Easy Ways you Can Help!

The number of issues out there negatively affecting our environment, animal welfare and our own health, can seem overwhelming at times. Many feel like their actions will not make a difference, but that is simply not true. Everything and anything you do goes toward a society that is more responsible and less reliable on convenience.

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I have put together a list of really easy fixes that can make a big difference and probably won’t change your life much at all. Today we are looking at reducing your plastic footprint.

I know one of the “R’s” we are taught is to recycle and yes it does have some value, but understand that 91% of all plastic is not recycled and ends up in landfills and waterways, including our oceans. We are now producing 300 million tons of plastic each year and of that, over 8 million tons is being dumped into our oceans. Worse still, is about half of the plastic produced is used one time only!

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Here are some easy ways to reduce your plastic use:

  • Carry with you - reusable straws, chopsticks, fork, knife and spoon. I keep mine in a cloth pencil case in my purse.

  • Be sure and ask for NO straw or disposable cutlery when you are eating out.

  • Always carry a reusable shopping bag. There are some that fold up quite small. Over 500 billion plastic bags are produced each year and they have a “working life” of about 15 minutes.

  • Buy and use a reusable water bottle and coffee cup.

  • Avoid excessive packaging when buying fruits and vegetables. You don’t need your carrots or apples in a plastic bag.

  • To help avoid excessive packaging with all groceries, stock up at your local bulk food store and bring a reusable container like a mason jar to fill up. Also, if your favorite product does use way too much packaging, email, Facebook or Instagram them and ask them to cut back. Companies will listen.

  • Ditch the Ziploc bags and use glass containers instead.

  • Swap out your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo brush. Over 50 million pounds worth of toothbrushes end up in our trash. They both need to be replaced at the same rate but the bamboo will biodegrade after 6 months.

  • If you live in a country that hasn’t banned micro-beads, make sure your cosmetics do not contain them.

  • Over 2 billion plastic razors are thrown out each year. Switch to a metal reusable razor and ditch the plastic for good.

  • AND FINALLY, every time you make any type of purchase give it a look over to see how much plastic it contains or is wrapped in, then decide whether or not the item is worth the millions of years that the plastic will spend on this earth. Choose wisely and companies will have no choice but to get on board or if not, to get thrown out with the trash.

Soup for those cool days - Vegan French Onion

Who doesn’t love soup, especially during the cooler weather? This vegan French Onion soup is warm, comforting and really inexpensive to make! It uses simple ingredients that you probably already have, and it freezes well.

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Vegan French Onion Soup (Makes 6 servings)

- 5 cup of sliced onions*
- 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
- 2 tsp each: dried thyme, salt, pepper
- 1 Tbsp sugar (or maple syrup)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil, plus 1 Tbsp vegan butter
- 3/4 C of wine (I used red but use what you like)
- 2 quarts mushroom or veggie broth
- 6 slices of thick toasted bread (I actually used bagel halves)
- 1 1/2 cups of non dairy cheese shreds

*use what ever type of onions you prefer and slice to the size you like.

Directions:

- Heat the oil and butter in a large pot on medium heat, and add the onions, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper and sugar. Cook for about 45 minutes stirring often so they don’t stick.
- Add the wine and cook for about 10 minutes.
- Add the stock and cook for another 15-20 minutes. (If you are going to freeze, do so at this point)
- Transfer 1/6 of the soup to each of your oven proof dishes, add a slice of your toasted bread and top with 1/4 C of cheese.
- Place under the broiler and cook until the cheese is bubbly (about 4-5 minutes).
- Serve immediately and enjoy!

Blessed Protein Double Chocolate Pancakes

These vegan pancakes are so quick and easy and are especially delicious with the Blessed Protein Chocolaty flavor!

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Blessed Protein Double Chocolate Pancakes (Makes about 12-14 pancakes)

- 2 cups non dairy milk
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup mashed bananas
- 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted + more for frying
- 2 cups all purpose unbleached flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp Blessed Protein Chocolate Coco Flavor
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ cup vegan chocolate chips

 Dirtections:

- In two separate bowls, mix the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients whisking just until the lumps are gone.
- Mix in the choc chips.
- Heat frying pan on medium heat with a teaspoon of coconut oil. Add about ½ cup pancake batter onto the pan to form each pancake.
- Cook until the bubbles at the top to collapse about 2-3 minutes.
- Flip with a spatula and cook on other side for an additional 2 minutes.
- Continue until all batter is used up. Serve warm and enjoy!

Save a Life - Adopt A Turkey This Thanksgiving

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Celebrate turkeys as friends - not food. You can make a difference in an animals life by making a modest donation to Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary. Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary is located just outside of Stratford, Ontario. Cedar Row is a place of hope for animals rescued from abuse, neglect and slaughter, happening on meat, milk, and egg farms. Hundreds of farm animals including pigs, cows, goats, sheep, donkeys, rabbits, turkeys, chickens, ducks and geese, have been rescued since the sanctuary was established in 1999. 100% if the funds received, go directly back to the animals.

Over 300,000 million turkeys are killed in Canada and the United States each year for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

They’re intelligent animals who enjoy having their feathers stroked and who like listening to music, with which they’ll often loudly sing along. In nature, they can fly 55 miles an hour, run 35 miles an hour, and live up to 10 years. But the story is very different for turkeys on factory farms: They’ll be killed when they’re only 3 to 5 months old and, during their short lives, will be denied even the simplest pleasures, such as running, building nests, and raising their young.

YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! See the Food section of my Blog for some great plant based recipes, and DONATE to a turkey or farm rescue like Cedar Row!

Thanksgiving Plant Based Main Dishes

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Cooking a Thanksgiving feast shouldn’t be stressful. Most of the recipes listed here can be partially made up a head of time and then finished right before dinner, leaving you to be with your family and friends.

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Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms (Makes 8 servings)

- 8 large Portobello mushrooms (stems and gills removed)
- 2 pounds of potatoes, chopped
- 1 large package of baby spinach
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 C vegan cheese shreds (I used Daiya mozzarella)
- 1 C bread crumbs*
- 3 Tbsp vegan butter
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp each: salt and chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp pepper

Directions:

- Cook the potatoes and garlic in a medium pot for about 15-20 or until soft. Drain and add salt, pepper, rosemary, butter, and mash until they are the consistency you like. Stir in the spinach.
- While the potatoes are cooking, remove the mushroom stems (you can chop these and add to the potato mixture if you like). Remove the gills with a small spoon. Wash and dry the mushrooms and brush them with oil. Place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Heat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit and cook the unstuffed mushrooms for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
- Using a large spoon overfill each mushroom with the potato mixture. Then top with 1/8 of the cheese and 1/8 of the bread crumbs. (at this point you can cover the tray and wait until you are ready to cook).
- Cook the stuffed mushroom for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees or until golden brown.

*You can use seasoned croutons and crush them with a rolling pin or put in a food processor.

OPTION:

- You can replace the potato/spinach mixture with about 4-5 cups of uncooked vegan stuffing. Recipe follows:

BASIC VEGAN STUFFING
- 2 Tbsp of olive oil or vegan butter
- 2 of each, chopped: celery stock, carrot and onion
- 1 cup of mushrooms, chopped
- 1 1/2 cup each: cooked rice and dried out bread cut into cubes
- 1 cup of vegetable or mushroom stock
- 2 tsp each: ground sage, thyme, rosemary, salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS
- Heat up oil or butter in a large pan on medium heat, add celery, carrots, onions, mushrooms and spices.
- Cook for about 5-6 minutes.
- Place rice, bread and veggie mixture into a large bowl and add as much stock as you need to make the mixture moist. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
- Put the mixture into a baking dish that has been greased with oil or butter. Cover with foil and cook at 375 for about 30 minutes. 

OPTIONS
- The sky is the limit with stuffing, add nuts, dried fruit or other vegetables.

Stuffed Sweet Peppers (Makes 8 servings)

These stuffed pepper are so easy and taste amazing. If you don’t like barley, you can easily replace it with rice, quinoa or any other grain you prefer. Also, changing the veggies to whatever you like or have on hand is perfectly fine. Just make sure you keep the total amounts close to the recipe.

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- 8 medium to large green, yellow or red sweet peppers
- 2 C cooked barley (see package for instructions)
- 1 C each: chopped mushrooms, onions, zucchini and spinach
- 2 Tbsp chopped garlic
- 1 Tbsp each: Thyme, Parley
- 1 tsp each: salt, pepper and chili powder
- 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 C of tomato or spaghetti sauce
- 1 C of non dairy cheese shreds (optional)

Directions:

- Rinse the bell peppers. Cut off the tops and carefully remove and remove the seeds and pith. If they wont stand up, cut a small slice off the bottom of the pepper.
- In a large pan, add the oil and heat to medium. Add vegetables, garlic, spices, salt and pepper. Cook for about 5-6 minutes or until soft. (if you are using other veggies that are firm, you may need to increase your cooking time).
- Stir the barley into the vegetables and mix until completely combined.
- Pour 1 C of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking dish large enough to hold 8 peppers (or two dishes if you need to).
- Add the barley/veggie mixture to each pepper and place in the baking dish.
- Top the peppers with the remaining tomato sauce and top with cheese shreds if using.
- Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes uncovered.

We don’t all have time to make everything from scratch. Today there are quite a few tasty options available to serve as a main, that will please everyone at your table. Gardein has some great options that come with the stuffing, gravy and cranberries, making your job easier. 

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Almost anything you can think of is now available in a plant based recipe and at your local supermarket. Remember, if you don’t see what you are looking for, ask for it. The more we demand these products, the more our grocery stores will stock them.

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Your New Thanksgiving Tradition - Plant Based Side Dishes

There are hundreds of easy vegan Thanksgiving recipes out there that will satisfy all of your friends and family. Here are just a few - as always, you can change these to match up with your tastes or whatever you have on hand. These recipes make about 4-5 servings and can be easily doubled or tripled.

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OVEN ROASTED BALSAMIC BRUSSEL SPROUTS:
- 3 cups Brussel sprouts cut in half
- 3 Tbsp each: balsamic vinegar and olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Arrange Brussel sprouts on a baking sheet.
- Mix together oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and drizzle over sprouts.
- Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

SPICY CORN
- 2 cups of frozen organic corn
- 1 tsp each: garlic powder, chili powder, lime juice
-  ½ tsp cayenne
- 1-2 Tbsp of Vegan Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast

DIRECTIONS:
- Mix all spices and add to frozen corn.
- Heat up in microwave or on stove top.
- Sprinkle with cheese or yeast and serve.
 

MAPLE CARROTS:
- 5-6 medium carrots, sliced on diagonal
- 1 Tbsp each: Vegan butter and maple syrup
- 2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- Salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS:
- Boil carrots in water for about 15 minutes.
- Drain and stir in maple syrup, butter, rosemar.y, salt and pepper.
 

ROASTED ROOT VEGGIES WITH CURRY
- 4-5 cups of peeled and chopped root veggies: carrots, parsnips, turnip
- 1 large onion, chopped in big chunks
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped fine 
- Salt & pepper
- 2-3 Tbsp Cilantro or parsley, chopped

DIRECTIONS:
- Preheat oven to 425. Toss all ingredients except cilantro together and layer on to two baking sheets. Cook for 15 minutes and turn over (or just stir them around). Cook another 15 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

OPTIONS:
- Replace curry powder with 1 tsp each: rosemary and thyme
 

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ASIAN STYLE GREEN BEANS
- 2 cups of frozen or fresh green beans
- 1/4 cup organic soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp each: garlic-minced, brown sugar and sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS:
- Mix in medium bowl soy, garlic, brown sugar and pepper flakes.
- Toss green beans on mixture.
- Heat up sesame oil over medium heat. Add green beans and cook for 3-5 minutes –keep stirring.

OPTIONS:
- Use broccoli instead of green beans. Add sliced mushrooms or red pepper.
- Change up the spices - use olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper-delete soy, sugar and sesame oil.
 

CREAMED KALE
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
- 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 big bunch of kale cut into bite size pieces
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- Salt & pepper
- Grated coconut (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
- Heat oil over medium high heat in a large pan. Add onion and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add kale, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add coconut milk, salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Top with coconut flakes if using.

OPTIONS:
- Replace kale with Swiss Chard or spinach.
 

GARLIC MASHED POTATOES
- 8 medium potatoes cut in chunks, peel if you prefer
- 3-4 Tbsp of vegan butter
- 5 cloves of roasted garlic (see note)
- salt, pepper and chives

DIRECTIONS
- Put potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Boil for about 30 minutes.
- Drain potatoes and add to a large bowl. Add butter, salt and pepper.
- Mash with a potato masher or use a hand mixer (don't over mix).
- Mash the roasted garlic and stir into potatoes.
- Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

NOTE:
- To roast garlic, wrap cloves in tin foil add a few drops of olive oil and roast in oven at 400 for 30 minutes.

OPTIONS:
- Replace potatoes with sweet potatoes. Replace garlic with a small sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg.
 

BASIC VEGAN STUFFING
- 2 Tbsp of olive oil or vegan butter
- 2 of each, chopped: celery stock, carrot and onion
- 1 cup of mushrooms, chopped
- 1 cup each: cooked rice and dried out bread cut into cubes
- 1 cup of vegetable or mushroom stock
- 1 tsp each: sage, thyme, rosemary, salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS
- Heat up oil or butter in a large pan on medium heat, add celery, carrots, onions, mushrooms and spices.
- Cook for about 5-6 minutes.
- Place rice, bread and veggie mixture into a large bowl and add as much stock as you need to make the mixture moist. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
- Put the mixture into a baking dish that has been greased with oil or butter. Cover with foil and cook at 375 for about 30 minutes. 

OPTIONS
- The sky is the limit with stuffing, add nuts, dried fruit or other vegetables.

Easy Thanksgiving Starters - All Plant based and All Easy!

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We are starting new traditions! A delicious plant based Thanksgiving dinner that everyone will love! 

Here are a couple of starters that can be served for a casual dinner or can be adapted to serve a large group of your friends and family.

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Spiced Pumpkin Soup (Serves 6 - 8)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups medium chopped onion
- 2 tsp. each: minced ginger and garlic
- 1 tsp. each: ground cumin, coriander, cayenne, cinnamon, salt and pepper
- 4 cups low vegetable stock
- 2 x 15 oz cans pumpkin puree or 4 cups of chopped roasted pumpkin purée*
- 1 C coconut milk
- Toasted pumpkin seeds (optional - for garnish)
- Pomegranate seeds (optional - for garnish)

Directions:
- In a large stockpot heat oil and add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes. Then add ginger, garlic and spices. Cook over medium heat until onions are soft – about 4-5 minutes.

- Add stock and pumpkin puree. Increase temperature and bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and cook for about 15 minutes.

- Stir in coconut milk and cook for another two minutes.

- Top with toasted pumpkin and pomegranate seeds.

* If you are making your own pumpkin puree, cut your pumpkin in half, remove seeds and place cut side down in a microwavable container. Add about 1 cup of water and heat on high for about 15 minutes (or until soft). Cool and then puree in a blender or food processor.

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This salad is easy to put together and you can change it up and add your fav ingredients. Also, use a bottled vegan salad dressing if you are in a hurry.

Spinach Salad with Cranberries and Pumpkin Seeds (6-8 servings)

- 1 large package of baby spinach
- 1 C of dried cranberries
- 1 C of roasted pumpkin seeds
- 1 C of drained mandarin oranges
- 1/2 C thinly sliced onions

Dressing:
- 2 Tbsp each: Olive oil, Apple Cider vinegar, honey, water
-2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp each: cinnamon, salt and pepper
- Mix all ingredients together is a container with a lid - shake well before dressing the salad.

Directions:
- Combine spinach, cranberries, oranges, onion and pumpkin seeds and toss with salad dressing.

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Here is a classic vegan cornbread that is both delicious and very easy to make. This recipe is dense and not too sweet, so if you like your corn bread sweet, just increase the maple syrup.

Vegan Corn Bread (8 - 10 servings)

- 2 C organic cornmeal
- 1 C all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp each: salt and cayenne powder
- 2 C nut milk (your choice)
- 1/2 C melted coconut oil
- 2-3 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Directions:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Whisk together milk, coconut oil, vinegar and maple syrup in a large bowl. Taste and add more maple syrup if you like it sweeter.
- Combine all dry ingredient and mix well, then add to wet ingredients and stir until combined.
- Pour the mixture into an 8 x 8 pan lined with parchment paper, and cook for about 30-35 minutes, or until top is golden brown.

Start A New Tradition - A Plant Based Thanksgiving!

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Over 70 million turkeys are killed in the US and Canada each year - just for Thanksgiving! The conditions they are placed in while they await death, are abhorrent!  We need to end this now.

This year, I am going to inspire you to start a new Thanksgiving tradition! A plant based feast that will be the talk of all your friends and family.

The first of our vegan recipes will be some appetizers and snacks. And as always, feel free to switch up the recipes to suite the ingredients in your cupboard and your taste.

If you don't have time to make up your own appetizers, the stores are filled with some great options like hummus, veggies and dip, vegan cheeses and more!

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Warm Spiced Cashews (make about 2 cups - 10-12 servings)
-  1 Tbsp oil - Olive, Safflower or Grapeseed
-  1 Tbsp of dark brown sugar
-  1 tsp each: cumin, chili powder, garlic salt
-  1/2 tsp each: pepper and cayenne
-  2 cups of unsalted roasted cashews

Directions:
- Heat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit and line a baking pan with parchment paper.
- Toss all ingredients really well and add to baking pan in a single layer.
- Cook for about 6-7 minutes. Allow them to cool slightly before serving. Store in airtight container.
 

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These sweet potato crescent rolls are easy peasy and taste amazing. You can make the filling up a head of time and bake when you are ready to serve.

Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls
- 1 package of vegan refrigerated crescent roll dough (most are vegan but check)
- 1 cup each: finely chopped mushrooms and onions
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tp each: salt & pepper

-  2 medium cooked sweet poatoes
-  1 Tbsp each: vegan butter, maple syrup and nut milk of your choice
-  1 tsp each: chili powder, salt & pepper

Directions:
-  Heat oven to 375 Farenheit
- Add oil, mushrooms, onions, salt and pepper to a frying pan over medium heat and cook for about 5-6 minutes. Set aside.
-  Add cooked sweet potatoes, milk, butter and spices to a large bowl and mix well.
-  Separate the dough into 8 pre-cut pieces.
- Spoon 1 1/2 Tbsp of the potato mixture and the mushroom mixture onto the large end of the dough and roll the pastry starting at the long end. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet (or an oiled baking sheet).
-  Cook for about 10-12 minutes or until slightly browned.

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This easy and delicious dip can be served with raw veggies, crackers or even some fresh baked bread. If you don't have white beans on hand, you can replace with most types of caned beans.

White Bean Dip (makes 2 cups)
-  2 x 14 ounce cans of white beans, drained and rinced
-  1/4 C of fresh lemon juice
-  1 Tbsp of minced fresh garlic
-  2 tsp of mustard (whatever type you like)
-  1/2 tsp each: salt, pepper and cayenne
-  1 Tbsp of nut milk (you can add more for a thinner consistency)

Directions:
-  Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
-  OPTIONAL: top with a splash of olive oil and chopped parsley.

Easy Vegan Cookies with Blessed Protein

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Blessed Protein Shortbread Cookies, makes about 2 dozen.

1 C dairy free butter
2/3 C vegan confectioners sugar
1 3/4 C flour
1/4 C Blessed Protein Vanilla Chai Protein Powder
1/4 tsp. salt
a few drops of pink vegetable dye (Optional)

DIRECTIONS:

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with a mixer until fluffy, slowly add the sugar and then the remaining ingredients mixing well.
- Roll the dough with your hands making 1" balls and place on your baking tray. Depress each dough ball with your finger or a spatula to flatten.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes (Until edge are slightly golden). Let cool on a cooling rack.

 

Easy Protein Brownies!

Today we all seem to be snackers, and because we do snack so much, finding healthy choices is more important than ever. I made these amazing protein brownies last night with Blessed Protein! They are so yummy and are the ultimate healthy dessert 😍 Here’s the recipe:

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Protein Brownies

- 1 cup almond milk (or other plant based milk)
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup mashed banana
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup of @blessedprotein
- 1/3 cup cacao
- 1/2 cup sweetener (I used coconut sugar)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:
- Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit
- Grease a small bread loaf pan or a 8"x 8" brownie pan (you can use parchment paper instead)
- Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl
- Mix all wet ingredient and then add to the dry
- Combine well and pour into your baking pan
- Cook for 23 - 26 minutes
- Let cool and enjoy!