Recipe: Vegan Carob Cake

With the holidays coming up, a delicious dessert that can be served to nearly everyone in your house (vegan and non-vegan alike) is always a blessing. This recipe has never failed me yet.  Many of my friends and family were/are chocolate fans, and they all tend to say this cake hits the spot for them. My mother-in-law first shared her version of this recipe with me, but I tweaked this just a bit to suit me.  Its super simple, easy and delicious. A bigger bonus is most of the ingredients can be found right in your kitchen as we speak.

 

Vegan Carob Cake

  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe was adapted from: Sweet Little Bluebird

Ingredients

  • Dry:
    • – 1 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose)
    • – 3 tablespoon carob powder
    • – 1 cup sugar
    • – 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • – 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Wet:
    • – 1 teaspoon lemon juice
    • – 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • – 1/4 cup coconut oil
    • – 1 cup water

Directions

    1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 8″ square baking pan.
  1.  Mix your dry ingredients in a medium size bowl.
  2.  Mix all your wet ingredients in a small bowl.
  3.  Next add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients and mix well until smooth.
  4.  Pour into your greased 8″ square baking pan.
  5.  Bake on middle rack of oven for approximately 35 minutes. To ensure its finished, check with toothpick to make sure it comes out clean.  Make sure to check it, so you do not over bake it.
  6.  Cool
  7. Lastly, enjoy!!! Its really that simple. Try it out and serve it to your vegan (plant-based) eating friends this coming holiday season or even just as a simple treat for your family and friends

    Delicious plain or topped with a frosting or topping of your choice.

Caught in the Snare – Part 1: The Lure of Pleasure

When we think of snares, the first thing we think about is traps.  The hunters that lay the snares, position them in two different ways:  1.  Hdden, so well you can’t really see or notice the snare.  2.  Positioned in plain sight.  Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives some definitions that I find so interesting.  It states:

  • A device that has a loop (called a noose) which gets smaller when the end of it is pulled and that is used to catch animals : a kind of trap
  • A position or situation from which it is difficult to escape:
    • (a) something by which one is entangled, involved in difficulties, or impeded
    • (b) something deceptively attractive

One may be asking, why are they speaking about snares for animals?  The parallel we want to draw is this, can we as God’s professed people especially our families  be so caught up in the cares and affairs of this life (career, friends, family, relationships, fun, entertainment, money, houses, gain, worldly ambition, success, grades, acknowledgement, etc.) , that we unknowingly, carelessly, or even intentionally walk right into the snares that Satan has set for us?  The answer is YES!

If our families are not diligent “to make your calling and election sure” – 2 Peter 1:10  Studying “to shew thyself approved unto God,” being “a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:15  It can and will be so easy for any one of our family members to fall into any snare that Satan has set in our path. How do we get caught up in the snare of Satan?  The lure of pleasure.

The truth of the matter is, if sin didn’t look appealing no one would want to take part.  Satan has set up innumerable devices to lure and entice us, especially our children.  He appeal to our carnal natures to get us to slip and fall right into his traps.  The first step may be the hardest, finally dismissing the Holy Spirit’s promptings, then giving into that sin that may seem small and innocent in the beginning.  However, if we do not submit ourselves unto God, resisting the devil, he will not rest until we have gone down the extremely slippery slope of immorality and pure wickedness.

As long as our family members keep creeping so close to the edge of temptations, much like the animals who in their curiosity sniff and try the snare, one wrong choice can get the” loop” of sin caught around our necks.  Then when we, by ourselves, try to escape the the “noose” of sin, it in turn gets smaller tightening around us not wanting to let go.  Our loving Savior, however, doesn’t even desire for any one in our family to reach that point of being captured.

In God’s word it states “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” – Matthew 26:41 We may think ourselves to be strong, that we can break apart the snare at any time if we fall captive.  We may think we have the best intentions as to why we were playing around with the snare to begin with.  But God’s word is sure, as a family we must watch and pray!  If our families were diligently doing our part, we would at once notice the snare, and by submitting to God turn the other way.  Our spirit is always willing to obey and follow Christ, but we are weak, helpless and hopeless without His help.

While the rest of the world is in bondage to Satan’s devices, it may seem, especially to our children, that everyone else is enjoying the pleasures of this world.  Our children may be confused and even upset that we as a family are taking a stand to not partake of the “seemingly” innocent worldly pleasures of today.  However, God’s word is sure that we should be “choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;” – Hebrews 11:25 We must explain to our families that we are raising and molding our sacred circle to be fit for Heaven above, and we cannot be ready for Heaven if we are lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:5).  The snare of the lure of pleasure may seem strong, but God’s love and power to overcome and obtain victory is much stronger because the devil is already a defeated foe.

This hymn states it best, on how we can avoid any snares of Satan:

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”

God Bless,

The Family Blueprint



The All-Important Consideration—Let none begin to believe that amusements are essential and that a careless disregard of the Holy Spirit during hours of selfish pleasure is to be looked upon as a light matter. God will not be mocked. Let every young man, every young woman, consider: “Am I prepared today for my life to close? Have I the heart preparation that fits me to do the work which the Lord has given me to do?” – The Youth’s Instructor, August 14, 1906.

Devotional – A Heart Divided

“And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” – 1 Kings 18:21

The phrase “you want to have your cake and eat it too”, can some times be applied to our spiritual walk with our Lord.  For example, when I give my children different options for dessert after dinner, there are times when they sway between which one they desire most.  There have even been times in which my children were so conflicted they asked if they could have both.  Most times our parental reply would be “No you can only choose one.”  Even though they may have been disappointed initially when they couldn’t have both, each would be satisfied with their choice. Much like choosing which dessert you want after dinner is like our Christian walk, God in His love and mercy always offers us a choice in all we do.

God never forces us to choose to love Him.  The bible says “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” – Revelation 3:20  God doesn’t barge in like an uninvited house guest, but He also doesn’t leave us unattended or forsaken either.  The bible clearly states He stands at the door and knocks, He awaits for us to choose to open the door and allow Him to come in.  What a beautiful love!  That Christ would stand at the door, while it may have been shut in His face, and continues to knock in hope that it will be opened unto Him.  If we do decide to answer His call and open the door, what will He find?  Will it be vacant, ready to receive Him?  If the house of our heart is already occupied Christ isn’t able to come in, no matter how much we may desire Him to.  Opening the door to Christ is one thing, making room for Him to stay in us is another.

What if a husband and wife are living happily married, then one day the wife comes to the husband and says “I found someone else that I love too, can he come and stay with us?”  If the husband sincerely loves his wife, his reaction would be “NO! NEVER!”  He wouldn’t want to share his wife, nor her love and live with her divided heart.  He would want her to make a choice.  The same principle applies to God, He is our husbandman, He loves us so much that He died for us not even knowing if we would love Him in return.   But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8  

God chose us, His heart was and is not divided when it comes to us.  All He desires of us in return is a love reciprocally undivided (click here to see what that entails).  We cannot have sin and satan in our hearts and still try to jam pack God in there with them.  As a scientific principle, darkness and light cannot dwell together, therefore sin and righteousness cannot dwell together either.  We as the owner of the heart are bound to allow for one to overcome the other.  Which will we choose?  The one who thought we were worthy enough to die for or the one who wants us to die with them in misery.  God desires for all His children that He formed in their mother’s wombs to be with Him in paradise when He returns.  He leaves us with these words found in Joshua 24:14 “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve” God bids for us, like the children of Israel of old to make a choice, His hearts desire is that our decision will be “[…], but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

 

God Bless,

Family Blueprint

 

Dating/Courtship – Preparing for Marriage Part 2

Counsel for a Christian man or woman who is dating/courting and preparing for marriage – Part 2

So many young people, even Christian young persons, pursue relationships without any counsel or guidance from any experienced godly person.  That is not what God desires for His children.  He wants the best for us and desires that our marriage relationships will glorify Him and will reveal what He has designed for His people since the Garden of Eden.  Are our behavior and relationship choices honoring and glorifying God at all times?

For more counsel on courtship and marriage, please read “16 Questions Every Girl Should Ask Herself Before Marriage

Recipe: Black Bean Veggie Enchiladas

I remember one day my husband and I had gone out to eat at one of our favorite Mexican food restaurants in Bermuda, making one of our first attempts to go out and still eat “healthy”.  We happily informed the waiter we wanted our burritos with no meat as we usually do.  The waiter then proceeded to ask if we wanted them “vegetarian” we proudly said yes, but further explained no cheese, ensuring nothing was cooked in lard, etc.  We were so pleased with our determination and anxiously awaited to receive our food.  When it came to the table we were so excited to partake, only to find our long awaited “vegetarian” burritos the waiter told us about were filled with overcooked frozen vegetables and very little beans and even less rice.

That experience didn’t just disappoint me, but made me so apprehensive to attempt putting any vegetables in any of my Mexican food ever again.  Then a beautiful thing happened, my 40 Day Back to Eden Journey, which taught and encouraged me be creative and experiment with foods I never thought to try, it made me regain hope and think to myself, nothing is ever bad if it can be done right!  So this recipe to me is proof that vegetables and Mexican food can co-exist and not just as a side or salad.

Black Bean Veggie Enchiladas

  • Servings: makes 10-12 patties
  • Difficulty: easy
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delicious black bean enchiladas


Ingredients

Sauce: ~16-24 ounces enchilada sauce (it is possible to make your own, click here a recipe)

 

Filling: ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 small yellow onion, chopped 1 small bell pepper, chopped (I used half of a small yellow and half of a small orange) 1 small zucchini, chopped 1 – 15 oz can black beans (I used the equivalent 1½ cups cooked black beans from ½ cup dry beans) ½ cup corn 3 green onions, sliced (optional) ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped (you could alternatively use cilantro) (optional) Sea Salt, to taste 8 – 10 flour tortillas (fajita size or your could make your own, click here for a recipe)


Directions

    If you are making your enchilada sauce, you should do so first.  Then on to making your delicious filling!

    Filling:

  1.  In a large sauce pan, add your oil and warm over medium heat.
  2.  Once warmed, add in your diced onions, and cook until softened and translucent, approximately 5 minutes.
  3.  Next, add in the diced bell peppers and zucchini.  Cook until softened, approximately another 5 minutes or so.
  4.  After the onions, bell peppers and zucchini are thoroughly cooked, add in your canned/cooked black beans and corn.  Keep over medium heat until all is completely warmed.  Season with sea salt to taste.
  5. Black Bean Veggie Enchilada Filling

  6.  Once the mixture is completely heated and seasoned, remove from heat and set aside.
  7.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  While the oven is warming, scoop about 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce to the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish and spread evenly.
  8.  (We used approximately 10 flour fajita tortillas in this recipe.)  Lay all the tortillas out and scoop about 1/4C of the veggie-bean mixture to each tortilla.
  9. Black Bean Veggie Enchilada Filled Tortilla

  10.  At this point you can add any additions to the enchiladas you would like, such as olives, green onions, cilantro/parsley, vegan cheese, vegan sour cream, etc.
  11.  After adding any additions roll the tortillas up tightly, and place each one seam-side down on the sauce in your baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  12.  Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over your tortillas, making sure to cover everything really well.
  13.  Next cover the dish with foil, and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling around the edges.
  14.  After you remove it from the oven you can sprinkle or drizzle any left over topping your heart desires.
  15.  

    Black Bean Veggie Enchilada Topped

     

    Let cool and enjoy!  Served best with rice, a side a lightly steamed or broiled veggies, salad and come delicious corn cake.

 

God Bless,

The Family Blueprint

 

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31

Devotional: A Persistent Faith

“Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” – Matthew 15:28

Have you ever desired something from a friend or family member so badly that you kept asking until you received a definitive response.  As a parent, its like when your child(ren) keep asking you for something and they do not stop until they either receive their request or receive a definite no.  Parents/guardians since we are the first example of Christ to our child(ren), by our example are we teaching the young ones to have confidence in God’s word as they can have confidence in our word?  Do our children know the things they should persist for in faith?  Are we ourselves exhibiting a persistent persevering faith in seeking Christ for an answer no matter the circumstance or ridicule we may receive?

In Matthew 15 is a beautiful story of a woman who had a persistent faith.  Jesus had gone into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon when a Canaanite woman (also known as the Syrophencian woman) came unto him crying that her daughter was possessed by a devil.  Since we know the ministry of Jesus was about preaching, teaching and healing we could all assume He was getting ready to help this poor woman.  However, it seemed like the answer to her prayer didn’t come until after she endured a series of tests.  Does the same happen with us?  Does God try our faith to see if we are persistent and truly believe in His power to perform what we know He can do?

Her first test came in verse 23, after she came to Jesus explaining her problem and need of assistance the bible says “[H]e answered her not a word.”  It seemed like Jesus didn’t even acknowledge her request.  Many times in our life when we pray, we expect an immediate response.  However, do we ever feel as though our prayers are just not being heard.  What is our response to that feeling?  Do we give up or do we persist?  Praise God this woman persisted!

Her second test came in verse 23, after the woman continued seeking Christ for help, Jesus’ disciples instructed Him to send her away because she was so insistent.  It’s like when we express our earnest request to others and they either downplay it or when they don’t see God give an immediate answer in the affirmative they become discouraging.  The question is, do we persevere even though it seems like no one else is on our side?  Praise God this woman persisted!

Her third test came when Jesus finally responded in verse 24, “he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  In verse 25-26 when she realized she had Jesus’ attention she “worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.  But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” After all that persisting, Jesus responds to her by saying He was sent to help others.  Do we ever feel as though Jesus is helping everyone but us?  Do we ever begin to feel as though we aren’t even worthy of having our prayers answered?  What is our response when that happens?  Do we keep seeking God for His divine aid or do we fade away?  Praise God this woman still persisted!

 

In verse 27, this woman even still persisted because she knew the love of her Savior desired to save everyone.  “She said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”  This woman knew, even though it seemed as if her prayer weren’t heard; even though others ridiculed her presence in seeking the Lord; even though it was implied she wasn’t even worthy of help she was fully persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate [her] from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus [her] Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39  She knew the power and love of Christ could do anything, and that His love was so great He would not leave her desolate.  

After the series of tests she endured in verse 28 Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”  There aren’t many people in the bible that Jesus expresses they had great faith.  Many would have been discouraged at His lack of response, His follows vocalizing their distaste of their presence and, lastly discouraged at the feeling of not being worthy of God’s divine help.  However, this Canaanite woman persevered through these seemingly discouraging trials.  The beauty of the story lies in verse 29, after He healed her daughter the bible says “And Jesus departed from thence…”  The reason why this is so beautiful, it shows that Jesus went to that place just to help that Canaanite woman who had so great a faith in Him and His saving power.  The same thought should come over us, even though it seems like we are having to go through trials and tribulations before our prayer is answered, Jesus is drawing near just for you, so keep persevering for Him with all your heart.

 

God Bless,

Family Blueprint

Devotional: Obedience is Better than Praise

 And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. – 1 Samuel 15:22

 

A Bermuda tradition, at least in our family, is to have the children jump off the pump house into their father’s or grandfather’s arms.  Now what makes this such an event is that the pump house is about 4.5-5 feet off the ground at some residences.  So the question the children have to ask themselves is, “Do I have faith that daddy or papa will catch me?”  So after the child has listened to the command, and if he or she obeys, it obviously shows that he or she has faith in the promises of the one catching them.  Children often speak about their father’s and grandfather’s as strong amazing men.  They praise them because they are in awe of them.  However, what about, even after all that adoration, the child doesn’t obey?  Well it could be for two separate reasons (or both):  1.  He or she doesn’t have faith in the person’s word who promises to catch them.  2.  They could just be rebellious and stubborn.

In 1 Samuel 15, there is a story of Israel’s first king, King Saul, he was given a set of instruction  by God through Samuel.  The question to ask is, did Saul obey the Word of God?  The answer is no, he disobeyed, and claimed it was because he was trying to keep what he thought to be the best gift and offer it to God.  When Samuel came he discovered Saul had not obeyed the explicit instructs from God.  Samuel explained while God does love sacrifice (worship) from his people, He loves and desires obedience MORE than sacrifice/worship.  He then went on to explain to Saul the reason for his act of disobedience and his consequence, his heart sins, :  “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” – 1 Samuel 15:23

How many times in our Christian walk have we believed if we just worship God, giving Him our best praise song & proclamation, He won’t really worry about if we are obeying His Word or not?  Many times we gloss over the Word of God and don’t take in to account that God truly desires us to follow what it says.  Many times we are like Saul.  We know what God wants us to do, however due to either our lack of faith or our rebellion-thinking we know best, we choose another way.  “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.” – Proverbs 21:2  God doesn’t just desire our worship and praise, He longs for our obedience to His word.  He longs that we will believe His word when it says “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” – Deuteronomy 30:19  Saul unfortunately chose disobedience to God’s commands and by doing so he inevitably chose death.  “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:23  How unfortunate for Saul, and us when we choose our own way, which isn’t God’s way.  “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” – Proverbs 14:12

Even though we may have lived our lives like Saul, believing our worship and praise will cover our disobedience, God is a loving and merciful God who forgives.  He says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9  He desires us to have a revelation like Saul that “to obey is better than sacrifice”.  He wants us to by faith lay hold on His law and promises in His word, and that He can and will help us to obey all His commands.  “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” – Philippians 2:13  Just like the story of Cain and Able, both were told the explicit instructions of God in regards to worship and atonement.  However, one brother obeyed and the other did what was right in his own eyes.  One was accepted by God and the other was not.  God explained to Cain “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door…” – Genesis 4:7  God doesn’t want sin lying at our doors anymore.  We must realize that “to obey is better than sacrifice (worship)”.
God Bless, 
The Family Blueprint

Devotional:  A Rocky Life

Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:  And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. – Matthew 13:5-6 KJV

Jesus explains this portion of the parable in Matthew 13:20-21 by saying “[20] But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; [21] Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.  After hearing some good and/or uplifting news, most people get excited and accept what they have heard as fact.  My kids get excited when they hear they can have some juice or a cookie.  However to receive such rewards or promises most do not take into account what is required of them first before receiving such blessings.  Therefore, the crux of the matter lies within verse 21.

If you have every been in or worked in a garden, you will know if there are rocks in the soil your plants will not be able to flourish properly.  The rocks will prevent plants from expanding and going deep down into the soil.  So while the plant may endure for a little while, in that stony soil, it may die speedily after, or seemingly prosper  but when the storm comes (tribulation or persecution)  its easily be blown or washed away.  Another possible idea is when harvest time comes, it growth and maturity would have finally manifested as stunted.  The same with the Christian, while they have received the seed (Bible) as truth, the more they study and learn they see those stones in their heart have to be removed in order to prosper as a son or daughter of God.  With the stony ground hearers two things can happen:

1.  They walk away from the Christian faith saying “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” – John 6:60 and “Who then can be saved?”- Matthew 19:25  2.  They get upset and offended.  They push back on the word of God and say “it really doesn’t mean that”  or “God isn’t going to really care about this little thing, there are bigger things for Him to worry about”.  Thus they go through the motions of acting like a Christian but only having a superficial religion.  Not living by all that God requires of them in their lives.

What are these rocks that may be blocking the way?  Self and sin.  Instead of allowing the soil of their hearts to be broken up, stony ground hearers depend upon themselves and say “the soil is good enough, let the rocks stay” or “Christ doesn’t care about my rocks, He loves me just the way I am”.  While Christ does love everyone, He desires a change, for us to allow that stony ground to be broken up.  The stony ground hearers depend upon their own merits: their own good works, the fact that they may be a “good” person that they don’t allow Christ to truly “will and to do of His good pleasure.” – Philippians 2:13  However, God promises in His word  “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”-Ezekial 36:26  

Do we believe its possible?  Do we believe that we can allow our hearts, by the power of Jesus Christ, to be broken up and stones removed to allow Him to give us a new heart?  Do we believe God can give us different desires, different pleasures and completely remove our desire for sin and self to reign?  Stony ground hearers do not claim this is possible.  However, we must be like Abraham, Daniel, and the three Hebrews boys and stand fast to God’s Word “being fully persuaded that, what He [has] promised, He [is] able also to perform. – Romans 4:21  Trust God!  By faith, allow Him to work in you “both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” – Philippians 2:13 to remove all desire of sin and self from your life and be “transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – Romans 12:2

 

God Bless,

The Family Blueprint