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!

Sweet Potato Toast That Can Be Made in a Toaster

Sweet Potato Toast That Can Be Made in a Toaster

​I cannot take credit for the brilliant idea of cooking sliced sweet potato in a regular toaster. I have to wonder if these potentially accidental or perhaps purposeful strokes of genius take place when people are stoned, drunk and hungry. “Dude, what if sweet potatoes could be toasts?”

Nonetheless, I am thankful to whoever came up with the sweet potato toast idea (because it is delicious). Here is my take on the recipe.

Ingredients:

1 Japanese sweet potato*, sliced lengthwise
1 small avocado sliced (or guacamole)
1/4 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup black beans
3 tbsp chopped green onions
3 tbsp roasted corn (not pictured)
sea salt and pepper, to taste

*Japanese sweet potato is incredibly delicious in this recipe, but if you cannot find those, regular orange sweet potatoes are great too.

Directions:

1. Slice raw sweet potato lengthwise in 1/4-1/2 an inch thick slices, depending on your preference.

2. Place two slices of the sweet potato in a regular toaster, as you would two slices of toast, and toast on high 2-3 times, depending on your toaster. The outside will be lightly toasted and crispy and the inside should be fully cooked. Perfection. You can also make these in a toaster oven instead.

3. Top with your desired toppings. This time, I used avocado, tomato, black beans, green onions, sea salt and pepper. Roasted corn would be outrageous too.

Sweet potatoes are satiating, healthy, and a nutrient-dense replacement to toast, so you really cannot go wrong here.

Enjoy!

Committing to a Greener Lifestyle + 15 Tips for Living Low Impact

Committing to a Greener Lifestyle + 15 Tips for Living Low Impact

So You Want to Stop Wasting Resources and Money…

We’ve all heard it many times before: reduce, reuse, recycle. However, when it comes to the average modern-day person, I am not sure how much these guidelines are put into consistent action. I have always been fascinated with environmental studies and living in alignment with nature, so the topic of reducing waste and living a greener lifestyle really appeals to me. I get excited when I read about upcycling projects, composting, and reducing or eliminating plastics.

Over the years, in addition to reading books and articles on these topics, I found some documentary films that really ignited my passion for living a more environmentally conscious lifestyle. Some of these included:
Dirt the Movie
Last Call at the Oasis
No Impact Man
More Than Honey
Tapped
And the trailer to the upcoming film Island Earth
For a full list of documentaries I recommend, please visit my Wellness Resources page.

I recently learned about a young woman named Lauren Singer who lives a zero waste lifestyle in NYC. The contents of her 3-years worth of trash fit into a mason jar. After watching some of Lauren’s videos and reading her blog Trash is for Tossers, I was both inspired and impressed. Some might argue that this is possible for Lauren simply because she is a single person who lives in a city with easy access to bulk bins and outdoor markets. Perhaps. However, she still offers feasible ideas for many. And through Lauren’s writings, I discovered her inspiration was Bea Johnson, a wife and mother of two, who lives a zero waste lifestyle in California, and is the creator of Zero Waste Home.

Although I find these people very inspiring, and I light up with excitement whenever I read a low impact or zero waste article, I do not think it has to be an all-or-nothing venture, at least not for me (at least, not right now). There are many obstacles to living 100% of anything for me. I don’t like the extremism of living any which way; I tend to stick with things when I do my absolute best, and my best is never perfect. I have to be realistic with myself. One obstacle I have personally discovered is that I do not live near any stores that offer bulk bin shopping, but luckily I have a couple of options near where I work. Another obstacle is that I can see how avoiding all packaging would be quite the challenge for most consumers, me included. However, there are many other small steps I am doing to transition to a greener lifestyle, and perhaps some of these suggestions will help you too.

What I’m Doing to Live A More Earth-Conscious Lifestyle + Ideas for You:

1. Make Your Own Products
I currently make some of my own bath and body products as well as household cleaners. For the cleaners, I use ingredients such as fresh lemons, white vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils. Other items you can make yourself include toothpaste, mouthwash, body butters, facial toner, natural deodorant, and the list goes on.

2. Stop Buying Excess and Bringing Waste into the Home
This goes hand-in-hand with living a simple life and minimalism. It starts with reducing the future waste we bring into our homes in the first place. I try to avoid impulse buys as much as possible. Before I buy something new that I think I need, I will ask myself if I can make it, find it second-hand, or borrow it. Sometimes new is the best option, and sometimes it’s not.

3. Eliminate paper products and disposables.
This is a tough one, but there are some great options to try.

The Kitchen: I do buy an eco-friendly brand of recycled paper towels, but I try to use them sparingly. I keep them under my sink for cleanup emergencies. Since they are not on the countertop, we go through one roll of paper towels every 2-4 weeks. It would be great to reduce that even more. I now keep a basket of tea towels on top of my kitchen table for quick grab and go cleaning and use at meal time. I use glass storage containers and mason jars for the majority of my food storage. I avoid plastics, styrofoam, and disposable items with packaging when possible. Paper dishes and plastic utensils are totally out. Use ceramic and rewash your items. This saves money too. You can use a bamboo dish brush instead of sponges to clean your dishes, and opt for eco-friendly dish soap.

The Bathroom: I currently use organic cotton disposable feminine hygiene products, but I plan on trying a non-disposable option soon. Some options worth looking into are menstrual cups and organic cotton panty liners and pads like GladRags or Moon Pads. Instead of throwaway cotton rounds for facial toner, you can buy reusable organic cotton rounds. I also recommend fabric shower curtain liners, because the plastic varieties are horrible for human health and the environment. Another better option in the bathroom is natural, toilet paper made from recycled paper. Regarding razors, you can try a safety razor or the Preserve brand. Bamboo toothbrushes are compostable and also pretty fantastic. You can also buy a wooden and bamboo toilet brush, instead of a plastic variety. I like to make or buy natural, handcrafted bar soaps in bulk to avoid unnecessary packaging and help the waterways.

4. Cancel mail subscriptions, and register for a do not mail registry.
I have done this, and it helps minimize paper mail waste quite a bit. However, I sill find this to be a challenge, as we receive mail I never wanted. I wonder if I can return to sender with a note to not mail in the future.

5. Skip the disposable plastic bottles and filter your own water.
We use a Berkey countertop stainless steel water filtration system with added fluoride filters. I suggest reading up on the company as I highly recommend it, as well as other filter options to find something that is best for you. I then pack water in an Eco-Canteen or glass bottle with a lid. I save so much money this way. Even when I travel, I bring my Berkey to-go travel bottle and an eco canteen.

6. Bring your drinks, lunch and utensils to work and outings.
Use a reusable lunch bag and stainless steel, glass, cotton, or hemp storage options to pack your lunchtime goodies. Are you a coffee or tea drinker? Make your own at home and bring it in a reusable to-go mug or thermos. Not only does bringing your own lunch (and snacks) everyday save lots of money, but it’s better for your health because then you know the exact ingredients you are consuming, and reduces waste by way of plastic throwaway containers. Bamboo utensils, a stainless steel, or glass straw, and reusable water bottle are all good to keep on hand in your lunch kit and car.

7. Compost plant-based food scraps and other items.
I keep a large bowl in the refrigerator to prevent flies and any smell. I fill the bowl throughout the day with food scraps and dump it into my garden compost pile at the end of the day or early in the morning. This is a great way to bring nutrients back to the soil, helping the earth, the garden, and our environment by reducing waste that ends up in landfills. Some things you can compost include: fruit and veg scraps, dryer lint and dust bunnies, cooked grains, coffee grounds, paper or wood matches, flowers, tea bags and tea grounds, and much more.

8. Reuse cooled cooking water to water plants.
There’s no use wasting perfectly good plant water by dumping it down the sink.

9. Eat Seasonally, and Support Organic and Local Farmers.
The locovore (eating local food, usually within a 150 mile radius from where you live) movement is quite interesting and can be earth-friendly. It is a good idea to start paying attention to where your food is being shipped or imported from and when produce is in season. Organic local options are best. Get to know your small, local farmers and ask them about their growing practices. You can also consider joining a CSA (community supported agriculture).

10. Conserve Water
Only 1% of the world’s water is drinkable, and if you watch any of the water films I mentioned above, you will be quite alarmed by the future of our access to clean drinking water. When it comes to going green, this is one of the most important areas to learn about. We use rain barrels to recycle water and water our plants. We use a low flow shower head and I try to take short showers most of the time. For more ideas, here are 110 Ways to Save Water.

11. Be Mindful of Energy Consumption
During the daytime, all lights stay off in my house. We use the natural sunlight and mostly energy efficient appliances. I only turn on the air conditioner when I absolutely need it. I only wash clothes in cold water. At nighttime, we leave a light on only in the room we are currently using, and we also like natural candles which create a warm and inviting ambiance to the home.

12. Plant a garden and plant bee and butterfly friendly flowers.
You don’t have to have a big back yard to enjoy the beauty of gardening. You can create a window garden, a patio garden, or a potted garden on a deck. There are thousands of gardening resources online and at your local library. Growing culinary herbs is a great place to start.

13. Use reusable fabric produce bags and grocery totes.
You can make your reusable produce bags, or purchase these from Amazon or Etsy. You can even buy reusable sandwich and snack baggies, which are great to have. I like to buy smaller bags for bulk food items like dried beans, grains, nuts, and seeds. I transfer them to mason jars or recycled glass jars with lids when I get home from the grocery store.

14. Raise children the eco-friendly way.
This could be an entire blog post on its own, but I will keep it short since this article is already quite long. Some things I am planning on doing to be a more conscious parent include: cloth diapering, using cold water to wash laundry and hanging items outside in the sun to dry, using cloth wipes, breastfeeding, using glass bottles, using a bamboo spoon and bowl for baby food, making my own baby food and storing it in glass, avoiding plastics, buying clothing secondhand, and supporting eco-friendly. nontoxic wooden toy companies.

15. Eat a plant-based or vegan diet.
Realistically, this is one of the most important steps we can take to help the planet, people, and animals. Plant-based eating helps fight against many major issues that plague our planet, including: water pollution, land degradation, climate change, and global hunger. “We collectively raise, feed, water, kill, and eat over 65 billion animals each year for food …10 times as many people as we have on the entire earth… We have developed a complex system of producing more and more animals that use more and more of our resources, while leaving a massive amount of waste, pollution, and adverse climate change in their wake. … This system…is… heavily intertwined with our culture, politics, economics, and the suppression of the reality of its effect on our planet.” -Dr. Richard Oppenlander

Things I Would Eventually Like to Do:
1. Eliminate plastic garbage pale liners.
2. Set up a solar system.
3. Bring my own container for leftovers when dining out.
4. Ask more stores to offer bulk bin natural food options and put prepared foods in my own containers.

This post is not coming from a place of elitism or impracticality, in fact, quite the contrary. I can vouch that living a simple life and investing in reusable options does save heaps of money over time. The Earth is our only home, and in a very humble way I want to do my part to help, even if just a little bit. I’m not perfect, and I am not always able to follow all of these guidelines myself, but I do my best when I can, and I am fully aware.

Mary Signature

Kitchen food scraps to compost
Kitchen food scraps to compost

Vanilla Pomegranate Smoothie

Vanilla Pomegranate Smoothie

This vanilla pomegranate smoothie is simple to make, yet you will feel as though you are having the most luxurious breakfast or treat.

Some Health Benefits of Pomegranates

1. Of all the fruits, pomegranates are the most powerful anti-oxidant.

2. Pomegranates have potent anti-cancer and immune supporting effects.

3. Pomegranates support heart health.
(Source: Dr. Furhman)

Ingredients
2 frozen bananas
the seeds of 1/2 a pomegranate
8 oz almond milk or coconut water
a piece of a vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
2 drops stevia and/or a touch of maple syrup

Directions

1. In a high-speed blender, combine all ingredients except a quarter of the pomegranate seeds. Blend until smooth.

2. Garnish your smoothie with the remaining pomegranate seeds.

3. Enjoy!

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3-Ingredient Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

3-Ingredient Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies that are healthy and can be eaten for breakfast and snack time alike? YES! If you ate this entire portion of baked cookies, you would be eating 1 cup of oats, 2 bananas, and 1 tbsp raw cacao nibs. In other words, I give you permission to enjoy these and savor every bite without guilt. 1/2 the batch would be an ideal serving for most. You can also double this recipe. Kids and adults alike will love these!

Cost: To make this entire recipe using all organic ingredients cost me $1.67 (NJ prices)

Ingredients:
1 cup of oats (gluten-free)
2 medium-large ripe bananas
1 tbsp raw cacao nibs

I always try to buy organic, fair trade ingredients as much as possible.

Directions:
1. Preheat oven: 350 degrees F.

2. Mash bananas in a medium-sized bowl.

3. In a food processor or blender, process oats for 10 seconds or so to break into smaller fragments. This helps the cookies hold.

4. Mix the oats into the mashed bananas. This will form a batter.

5. Add 1 tbsp raw cacao nibs (optional). You can also add raisins, walnuts, or other add ins of your choice.

6. On a greased cookie sheet (I use just a few drops of coconut oil), scoop out desired amount of cookie dough and press down to flatten into cookies. I make four large cookies. You can also make eight small cookies.

7. Bake for 15-20 minutes on 350 degrees F or until golden brown. I like my cookies to be well done, so I keep an eye on them and bake them longer.

6. Enjoy!

Prep Time Total: 25 min
Yields: 4 large cookies or 8 small cookies

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Almond Cheese with Fresh Herbs

Almond Cheese with Fresh Herbs

This cheese was surprisingly easy to make and delicious too! It does take some prep work and time, but the effort was well worth the result.

Ingredients
1 1/4 cup raw organic almonds
water
juice of 1/2 a lemon
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic
pink Himalayan sea salt to taste
fresh herbs of your choice

Directions

1. Soak almonds in water over night. Drain them in the morning.

2. Remove skins from the almonds and place in a food processor or blender.

3. Add all additional ingredients except for herbs and process/blend on high speed until smooth.

4. Place mixture in cheese cloth over a colander with a bowl underneath to catch any excess liquid.

5. Give the cheese cloth bag a few squeezes to remove extra moisture from the cheese. Then mold into a ball, twisting the top of the cheese cloth.

6. Refrigerate for about eight hours.

7. Remove cheese cloth and form cheese into a round, flatter cheese wheel and press fresh herbs into the top.

Enjoy!

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