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Going Plant Based: My Experience

I have always thought about going vegan… How could I do that? Where is the protein? Don’t vegetables get kind of boring? What about Chick-fil-a?! SO many questions, + it took some convincing, but here we are. I did it! I decided to try this plant-based thing out last semester while I was away at college… + I LOVED it.

Overall, the plant-based diet was so much easier than I expected it to be, + I learned so much about the benefits of eating only plants. Here are some of the major things I learned:

One of the biggest things that I questioned about the plant-based diet was increasing the amount of carbs in my diet. I was always under the impression that higher protein, lower carbs was the way to go, + this plant-based experiment definitely proved otherwise.

There is no need to be afraid of carbs! Carbs energize us, + we SHOULD be eating them, not avoiding them! Some of my favorite carb sources that I relied on:

  • Chickpea Pasta
  • Dave’s Bread/Bagels
  • Sweet Potatoes 
  • Fruits! [Bananas + Berries]
  • Oats

 

This was DEFINITELY where I saw the biggest difference in how I felt. It increased my motivation + energy in every aspect of my day. When I started consistently eating totally vegan, I found it easier to:

  • Wake up early
  • Workout 
  • Focus on school assignments
  • Stay awake + alert throughout the day

Aside from carbs, this was where I had the most questions. We are all trained to think that protein = meat, + this could NOT be more false. I highly recommend watching the Netflix documentary Game Changers, they explain this perfectly!

As explained in the documentary: Protein comes from meat, right? But… think about it… don’t the animals need to consume protein in order to give us that? Where do you think the animals get it from? How do they gain so much protein? You guessed it… plants!

It is SO fun to experiment with plant-based meat substitutes + different veggies, they can be made to taste EXACTLY like meat! One of my favorite recipes is Chickpea Salad [think tuna salad, but crushed chickpeas + vegan mayo!] Here are some of my favorite plant-based protein sources: 

  • Chickpeas
  • Tofu/Tempeh
  • Edamame
  • Beans
  • Beyond Meat [Burgers, Meatballs, Ground “Beef”, etc.]
  • Veggies! Veggies! Veggies! [Broccoli, Mushrooms, Kale, etc.]
  • Nuts [Almonds + Peanuts, especially]

 

I really thought that I was going to miss some foods, for me, chicken was the hardest to let go of! Surprisingly enough, I did not miss anything at ALL! I found myself enjoying plant-based foods even more than typical foods.

Dairy-free cheese is one of these things for sure! I LOVE cheese, + after finding the right brands ++ cooking the right meals, I enjoy dairy-free cheese so much more! It tastes just as yummy, + doesn’t make me feel bloated.

I also found that so many restaurants are starting to offer plant-based options as well! My favorite– Sofritas at Chipotle… YUM! 

I still have so much to learn + discover in terms of the plant-based diet, but I have to admit, it was definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made. I absolutely intend on continuing, + I am EXCITED.

Nothing beats getting excited about food + knowing that you’re still going to feel GOOD after eating it! 

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Have you tried going plant-based before? Tag @CHAARG + let us know! : )

How To Meal Prep: The Ultimate Guide

There are so many different ways to meal prep. Meal prep can be anything from pre-roasting enough veggies for the week to cooking everything for the whole week ahead of time, to cooking everything + proportioning it ahead of time. What *type* of meal prep works best for you depends on a ton of factors such as: 

  • Your budget 
  • How much time you want to spend cooking during the week 
  • How much you like cooking  
  • How much fridge + freezer space you have 
  • What you want to eat [unfortunately some foods just aren’t great to be made ahead of  time +need to be made the day of]
  • How much variety you want + need 

This guide will give you 5 meal prep options for a wide range of preferences. Test different ways to *prep* + find which option serves you most! 

.     .     . 

Sometimes we have weeks where we literally just have no time… or maybe you just don’t like cooking or you’re living in a dorm + don’t have access to the equipment needed to cook a lot. This is where *no prep meal prep* comes in. While this option can sometimes be a bit more expensive than buying the ingredients, sometimes the convenience is worth it!

This Walmart Grocery Haul is a great guide I like to use for a week’s worth of meals that can all be purchased at Walmart! 

Other staples that I love to keep on hand for when life gets unexpectedly crazy – all of  these can easily be combined for a balanced meal at any time + don’t go bad sitting in my pantry or fridge 

  • Store-bought rotisserie chicken [these are pre-cooked/seasoned + only $5-6, which will last you a week]
  • Canned meats — tuna, crab, salmon, chicken
  • Pre-marinated tofu 
  • Canned beans 
  • Hard-boiled eggs 
  • Microwavable rice 
  • Frozen veggies — these only take 1-2 minutes to microwave : )

This can be great if you want to buy in bulk, prep way ahead of time, + have very minimal cooking required for the following weeks. These recipes are all those that can be prepped, packaged + frozen until you’re ready to eat them + can be lifesavers during those busy exam seasons. 

Materials Needed: 

  • Freezer space 
  • Crockpot or Instant Pot 
  • Basic kitchen essentials [cutting board, knives, etc] 
  • Gallon size Ziplock bags 
  • Sharpie for labeling 

Prep Time: 2-3 hours for 5-6 weeks of dinners! 

Pros + Cons:

  • Pro: Buy in bulk! Save $$ 
  • Pro: Meals can be stored in the freezer until use [save them for when you’re tight on time]
  • Pro: *Cooking* after prep is done just involves defrosting + placing in the slow-cooker 
  • Con: Requires a good amount of freezer space 
  • Con: Somewhat limited in what you can make with this method [lots of  soups/shredded meat dishes ; )]

These are two of my favorite tried + tested plans [with grocery lists!]. If you search *Freezer Meal Prep* you’ll find tons more:

This method is perfect for you if you’re not a huge fan of reheated foods, want to eat things that spoil quickly [like seafood!], or want the flexibility to change your meals around mid-week. With this option, how much you prep is up to you! That can look like:

  • Meal prepping all of your breakfasts + lunches, but leaving dinner un-prepped
  • Pre-chopping  your ingredients so they’re ready to be cooked
  • Roasting a pan of veggies + making a ton of rice on a Sunday + pairing that with your favorite protein.

This option can be a great way to get started with meal prep + save you some time if you’ve never done it before… + it makes meal prep less intimidating!

This method is ideal if you want to cook, but don’t have time during the week. It’s also conducive to trying more recipes than freezer meal prep allows. With this method, you cook + portion everything in one day so that after that, you can just grab your meal + go! There are so many options for this but below are some ideas: 

Breakfast:

  • Try a recipe from 14 breakfast eats folder… everything from matcha banana pancakes to freezer-friendly whole-grain waffles ; )
  • Hard-boil eggs + pair it with a single-serve yogurt 
  • Make egg muffins + pair them with a piece of toast or a bagel 

Lunch + Dinner: 

  • Mason jar salads… here are some great ideas: 21 salads in a jar!
  • Try a recipe from this folder… including CHAARG meal plan recipes!
  • Grab a freezer prep meal

If you want to take it a step further, you can also look into meal planning. This can be great for a few reasons: 

  • Do all your recipe searching ahead of time — this can take so long if you’re just browsing every week
  • Optimize your schedule so that you can buy ingredients in bulk that you’ll use in multiple weeks 
  • You can color-code your schedule or bookmark recipes so you can quickly find them 
  • If you REALLY want to go all out, you can calculate how much you need of each ingredient + make your weekly grocery lists ahead of time 

Here are a few one-week meal plans:

  • I love this one for TJ’s: $40 Trader Joe’s Shopping List For A Week Of Healthy Meals
  • I made this meal plan during a semester in undergrad for planning recipes each week, + color-coded them based on the blog I found the recipe on… so that I could easily look it up!
  • This is a more complicated plan I made. This combines utilizes the freezer meal prep plans mentioned above + breaks down my grocery lists for each week. Keep in mind this was based on my current inventory at the time so don’t follow it exactly, but it can be used as a template for how to set up your own if you wish! 

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If you got through this entire meal prep guide — good for you : ) Now, it’s time to take action + meal prep some nourishing food!  Let us know which meal prep option is your fav! Tag @CHAARG + #CHAARGeats!

Nutella Cupcakes

Nothing says February quite like chocolate! I am, of course, a huge chocolate lover so I knew we just had to add a recipe to the blog for Valentine’s Day ; )

The base of the cupcake + icing recipe are lower in sugar than typical cupcake recipes but the Nutella center makes these cupcakes just the right amount of sweet! Not to mention, they’re gluten free [+ vegan if you use a Nutella substitute, like Nutiva!].

The icing has to be made the night before so make sure you factor that into the prep time!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ½ cups Oat Flour
  • 2/3 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • ½ cup Water
  • ½ cup Non-Dairy Milk
  • 3 tbsp Melted Coconut Oil
  • ¼ cup Sugar
  • ¼ cup Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cup Nutella

FOR ICING

  • ¾ cup Coconut Cream
  • 1 ½ cups Chocolate Chips

ICING DIRECTIONS

#1] Heat coconut cream + chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl in increments of 30 seconds, mixing every time.
#2] Place in fridge once mixture is smooth + let set over night.
#3] Once cupcakes are cooled + ready to frost, use a hand mixer + beat the chocolate mixture until light + fluffy. Set aside.

CUPCAKE DIRECTIONS

#1] Preheat oven to 350 F + prepare muffin tin with cupcake liners.
#2] In a medium bowl, combine oat flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, + salt. Set aside.
#3] In a large bowl, combine water, non-dairy milk, coconut oil, sugar, maple syrup, + vanilla extract.
#4] Slowly combine dry ingredient mixture into wet ingredients, using a hand mixer to remove any lumps.
#5] Fill cupcake liners ¾ full + bake for 16-20 minutes. Once cupcakes are out of the oven, use a toothpick or straw to insert in the middle of the cupcake + push sides back until a small hole [about a ¼ inch wide] is formed.
#6] Once the cupcakes have cooled, fill a plastic sandwich bag with the Nutella + snip off the bottom corner of the bag to create a pipette. Fill the cupcakes with Nutella before icing the tops.

 

Healthy Sugar Cookies

Sugar cookies are a holiday classic + so many members of the CHAARG community love to create their own [especially the bolt!] so we wanted to offer a recipe on our blog for everyone to try!

These are a lower sugar, sugar cookie but they still taste amazing + are great as a decorative add on to the rest of your holiday baking recipes. You can substitute the flour for a gluten free version or sub the butter + milk for non-dairy versions as well + the recipe should still hold up!

To create the bolt cookie, we printed off a picture of the bolt + cut it out to create our own stencil! Once we had the stencil made, we cut the dough using a sharp knife : )

If you make your own bolt cookies – we want to see! Tag us @CHAARG on Insta + show us your creations!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 8 tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 ½ cups Flour
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp Baking Powder

FOR ICING

  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar
  • ½ tsp Vanilla
  • 4 tsp Milk

DIRECTIONS

#1] Mix sugar + butter together until light in color, then add egg + vanilla to the mixture
#2] In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, + baking powder. Slowly add flour mixture into wet ingredients until dough is no longer crumbly
#3] Roll dough in a plastic wrap + place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes
#4] While the dough chills, preheat oven to 375 degrees + line a baking sheet with parchment paper
#5] Once the dough is chilled, sprinkle flour onto your work surface [counter, slip mat, cutting board, etc.] + place dough on the flour, rolling the bottom around slightly to get coated with flour. Use the same plastic wrap to place on top of the dough
#6] Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into 3/8” or ¼” inch sheet [depending on your cookie texture preference – 3/8” will be chewier, 1/4” will be crispier] then use cookie cutters to create your desired cookie shapes!
#7] Place cookies on baking sheet + bake for 8 to 9 minutes. Remove from the oven + let cool before adding icing
#8] For icing recipe – combine all ingredients until icing is smooth + at desired consistency. For thicker icing, add more powdered sugar – for thinner, add a little more milk!

Vegan Orange Cranberry Breakfast Cookies

When I was making this recipe, I wanted to create a lower sugar cookie that was fruity + light but after a few trials I realized this recipe would be better as a breakfast cookie/biscuit/scone! If you want to keep the recipe on the low sugar side, enjoy it without the glaze + take them on your way to class. If you want a sweeter breakfast, add the glaze!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup Vegan Butter
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Orange Juice
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 1/2 cups Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 cup Cranberries

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Orange Juice

DIRECTIONS

#1] Preheat oven to 350 degrees
#2] In a large bowl, cream the butter + sugar together until smooth then add the orange juice + vanilla extract
#3] Pour flour, baking powder, + baking soda into the same bowl – mix the dry ingredients a little before full incorporating the dry into the wet ingredients. Add in cranberries once dough has been formed
#4] Roll dough into 1 inch balls on a baking sheet – this dough will not spread much so shape them how you would like the end result to look!
#5] Bake for 12-14 minutes + create glaze while the cookies bake.
#6] Once cookies have cooled, dip cookies in glaze or drizzle the glaze on top of the cookies + enjoy!

Gooey Snickerdoodle Cookies

A fun twist on a classic cookie, these cream cheese filled snickerdoodles are the perfect treat for any holiday occasion. People will be pleasantly surprised when they bite into a soft + gooey center full of cinnamon + sweet cream cheese while still enjoying the taste of a traditional snickerdoodle ; )

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup Butter
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda

FOR CREAM CHEESE FILLING

  • 8 oz Cream Cheese
  • ¼ cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon

FOR SUGAR COATING

  • 1 tbsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Sugar

DIRECTIONS

#1] In a small bowl, using a hand mixer, mix cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, + cinnamon to create cream cheese filling then set in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes
#2] In a large bowl, cream butter + sugar together then mix in milk + vanilla extract. Add flour, baking powder, + baking soda in the same bowl – mix dry ingredients a little before fully incorporating the wet + dry ingredients. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
#3] Take cream cheese filling out of the fridge. Roll cookie dough around small balls of the cream cheese filling, covering completely. Then roll the ball in the cinnamon sugar coating.
#4] Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, let cool + enjoy!

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

When we decided to do a cookie guide for December this year, I just KNEW we had to include this recipe to share with the CHAARG community! This is a recipe my family has used for years + it’s hands down my favorite cookie recipe of all time. It’s the perfect amount of sweetness with an interesting, but much needed, salty element.

This recipe makes about 50 cookies so if you want a smaller batch, just half the recipe! But, trust me, you’ll want more ; )

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 oz Butter
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 2 ½ cups Oats [Blend oats to make oat flour]
  • ½ tbsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tbsp Baking Soda
  • 12 oz Chocolate Chips
  • 4 oz Chocolate Bar
  • 1 ½ cup Chopped Walnuts

DIRECTIONS

#1] Preheat oven to 375 degrees
#2] In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar, + brown sugar together then add the eggs + vanilla extract, mix well
#3] In a separate bowl, mix flour, oat flour, salt, baking powder + baking soda
#4] Using a blender or food processor, break up the chocolate bar into fine pieces. In a third bowl, combine the chocolate chips, walnuts, + blended chocolate pieces
#5] Slowly combine flour mixture into wet ingredients until dough is formed. Add in chocolate + nuts into the dough.
#6] Roll dough into 1 inch balls + bake for 8 to 10 minutes
#7] Let cookies cool + enjoy!

No Bake Peanut Butter + Chocolate Cookies

If you are completely new to the kitchen or find yourself burning every meal you’ve ever tried, then we have the recipe for you! These are one of the easiest cookies you will ever make + they don’t even require an oven!

This recipe only takes about 5 minutes to make + the ease of the directions makes it difficult to mess up! You’ll produce delicious cookies every time, guaranteed!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 4 tbsps Cocoa Powder
  • 8 oz Butter
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • 1 cup Peanut Butter
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla
  • 3 cups Oats

DIRECTIONS

#1] Heat sugar, cocoa powder, butter, + milk in a pot on medium high heat until it begins to boil.
#2] Let mixture boil for 1 minute before adding peanut butter, vanilla, + oats. Stir until everything is combined.
#3] Using a spoon, scoop oat mixture onto a parchment paper to form cookies. Let sit for 15-20 minutes or until hardened + enjoy!

10 Podcasts To Inspire Your 2021 Intentions

We are on a break from The CHAARG Podcast right now [we will be back in 2021 ; )]… so use this time to catch up on all the episodes. We gathered our top favorite 10 episodes that will get you inspired for 2021!

#106] Simi Botic: Finding Freedom With Exercise, Movement Menu, + Motherhood

Why I Love It:  Exercising more is the most common New Year’s resolution — but likely for all of the wrong reasons. I love the way Simi talks about exercise as movement with the goal of making us feel good + nothing else. This podcast challenged my resolutions to be rooted in the right reasons.

Mic-Drop Moment: “I believe that movement is such an awesome way that we can take care of ourselves + such a great component to our self care tool box + so creating a healthy relationship with it is so important.”

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#49] Cat Aldana: Meditation For Beginners

Why I Love It: Meditation has been a goal of mine for years — I know it is good for me [+ I need it] but I have such a hard time following through + committing. I feel much more confident + motivated to keep this resolution after Cat broke it down!

Mic-Drop Moment: “Meditation has helped me be a lot less reactive about situations + things. I feel like I have a leg up or I can get ahead of people just because I have that moment of pause that I’ve learned to harness where I can process information first + then respond or react.”

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#98] Elisabeth + Sarah: Goals Vs Intentions

Why I Love It: Before listening to this podcast I honestly did not know the difference between goals + intentions… or why it mattered. This quick listen will help you jumpstart the process of making goals for 2021!

Mic-Drop Moment: “I think that a goal is a singular accomplishment or event. Kind of like the *what* of my life + the intention is more of the lifestyle or the way of being. + I call that the *how* of what I’m doing.”

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#65] Chris McAlister: Identity Fears, Coaching vs Counseling, + Pain As A Motivator

Why I Love It: Although this podcast was produced in 2019 it could NOT be more relevant to this year. If you are like me, you may have felt a level of pain + fear in 2020 unlike ever before. This podcast allowed me to find the silver lining from this hard year + learn how it can better me in 2021.

Mic-Drop Moment: “A chip on your shoulder can get you to be world class. You will not keep + sustain world class without that chip on your shoulder, because you’re degrading within, you’re not learning to renew within.”

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#102] Ariel Upton: Writing Letters To Yourself, 365 Day Commitment, + Volume Two (!) Of TIDIR

Why I Love It: I love how this podcast made me feel. Ariel has a great way of reframing + evaluating every day. She puts herself first + this allows her to tackle the entire year in a much more successful way!

Mic-Drop Moment: “If I had a day where I said not one right thing happened to me, I’m choosing that. Yeah, that’s not reality. That’s not being naive. That’s not facing reality. That is a choice to say that everything is wrong + I can’t find the silver lining in anything.”

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#53] Mary Kesinger: Confidence, Creative Wellness, + Boundaries

Why I Love It: MaryK is always two steps ahead of me in terms of knowing the latest social media trends, accomplishing ridiculously cool things [like writing a book], + knowing what I need before I know I need them. Listen to this podcast for a lesson on implementing boundaries + other methods of self-care.

Mic-Drop Moment: “You don’t know you have those creative releases until you try them. So, a lot of people think *Oh, I’m an adult, it’s too late to learn hobbies. I didn’t do that when I was a kid, therefore I can’t do that now* + that’s not true at all.”

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#6] How To Write From Your Highest Self

Why I Love It: Writing is another habit I know I need but for some reason feel resistance toward. This podcast describes an approachable method to practice in 2021 + it even has 5 journaling prompts to get us started! 

Mic-Drop Moment: “If you are in a space of negativity while writing to your highest self, it’s likely you haven’t forgiven yourself yet + you aren’t ready for the answers that writing will reveal. It’s okay to wait + take your mind off of it, then revisit.”

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#14] 3 Processes To Manifest Your Dreams + Desires

Why I Love It: The word “manifest” itself is intimidating to me — I feel like it is an out-of-reach magic. In this podcast Elisabeth breaks down 3 ways anyone can manifest what they want in 2021.

Mic-Drop Moment: “Goals should be fun. It shouldn’t feel like work… just take the right next step. What can you do right now to move you in the direction of what you want?”

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#10] Bret Gornik + Jason Loebig: How To Have The Best Day Ever

Why I Love It: Bret + Jason are *the* most optimistic + it is truly inspiring. The “best day ever” sounds overly positive, but it is truly something we can have. Even if you consider yourself an optimist, I encourage you to listen + challenge you to learn from them!

Mic-Drop Moment: “Every day, no matter what, I spend time in my head. If everything else changes this is the calm in the chaos.”

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#84] Anthony McClain [Part Two!]: 5 Pillars Of Wellness, Gratitude Vs. Appreciation, + Failure

Why I Love It: Gratitude is something we really focus on in November + December for the holidays + revisit at the beginning of the new year + forget about for the other 9 months. Listen to this podcast for an overall view of wellness, failure, + learn the difference between appreciation + gratitude — use this to be more thoughtful in 2021!

Mic-Drop Moment: “Gratitude is the engine that makes everything possible.”

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If you listen to The CHAARG Podcast, we’d love if you left us a review on iTunes! + tag us in stories @CHAARG, whenever you listen : )

Peppermint Protein Brownies

Chocolate + peppermint are two of my all-time favorite winter flavor combinations. As a year-round chocolate fan, peppermint is the perfect twist I need to maintain my obsession, but feel like I’m participating in the holiday spirit. Hence the birth of these high protein peppermint brownies!

Now, don’t let the name confuse you – these are still very much a dessert item. These aren’t meant to replace a meal or feel extra healthy, they’re just delicious brownies with some extra protein added in! Enjoy them as a bed time treat or as a midday pick-me-up, either way you’ll love this recipe + get some extra nutritional value from the protein powder ; )

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup Chocolate Chips
  • ¼ cup Coconut Oil, softened
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • ½ cup Almond Flour [or other flour of choice]
  • ½ cup Peppermint Hot Cocoa Protein Powder [sub with Chocolate Protein Powder if you don’t have this one!]
  • ¼ cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1/8 tsp or pinch of Salt

FOR TOPPINGS

  • ¼ cup Mini Chocolate Chips
  • ¼ cup Mini Marshmallows
  • 1 crushed Candy Cane

DIRECTIONS

#1] Preheat the oven to 355 degrees + grease an 8×8 baking dish
#2] Microwave the chocolate chips + coconut oil in 30 second increments until smooth
#3] With a hand mixer, beat the eggs + sugar together until pale ++ fluffy – will take about 5 to 7 minutes
#4] Slowly mix in the melted chocolate + coconut oil on low speed until combined
#5] Add almond flour, protein powder, cocoa powder, + salt ++ gently fold until there are minimal lumps
#6] Pour batter into baking dish + smooth over. Top with mini chocolate chips, marshmallows + crushed candy cane
#7] Bake for 20-25 minutes + enjoy!

Recipe inspired by The Loopy Whisk + @collegehealthyhabit

Trend I Tried: TikTok Hot Chocolate Bombs

Let’s talk Hot Chocolate Bombs – TikTok’s current culinary obsession. When we saw these going around, we KNEW we had to try them out ourselves + share our experience with the CHAARG community. A Hot Chocolate Bomb is essentially a bath bomb, but for hot chocolate. The outer shell is made of solid chocolate + the inside includes all the ingredients to make hot chocolate [your hot chocolate mix, marshmallows, + any fun add-ins].

First off, let me say that these are no walk in the park to make. Chocolate/candy melting involves a lot of science, + any of my other dietetic/nutrition majors will probably fondly remember the candy making lab where we all inevitably made lumpy fudge, cloudy looking lollipops, + any other failed sugar recipes that were thrown at us.

If you overheat the chocolate, the recipe fails.
If you use the wrong kind of chocolate, the recipe fails.
If you use the wrong kind of mold, the recipe fails.

Speaking from experience here, these were a lot of trial + error. I wasn’t able to get my hands on a traditional half sphere candy mold, so I used an ice tray instead [like for the fancy giant ice balls you put in drinks]. I found mine at Target for $10, but if you want to wait for delivery, there’s tons of them on Amazon. My mold didn’t allow the shell to be as thin as regular hot chocolate bombs are + it also left a matte finish on the outside of the shell.

As for chocolate, I wouldn’t try to make these *super* healthy by going for a low sugar chocolate [I’d say anything higher than 85% cacao is a no]. My first attempt, I tried making these with sugar free, 100% cacao chocolate + the shell crumbled when I tried to get it out of mold.

Finally, let’s talk melting. If you want to be fancy, you can temper the chocolate on the stove by filling a pot with water + placing the bowl of chocolate over that to let the steam melt everything. Do NOT let the water touch the bottom of the bowl if you’re going to do it this way. Alternatively, you can just microwave the chocolate. You want to microwave the chocolate in 30 second spurts + mix for 20ish seconds after you microwave. Do this until all of the chocolate is melted. If you’re using white chocolate, melt the chocolate in 15 second spurts instead – white chocolate is a lot less stable + will overheat ++ clump at a lower temperature than milk chocolate will!

Once you have the chocolate melted, you want to spread the chocolate over your mold [I used a paint brush to do this] + place in the fridge for 5 minutes while it hardens. Other recipes on the internet said to only do 2 layers of chocolate but that was too thin for the mold I was using + the chocolate fell apart, so I ended up doing 3 layers.

Once you have your final shell, you can even the top of the shell by put a pan on low heat + gently spinning the shell for a few seconds to melt it down to a smooth top. Once the top is smooth, add in the hot chocolate mix + any additional toppings! Close the bomb by pipetting chocolate around the edge + putting the upper half onto the bomb shell. Roll the exposed melted chocolate in a topping of choice to hide the seam.

In short, here are the directions:

#1] Melt chocolate in 30 second intervals in the microwave + stir for about 20 seconds [only microwave for 15 seconds if it’s white chocolate]

#2] Use a paint brush to coat the molds + place the molds in the refrigerator for about 5 mins. Repeat until you have 3 layers of chocolate

#3] Remove chocolate shells from their molds + heat a pan on low. Once the pan is warm, melt the tops of the chocolate shells so they’re smooth.

#4] Fill one of the shells with the hot chocolate mix + extra toppings

#5] Heat more chocolate + use a Ziploc bag to pipe chocolate around the edge of the shell ++ place the empty chocolate shell on. top of the filled half

#6] Roll the side of the hot chocolate bomb in a topping of your choice to hide the seam

#7] Drop in warm milk or water + watch the magic happen!

Here are the 3 recipes we love:

  • 1 cup Chocolate Chips or Chopped Chocolate
  • 2 tbsp Hot Chocolate Mix
  • 5 to 10 Mini Marshmallows
  • 1 Candy Cane, Crushed

  • 1 cup Chocolate Chips or Chopped Chocolate
  • 2 tbsp Hot Chocolate Mix
  • 5 to 10 Mini Marshmallows
  • 1 tbsp Shredded Coconut

  • ½ cup Chocolate Chips or Chopped Chocolate
  • ½ cup White Chocolate Chips or Chopped Chocolate
  • 2 tbsp Hot Chocolate Mix
  • 5 to 10 Mini Marshmallows

Final Verdict: These are delicious, + definitely fun to watch as they melt into your milk or water but they’re also difficult to make + take up a lot of time. If you want to try making these, by all means, go for it! But if you just want tasty + aesthetic hot chocolate, it might be better to leave this one to the experts + just by some from a local candy shop ; )

Festive Peanut Butter Blossoms

Everyone loves peanut butter, especially when chocolate is involved — that’s why peanut butter blossoms are one of the most classic, staple holiday cookies in the book!

As much as I love the original peanut butter blossoms, I wanted to make something a little more ~festive~ to shake up the usual cookie line up. To spice up this recipe, I added green + red sprinkles to the dough + used Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses instead of the classic chocolate option [trust me, you will LOVE these]. This new combo is the perfect amount of chewy cookie mixed with the fun crunch of sprinkles + peppermint from the Candy Cane Kisses!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 cups All-Purpose Flour [I used a GF blend]
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 4 oz [1 stick] Butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Smooth Peanut Butter
  • 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tbsp Almond Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 cup green, red, + white sprinkles
  • 1 package Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses, foil removed

DIRECTIONS

#1] Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda + salt — set aside.

#2] Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar + brown sugar. Add egg, milk + vanilla — beat until well blended.

#3] Gradually add flour mixture + mix until combined. Fold in sprinkles gently.

#4] Roll dough into small balls + roll in granulated sugar before placing on a baking sheet.

#5] Bake until very light brown + puffed — about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove sheet from oven + lightly press a kiss into the center of each cookie — allowing it to crack slightly.

#6] Let cool + enjoy!

Share your cookie creations with us! Tag @CHAARG + #CHAARGeats on your insta posts so we can see your version!