Seven Layer Dip!

7 Layer Dip

Want a great side to make for a party, gathering, holiday or event? You can’t go wrong with this recipe. Every time I make this dip, it is an absolute hit! 😀

This dip is filling, healthy and absolutely delicious! AND it feeds a lot of folks! If you wish to make this dip purely vegan, you can substitute the sour cream and cheese with vegan sour cream and vegan shredded cheese.

For the ground meat, I used Gardein’s ultimate beefless ground which is vegan and gluten-free. I used a packet of taco seasoning to add extra flavor to the beefless ground meat (just follow the instructions on the package to cook the ground meat). You can use any ground meat to make this dip however.

To serve, you can use organic corn tortilla chips or any type of chips your heart desires. 😉

Ingredients:

  • 1 package meatless crumbles
  • 1 (16 ounce) can refried beans (I use black beans)
  • 4 cups shredded Cheddar-Monterey Jack cheese blend
  • 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
  • 1 cup guacamole
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 (2.25 ounce) can black olives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 fresh jalapeno pepper sliced (optional)

Directions:

  1. Cook the meatless crumbles according to the package directions. Use packet of taco seasoning when cooking if desired for added flavor.
  2. In a 9×13 inch serving tray, that is about 1 1/2 inches deep, spread the refried beans.
  3. Sprinkle 2 cups of shredded cheese on top of the beans.
  4. Sprinkle meatless crumbles on top of the cheese.
  5. Spread sour cream very slowly on top of the meatless crumbles. You may discover that the meatless crumbles will stick to the bottom of your spoon. Just keep spreading slowly while repeating small sections to have a clean spread.
  6. Spread guacamole on top of the sour cream.
  7. Pour drops of salsa over the guacamole and spread evenly.
  8. Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese on top of the salsa.
  9. Sprinkle black olives, tomatoes, green onions and jalapenos (if you decide to use this) on the top.
  10. Grab your chips, dip your dip and enjoy!

This dip tastes best at room temperature. However, you can make this dip the night before and refrigerate for the next day. You can also store remaining dip in the fridge.

Sources:

This recipe is a modification of: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/16845/seven-layer-dip-i/

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

A Homemade Deodorant THAT WORKS!

Homemade DeodorantI have been searching and searching and SEARCHING for a natural deodorant in stores that actually works. In fact, I’ve gone through several brands from the health food store only to discover that they don’t quite work as anticipated.

Look, I live a pretty active life. I exercise 5 to 6 times a week and I go social dancing for hours which means, I sweat like crazy! The last thing I need is my deodorant failing me in the midst of having a good time dancing or while I’m in the middle of a workout (that’s no fun either).

Most of the natural deodorants I’ve tried works beautifully for a few days, maybe even a few weeks. But after that, they fail me miserably. Eventually, they just stop working. That was until I discovered Primal Pit Paste. A bunch of folks in a Facebook group was raving about Primal Pit Paste. I was able to get my hands on a jar and give it a try!

Primal Pit Paste is sold in 2 ounce jars and costs about $10 per jar. Does it actually work? You bet it does! In fact, it works beautifully! The downside for me however was the cost per jar not to mention how quickly I go through a 2 ounce jar.

That’s when my search began to find a homemade deodorant recipe that I can make on my own. One that’s easy to make. And one that actually works!

A friend of mine introduced me to a recipe on Wellness Mama’s website. My friend has tried a number of store-bought deodorants before giving Wellness Mama’s recipe a try. To her surprise, she discovered it actually works for her and she loves it!

I took it upon myself to do some additional research and see if there was a recipe closer to Primal Pit Paste’s version. I came across Stephanie’s version which is inspired by Primal Pit Paste (apparently she loves that deodorant as much as I do too). After reviewing her version, as well as Wellness Mama’s version, I modified my version slightly to fit my personal needs. I’ve used 2 ounces in the past 3 months and guess what? IT WORKS! And I’m quite ecstatic about it that I just had to share my experience!

Whether you choose to use Wellness Mama’s recipe, Stephanie’s recipe or the modified version I am sharing below, these are all natural alternatives that are affordable and actually works! Stephanie’s recipe contains a price breakdown. She quotes $1.14 for 2 ounces of homemade deodorant (that excludes the cost of the jar). Nonetheless, that price is pretty awesome, isn’t it?

This recipe will yield 4 ounces of deodorant. To make your own deodorant, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp shea butter
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 3 tbsp baking soda
  • 2 drops of essential oil

Add the shea butter and coconut oil to a glass jar or glass bowl.

Place the glass bowl in a pot of hot water on your stove keeping it at low heat. Allow the shea butter and coconut oil to melt, stirring occasionally.

When the shea butter and coconut oil has melted, remove the glass bowl from the pot of hot water.

Next, add the arrowroot powder and baking soda and mix well (not pictured). Make sure all ingredients are blended well. The result will be creamy.

Pour the contents into a 2 ounce jar (you can use two 2 ounce jars or one 4 ounce jar).

In the 2 ounce jar, add two drops of essential oil and stir carefully using a toothpick. I used Tea Tree Oil (you can read more about why I chose this oil below).

When you are finished, set your jar aside. It needs to harden and will do so at room temperature. This may take several hours (I left my bottles to harden overnight). If you wish to speed up the process, you can place the jar in your refrigerator. After it hardens, it will be solid yet soft enough to use.

How do I use it?

To apply the deodorant, take a pea-sized amount with your finger and rub it into your armpits. A little goes a very long way, so no need to use too much of it. In fact, using too much can irritate your armpit (speaking from experience).

I personally apply this deodorant twice a day. Once in the morning after my shower and once in the evening before my bedtime. That’s it!

What’s the purpose of these ingredients?

Shea Butter is naturally enriched with Vitamins A, E, F and K and is wonderful for skin. It’s non-greasy and won’t clog pores. It also helps to harden the deodorant making for easy application. I use pure unrefined raw Shea Butter which I found on Amazon for a reasonable price.

Coconut oil removes harmful bacteria and germs. It kills fungi, yeast and bacteria and helps with detoxification of the pits.

Arrowroot Powder helps with those armpit sweats by absorbing moisture. Feel free to add another tablespoon to your recipe like Stephanie’s version if you sweat in excess.

Baking Soda neutralizes body odors which means, no stinky pits. I chose to increase the amount of baking soda used in my recipe above since I’m pretty active. Doing this has allowed me to apply a pea-sized amount of deodorant twice a day. I apply in the morning after a clean shower and before bedtime. There’s been no need for me to reapply before my workout.

Dr. Axe Tea Tree Oil

Essential Oils are natural, great for the skin and smells fantastic! I am a fan of Young Living Essential Oils (member number 10630926) because of the quality of their products. Young Living oils are pure with no additives. You can add Tea Tree, Cedarwood, Lemongrass, Lemon, or Lavender to create a heavenly scent for your deodorant. I opt for Tea Tree when making my deodorant because it kills many strains of bacteria, viruses and fungi.

If you’re interested in learning more about Tea Tree Oil and its benefits, you can read 10 Tea Tree Oil Uses and Benefits by Dr. Axe.

You can also skip the essential oil in your recipe if you prefer an unscented deodorant.

Can I travel with this?

I know you’re probably used to having your deodorant in a stick form that’s easy to toss into your suitcase (Primal Pit Paste does offer stick forms by the way).

This deodorant will melt in high heat. When I traveled, I placed the jar in a sandwich bag and kept it in my carry on bag. It melted slightly. It was softer than usual – still worked great – and hardened when it was left in my hotel room.

Um, my pit is stinky… what’s up with that?

If this is your first time transitioning to a natural deodorant, whether it’s a store-bought deodorant or a homemade deodorant, your armpit will experience a detox.  What does that mean?

It means, you need to read this article:  Pit Detox Protocol

This is from Primal Pit Paste’s website and they do a fantastic job explaining what’s happening with your armpits the first time you start using natural deodorants. In other words, initial stink is normal and will go away after some time. 😉

Sources:

Primal Pit Paste – https://primalpitpaste.com

Wellness Mama – https://wellnessmama.com

Six Figures Under – https://www.sixfiguresunder.com

Dr. Axe – https://draxe.com

Young Living Essential Oils – https://www.youngliving.com/en_US

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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

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?
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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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