Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Microwave Lava Cake

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Microwave Lava Cake

I cannot recall a time in my life when chocolate and peanut butter were not a good idea. And today is no exception, because I have a healthy, mostly whole foods version of a microwave lava cake that you could eat for dessert or… wait for it… even breakfast. I know. Can you imagine starting your day with a chocolate peanut butter lava cake that you can just pop in the microwave? Lazy cooks rejoice!

If you are looking for something that tastes like a fluffy, decadent, overly sweet dessert, this is not the recipe for you. This is meant to be a healthy version of a treat – something that packs nutrition and satisfaction into a super quick dish. If you’re used to molten chocolate cake from Chili’s, this will most likely disappoint you. But if you’re ready to try a healthy version that you can eat as often as your heart desires, well here it is. 

Ingredients:
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 tsp baking powder
dash of sea salt
dash of cinnamon
1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp cococa powder
1/2 a large spotty banana
1 tbsp vegan chocolate chips
1/2 tsp water
1 T natural peanut butter

Instructions:
1. Put all ingredients except for the chocolate chips, water, and peanut butter into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the chocolate batter into a microwave-safe ramekin or mug.

2. Place the chocolate chips into the center of the ramekin and gently press down into the batter with a spoon, making sure the chocolate batter covers the chocolate chips.

3. Sprinkle the top of the batter with a few drops of water. This will help to make the center have a molten-like texture once cooked.

4. Place the dish in the microwave for about 2 minutes. Note: Microwave ovens greatly vary. I recommend checking it at the one minute and 20 second mark. And you might even need to microwave it for up to 3 minutes, depending. The edges should be firmly cooked and the center should be slightly on the more gooey side, but still cooked through.

5. Remove from the microwave and place the peanut butter on top and it will melt into the warm chocolate treat.

Enjoy!

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What I Learned from Deactivating Facebook for One Year

What I Learned from Deactivating Facebook for One Year

14 months ago, I deactivated my Facebook account and completely deleted my professional page as well. I also deleted some other social media accounts and refused to use others. You can read about why here: Why I deactivated Facebook and how you can too, if you want to.

Now that over a year has past, I was recently inspired to rebrand my website and start creating more, but with even more intention and authenticity – newer content that can continue to serve others while simultaneously awakening my own spirit by trying new things and exuding more of my personality by way of peppering my humor into my writings and videos. So Sprout and Blossom evolved into Mary Blossoms (like cherry blossoms, get it?). ::thank you. thank you::

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With that said, I am so happy that I did take a 14-month hiatus from Facebook, but my decision to reactivate my account and create a new Mary Blossoms page, was primarily so I can continue to stay current in my field (I teach digital media courses) and so I can reconnect in that special superficial way (snide remarks are fun) to the people who I enjoy having in my circle. Facebook is also a great sort of rolodex for contacts and quick, local info. You know, if I want to find out the best place to get a smoothie, I know I can get 50 opinions in 50 seconds. How incredibly helpful for combating decision fatigue.

Facebook has its benefits, and it certainly has its drawbacks. But now I know I will certainly be more mindful with how I use the platform and keep in mind its utility.

So without any further ado, here it is…

WHAT I LEARNED FROM DEACTIVATING FACEBOOK FOR ONE YEAR:

  1. No one will remember your birthday.
    I have to say, it was probably the saddest birthday of my adult life. (I’m kidding.) Some people remembered my birthday, but that’s only because it happens to fall on the anniversary date of a national tragedy. Even so, my birthday was certainly a lot quieter. It was very sweet of the close family and friends who remembered, despite my Facebook absence. But a small part of me missed getting 150 notifications, half of them from people who I don’t know. Nothing says birthday bliss like reading the same generic messages from strangers over and over again. Am I right?
  2. You will not remember anyone’s birthday.
    I realized how bad I actually am at recalling important dates. My friend Ilene was like Rain Man. You could tell her any date in the past and she could actually tell you the day of the week it fell on. Me, not so much. I’m lucky if I can remember what day of the week it is. And confession: Every new year is a horror for me with the year changing. For a good month and a half, I desperately expend an absurd amount of focus and energy trying to remember to write down the correct year each day. “199 …dammit!” “2016 …son of a!” Part of me thinks this could be the reason some people contract the flu in the winter. It’s too taxing.
  3. Politics and Religion: Destroying friendships since 1999
    I had the good fortune of deactivating Facebook during a heated political election, and I’m glad I did. I ended up finding out through the grapevine that friendships were disintegrating left and right and people were unnecessarily cruel to one another. Because we all know that posting overly opinionated material online converts your opposition the majority of the time. ::cough::
  4. Facebook can be a tool or a time-suck. Pick your poison.
    There is an abundance of inaccurate information that gets circulated and regurgitated online. Some of the most ridiculous, poorly researched content I have ever read was on that platform, and I am dumber for it. And then there are the time-wasters. It’s easy to get sucked into the matrix. By the way, which Saved by the Bell character are you?
  5. Most people are drunk on narcissism.
    There’s really not too much I need to say here except that when it comes to,… wait. Hold on a sec. Can you take twenty or so pictures of me posing next to this tree? The lighting is good. Make sure to get the flowers in the background though. This will make a great post. I love photos as much as I love validation.
  6. Life goes on.
    Facebook is more convenient for people to use than cultivating and nurturing a few meaningful relationships in real life. Bear with me. Since we all know 500+ people now and since anything we could ever want to know about is on Godfather Google, our brains / attention spans have only been conditioned to handle so much. It really is information overload. With that said, when I chose to get off of Facebook, I made an effort to try to reach out to close friends more. It wasn’t always reciprocated, but the experience made me realize just how much things can be superficial. I also learned what is important to me, and what is not. Cute cat photos are not important to me. But puppy photos are.

In the end, this was a useful 14-month social experiment for me. Facebook is just a tool. A tool can be used in a multitude of ways. It’s when we let a tool control our lives that it becomes destructive. I just found/find the site mostly annoying and time-wasting, but the fault was also in how I was using it. For me now, I have unsubscribed and unfollowed just about every page and lots of individuals who I really didn’t know too. I have simplified my newsfeed and am much more mindful and intentional with the relationships in my life but also the types of content I want to take in.

The beauty of it, is you can take a break from social media as an experiment any time or you can simply clean up your account a bit and unfollow and simplify, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just tired of it. Sometimes it helps to take a step back from things to view them with fresh eyes.

And yes, I will share this article on my newly revived Facebook page. Because what would any good piece of writing be unless it’s saturated in irony.

Catch you on the flip side,
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Open-Faced Peanut Butter & Jelly

Open-Faced Peanut Butter & Jelly

There’s nothing like a pb&j, especially when you’re craving something sweet and comforting. This version is sure to please adults and children alike. It’s nutrient-dense, much lower in sugar and fat, oil-free, more filling, and provides an antioxidant boost. Plus, you’ll learn my healthy hack for more than doubling the quantity of peanut butter for half the calories without sacrificing the flavor and texture. Here’s my healthy take on a classic favorite. 

Ingredients 

2 slices of bread of your choice, toasted
1 tbsp natural peanut butter
2 tbsp plain peanut butter powder
4 tbsp water
3/4 cup frozen blueberries or strawberries, warmed (or use fresh, if preferred)
1-2 tsp maple syrup

Directions 

1. Warm the berries in a saucepan or in the microwave. You want them to hold their shape but become slightly juicy, not cooked down heavily like a compote.

2. Toast bread. I used two slices of low sodium Ezekiel bread.

3. In a bowl, mix peanut butter with peanut butter powder and 3 tbsp water, reserving the rest of the water if needed to achieve desired consistency. The mixture should create a spreadable yet still thick peanut butter consistency. 

Note: If you don’t mind the extra calories and fat, you can skip the pb powder and just use more peanut butter, of course.

4. Spread 3/4 of the peanut butter spread over the toast, then top with berries.

5. In the bowl, whisk together remaining peanut butter spread, 1/2-1 tbsp water, and 1-2 tsp of maple syrup to taste. This will create a sweet sauce that also looks beautiful as a garnish to this dish. Drizzle the mixture over the top of your open-faced sandwich.

Yields 1 serving. Enjoy!

No-Bake Vegan Peanut Butter Fudge Cups

No-Bake Vegan Peanut Butter Fudge Cups

If you’re looking for a healthy, peanut buttery treat made with minimal ingredients, look no further. These chocolate peanut butter fudge cups can be frozen and enjoyed like a hard shell peanut butter cup or thawed in the fridge for more of a fudge-like consistency. I prefer the latter. They are so yummy at that partially soft, fudgey consistency. This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, and oil-free.

Ingredients:

2/3 bar of vegan dark baking chocolate (I used 4 large squares of Dagoba unsweetened dark baking chocolate.)

1/2 – 1 cup unsweetened cashew milk (or plant milk of choice)

2 scoops vegan chocolate Shakeology (or protein powder of your choice) The flavor of Shakeology really makes this treat extra delicious.

2-3 tablespoons maple syrup, to taste

6 tbsps natural peanut butter

Directions

1. Melt chocolate with 1/2 a cup of plant milk in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave. Settings will vary, so keep an eye on the chocolate, occassionally pausing the microwave to check and mix the chocolate. You will want the chocolate to be fully melted and creamy once stirred.

2. Next, add in Shakeology and maple syrup and mix well to combine. If the mixture is clumpy add more plant milk to achieve a very thick brownie-like consistency. You don’t want to make the mixture too runny, because since this is an oil-free recipe, it won’t hold together with too much liquid.

3. In a silicone muffin tray, place a heaping tbsp of chocolate mixture into each cup (recipe yields 6). Spread evenly coating the bottom of each cup.

4. Place a dollop of peanut butter on top of each chocolatey base. Lift and tap the muffin container on the countertop to evenly spread out the peanut butter, or use a spoon to spread it around.

5. Evenly top the cups with the remaining chocolate. Use a spoon to evenly spread the chocolate to the edges of each cup.

6. Place in the freezer for 3-4 hours. You can enjoy these treats at more of a semisoft fudgey consistency or fully hardened, more like a peanut butter cup. After they set, you can store them in the freezer or refrigerator.

Servings: 6

For more information about vegan Shakeology, health, fitness, the plant-based lifestyle, or working with me as your health and fitness coach, please reach out to me at sproutandblossomwellness@gmail.com or find me on Instagram @sproutnblossom.

Smoky Chickpea Salad

Smoky Chickpea Salad

This is a delicious and healthy alternative to tuna salad. I like to use this on sandwiches, in wraps, on top of salads, or even by itself. This recipe is a winner for kids’ lunches too.

Ingredients

3 cups chickpeas (cooked and drained)
4 tsp dijon mustard
4 tsp vegan mayo*
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp real, cultured dill relish
1/8 tsp liquid smoke**
sea salt and pepper to taste

*You can make your own vegan mayo or use store bought.

**If you don’t have liquid smoke, you can use smoked paprika instead of regular paprika in the recipe. The flavor will be a bit different though.

Directions

1. Pulse chickpeas in a food processor until they are all broken up and resemble a crumble. Do not over-process; we are not making hummus, right?

2. In a large bowl, combine the ground chickpeas with all of the other ingredients and mix together with a fork.

3. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. This keeps for one week.

Enjoy!

Homemade Vegan Marshmallow Whip

Homemade Vegan Marshmallow Whip

Yes. A vegan marshmallow whip you can make at home to use on top of tasty treats like hot cocoa. This recipe has been circulating the blogosphere made with a variety of ingredients. I used three simple ingredients, but the trick is…you need to be patient and invest some time into this creation. It took me 20 minutes of using the hand mixer to achieve the desired consistency. Nonetheless, this would also be a fun recipe to make with children. I think they will be amazed to watch the process unfold.

Ingredients:
Aquafaba (This is the liquid from one standard 15 oz can of chickpeas or white beans.)
1/2 cup of sugar
A few drops of vanilla extract

Directions:

1. In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, put in all of the ingredients and mix on high. I used a hand mixer for this, but if you have a stand mixer, you can set it up and do something else while it whips together. Note, the volume will quadruple by the end.

2. Whip ingredients for 16-20 minutes to achieve the desired consistency.

That’s it!

Initially, I thought, “This is never going to work.” But by 12 minutes in, I was pleasantly surprised at what the chickpea water and sugar turned into. And by minute 18, it was excellent.

In the end, I used mine on top of hot cocoa and dusted it with cinnamon. It was worth the 20 minutes of using the hand mixer.

You can cover any leftovers and store in the fridge, but you will have to remix it again, as it will gradually separate.

Enjoy!

Cranberry Almond Quinoa Porridge

Cranberry Almond Quinoa Porridge

Did you know that cranberries are excellent for cleansing kidneys and boosting the immune system? I wanted to try something new for breakfast today, and wow this quinoa porridge I put together is so delicious and warming for the cold winter months. I hope you enjoy it too.

Ingredients:
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp coconut sugar
1 drop almond extract
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
cranberries, almonds, and cacao nibs for garnish (optional)

Directions:

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the almond milk, cranberries, quinoa, and maple syrup to a boil, mixing often.

2. Reduce heat and let simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring occassionallly. It will thicken.

3. Once the cranberries have softened a bit and the porridge thickens, turn off the heat.

4. Stir in the coconut sugar, almond extract, and pumkin pie spice.

5. Leave to thicken in the pot for a few minutes.

6. Serve hot or warm in a bowl topped with almonds, cacao nibs, and a few cranberries.

This recipe serves 1, but can easily be doubled or tripled. You can also reduce or add liquid depending on your consistency preferences. Enjoy!