Health

Fudgey Vegan Holiday Brownies

Fudgey Vegan Holiday Brownies

Featured in The Beachside Resident December 2018 issue

Maybe you don’t have time to whip up some baked goods from scratch but you still want to bring something impressive to the table that everyone can eat. I always stick to organic labels to avoid extra fillers, pesticides and chemicals. Organic tend to list healthier ingredients. Don’t be fooled with “natural” or “organic” labels unless you see the USDA stamp of approval. Gluten-free is the route I go. Most of us have a relative with sensitivities so why not be safe?

You will need:

• Box of organic GF brownie mix

• Cooked sweet potato

• Applesauce

• Cinnamon or Healing Sprinkles Spice Blend

• Carob chips or cacao nibs

• Coconut flakes (optional)

• Cashews (optional)

• Coconut oil

Preheat oven as instructed. In a bowl, combine brownie mix and substitute eggs for a half cup of applesauce and half a cup of cooked, mashed sweet potato. Add water or oil as directed on the box. You can add more sweet potato if you want to add less oil. I usually add just a tablespoon of coconut oil instead of the recommended amount. Sprinkle a generous amount of cinnamon and your choice of carob chips or cacao nibs. After blending the mixture, top with chopped raw cashews and coconut flakes. Cook in the oven for 10 minutes over recommended time. Now you have an almost made from scratch, rogue batch of brownies! I like to drizzle a little CBD oil on mine.

Health, mental health

Battling Holiday Blues

Battling Holiday Blues
It’s that time of year again when everyone is filled with cheer and joy. Evenings are filled with holiday music, spiked eggnog and colorful lights glimmer throughout the streets and sparkling on homes. But the truth is, not everyone is filled with joy this time of year. For some, they may be missing a loved one or they are financially burdened. Many people live paycheck to paycheck and having to spend an entire month’s income on gifts that add up to the same price of your bills, is beyond stressful. Here are a few ways to lighten the load and help you win this year’s holiday battle of the blues:
  • Support Small Businesses
Amazon is so convenient and don’t we all love it? However, consider doing a portion of your shopping with local vendors or small businesses. Supporting a mom and pop shop can help that family to afford putting their child in dance class or braces on their son. You are supporting someone’s dream. You are also buying unique and thoughtful gifts. Small businesses don’t carry genetic watered down products. Their goods are full of love and dreams. There is more of a creative and personal feel to shopping small or local. Plus, you are supporting your community. 
  • Create Memories or Homemade Goods
  • If you are on a budget but still want to give gifts this year, surely you can afford memories or make something. You can prevent your bank account from causing you financial grief, which can allow you to relax and enjoy the season a little more. For example, gift your parents a homemade dinner and game night that you host. They can choose the date and come over and be spoiled. Or, gift your significant other a coupon book for massages, dinner, cleaning and some x-rated fun. Gift your friend or sister a night of babysitting. These are all thoughtful, free and memorable. Another option is making homemade gifts like candles, scrubs, art or even baked goods. 
  • Self Care 
  • During times of stress, we forget to take care of ourselves. Maybe skip a night out and listen to music or read a book instead. Decompress with a bath and wine. Hell, a bath in wine! Call old friends or family and catch up on the phone while you pamper yourself. Treat yourself to a massage. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Drinking plenty of fluids and making sure your nutrition is not suffering, is also important. Vitamin D and folate deficiencies can cause depression and anxiety. Pro tip: folic acid is a synthetic version of folate that many of us can not process; avoid it and take a bioactive or methylated version of folate. Just like the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” you have to take care of yourself. Herbal teas are a good way to maintain your stress levels. Kava, valerian root, lemon balm, and ashwagandha root are great relaxing teas. CBD oil is a natural option for managing stress, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping.
  • Volunteer 
  • If you still feel like you are in a funk, volunteering is an excellent way to bring you back to reality. Sometimes helping others in unfortunate situations can help change our perspective, humble us or make us more grateful. You can volunteer at a shelter and serve food to those in need or donate your time to a local organization. My favorite is the Humane Society. Walking dogs and petting cats is therapeutic and the animals are so grateful. It gives you a sense of purpose. 
  • Get a Hobby
  • I’ll admit that life can get stagnant sometimes, even if everything is great. Shake things up and challenge yourself to do something new like yoga, painting, jogging, martial arts, baking, blogging, flying paper airplanes… anything! Hobbies are outlets and we all need to do something other than work, poop, shower, eat, repeat. Find your passion and spark in life. Save up for a road trip. Plan fun adventures. Even if it is by yourself. You don’t need a copilot. Sometimes it is great to just let your mind wander and enjoy the journey. Waiting to live and have fun until you find someone to do these things with is a sad excuse that is holding you back. Learn to love yourself and your company. Make new friends and be open to possibilities. 
  • Don’t Be Afraid To Get Help
  • There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeing a therapist. Honestly, everyone should see a therapist. We live in a time where we are trained to smile and be positive. We are human. We feel things! It is okay to feel. Sometimes our friends are not always the best person to vent to. A professional can help you find the tools to cope and manage stress. It is literally their job and they aren’t waiting for their turn to speak. The suicide prevention lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255. You never know what is around the corner, no matter how dark this chapter seems. Your next chapter could be the best times of your life. Giving up hope robs you of that and spreads your pain to those who love you.