy eating habits. It encourages you to use food labels, and to limit foods high in sodium, sugars and saturated fats.

In a fast-paced world, the new food guide encourages us to take our time to eat, plan what we eat and involve others in planning and preparing meals. This is especially important for families.

As a registered dietician, and mother of three young children, Cathy Richards believes eating healthy as a family does not have to be time-consuming or difficult, and she’s happy to see that the new food guide recommendations support the scientific evidence on diet and health.

The focus is on whole foods and it’s presented in an easy to understand format. A visual of the plate makes it easy for my clients to understand how they should be aiming to balance a meal. I really like the interactive nature of the website for the guide, as it makes it a fun activity for families to explore together by trying new recipes or incorporating the tips around mindful eating.”

Food marketing to kids is also a very relevant concern and Cathy is, “happy to see some direction for parents around this. The research supports cooking at home more often and eating together as key health behaviours to prevent obesity in adulthood. To be honest, I haven’t been referring to Canada’s food guide with my clients for years but with this new addition I’ll definitely be directing more of my clients there to explore the website and learn with their families.” 

Canada’s food guide website has many healthy recipes the entire family can enjoy preparing and eating together. The guide also has tips on how to eat healthy anywhere as well as outlines nutritional needs based on age and life stages.

Canada's food guide has changed, but it has changed because with the many food options available to us in grocery stores, online and in restaurants, it can be confusing to know what eating healthy really means. After all, “healthy eating is more than the foods you eat.”  

For more information on the new Canada’s food guide, visit their website. You can even download an educational poster and post it on your fridge as a reminder of what it means to eat healthy.

Ottawa and Area Farmers' Markets

For as many Saturdays as we can during the summer months, my family and I head to the Carp Farmer’s Market for fresh vegetables, meats and to walk around to take a look at all the artisans and treats. I love that more and more Farmer’s Markets are popping up throughout Ottawa and area, so thought I would create a list of some (click on the name to be redirected to the market website for more information. If you have a local farmers' market to add, please leave a comment and let us know.

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Almonte Farmers’ Market
Located in the parking lot of the Almonte Public Library (beside the Beer Store), this market is open Saturdays from 8:30am to 12:30pm from May to October.

Beechwood Farmers’ Market (Vanier / New Edinburgh)
Located at 43 Cecile Street, behind the Beechwood Fire Hall in Optimist Park, the Beechwood Market. They are proud to have a great selection from local producers, organic producers, bakers, crafters and more. This market is open Saturdays 9 am to 2pm until October 27, 2017.

Carleton Place Farmers’ Market
Located at Market Square (corner of Beckwith and Lake Avenue), this covered market is open Saturdays 8:30 am to 12:30 pm until fall.

Carp Farmers’ Market
Located at the Carp Fairgrounds, about 10km from the Carp Road exit on the 417. Open Saturdays 8 am to 1 pm starting in May through to October. They also have an Easter Market, Christmas Market as well as their popular Garlic Festival in August.

Cumberland Farmers’ Market
Located at the R.J. Kennedy Community Centre on 1115 Dunning Road (Cumberland Arena), between Orleans and Rockland. Open Saturdays 8am to 1pm from June and into the fall. This market also hosts the Spring Market in April, the Harvest Market in late September and the Christmas Market in December.

Kanata Farmers’ Market
Open every Saturday from May to October, the Kanata Farmers’ Market is located at 420 Hazeldean Road, in the parking lot in front of Shoppers Drug Mart. Open Saturdays 9am to 3pm from May to October. You will find baked goods, fruits and vegetables, honey and garlic – and much more at this west end market.

Kemptville Farmers’ Market
Located at 200 Sanders Street at the B & H parking lot in Kemptville (just south of Ottawa). Sunday from 12 noon to 4pm from May to October. The Kemptville Market has a Christmas in July market on July 22nd that will feature gift ideas for Christmas – and Santa will even make a visit!

Log Farm
Located at 670 Cedarview Road (between Hunt Club and Fallowfield roads). Open Saturdays from 9am to 2pm from May until October. This market has a wide variety of vendors including meats, fruits and vegetables and desserts!

Metcalfe Farmers' Market
Located at the Metcalfe Fairgrounds, southeast of Ottawa. Open Saturdays 9am to 1pm from May to the fall. This market has 25 years experience of promoting and selling locally produced products.

North Gower Farmers’ Market
Known for “country flavour in the city” this market is located at 2397 Roger Stevens Drive, just west of North Gower. Look for the big red barn. Open Saturdays from 8:30am to 1pm from May to the beginning of October.

Old Chelsea Market
Located in the heart of the village at 212 Old Chelsea Rd (the grounds at St. Stephen’s Church), this outdoor market features homemade, original, home grown produce and products, including certified organics. The Old Chelsea Market is open on Thursdays from 4pm to 8pm from the end of May to mid-October.

Old Aylmer Market (Marché Vieux Aylmer)
This market is located in the Memorial Park at the corner of Broad and Main Street. It’s open every Sunday from the beginning of June to the end of September from 10am to 3pm and features a variety of locally produced produce as well as almonds and nuts, honey and homemade items, including Alpaca products.

Ottawa East’s Farmers’ Market
Located at 210 Main Street every Saturday from 9am to 3pm from June to October, this market connects local producers within 160 km with the community, including organic goods. There is also face painters, kid’s crafts and more!

Orléans Market
Open Thursdays from May to October from 12 to 6pm, this market is located at the Ray Friel Centre and features the best in local food!

Ottawa Farmers’ Market (Lansdowne Park)
Located at Lansdowne Park in Aberdeen Square every Sunday from 10am to 3pm, the Ottawa Farmers’ Market features local farmers, artisans and artists as well as arts and crafts.

Ottawa Organic Farmers' Market
The Ottawa Organic Farmers' Market runs year-round on Saturdays from 10am to 2pm and features Certified Organic meat, bread, vegetables, fruits, olive oil and much more! Located at 1644 Bank Street (near Heron).

Riverside South
One of the newest farmers' markets in Ottawa, the Riverside South market operates June through October on Sundays from 10am to 2pm. This market is located at the OC Transpo Riverview Park and Ride – right near Summerhill Park!

Stittsville Farmers’ Market @The Barn
This cute little market is located in an old barn and is open Sundays 10am to 2pm at Village Square Park at the corner of Stittsville Main and Abbott. Vendors are cash only and include homemade bread, fruits, vegetables and more!

Westboro Farmers' Market
The Westboro Farmers' Market is located in the Byron Linear Park between Golden, Bryon, and Richmond Avenues. The market runs from May to October – every Saturday from 9:30am to 3pm and hosts over 50 local farmers, producers, bakers, and more!

Wakefield Market
Open Saturdays, 9am to 1pm from May to October, at the Centre Wakefield La Pêche, 38 Chemin de la Vallée de Wakefield this market has everything you need to fill your pantry. This market also features artwork and other unique vendors.

Food and beverage marketing to children: Changing the trend

We all want what’s best for our children—especially when it comes to their health and nutrition. So, why is keeping junk food out of the house so difficult? Where are children learning about the food they eat and the beverages they drink? Did you know children are being marketed to on a daily basis?

As parents, avoiding advertising and marketing for children and youth can be surprisingly difficult. Marketing is everywhere: television, video games, online, in movies, endorsed by characters and celebrities, and even on packages and labeling of products.

Marketing to children

What is marketing?

By its very nature, marketing is designed to persuade people into purchasing a product or service. For influential young minds, this persuasion can lead to unhealthy food and beverage choices.

Food and beverage marketing to children

Healthy food and beverage choices start in childhood, and unfortunately children learn a lot about both through marketing.

Every time a child turns on the television they are exposed to a variety of marketing messages. Before the age of five, most children can’t tell the difference between an advertisement and a television show.  Manufacturers and big brands recognize how easily influenced children and youth can be, and invest a lot of money to create marketing messages they feel will influence a child’s dietary decisions.

If a child sees a marketing message for a particular beverage a child will, more than likely, ask their parents if they can have that particular beverage—healthy or not.

Ottawa Public Health is working hard to help parents and their children learn the difference between healthy dietary choices and marketing ploys. Armed with the right knowledge and resources, parents and children will be able to make healthier and more informed dietary choices.

Eating healthy - marketing food and beverages to children

What can parents do to help change the marketing trend?

Parents need to do their research on products and read food labels. Just because something says it is 100% natural does not mean it is made with natural ingredients. Eat fresh foods as much as possible, and when shopping for packaged goods, look for products that have reduced salt or sugar and no trans fats.

Parents can also help educate their children on what marketing means and help their children differentiate between learning something new and trying to be convinced to buy something.

It can be hard to say to no to junk food, but teaching moderation and offering alternative, healthier options is a step in the right direction.

Food and beverage marketing to children

Marketing regulations

With growing obesity rates in children, it has become the mission of public health organizations to create stricter policies and regulations concerning the marketing of food and beverages to children and youth.

In Canada, the Federal government is constantly working to introduce restrictions on the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children and youth. These regulations include improving the information found on food labels.

The province of Quebec has already banned commercial advertisements specifically directed at children under the age of 13. Since this change, Quebec is the highest consumer of fruits and vegetables and has the lowest obesity rates for children between the ages of six and eleven.

To find out more information on how marketing influences the dietary choices of children and youth, and what steps are being taken to change these practices, visit Ottawa Public Health online.

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Disclaimer: This blog post is sponsored by the City of Ottawa (Ottawa Public Health).