Recipe Friday: Treat Time! Chocolate Mug Cake

RecipeFridayTreatDayChcolateMugCake

I have always had a sweet tooth. Chocolate is my weakness when it comes to cheating on what I am allowed to eat. I found a recipe that I could adapt, and this is my chocolate escape. Please adapt this to whatever fits your diet and tastes.

A word about sweeteners: Be very careful with what you use to sweeten your foods. Sugar that you buy off the shelf is most often GMO (which means it is genetically altered so that it won’t die when sprayed with weed/pest killer, which means it is drenched with weed/pest killer), and processed until you get that pure, white sparkly garbage with no nutritional value. This includes cane sugar and beet sugar. If in doubt, do your homework and find out where your food comes from and what they do to it.

Go organic: they don’t use chemicals.

Non-organic uses chemicals. Chemicals are absorbed into the foods, and then absorbed into us when we eat it.

Please only use natural sweeteners. These include (real) raw and unprocessed honey, pure (real) maple syrup, sucanat (unprocessed cane sugar), stevia (no calorie), monkfruit (no calorie), coconut palm sugar, dates (you can buy date sugar, which is ground up / powdered dried dates; it doesn’t dissolve, but is good in baked and cooked recipes, like cakes and oatmeal), and blackstrap molasses. These natural sweeteners come with God-provided vitamins and minerals, are not too high on the glycemic index, and are satisfying.

Not-so-good sweeteners: fructose, agave, xylitol, malitol, erythritol, brown rice syrup. Some of these may be okay if used sparingly, but again, check where they come from, if they’re organic, and how much they’re processed.

Bad sweeteners (these are toxic): saccacharine, aspartame, sucralose, truvia, corn syrup. Brand names are Sweet n Low, Nutra Sweet, Equal, and Splenda. These are chemically altered or chemically produced sweeteners and are toxic to your body.

I’ve taken much of my information from the Green Smoothie Girl’s website: https://greensmoothiegirl.com/good-bad-ugly-sugar-alternatives/ , and she has a handy cheat sheet chart link near the end of the article (when you click on it, you must give your e-mail address to receive it; I love what I get in my inbox from greensmoothiegirl!).

To the recipe:

This recipe is good for a quick snack. It serves two, unless you want it all for yourself and a little tummy ache.

Be careful when microwaving cake: a few seconds too much, and you end up with a dry rock. Start with the minimum time; if you need more, microwave in ten-second increments until done but still moist. The cake continues to bake for a minute or so after it comes out. (Confession note: I always use my 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup to make my mug cake. I did this time, too; but then I scooped the dough into a nice glass dish to bake, so it would look prettier in the picture.)

The nut butter taste does not come out, but adds depth of flavor and good texture.

I recently added peppermint essential oil to this, and it was YUM! The essential oil is completely optional.

The instant coffee powder taste does not come through, but it intensifies the chocolate flavor.

Chocolate Mug Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter, natural (no sugar added) (or any nut butter you prefer)
  • 1 tablespoon natural sweetener, such as sucanat, maple syrup, or honey*
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant coffee powder
  • 3-4 drops peppermint essential oil or other essential oil of your choice (orange would go nicely, for example) (this is optional)
  • 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup flour or your choice (I usually use barley or oat)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce**
  • 1 tbsp semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. In a 2-cup, microwavable dish, melt the butter. Add the peanut butter and mix together.
  2. Add the sweetener, coffee powder, optional essential oil, cacao, baking soda, salt, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Stir in the flour and applesauce. Mix well.
  4. Add the chocolate chips and mix well.
  5. Microwave for 40-50 seconds (less for a fudgy middle and more for a lighter texture throughout; and depending on the power of your microwave).

This is delicious hot or warm. It is even better if you can wait until it cools (even better the next day!).

*If using stevia, start with 1/8 teaspoon.

** Note: I use applesauce because I can’t have eggs. You can add 1 egg instead of the applesauce.

Bonus Recipe

RecipeFridayTreatDayChocMugBrownie

I adapted the mug cake into a 7×11” pan of brownies. It uses flax and chia seeds instead of eggs, but you can use 2 eggs instead (or even 1/2 cup of applesauce), if you like. Using some liquid sweetener (the maple syrup) helps to soften the thick batter.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon (scant) ground flaxseed
  • 1 tablespoon (scant) ground chia seed
  • 1/4 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 cup softened or melted butter
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup sucanat sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 2 teaspoons aluminum free baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups choice of flour (I use oat, barley, spelt, or einkorn)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, 1 1/2 cups if you want extra-chocolatey

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare a 7×11″ baking pan by buttering or spraying with oil.
  2. In a small dish, mix the ground flax and chia with the water.
  3. In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine softened/melted butter, nut butter, and sweeteners.
  4. Add flax/chia mix and beat well (until the flax/chia lumps are out). Add the vanilla, cacao, instant coffee, baking soda, and salt; stir in.
  5. Slowly mix in the flour; stir until it is all incorporated well. Batter will be stiff (especially if you are multi-tasking and let the flax/chia sit in the batter for too long).
  6. Carefully stir in chocolate chips.
  7. Pour into prepared pan, smooth out to edges. (The batter is quite thick – so thick, you can handle it with your hands.)
  8. Bake 30 – 35 minutes. Check for doneness (toothpick should come out clean or with some crumbs).

This is best if allowed to cool first, and even better the next day.

Stumble and Pray

StumbleAndPray

James 3.2 For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, this one is a perfect man, able indeed to bridle the whole body.

Who among us has not stumbled? Where does that stumbling go afterward?

  • Crawling around, blind
  • Cursing our situation
  • Sitting and wailing and wallowing
  • Jumping up and running into more stumbling blocks
  • Realizing we are on our knees, and praying

If we reverse the order listed above, and first realize we are on our knees, and we pray, then all the other responses are moot.

Hosea 14.9 Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.

1 Peter 2.7, 8 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

There are many ways we stumble. We can trip ourselves in our own sin. We can walk in darkness and stumble over unseen obstacles. Others can trip us, even when we walk in the light.

Although they vary in some ways, stumbling is akin to tribulation. These will happen in our lives. God allows such things. Why? Because He loves us. This is how we learn, how we are disciplined to look up and look to our Savior.

Are you on the ground? Allow yourself to stay there and contemplate. Allow God’s Holy Spirit into your heart to search and try you.

Psalm 139.23, 24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 91.9-15 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

One Body, One Lord

OneBodyOneLord

A lot of thoughts are swirling around in my head right now, from my devotions in 1 Corinthians 12 and 13; and trying to link to a couple of Stu’s posts from Oct 6th and 7th. Something God is explaining to me, something I’m trying to grasp.

1 Corinthians 12 is about the gifts God gives us (teaching, healing, prophesying, etc.) and about how they all work together in the Body of Christ; and 1 Corinthians 13 is The Love Chapter.

1 Cor 12.4-7 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

On Oct 6th, Stu’s daily verse was from Gen 1.27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

And my reply was, “Can you imagine- all the billions and gazillions of people ever created (note created vs ‘born’) and ALL in God’s image? He has so many facets, He is infinite!”

Jesus is God, and He is infinite. Also, we are created in His image. He works in/through all of us. Think of all the people who have ever been created, and all the gifts God designed into them; all working together as His body. In His timing, we meet up with one another, either face-to-face or through others, or reading/writing books, or radio / television, or online or whatever – we connect. God drops bits of Himself and His wisdom / Word / love through each of us unto others. We all work together for His glory!

Romans 8.28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

I think we can also all know that all things work together for Him, for His glory. It is to the good to those who love God; and to the not-so-good to those who do not love Him. All to His glory. Isaiah 48.11b I will not give my glory unto another.

And one of His miracles is that He works this, His glory, through US! So, whether we feel like it or not, whether we think we’re doing any good at all or not, whether we are obedient or not, God WILL get the glory.

Stu’s verse on Oct 7 was Colossians 3:12 NIV Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

My reply: “Even when there is turmoil and sadness inside, we can clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. We can put on Christ (Gal 3.27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.). Sometimes it feels like a front; sometimes it feels like a blanket. But it is always right.”

Here’s where 1 Corinthians 13 comes in. God is love. Whatever we think we know about love, we have to toss it if it isn’t God. Our love is not love. 1 John 4.10a Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us. 1 Corinthians 13 lays out some of the acts that we can do, some of the impetus that drives us; but if it’s not God / agape / love, then it is clanging, nothing, dismissed, ceasing, restrained, passing away.

Even when we don’t feel like it, we can still show God’s love. We can put on Christ (think avatar or actor), and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4.7).

God always blesses obedience. When we obey, even stiff-necked obedience, God blesses us. If we are disobedient, God will use someone else. But we will miss the blessing.

Be a willing, active part of the body of Christ.

Recipe Friday: Elderberry Syrup

Welcome to my second Recipe Friday. (If you missed the first one, click here.)

It’s the season for prevention!

All year long is a good time to build up your immune system. (See my immune system pointers in this blog – along with Wardee’s Elderberry Gummies; some cold and flu remedies here; and a recipe for Vitamin C chews here.) But autumn is a good time to start your remedy-making, to make sure you’ve got medicinal therapies ready, and to give you and your family a boost to prepare for cold season.

Elderberry Syrup is one of the best-known remedies, and for good reason. Elderberries prevent viruses from replicating in the body, and so shorten the duration and severity of a cold or flu bug.

If you grow your own elderberry bushes, high five! You have an organic, natural, and accessible treatment available to you. [Note: Besides the berries, the elder flowers are also beneficial. Be sure to harvest no more than 1/5 of the flowers on any bush, to make sure you have enough berries in the fall.]

If you don’t have elder bushes, try local farmers’ markets. A third option is to buy dried elderberries at a health food store or online (vitacost.com or amazon.com are good sources). Make sure they are organic.

Ideas for using elderberries:

  • Take a dose of 1 teaspoon of elderberry syrup as soon as you notice a cold coming on; you can take it every two hours. Because this is food, you can take it as often as needed before or during a cold or flu.
  • Add some elderberry syrup to your daily drinking water.
  • Boil elderberries (fresh or dried) into a tea with other herbs, and sip.
  • Make elderberry gummies by adding unflavored (organic) gelatin. Pour into candy molds, or into a pan and then cut into dosage sizes. Organic gelatin is beneficial to your overall health and to your gut.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dried elderberries
  • 3 cups of filtered water
  • 1 cup of raw local honey (or less, to taste)
  • Optional ingredients:
    • ½ cup dried yarrow leaves and flowers (Yarrow makes you sweat, and tricks your body into fighting the virus, even before it takes hold. It’s also beneficial for the lungs.)
    • ½ cup dried hawthorn berries (very high in Vitamin C)
    • Juice from a 2-inch piece of ginger root (juice it by pressing through a garlic press)
    • Orange or lemon peel
    • Cinnamon stick

ElderberrySyrup

Instructions

  • Simmer the elderberries and filtered water together in a covered pan for 30 minutes. (If you add more ingredients, such as the yarrow and hawthorn berries, add more water, 1 cup for every half cup of extra ingredient.)
  • Mash the elderberries (and optional other ingredients) with a potato masher (remove a cinnamon stick before mashing).
  • Strain the elderberries from the juice:
    • Pour through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth, then bundle up the elderberries in the cheesecloth and squeeze out all the elderberry juice.
    • Or use a potato ricer
    • ElderberrySyrupTools
  • Simmer the juice, uncovered, for another 30 minutes, to let it concentrate.
  • Allow the juice to cool until it’s just warm-hot.
  • Add the raw honey and stir thoroughly to incorporate the honey. Do not heat again.
  • (If making gummies, add ¼ cup gelatin for every 2 cups of liquid. Whisk in carefully so it doesn’t clump.)
  • If using, add the ginger juice.
  • [If making gummies, pour into molds or glass pan.]
  • Allow the syrup to cool.

Store in an airtight glass jar (i.e., mason jar) in the refrigerator.

Essential Oils Anti-Ick

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It is no news to those who follow me that I am an enthusiastic user of essential oils. Essential oils are good for your health! [Disclaimer: As with any product, test with a small amount to make sure you are not sensitive or allergic to the substance.] Because essential oils are made from plants, they are part of God’s gift in His creation, intended for our benefit. They work with our bodies, and do not contain harmful chemicals.

Think nothing can kill a virus? Think again: essential oils are proven to kill viruses, bacteria, and funguses. They can also act as anti-inflammatories.

Be sure to use a reputable source for your essential oils. At home, I use NOW brand and Vitacost brand.

How I use essential oils:

  • Diffuse
  • Serums
  • Roll-ons
  • Creams
  • Air freshener
  • Anti-bacterial spray
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning

Essential oils can be mixed with beeswax, cocoa butter, shea butter, a carrier oil (such as coconut oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, avocado oil, or almond oil), castile soap, vinegar, witch hazel, vodka, and / or honey to make an unlimited array of health-supporting remedies and treatments.

NOTE: Always use essential oils combined with a carrier oil if applying to skin or ingesting.

Ways to ingest:

  • cook with essential oils (no, cooking does not destroy most essential oils: most are processed with heat) add a few drops of, say, rosemary and thyme into your spaghetti sauce
  • add lemon oil into your smoothie
  • add to treats like frosting (lemon, orange, or peppermint add taste and zip)
  • bake into a dessert (lemon pie or bars, lavender bread, cardamom cookies, peppermint brownies)

Apply to skin:

  • combine with a carrier oil
  • rub on abdomen for quick uptake
  • smooth onto temples, shoulders, or neck for tension or headache relief
  • use as an antibacterial on scrapes and bug bites
  • combine with castile soap for shampoo and body wash

Clean:

  • lemon and orange are great at cutting grease, and smell so refreshing
  • essential oils kill bacteria in toilets, around sinks, kitchen counters, and baby’s room
  • combine with vodka and witch hazel for air freshening and killing germs on surfaces
  • use to wipe down handles, counters, keyboards, and common surfaces during cold and flu season

And you can always diffuse. Get a good-quality diffuser that will last for hours and incorporate a large room. And, get smaller diffusers for smaller rooms. Heck, they even sell diffusers for your car, and to wear around your neck!

Another way to diffuse is to add a few drops to an inhaler (like these: https://www.amazon.com/Aromatherapy-Essential-Portable-Reusable-Aluminum/dp/B07PP1WB4N/); or a few drops to a handkerchief or tissue.

My go-to websites for dependable information on essential oils are

Following is a list of essential oils that are antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory:

Antivirals:

Basil, bergamot, cassia, cinnamon bark, clove, cumin, eucalyptus, frankincense, geranium, helichrysum, myrrh, oregano, peppermint, rose, rosewood, sage, sandalwood, tea tree, thyme

Antibacterials:

Basil, bergamot, cassia, cedarwood, cinnamon bark, citronella, clove, dill, eucalyptus, geranium, lemon, lemongrass, marjoram, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, rosemary, spikenard, tea tree

Antifungal:

Cassia, cinnamon bark, citronella, clary sage, eucalyptus, fir, geranium, lavender, lemongrass, marjoram, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, rosewood, sage, spikenard, thyme

Anti-inflammatory:

Caraway, clove, eucalyptus, ginger, lavender, marjoram, oregano, peppermint, roman chamomile, tea tree, thyme, and turmeric.