Hello lovely people. Today I bring you an amazing creation that was the result of a week and a half of moping around with no inspiration! I don’t really know what got into me, but ever since I’ve been home from traveling I’ve been in a slump. We went to Europe expecting that we would see “the good life”… organic food everywhere, open fields with children playing, no corruption… (lol dream world right?!) but we were definitely mistaken. The good news is that it made us appreciate home a lot more… but the bad news is that it made us realize the whole world is suffering from the monopoly and corruption of the extremely rich.
One of the places we visited was Copenhagen. We didn’t realize that it’s actually the second most expensive city in the world! The city/architecture was beyond gorgeous, and the street art was vibrant and plentiful. And the bikes… amazing! We need to bring bike culture to New York!!
But by the third day, the wonder wore off and we started to see just how many people in Copenhagen were homeless and struggling because the cost of living is so high. There were 7/11’s everywhere and Good Humor ice cream sold in almost every shop under the name “Friskas”. In Portugal, Good Humor was also sold in all the stores we visited under yet another name, “Olas”. We definitely didn’t expect so much commercialization from the same big businesses that run the U.S.! Shop owners told us they had to sell Unilever products to stay in business, and we learned from servers in restaurants that the food quality has gone down tremendously since “the crisis,” a.k.a. the economic issues Portugal has been facing the past few years. Young people are leaving the big cities because there is no work. Locals told us that the “middle class” is disappearing – you are either wealthy or struggling. The middle class that we’ve known for many years is dissolving before our eyes at home as well. My friends and I only get financial aid if we prove we are poor. However, if our families make a certain amount over minimum wage, they are considered “middle class” and don’t receive assistance in tuition, which actually drives them into the lower class due to school debt! It’s a vicious cycle, and my heart was hurting to see this around the world. In Rome, there were so many immigrants trying to sell what they could to make money from tourists, and many gypsies as well. No matter how you feel about gypsies you can’t help but have some compassion in your heart. How much must it tear these people down to have to beg and steal from a young age? Children are abused and trained to rob in order to prove their worth… no wonder the cycle continues and those children become conniving adults that provoke such anger and blame in us. It was difficult to enjoy our time at historical monuments when we knew that as tourists we were privileged enough to even take a vacation, yet tons of people around us were refugees and spend their whole lives here not because they want to, but because they are trying to make a few euros just to eat. That is not what any human is meant to spend their precious hours here doing. I left every big city filled with guilt because for every happy person I saw on vacation I saw someone suffering. I may be too sensitive, but it hurts me. I can’t accept that “that’s just how it is” for some people, because what makes me so lucky that I was born into some kind of financial stability? Why does money define our worth and quality of life? Who said I deserve a comfortable life and not them? No one asks to be born poor, and people are very quick to judge those who are as being lazy instead of oppressed by a flawed system.
In terms of food, although GMOs are supposed to be labeled or banned in Europe, there are “invisible GMOs” in almost every country via animal feed. Meat and products from animals who have eaten GMO crops do not have to be labeled, thus a loophole has been born! I remember feeling incredibly sick after having a latte one morning, similar to the “IBS” cramps I used to get, and with a little research I found out about this animal feed issue. Once I discontinued all animal products, I felt a lot better, but it was no fun having to be so careful and restrictive on vacation. Let me make it clear – the food in Europe is MUCH, MUCH better than the food in America! But if you are strict about GMOs like I am, you want to be careful of all meat and baked goods made with eggs. If you are planning on traveling to Europe, use the index on this website to learn about which regions of each country are declared “GMO free zones,” and visit those areas so that you don’t have to worry!
Fortunately, our experience was not entirely negative in the least. We met people along our journey that were so amazing and aware of what matters in life that it brings me to tears. (Thank you Jonathan, Uros, Michelle, Jalal, and the entire Passero Family!) I realized that upon arriving home I was focusing on the negative aspects of our trip because home (and living near the big city) reminded me of the difficult things we saw.
Yes, the world is suffering right now. Yes, there is conflict in the Middle East that none of us can stop or even agree upon, which is dividing us! And yes, there is war, violence, and environmental destruction. It’s hard to see homeless people and poor neighborhoods. It’s confusing to wonder, why them and not me? Why do I deserve what I have? Those things can really take a toll on a person, and when you open your eyes to it and learn what’s going on, it can bring you down.
But we have to have faith in the world, and most importantly, faith in EACH OTHER. Other PEOPLE are all we have. The countries I liked the most along my journey were the ones where PEOPLE were the nicest. People that you love are what make your home a home, and you have to have faith that our fellow brothers and sisters around the world will come together and start to act out of love. “Thinking the world a selfish place, we find selfishness. Selfishness is what we look for, what we expect, and consequently, what we find. Having found it, we say to ourselves, “I knew it!” But thinking the world is a generous place, we find generosity.”
The world will always mirror our thoughts and beliefs, so if we can continue sending positive thoughts and actions of unconditional love into the world we can change the way it mirrors back to us. Wherever you are in this world, you can do SOMETHING to change the direction we seem to be headed. Start a community garden, volunteer at a shelter, or even give some money to a homeless person on the train. And best of all, TEACH people about what is going on so that they are inspired to take action as well. LOVE people so that they are inspired to love others without judgement. Make wherever you are a home by surrounding yourself with people that understand you and make you happy, and transform yourself into a positive being of light that you enjoy being alone with – THAT is your escape from what’s happening. </end rant lolol>
Well, good news: 1) I feel way better after getting all of that out in writing (if you listened to me whine, THANK YOU), and 2) this recipe is literally to die for and tastes EXACTLY LIKE THIN MINTS. There is a very brave little girl trying to get GMOs out of girl scout cookies, but until then I’m positive that this healthy, grain-free substitute will suffice 😉 I actually came up with this recipe by mistake when I began experimenting with Melissa’s line of Sweet Spreads Coconutters (yes, like nut butter but COCONUT based, your coconut dreams have finally come true)! I tried making a cashew milk chocolate mint popsicle, and even though the taste was WAY off, the texture of the frozen coconut butter reminded me of a thin mint coating. Thus, the crazy gears in my head were finally fired up!
- 1 cup dark chocolate mint Sweet Spreads Coconutter
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1 egg (replace with a flax egg for vegan version)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup cashew flour (you can also use almond flour or any other nut)
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- pinch of sea salt
- a few tbsp. more of the dark chocolate mint coconutter to use as a coating
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix together Sweet Spreads Coconutter and coconut sugar until uniform. Then add egg and mix again.
- Add in the cocoa powder and mix thoroughly, then add in your cashew or nut flour & mix again.
- Then add baking soda, vanilla, and salt. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to let the dough firm up.
- Roll cookies into balls and place on parchment paper.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then let cool thoroughly.
- Once the cookies are cooled, spoon some extra dark chocolate mint coconutter onto the tops until they are completely covered.
- Freeze the cookies for 10 minutes to allow the coconutter to firm and make a shell-like coating. Enjoy!