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Healthy Holiday Treats

Breathing cold crisp air, walking on icy paths, cuddling up with a blanket at home…it’s beginning to look a lot like the holidays! With the holidays comes a load of yummy, irresistible treats and drinks, often high in sugar and fat. But who says you can’t enjoy a treat or two, here or there? The secret is simple, a three-step, sure-fire way to still enjoy those goodies: moderation, control and awareness.

It’s perfectly fine to enjoy treats, but be sure to moderate and not let sweets replace the nutritious everyday meals you enjoy. Control your portions or make treats at home and substitute with healthier ingredients (also a fun family activity!). If you’re buying something in a store, have a look at the ingredients to try to limit fat or sugar, or see if there’s a healthier option.

Here are a few healthy versions of some holiday favourite:

Chocolate Chip Cookies  Everyone loves these traditional gems! Why not make them lighter and healthier with whole wheat flour combined with oats or cut down on the butter and add agave nectar as a substitute.

Almond Snowballs  Now here’s a recipe that takes hardly any time! It uses egg whites only, which helps lower cholesterol, and it’s got coconut and almonds added to the mix. Yum! Don’t forget to experiment with a bit of whole wheat flour.

Eggnog  Try substituting almond milk for the whole milk that most recipes call for. Try to also cut down on the amount of sugar that is added.

Pistachio Fruit Biscotti  Do you love biscotti as much as we do? This recipe isn’t your traditional holiday biscotti with chocolate and candies, but it’s got tasty dried fruit and nuts.

Chocolate Mint Squares  Want to try a holiday square? This one uses water instead of milk and egg whites instead of whole eggs. Don’t worry…it still has some delightful chocolate and peppermint candies on top!

Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies  And of course who could forget those ever so famous Sugar Cookies! They are a must!

Have more ideas to share? Visit our Facebook page and comment with your favourite healthy holiday treats!

Making a home in Canada

When YMCA participant and volunteer Mohammad Farid arrived in Canada in 2005 as a refugee from Afghanistan, he knew he would have some work to do to adjust to life in his new country. “When I immigrated to Canada, I had no English. Learning English was a big challenge.”

Like many refugees to Canada, Farid, who grew up in Kabul, had to escape from his war-torn home country, which was becoming increasingly dangerous and violent. When he arrived in Vancouver he enrolled in a local Community College to learn English where a friend told him about the YMCA Connections Program, which provides a number of programs and services to help newcomers adjust to life in Canada. He joined the program to participate in the English language conversation club and social and educational events. “Being involved with the YMCA helped a lot and after a while I could keep conversations, also I met immigrants from different countries that spoke different languages,” says Farid. He found such value and community in the program that he decided he wanted to do something to give back. Farid became a volunteer for the social and educational events, a position he really enjoys.

Farid loves Vancouver, a city he now considers home. “It's a green city,” he says, and adds that the ocean and fresh air are two of his favourite things about living here.  

The YMCA will be playing our part in helping refugees adjust to life in Canada in the coming months.  Working with our community partners who specialize in refugee settlement, newcomers will receive referrals to the YMCA’s health and fitness programming to help them stay healthy as they transition to life in Canada. Thanks to the YMCA’s generous donors, nobody is turned away from a YMCA program due to an inability to pay.

Click here to find out more about how you can help 

New names…same great classes

You might have noticed something different on the group fitness schedule this month. We’ve changed some of the names of our current fitness classes. 

Don’t panic! Although the names might be different, we still have the same amazing YMCA instructors and volunteers teaching your favourite fitness classes the same way. Now, you will be able to visit any YMCA membership centre in Greater Vancouver and more easily find the class you are looking for. 

Here are a just a few of the new names:

  • Total Sculpt
  • Ab Lab
  • Core Basics
  • Gauntlet
  • Body Blast
  • Family Circuit
  • Flow Yoga
  • Family Yoga
  • Yoga Gold
  • Power Cycle
  • Sweat Cycle
  • Hip Hop
  • Strength & Stretch Express

Please ask our friendly staff at the fitness or membership desk if you have any questions!

BMO NBA All-Star KidsFest coming to the Y!

To celebrate the 125th anniversary of basketball and its invention by a Canadian, the NBA is taking the 2016 All-Star Tour across Canada! We invite the whole family to come to your local Y for the BMO NBA All-Star KidsFest and experience the NBA in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

When:                   Friday, January 22nd 
Location:              Tong Louie Family YMCA (14988 57th Avenue, Surrey)
Time:                    5:30-8:00 p.m.

No registration is required to attend this free family-friendly event, featuring:

  • Appearances by an NBA Legend and Mascot
  • NBA interactive games like NBA Plinko and pop-a-shot
  • A special dance class taught by NBA Dancers
  • Photo opportunities
  • A YMCA basketball exhibit
  • A youth art program to design a canvas that will be displayed during NBA All-Star weekend in February

Additional NBA All-Star Clinics (registration required)

These free one-hour basketball skill clinics are filling up fast and are suitable for kids ages 8 – 13 years. Space is limited and registration is required.

When:                  Thursday, January 21st 
Location:              Langara Family YMCA (282 West 49th Avenue, Vancouver)
Time:                    6:00-7:30 p.m.
Click here to register!


When:                  Sunday, January 24th  
Location:              Robert Lee YMCA (955 Burrard Street, Vancouver)
Time:                    10:00-11:30 a.m.
Click here to register!

To learn more, visit the NBA All-Star web page or contact or 604-631-5525.

Did you know that basketball was invented by a Canadian at the YMCA? James Naismith started the game at the YMCA International Training School with a soccer ball, peach baskets and 13 rules and values!

What’s your diabetes risk score?

The test is simple, and offers the user some interesting facts as you complete the survey. Take the test now, by to determine your risk score.More than 10 million Canadians are living with diabetes or prediabetes. November was Diabetes Awareness month, and to commemorate, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Canadian Diabetes Association created a quick, survey that allows users to see if they’re at risk for diabetes.

To learn other ways to reduce your risk of diabetes, check out the Canadian Diabetes Association’s website.

Give the Gift of Fitness

Do you have someone on your gift list looking to be more active in 2016?  Are you wondering why that fruitcake you gave last year wound up as a doorstop?

Why not give the gift of fitness? For only $20 your friends, family and co-workers can enjoy a one month membership at any YMCA of Greater Vancouver location. Show everyone how much fun a Y membership is!

Gift certificates are available for purchase at all four membership centres: