Smoky Chickpea Salad

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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

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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

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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!

Ethical Gift Giving

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This week, I rewatched the documentary film Living on One Dollar, which illustrates the lives of people who live in extreme poverty. The film also documents the day-to-day experiences of farmers, day laborers, and artisans in Guatemala. It is the type of film that really puts things into perspective for those of us who have plenty.

As we enter the holiday season, I want to share the importance of considering our purchases in every way, shape, and form – and moreover, spread awareness about ethically made and fair trade gifts. There may be fair trade stores such as 10,000 Villages in your local area that you can look into, but those are unfortunately rare. For me, one of my most favorite ethical companies is a customized, handcrafted jewelry subscription box called Worldly Box. I have talked about them once in the past on my YouTube channel; they offer a beautiful gift option that your loved ones will get so much out of, and the best part is, the items support talented global artisans who are paid a fair wage. These are not items that can be found at any mall or by making impulse purchases at big box retailers.

Below, I have shared photos of what was in my box this month. What is neat about this is, the box is curated based on your style specifications, and the items make beautiful gifts individually, or you can purchase a gift subscription for your friends and family members so they will receive a surprise in the mail! And each piece is really special, because they will have the opportunity to learn about the person who made it.

I spoke with the founder, Veronica, and she shared a 20% off coupon code with me that is good thru Dec 25th, but orders have to be placed by Dec 4th, 2016, if you want your gifts to be received by Christmas. The discount makes it even more affordable than it already is.

Holiday Discount Code:
“SANTASCOMING” 20% off all gifts – You can order your gifts here

How beautiful are these pieces of art? I cannot wait to wear the pink earrings for New Year’s and the gorgeous blue pouch will be a change purse for me. I just adore it. I have very little by way of jewelry, accessories, and clothes, because I like to live simply, so I truly appreciate every piece I have and wear it with joy in my heart, knowing that they are made by hand.

No matter what gifts you decide on making or gifting this holiday season, I hope you choose options that are special and where the people who made them are paid fairly for their talents, so that they can also enjoy time with their families and experience a better quality of life. We all deserve that.

And if you watch the film Living on One Dollar, please comment and let me know your thoughts on the film. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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Thank you for reading and sharing!

Mary Signature

 

Sweet Potato Toast That Can Be Made in a Toaster

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‚ÄčI 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!

No-Bake Chocolate Date Cookies

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Minimalist cookies, folks. These are chewy like a date truffle but shaped like a cookie. And… They are healthy, plus so simple to create in as little as 5 minutes. I like to enjoy a couple of these treats with an evening cup of tea.

Ingredients

1 cup rolled oats
12 pitted medjool dates
1 tsp vanilla extract or powder
3 tbsp cacao (or cocoa) powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or Vitamix until well-combined into a dry, but sticky dough-like consistency. If too dry, add more dates. If too sticky, add more oats.

2. Roll the dough into 8 balls.

3. On a flat nonstick surface, press each ball down into a flat cookie of your desired thickness.

4. Pop these in the freezer for 20 minutes to chill and then serve. Store in the fridge.

Recipe yields 8 small cookies. Recipe can easily be doubled. Enjoy!

Why I Deactivated Facebook and How You Can Too (if you want to)

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There is nothing inherently wrong with social media websites, but for those of us who mindlessly allow our lives and minds to be sucked into a vortex of time-wasting, it might be beneficial to revisit our online behaviors and make positive changes. For me, that was Facebook.

I am currently on day 7 of a 30-day deactivation process of my personal account. If you are reading this article through my Sprout & Blossom Facebook page, my blog posts automatically post there when published. Trust me, I realize the irony of potentially reading a blog post about giving up Facebook that you saw posted on Facebook. Haha. I am still considering whether or not I will keep my Sprout & Blossom FB page. For now, it is fine.

There are many reasons why I chose to deactivate my personal Facebook account for 30 days, but here are a few of the things I have noticed about myself:

1. I felt overwhelmed by an ongoing stream of content/opinions/messages after using it.

2. Overall, I did not enjoy it, yet felt it difficult to just stay logged off.

3. It was a time-suck for me. I would end up passively reading the news feed during precious downtime when I could have been reading something to educate myself or participating in something more productive.

4. I have an abundance of watered down relationships with acquaintances. It is important to me to cultivate more meaningful relationships with my close family and friends. This means phone calls where I actually hear the person’s voice and learn more about them (not just passively see updates through a screen), taking walks, meeting for tea, and writing handwritten letters and cards (yes, snail mail. I miss the joy in that simple act of sending mail to others, and now I have more time for it).

In fact, I was so excited about getting back to handwritten cards and letters again, that I finally got myself a p.o. box. I can receive mail now in this beautiful antique p.o. box. Quite the little historical treasure. 

Sidenote: Please feel free to send me snail mail. I will be starting a new *read mail with me* segment on my sprout & blossom youtube channel where I will read letters and cards and open packages while I talk about life. I would love to hear from you!

Mailing Address:

mary harris, p.o. box 635, ocean gate, nj 08740

7-Day Progress

The first few days were a little challenging, and the ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO) makes a sneak appearance every now and then. But so far, I am much happier without my personal Facebook account. I have more time for reading, writing, and photography, and realize those are things I really enjoy. I’m ready to take on week #2.

How You Can Give It a Try:

If you face similar struggles with any type of social or digital media (it does not have to be Facebook; we all have our triggers), then here are my top suggestions for letting go or at least improving your quality of life:

1. Consider a reasonable time frame for staying offline. You can always go back.

2. Make a game out of the challenge. You can even document your experience.

3. Most people are afraid of missing out on something. The truth is, in life we always miss out on something. We cannot be everywhere all at once. We will never know everything that is going on everywhere with everyone (nor should we want to). We will miss things. But along with that, we can make more time for the more important things. This replaces the fear and anxiety.

4. Remember that in the grand scheme of things, Facebook is fairly new. It is just a website, but one with a lot of power; it has changed the ways we think, feel, and behave. It has changed our way of communicating in such a short period of time, for better and for worse. Remember back to your pre-social media days. How did you stay in touch with the ones you love? Now, more of that.

In closing, if this is something you have been contemplating, just go for it. You might be surpised what you learn about yourself.

Please comment and share: Have you ever struggled with using social media?

Godspeed. Enjoy this precious life.