Delicious Chocolate Banana Smoothie!

My cousin was in town this week and since he loves chocolate, I decided to have him try my breakfast smoothie.

Guess what? He loved it!

Every morning I’ve been making this smoothie for him and of course sharing with him how fantastic the combination of ingredients are for his health.  As delicious as this smoothie is, it is packed with some great health benefits.

If the smoothie is made the night before and refrigerated, it thickens which makes for a lovely dessert after dinner the following day or in this case, a lovely dessert for breakfast.  😉

In this recipe, I use cacao powder.  Not cocoa, but cacao.  944328_383430008432343_105806600_nI prefer to use organic raw cacao powder because of its enormous health benefits.

When included in recipes, the flavor of cacao is rich and naturally bitter (intended for an added sweetener of your choice).

Cacao is a superfood, the most purest form of chocolate, and has been used in South America for thousands of years.

It’s raw which provides a healthy abundance of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

cocoaCocoa (which comes from cacao and is used to make processed chocolate) has been chemically processed and roasted destroying many of the antioxidants and flavanols (the things that keep you young and healthy).

RawCaco_51a0ced5a8f32_w587.pngCacao is one of the highest plant sources of magnesium. It is estimated that 68 to 80 percent of Americans are magnesium deficient.

Cacao contains more calcium than cow’s milk, 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries, and 119 times more than bananas.

In addition, cacao is a natural mood elevator and anti-depressant. 😉

When preparing this shake, you can certainly use cocoa. Just make sure it’s pure cocoa and doesn’t have any added ingredients in it.

If you choose to use raw cacao, I recommend Navita’s Naturals.

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup coconut milk (full-fat preferred)
  • 1 Tbsp whole white chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 2 Tbsp almond butter
  • 2 medjool dates, pitted *

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients into a blender and blend well.
  2. Enjoy!

* You can add an extra medjool date, or remove one, to adjust the sweetness of the smoothie.

Sources:

OneGreenPlanet.org, http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/cacao-vs-cocoa-what-you-need-to-know/

American Chiropractic Association, http://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=3956

BeGoodOrganics, http://begoodorganics.com/blogs/begoodness/7991527-cacao-5-little-known-benefits-of-this-amazonian-superfood

Daily SuperFood Love, http://dailysuperfoodlove.com/2852/21-fantastic-benefits-of-cacao/

Kris Carr, http://kriscarr.com/recipe/vegan-peanut-butter-cup-shake/

Photo Credit, http://todosobredieta.com

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Posted in Breakfast, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Paleo-Friendly, Raw, Recipes, Smoothies/Shakes, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Creating HOPE for the Homeless with Pizza Parties!

Does this sign look familiar to you?

Every time I’m on the road driving to my destination, I see at least one homeless person holding one of these signs.

It makes me feel sad to know that there are human beings in our world who are hungry and with no place to live.

It makes me feel even more sad to know that our government is not doing enough.

Estimates of Homeless People by State, 2016

Did you know that on a single night in January 2016, 549,928 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States — meaning they were sleeping outside, in an emergency shelter or in a transitional housing facility [2016 Annual Homeless Assessment Report]?

Last year, in 2016, we had 33,502 homeless individuals in the state of Florida alone. 2,888 were veterans. 1,228 were in Orange County and 210 people were in Seminole County [Counsel on Homelessness 2016 Annual Report].

Ten years ago, a good friend of mine decided he wanted to throw a pizza party with live music at a homeless shelter in New York City.

He reached out to me asking for a donation.

He said $1 will sponsor one homeless person with two slices of pizza.  I thought that was pretty awesome, so I made a donation to support his cause.

A year later, he reached out to me again. This time, he said, they were throwing pizza parties in 4 states! He asked me if I would like to throw a pizza party in Florida. I told him I was way too busy but I’d be happy to make a donation to help his cause.

Volunteers for A Slice of Hope, 2009

Another year later, he reached out to me again. This time, I agreed to throw a pizza party in Florida!

I gathered friends and coworkers and raised enough money to throw a pizza party at the Orlando Union Rescue Mission in Orlando.

Now, would you believe that one experience changed my life!

That night, after the party was over and I was home, I cried like a big baby. I had never met so many humble people, so many grateful souls, in one room.

There was 200 people.

I met single parents, women who were victims of domestic abuse, families who lost their homes and so many children.

I had people thanking me for hot pizza, saying they haven’t had pizza in years! I even had people thanking me for the DJ saying that they haven’t danced in so long!

Throwing that pizza party made me realize that my own personal problems were petty. Here I was complaining about lack of time, my job, my life as a single mother, the lack of sleep I was getting.  I think ever since that night, I counted my blessings more frequently.

Today, my volunteers and I throw pizza parties with live music in Central Florida every June.

We support a nationwide event called A Slice of Hope.

A Slice of Hope has grown to 25 states with pizza parties taking place for an entire week every June! PMQ Magazine has teamed up with A Slice of Hope to help encourage fundraising for this wonderful cause throughout the year (thank you PMQ)!

In Florida, we have thrown pizza parties at the Christian Service Center in Ocoee, Boys Town Central Florida in Oviedo, the Orlando Union Rescue Mission in Orlando and we’ve even provided pizza for Word On the Street Homeless Ministries in Orlando as well!

Look, I know you are all busy with your own family, your jobs, your life. But if we keep ignoring the less fortunate, if we keep ignoring this problem in our country… who’s going to help these folks?

The purpose of A Slice of Hope is to spread optimism and joy while feeding the hungry [read more here]. It is to give these folks hope, that people like you and I actually care.

This month, my volunteers and I are throwing pizza parties at 3 locations in Central Florida. But we need your help to make this possible!PayPal Donate

You can donate $1, $5, $10, whatever amount works for you and your budget.  Your donation is tax-deductible.

Please, I am asking you all to join me today in helping those that need our attention. We can’t keep waiting on the government to eradicate hunger. Homelessness is a problem today and we need to step up and be the change that we wish to see in our world.

We need to come together as a team and help these folks. Our earth has enough food for everyone. We just have to be willing to share.

Join me in taking just one small step to making a difference in someone’s life today.

Just $1 sponsors one person.

One dollar = one person.

I promise you, they will be extremely grateful.

Posted in Articles, Inspirational, Philanthropy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vegan Zucchini Fudge Brownies

Brownies made with zucchini? Huh? I was a bit surprised too, even skeptical. Nonetheless, I just HAD to give these a try!

I came across this recipe on Vegan 8’s blog and it only contained eight ingredients. The blogger was great at providing measurements for each ingredient as well as tips on how to get the right consistency when baking these brownies. I wanted to make sure these came out perfect the first try, and they did!  😉

Along with the blogger of this original recipe, I highly recommend using a food scale to ensure precise measurements of the zucchini as well as the oat flour (at the least).

I own the Mango Spot Digital Food Scale which I purchased from Amazon and so far, I love it! This scale has three unit conversions including grams, an auto shut-off feature, and an auto-zero feature (to subtract the weight of a plate or bowl when trying to weigh only the food item).

For the oat flour, I used a blender to blend old-fashioned rolled oats into a fine powder. I then weighed it until I had precisely 32 grams.  By the way, if you want these brownies to be gluten-free, you can use gluten-free oats instead.

The zucchini and oats were the only two items I weighed with the scale. 😉

The chocolate chips I used to stir into the batter was Equal Exchange Chocolates 70% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips. You can use any type of chocolate chips of course, but I really liked these. The higher the cacao content, the better and richer the flavor in my opinion.

When adding chocolate chips as a topping before baking the brownies, I used another brand of chocolate chips. I’m a huge fan of Lily’s Dark Chocolate Baking Chips because they are sweetened with stevia.

And last but not least, instead of using cocoa powder in this recipe, I used Navitas Organic Cacao Powder instead.

The end result were rich, fudge brownies that were incredibly satisfying! 😛

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium zucchini, peeled and sliced, measured 150 grams
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup superfine oat flour, measured 32 grams
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 6 heaping tbsp vegan chocolate chips + 3 tbsp for topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Spray a 9×5 loaf pan with nonstick spray (bottom and sides). I used an olive oil spray.
  3. In a blender, add the oats and blend into a fine flour. Weigh the oats flour using a food scale until you’ve reached 32 grams.
  4. Peel and slice the zucchini, then weigh using a food scale until you’ve reached 150 grams.
  5. Add the zucchini, maple syrup, almond butter, vanilla extract, oat flour, cacao powder and sea salt to a blender and process until smooth. Scrape the sides and process for another minute (it should be very smooth and runny).
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips, but do not blend.
  7. Pour batter into prepared pan and top with the rest of the chocolate chips.
  8. Bake for 22-25 minutes until they have a dry/shiny look on top and have pulled away from the edges. I baked mine for 25 minutes and they were perfect!
  9. Allow to cool in pan for 45 minutes to an hour, no exception, or they will fall apart (these firm up while they cool).
  10. Cut into desired pieces and carefully remove. Top with whipped cream or ice cream if desired and enjoy!

For lots of beautiful photos from the original blogger, as well as details and notes regarding her baking experience with these brownies, visit Vegan 8‘s website.

Source:

This recipe is a slight modification from http://thevegan8.com/2017/04/14/vegan-zucchini-fudgy-brownies/

Posted in Desserts, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spicy Mexican Quinoa Casserole

mexican-1This is one of my girls favorite recipes!

And since it’s made their list of favorite vegetarian dishes, it definitely needs to be shared.

It’s quick, easy to make and quite satisfying. 😛

To make this vegan, just substitute the cheese with vegan cheese.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (you’ll need about 1 cup of uncooked quinoa)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 8 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 2 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped (red, yellow and/or orange)
  • 1 cup Mexican cheese (or sharp cheddar or vegan cheese), shredded
  • sliced green onions for topping (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and lightly grease an 8×8 baking dish.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat add the olive oil, garlic and onion. Saute for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, jalapenos, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir and let simmer on low heat for 7 minutes.
  4. In a dry nonstick skillet over medium high heat, toss and toast quinoa with cayenne pepper, chili powder and cumin for 2 minutes. Taste and season with salt. Set aside.
  5. In the same skillet over medium-high heat, place the bell peppers and DO NOT stir. This allows the peppers to get the brown roasted look on the outside. Wait for 2 to 3 minutes before stirring, then let them roast for another 2 minutes before removing from the heat. Set aside.
  6. In a large bowl combine tomato mixture, quinoa, ½ of the shredded cheese and ½ of the bell peppers.
  7. Transfer the quinoa mixture into the baking dish, top with remaining bell peppers and cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and garnish with green onions.
  9. Serve with tortilla chips, salad, sour cream or just eat it plain.

Source:

This recipe is a slight modification from http://www.theironyou.com/2013/05/spicy-mexican-quinoa-casserole.html

Posted in Casseroles, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thank you for the Sunshine Blogger Award!

Sunshine Blogger Award

I was pleasantly surprised when I received a random message from Kara announcing that I was selected for the Sunshine Blogger Award.  I was touched by her random act of kindness, and with the knowledge that she has enjoyed reading my posts over the past few years.  Thank you Kara!

I would like to extend my gratitude to Kara for reaching out and nominating me for this thoughtful award. VeganlosophyWhat a wonderful way to spread love and of course show our appreciation towards the many great writers who share their stories and help to inspire others.

Please be sure to check out Kara’s blog, Veganlosophy. Her blog is filled with an assortment of fantastic recipes your palate will enjoy. 😛

There are several rules for accepting this award.  One of them is to answer several questions from Kara. So here it goes…

1. What’s the most influential or memorable book/books you have ever read?

“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.”

The first words written in The Road Less Traveled by Dr. Scott Peck; one of the first books I decided to read back in 2006, during a year I was experiencing tremendous changes. As I tried to rebuild my life, I had no idea how to pick up the pieces, let alone how to even move forward. I was filled with fear. This book came at a perfect time and awakened my soul. It gave me the courage to face my fears. It provided me with the most beautiful descriptions of Love. It helped me to better understand who I was becoming as a person, and whom I desired to be. This book was a stepping stone, the beginning of a profound spiritual journey, to recreating my life.

2. Are you a dog or a cat person?

I prefer cats because they are chill and require little attention.  😉

3. What are three things that are on your bucket list?

I plan to visit my elementary school in my hometown before the year is over. I hope to experience a raw vegan retreat that offers meditational and yoga experiences in a secluded environment someday.  And I hope to perform with a dance team someday – either salsa, bachata or maybe even kizomba? We’ll see what the Universe has in store. 🙂

4. Are you a morning person or a night person?

Both. I love waking up early in the morning to meditate and work out.  And sometimes, I love staying up late dancing the night away at latin socials with great friends, or to just sink my teeth into an awesome book!

5. Think back three years ago and then reflect how your life is now…has it surprised you or gone along the road you expected?

There were a few doubters planting ridiculous thoughts in my mind about how my life would be, or where I’d be in my journey. Needless to stay, I’m glad I stayed true to myself and my faith. All has been going as expected since three years ago and for that, I am very grateful.

6. If you could choose any new language to understand and know instantly, what would it be and why?

Espanol!  Because I love listening to salsa, bachata y reggaeton and I have many spanish-speaking friends as well!

7. Would you rather visit the Egyptian Pyramids of Giza or the Teotihuacan Pyramids in Mexico?

No preference, I think they would both be beautiful experiences!

8. Preferred exercise: cardio or strength?

No preference, they’re both essential in my opinion.

gingerbread cupcakes

Gingerbread Spiced Cupcake

9. What are one of your favourite breakfast, main meal and dessert recipes? (one of each)

My favorite breakfast item at this time is a Chocolate Almond Butter & Banana Smoothie (I need to post this recipe!). My favorite main meal would have to be vegetarian sushi which unfortunately I don’t have a recipe to share at this time. And dessert? This. The Gingerbread Spiced Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting (mind you, they are vegan + gluten free and amazingly delicious)!

10. Would you rather sky dive, or deep ocean dive?

I would rather go dancing. Kizomba anyone? 😀

11. What are you looking forward to in the week ahead? 

Raising teens has its pros and cons (obviously, lol) but witnessing how hard my two girls have worked over this past summer trying to get a head start for the new school year… I found this to be admirable. My girls are always setting goals trying their best to accomplish them. And they do so, much of the time. I’m looking forward to their reactions when they discover the wonderful surprise I have in store for them. They deserve it, and they are very much appreciated.

The-Rules-of-the-Sunshine-blogger-award

The third rule for accepting this award is to nominate other bloggers for the Sunshine Blogger Award.  I would like to take this opportunity to nominate three blogs which I thoroughly enjoy and believe you will too!

1. Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary by Sue Dreamwalker

This is one of the most beautiful blogs I’ve discovered, in addition to the writer who has such a beautiful soul. Sue’s intention was to create a sanctuary for enlightenment and peace through wonderful poetry and inspirational thoughts.

2. Fragrant Vanilla Cake by Amy Lyons

Are you just as obsessed with desserts as I am? Amy’s blog has an abundance of vegan, raw, paleo-friendly and gluten-free desserts that are creative, beautiful, delicious and incredible fun to make! She also has a number of non-dessert items as well! Amy Lyons makes it easy to fall in love with desserts guilt-free because these are actually pretty healthy (in moderation of course, good luck with that self control)!  There’s something on her website for everyone!

3. Confessions of a Typical Teen by Rina Raj

This teenager desired to bridge the gap of communication between parents and their teens.  She wanted to put real life situations and sensitive topics on the table for both parents and their kids to discuss and explore. Rina’s blog was recently featured in a local magazine. I’ve enjoyed reading her entries and sharing in many discussions with her. From a teen’s perspective, check out her confessions on her website.

Nominee’s, now it’s your turn. Above are the rules and below are your questions. Congratulations! I look forward to reading your responses.

  1. What inspired you to start your blog?
  2. What is your favorite post on your blog, and why?
  3. Paper books or a kindle? Which do you prefer and why?
  4. What is your favorite book?
  5. What is your favorite song or genre of music?
  6. Who is your idol, and why?
  7. Which inspirational quote resonates with you, and why?
  8. What is one of the top things on your bucket list?
  9. What is your favorite hobby other than writing or blogging?
  10. What are you most grateful for?
  11. If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
Posted in Articles, Inspirational | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Matcha Green Smoothie Bowl

matcha green smoothie bowl

I’ve been looking for the perfect matcha smoothie bowl recipe for quite some time.

And I was ecstatic when I came across this particular recipe.  😀

So what exactly is matcha and why is everyone talking about it?

And what’s the obsession with smoothie bowls?

Matcha-Tea-Benefits-BlendBee.com_Matcha is a finely milled green tea powder with a natural beautiful color of green!

It’s a staple ingredient upon traditional Japanese tea ceremonies since the 12th century.

It has many amazing health benefits including strengthening the immune system, enhancing energy and providing detoxification.

Smoothie bowls are a fun way to add a little twist to the traditional smoothies, and I have found myself enjoying them quite a bit. 😛

You can add toppings such as fruits, nuts, and seeds. It adds unique flavors to the smoothie, providing the opportunity to change up the recipe every so often. YES, you should have a little fun with your food! 😉

You may need to double up on this recipe if you prefer more in quantity. I actually reduced the original recipe to half because I found the original serving to be too much for one meal. It’s quite filling in my opinion.

Hope you enjoy this one as much as I do!  🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1/4 cup chopped apples (peeled)
  • 1/4 of a small Haas avocado
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 Tbsp almond butter
  • 1/2 tsp matcha
  • Optional:  sweetener of choice
  • Toppings of choice (pictured above are mangos, shredded coconut, flax seeds, blueberries and kiwis)

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients into a blender and blend well.
  2. Serve in a bowl with your favorite toppings.

This recipe is a slight modification of the following: http://powerhungry.com/2016/01/matcha-green-smoothie-bowl/

Additional Sources:

Organic Facts, https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/beverage/matcha-tea.html

Posted in Breakfast, Clean Program, Gluten-Free, Paleo-Friendly, Raw, Recipes, Smoothies/Shakes, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chocolatey “Almond Butter Cup” Shake

185870_1This is me desiring that creamy taste of chocolate and giving in to the satisfaction of my palate.

But without indulging in that chocolate bar however. 😉

Lately my thing for breakfast have been chocolate shakes.

This week I enjoyed a Chocolate Covered Blueberry Shake, a Chocolate Mint Shake and this morning, an Almond Butter Cup Shake.

A recipe showed up on my newsfeed and so, I decided to give it a try with some modifications. What resulted was an almond butter cup with crisped “rice”.  Definitely delicious in my book, I liked it a lot! 😛

crackle-bar_lgAt least once during your lifetime, most likely when you were a kid, you may have tried Hershey’s Krackel chocolate bars. Hershey’s Krackel is a milk chocolate bar which contains tiny bits of crisped rice.

After enjoying my shake this morning, I was reminded of that Hershey’s Krackel. I loved those little crunches when I’d bite into my chocolate bar. I was ecstatic to actually find something satisfying yet nutritious at the same time. After all, we’re talking chocolate here! 😀

I’d like to share a little about chocolate, cocoa and cacao. What are the differences and why would it matter which you choose to use in your recipes?

944328_383430008432343_105806600_nI personally do not use cocoa in my recipes.  I prefer organic raw cacao powder because of its enormous health benefits.

When included in recipes, the flavor is rich and naturally bitter (intended for added sweetener of your choice).

Cacao is a superfood, the most purest form of chocolate, and has been used in South America for thousands of years.

It’s raw which provides a healthy abundance of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

cocoaCocoa (which comes from cacao and is used to make processed chocolate) has been chemically processed and roasted destroying many of the antioxidants and flavanols (the things that keep you young and healthy).

Add additional ingredients to roasted cocoa such as sugar, milk, artificial flavorings, etc., and in the end, is that bar of chocolate really that nutritious? It may or may not be depending on how dark that chocolate bar is – and how many additional ingredients were added to it.

RawCaco_51a0ced5a8f32_w587.pngCacao is one of the highest plant sources of magnesium.

It is estimated that 68 to 80 percent of Americans are magnesium deficient.

Cacao contains more calcium than cow’s milk, 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries, and 119 times more than bananas.

In addition, cacao is a natural mood elevator and anti-depressant. 😉

When preparing this shake, you can certainly use cocoa. Just make sure it’s pure cocoa and doesn’t have any added ingredients in it. If you choose to use raw cacao, I recommend Navita’s Naturals.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp almond butter
  • 2 – 3 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp raw cacao powder

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients into a blender and blend well.
  2. Enjoy!

 

Sources:

OneGreenPlanet.org, http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/cacao-vs-cocoa-what-you-need-to-know/

American Chiropractic Association, http://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=3956

BeGoodOrganics, http://begoodorganics.com/blogs/begoodness/7991527-cacao-5-little-known-benefits-of-this-amazonian-superfood

Daily SuperFood Love, http://dailysuperfoodlove.com/2852/21-fantastic-benefits-of-cacao/

Kris Carr, http://kriscarr.com/recipe/vegan-peanut-butter-cup-shake/

Posted in Breakfast, Clean Program, Gluten-Free, Paleo-Friendly, Raw, Recipes, Smoothies/Shakes, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Gingerbread Spiced Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting (Vegan + Gluten-Free)

gingerbread 1

It’s been YEARS since I’ve been able to enjoy the flavor of gingerbread!

Many years ago, I would make gingerbread houses with my little ones for the holidays. After the need to alter my diet, gingerbread houses and cookies could no longer happen.

I must say that coming across this recipe has been an absolute blessing!  I cannot BELIEVE how delicious and moist these cupcakes turned out! 😀

The original recipe is from Amy Lyons fantabulous website, Fragrant Vanilla Cake.  With some slight modifications to her original recipe, below is what I call a sure winner in my book. Not to mention, it’s vegan and gluten-free!

This is definitely one dessert you don’t have to feel guilty about indulging in. 😉

spiced 2

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 1  3/4 cups Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour *
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 2 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup raw coconut oil
  • 1 cup almond milk (room temperature or warm)
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Frosting

  • 3 cups raw cashews, soaked at least 4 hours and drained well
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup coconut water
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup maple syrup (I used grade b for a richer flavor)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup coconut butter, warmed to liquid

Directions:

  1. Preheat over to 375 degrees and position rack in center of oven. Use cupcake liners for 12 cupcakes in cupcake pan (liner is optional and if used, may not require nonstick spray – check the packaging).
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and ginger powder.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together fresh ginger, coconut sugar, coconut oil, almond milk, and vanilla extract.  Combine with flour mixture until well blended.
  4. Whisk in apple cider vinegar and stir quickly (pale swirls will be in batter, which is the baking soda reacting with vinegar to allow cupcakes to rise).
  5. Fill the cupcake pan with batter (should be half or less than half for each cupcake).
  6. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  7. Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.
  8. To make the frosting, combine all ingredients, except the coconut butter, in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  9. Add the coconut butter and process until smooth.
  10. Use a pastry bag to pipe frosting on top of cupcakes.
  11. Store cupcakes in fridge (if you have any left 😉 ).

* I used the the Heritage Blend Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour by Arrowhead Mills which unfortunately, I could not locate online. I did purchase this blend pre-packaged at Whole Foods.

Source:

This recipe is a modification of the following, http://www.fragrantvanilla.com/vegan-gingerbread-spice-cake-with-cinnamon-frosting/

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10 Great Lessons I Learned Last Year

deborah-tindle4As a year comes to an end, it’s always wonderful to reflect on the past 365 days and take pleasure in our personal accomplishments.

I take pleasure in reflecting on life’s lessons.

Life is filled with challenges, trials, tribulations and more.

We are tested daily; we are reminded of our weaknesses and guided to overcome them, and we discover in the process that we are indeed filled with courage.

We can face our fears, we can grow stronger, we can overcome many of these challenges and obstacles we encounter.

We are capable, we can do this!

knowledge-n-action-equal-powerKnowledge is great. And knowledge is powerful. Many of us know what we need to do in order to succeed, or to be a successful person.

But the real challenge lies in putting that knowledge to use, putting that knowledge into action. That requires self discipline and commitment.

We know of the things we need to do in our lives, and we know that there are consequences to every action we take. However, the challenge lies in being disciplined, and having the patience, to put that knowledge into practice.

fearLife entails facing your fears. Discomfort is, after all, the first sign to progress. If you’re feeling resistance or feeling afraid of taking a step towards a certain direction, it’s more of a reason you need to take that step. You will discover, as a result, that the thought of fear leaves you feeling more afraid than the actual experience itself. And you never know what gifts may unveil themselves to you in the process unless you face that fear.

These ten lessons I’m about to share is knowledge I’ve learned and carried with me for years. This past year however, I was challenged to put these into practice.

These reminders have helped me overcome several obstacles and continue to direct my life in a positive direction. I hope you will find these lessons as valuable as I have. Meditate on these and see what surprises they may bring for you this New Year!  🙂

savvy-quote-when-one-door-closes-011. Just let go

If people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime, why are we afraid to let go?

If one door closes so that another may open, why do we hold on so long to the door that’s closed preventing the other to open sooner rather than later?

Every person that crosses our path is here to serve a purpose, and when that time is up well… that time is up. It’s time to let go.

Let go when that time has come, when that purpose has been fulfilled.

Let go of those who no longer serve you or your growth.

Do not force a relationship or friendship into existence. After all, what’s meant to be will be – even if it’s for a reason, even if it’s for a season, and even if it’s for a lifetime, nothing is meant to be forever.

Be grateful you’ve crossed paths with those special ones, that you’ve learned the lessons you’ve needed in order to help foster your growth. Then, let go with love when that time has come. It’s okay to close the door, and it’s okay to part ways in a happy and healthy way. Embrace the opportunity for the new experiences that awaits you.

051584bc9fad3f831e6c16e92ceadf60f45-wm2. Always focus on the positive

If we have time to complain, to focus on the negatives, to entertain drama, then we have energy and time to create something wonderful and positive. Use that energy to focus on the positive. Redirect your time to create something wonderful and make a positive difference in our world.

I can easily recall how many hours, days, weeks, months I would spend dwelling on negative situations and things people would say that hurt me. I can recall the amount of energy and time I spent trying to hold on to relationships that no longer served me, only to leave me feeling more hurt, more pain, and more despair.

There comes a timeI remember when I finally came to the realization, “Wait a minute, if I have time to direct all this energy towards negative and toxic situations in my life, imagine the time I can spend making a positive difference in our world?”

If you feel rejection, remember it’s a blessing in disguise. Rejection is only a redirection to something better for you in your life. M.O.M. was a result of my taking a negative situation and turning it into something positive last year (read that night I quit being a mom).

Always remember there is a valuable lesson in every experience. Redirect that energy and focus on the positive. Focusing on the positive will only create more positive energy and in return, will attract even more positive energy into your life.  It’s a win!

Compliment-Quotes-33. Give someone a compliment

Ever notice how easy it can be to see the negative in any situation, or to criticize someone’s behavior? It’s almost like we’re wired to automatically think negatively and respond negatively because that’s just the reality of life.

Reality is what you create based on your own level of perception (read do you live a realistic life or an imaginary life).

Remember we all have our strengths and we all have our weaknesses. No human being on this earth is perfect. None. Nope, not even you! 😉 We are all imperfect beings but I assure you, we each carry something beautiful and special within us.

Focus on these gifts. Take time to compliment another person. If you like their outfit, tell them. If they make you feel happy, share that with them. If they have a pretty smile, by all means, let them know! You may leave someone feeling extremely happy just by taking the time to share that compliment.

take-risks-if-you-win-you-will-be-happy-if-you-lose-you-will-be-wise-quote-14. Take that risk

Are you a risk taker? Many of us are not. The safe road is always the easiest road to take because the results are usually guaranteed.

But if an opportunity has fallen in your laps, it’s time to set aside that fear. What if? What if taking that risk yields the most amazing and promising experience for you? What do you really have to lose?

Take that chance, you never know where it may lead you.

present-45. Be present

It’s okay to plan for the future. In fact, it’s great to have a plan for the upcoming years of your life. But be sure you’re taking time to live in the present as well. After all, putting too much time and energy into planning for your future takes away from actually LIVING in the moment or BEING in the present.

pastpresentfutureEven dwelling on the past takes away from living in the present. Tomorrow won’t be here until you’re done with today anyway.

Focus on every moment as though it’s your last. Don’t worry too much about what will happen down the road. In fact, you will arrive at your future destination after you’ve lived your present with determination and passion.

What you do today will drive your future; the choices you make, the people you surround yourselves with, the energy you direct – it all creates your future. Enjoy today, enjoy the moment, enjoy the present and remember that today is all you really have.

b02d8eea029d579cac447b161f4fbd176. The path is crooked (and has circles)

How many of you are used to doing things in order? How many of you think the road to success is a straight one? There’s a great book by Scott Peck called The Road Less Travelled. You should read it. 😉

Many of us are used to events taking place in a specific order in life. I know I was, especially during my 20s.

What if it wasn’t meant to be that way? What if you were meant to step away from the straight path in order to grow, to evolve or fulfill your true purpose?

As long as you feel peace from within, take that road less travelled. It’s okay if it’s crooked. Embrace it but more importantly, enjoy it.

tonygaskins7. Set boundaries for yourself

If you let people take advantage of you, guess what? They will.

There are many who will ignore your boundaries, let alone respect them. Be sure to set healthy boundaries and limits for yourself, and let your loved ones or friends know these are important to you. True friends will understand and respect these. Define your boundaries and make that clear through your words or actions.

140127-18. Let go of anger

We all get angry, and have encountered situations or people that have left us feeling angry.

However, anger gets us no where especially when we don’t deal with it in a healthy way. Anger will always find its way back into our lives. It will be a non-stop repetitive cycle, sometimes even directed towards innocent people who become our victims.

every-saint-has-a-past-and-every-sinner-has-a-future-quote-1Sure, you should definitely allow yourself to feel and express anger but by all means, do it in a healthy way and without hurting those around you. Do it in a way that you can put it behind you with peace and move forward in your journey of life. Journal about it, write about it, see a counselor or if you must, unleash your bitter words in a letter and burn it (read how to burn away your painful past literally).

Always remember there are no perfect human beings. We all “sin”in different ways. We have all done things in our lives that we weren’t proud of. We have hurt others, even our own selves.

Anger serves no one, not yourself and definitely not the other person. Learn to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. Life is to precious.

rumi9. God is everywhere

I personally thought God could only be seen, felt or experienced at a church or at a temple because this is what I was taught for many years. Deep down in my heart, I always knew that God’s existence was everywhere. Every thought, every action, every word, God knew it, God felt it, God hears it.

There is a wonderful book by Neal Donald Walsch called Conversations with God.  This book is not based on any one religion, but requires an open mind.

ndwThis book contains answers to every single question you may have thought or asked throughout your life. It’s based on unity, oneness and discusses how to live a better life and create a better world.

There are more than one way to connect with God.

Take the journey that resonates with you the most and find your connection with Him. Whether it’s through religion or through your own heart, there is always a way.

Every path is unique but you will hear God’s voice through silence and within your own heart. And you’ll know when you do because you’ll discover the true meanings of peace, love and unity. You will feel it, believe it and become it.

48c71b8fd8af7b022575e1bf90c389f310. Love everyone!

Yes, love everyone even those who anger you.

The people who choose to hurt you are unknowingly, and unwillingly, testing your strength.

Think of it this way. Without their need to throw daggers in your direction, fireballs your way, criticisms towards your ears, you would not have this opportunity to discover how strong you can truly be!

685a201c5c3ef724a1284c42da407718You would not have this opportunity to learn how to respond accordingly versus react impulsively.

People who criticize, hurt or anger you are a blessing in disguise because they are here to remind you of the lesson.

Embrace them and love them for who they are. After all, they have sent you a valuable gift and that is – to strive to a be a better person by never treating others the same and to always love yourself!

Create yourself and direct your own life.  This is your story. Your chapters. Your book. So start writing. ❤

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12 Ways to FEEL FABULOUS at ANY AGE!

fabulous 30Each year we celebrate a birthday, we either look forward to becoming a year older or we dread it.

It seems the latter tends to happen more often nowadays. Why is that?

Celebrating a birthday is an accomplishment! You have survived yet another year in our three-dimensional world! Another year where you’ve encountered trials, tribulations, challenges, celebrations and of course courage, strength and growth from your own personal experiences. That’s worth celebrating, don’t you think?  😀

funny-happy-40th-birthday-quotes-1286195Growing older is a mindset. After all, age is only a number which defines how long you’ve been living in your body in this particular lifetime.

Age doesn’t define maturity, not even intelligence. Ever met a person who is a teenager or in their 20s and they seem to have an “old soul”? Or ever met a person in their 30s or 40s and been mistaken that they were in their 20s? Surely it happens all the time!

Age is a mental limitation we have set upon ourselves. If you think you’re “old”, then you will believe you’re old.

manifest realityAnd if you believe you’re old, then you will feel old. Guess what? Now you’re old (your words, not mine).

In my perspective, there’s no such thing as “old”.

Growing old is just a mindset. It’s a thought we have formed in our minds that justifies our reasons for not taking better care of ourselves, for not taking risks or chances in life, for not doing the things we’ve dreamt of doing ever since we were “young”, for not laughing as much or even entertaining new experiences.

It’s a thought we have formed in our minds that justifies allowing our bodies to take over, allowing our immune systems to grow weaker, allowing ourselves to believe that “we’re going to die someday anyway” and therefore giving in to what we think old age is all about.

Old is relative. Sure our bodies grow older, and weaker, and our metabolism slows down.

But you have the power to define what “old” means to you.

You have the power to take control of your bodies and your lives.

When I was in my 20s, I lived a repetitive (unconscious) lifestyle. I felt tired all of the time. Having fun ended during my teenage years and each year as I became older, I dreaded it. I remember thinking to myself, what’s going to happen to me when I’m in my 30s or even my 40s? I lacked energy, my health and diet was poor, I didn’t sleep well, and I lived the normal (stressful) life which consisted of waking up, going to work, coming home, taking care of my family and starting the day all over again.

I took care of everyone around me but I gave myself very little attention or time.

Live-Laugh-LoveFinally in my early 30s, I took my power back. I tapped into my spiritual sense of self and learned how to love myself and appreciate the beauty of life. I dropped anything or anyone which no longer served me or my growth.

I learned how to eat better, cook healthy meals, dance and of course, how to put myself first.

If you’re in your 20s, 40s, 60s, 100s – even 10! – it’s never too early and it’s never too late!

new 70Take Annette Larkins for example. Annette is 73 years young and she looks 40! Her diet has been a major contribution to her youthful appearance and health.

And then there’s Fauja Singh, the 104 year old ‘oldest marathon runner’ who is STILL running marathons! If these folks can master themselves and live life to their fullest potential, just imagine what you can do with yours!

So let’s redefine “old”, shall we? 😉

Here are 12 reminders on how you can look and feel fabulous once again! Remember, age does not define you or your physical limits. Take control and take chances. After all, this is your life! Live it, love it, but more importantly embrace it and just enjoy it! 😀

Health-benefits-of-Drinking-Water1. Drink plenty of water every day

Start your morning off with a glass of lemon water. If you’re feeling thirsty throughout the day, then you’re not drinking enough water.

Water helps to flush out toxins from your body and regulates your bowel movements.

2. Surround yourself with positive people

Stress will affect your physical health guaranteed. Unfortunately, many people can be extremely negative or toxic and believe it or not, it can take a toll on your own health. Distance yourself or remove these people from your life – even if it’s family. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them, it only means that you’re defining healthy boundaries for yourself and taking care of you first. Peace is crucial to your mental health and well being. Surround yourself with folks who will inspire you, uplift you, support you and help you to evolve in a positive direction.

books3. Learning never ends – Read!

Learning never ends, not even after you graduate from college. Sure there are lots of information shared on TV, but reading is exercise for your brain and learning means expanding your horizons. Reading is gaining knowledge on a variety of topics with different perspectives, for pleasure or for information.

Limit yourself to watching television – especially the news – and get your information from articles or books. The negativity from fear-based news will surely bring additional stress to your life.

4. Meditate daily

20 minutes of meditation a day is all you need. Whether it’s sitting in silence, chanting, taking a walk in the park, listening to an instrumental track. Whichever it may be, take time to be silent and enjoy peace every single day. You will find yourself feeling more calm, more serene, looking and feeling younger AND you’ll be surprised how well you will handle difficult people (they’ll bounce right off of you). 😉  [Learn more about meditation]

let-food-be-thy-medicine5. Eat clean and whole foods

As we grow older, our bodies change. This we cannot avoid. We’re experiencing muscle aches, slower metabolism, health conditions, inflammation, you name it.

The solution is to change your diet. The foods we consumed during our earlier years (teens, 20s) don’t quite leave us feeling as energetic and vibrant as we used to feel. Opt for clean and whole foods. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds… Go local and organic. Eat fermented foods, take probiotics, drink kombucha! Reduce your gluten intake (or avoid it all together if you can) and try to cut as much processed sugars out of your diet as possible. The foods we feed ourselves will either make or break our health. You choose.

6. Do a cleanse every 6 to 12 months

A nutritional cleanse will help to remove toxins from your body, restore your body’s natural ability to heal itself, foster your spiritual and emotional being, re-energize you and leave you feeling younger and vibrant (and help you lose weight if you so desire).

There’s a 21-day program I’m quite fond of called The Clean Program by Dr. Alejandro Junger. It’s packed with plenty of information and recipes for meals.

spiritual27. Foster your spirituality

Having hope and faith, and believing that the Universe holds magic and wonderful things for us encourages us, fills our souls with joy, and gives life meaning and purpose. Whether it’s through a religion or not, find a way to connect with the Higher source.

The energy of love is everywhere and once you discover it, you will desire to foster it. In that case, life will never be the same. You’ll be love and that alone will add years to your life.

8. Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep

As you grow older, you require less sleep so this may not pertain to everyone. If you’re waking up with the use of an alarm clock and feel tired in the morning, you’re not getting enough sleep. If you can wake up without an alarm clock and feel rested, then you’re on the right track. Sleep is crucial. Our bodies are doing it’s stuff (digesting, healing, detoxing, growing) while we rest and catch those zzzz’s. Whatever you do, do not skimp on sleep. Lack of sleep affects productivity, memory and even your immune system.

smile9. Smile every day and laugh often

Did you know it takes more muscles to frown than to smile? A smile makes you approachable, helps you to connect with others and creates positive energy within yourself and with those around you. Be sure to smile, even if you telecommute or there’s no one around you.  😉

Don’t ever let a day go by without laughing. Even if it’s sharing something funny with family, friends or coworkers. Laughing is therapeutic (and addictive) and that’s a good thing!

10. Get exercise – Dance!

Exercise is extremely important as we grow older. In fact, it’s one way to boost your metabolism and leave you feeling energized. It also helps blood flow throughout your body and removes stagnant energy. Get some physical activity in your daily routine. Go to the gym, go running with your friends, take yoga or if you dislike exercising  – go dancing! Dancing is fun, a great social activity and it’s wonderful for the mind, body and soul!

c4f9b9e37a49b0d5ccbc6db5bb584dc111. Practice what you preach

Be the example. Don’t just preach, but practice what you preach. Often times we have expectations. We see weaknesses or faults in others and we want them to change for the better. But have we taken the time to work on ourselves? To change for the better? To be a better person? 😉

In my case, if I desire my children to live a healthier lifestyle, then I need to do so as well. We learn by example.

If you want your family to communicate better with you, then communication needs to starts with you first. If you don’t like what’s happening throughout our world, then you need to take that first step to make a difference. Do something about it! Set your ego aside and remember, it is not our place nor our right to change anyone. You can only change yourself. Like attracts like and you may be able to encourage others to follow in your footsteps through your actions alone. Just be the change you wish to see in your world.

deepak12. Just be yourself

Regardless of the pictures society has painted, the expectations of what defines a “normal” life, the expectations of cultural norms, the expectations from family or friends – who you are to be or how you should act – remember this. You are the one who has to live with yourself.

It’s your body and it’s your life. You’ve been granted this gift for a reason and it’s yours to use as you may, and enjoy as you’d like. You deserve happiness! So set aside any doubts, any limitations you hold in your mind, and any opinions from others. What people think of you is not your business.

Just be yourself, be you! And remember that God loves you just the way you are! ❤

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