One Bowl, No-Bake Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Protein Balls with Collagen – grain-free, gluten-free, paleo

paleo collagen nut butter bites

Welcome to Eat Well, Live Vibrantly! I’ve transitioned from my old blog to this spiffy new website and I’m excited! I’m still finalizing a few things, but in the meantime, I wanted to get back to some good old-fashioned blogging. Plus, I’ve literally made this recipe 10+ times and it’s time to share it.

These protein balls started as an experiment and have now become basically a staple in my life. I’m not sure I can live without them.

I found the original recipe for these on Healy Eats Real and I felt compelled to try them, mostly because they looked delicious and I had the ingredients in the cupboard. Also, I love things that taste and look like a delicious treat but are packed full of healthy, body-supporting nutrients. The quality of my snack actually enhances my enjoyment of it.

So I tested these out, made a few tweaks to get the recipe to work for me, and am now wondering how I lived before without these in my life. Hats off to Healy for devising this amazing collagen ball concept.

I like these protein bites for just this very reason. They make use of collagen, an animal-based protein that is immensely supportive of gut health, skin health, joint health, as well as general digestive health. It may also be beneficial for wound-healing and injury recovery, as well as for promoting quality sleep. You can read more about collegen’s benefits, which are many, with Dr. Axe here, Wellness Mama here, or Mark Sisson here. Do your research and try to find a collagen that is sourced from grass-fed animals, so that you can feel confident you’ve made a conscious and informed choice.

paleo collagen nut butter bites

The cookie dough protein balls are also grain-free, which can be a nice break for your digestive system and works for those who follow a paleo diet. I’ve tried them with peanut butter, almond butter, almond & hazelnut butter, and cashew butter and I’m not stopping yet. With the cashew butter? Really a strong resemblance to cookie dough. The collagen protein gives them a taffy-like chewiness (which makes sense, since collagen is derived from the collagen-rich parts of animals, like bones and cartilage) and the nut butter gives a nice richness.

I’ve been eating them everyday and I find them immensely useful as a quick snack, especially for those times (aka coming home from work) when I’m hungry, want to quickly feed the cats and then go out on my walk, and need something that feels balanced and filling. Having them in the fridge makes me so happy.

paleo collagen nut butter bites

You might need to play around with the recipe just a bit, depending on the liquidy nature of your nut butter. You know how the top half of the jar is always really pourable and then the bottom half is like nut cement? Bear that in mind. No harm though – if the texture isn’t coming together, add a bit more applesauce (just a bit). If it’s too soft, try another tablespoon or so of almond or coconut flour.

Oh, and bonus? For Christmas, try making these and then dipping them in melted dark chocolate. They’d be totally like those buckeye things people make around the festive season, but way healthier. Nom nom nom.

One Bowl, No-Bake Chocolate Chip Cookie Protein Bites with Collagen

  • Author: Original recipe concept from Healy Eats Rea; tweaks and edits by Emily Joldersma, R.H.N.
  • Recipe notes: gluten-free, grain-free, egg-free, dairy-free; paleo; contains nuts, animal products
  • Yield: about 10-12 balls

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of your favourite grass-fed, organic etc, collagen protein (collagen peptides)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 2 tablespoons almond flour
  • 1/2 cup nut butter (cashew butter, almond butter or peanut butter work best)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/8-/14 teaspoon finely ground himalayan pink salt or sea salt (to your taste preference)
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon of your favourite MCT oil for an extra brain and energy boost!

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together collagen, coconut flour, almond flour, and salt.
  2. Add nut butter, maple syrup, applesauce, and vanilla, and stir until mixed well.
  3. Stir in chocolate chips and finish mixing. The dough should look like cookie dough but with a more sticky/chewy/candy-like texture. It should roll nicely into a ball.
  4. Roll into balls (1 inch or a bit smaller) and store in the fridge!

Enjoy!

© Eat Well, Live Vibrantly

 


Look to the Future! Things are Changing from Backyard Owl to Eat Well, Live Vibrantly!

Look to the Future:

“Consider and plan for what is in the future, rather than worry about the past or present.”

Hello dear readers! As some of you may know, I recently graduated from the Canadian School for Natural Nutrition‘s nutritionist program and am now a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. The two year journey was hard work, but I learned so much, and most of all I learned that there is still so much more to learn! And while I find that entirely overwhelming, I also find it extremely exciting. The world of nutrition is absolutely exploding, and it’s thrilling to think about how much we’re learning about food and its ability to heal and energize.

To that end, the quantity of amazing and intelligent nutrition-focussed books and blogs out there is almost dizzying, and sometimes, a bit intimidating, since many nutritionists and functional doctors may have different approaches to managing health. The upside is that we have many tools available to us to help improve any number of health problems – with the aim of helping people feel healthy and vibrant where previously they felt they just had to ‘live with it.’

But what does this all mean for Backyard Owl?

Well, firstly it means that in the coming weeks/months, likely the blog’s name and brand will change, as it becomes incorporated into my business website. I’ll be offering client consultations and other services, so be sure to take a look when that is available (not yet, but soon).

Secondly, you’ll notice a different focus for the recipes I post. While I was an exclusively plant-based blog for the majority of my blogging existence, I’ll now be focussing more on recipes that support digestion, immune health, a happy microbiome, an optimally-functioning brain, and healthy hair, skin, and body. Sometimes this will involve plant-based eating, and sometimes it will involve the use of consciously and thoughtfully selected, high-quality animal products that deliver specific health benefits.

Thirdly, the focus on vibrant living through stress management, positive attitude, self-love and appreciation, and enjoyment of the simple pleasures of life will NOT be changing. After all, I am a holistic nutritionist, and we love talking about mind, body, AND spirit. The trifecta of healthy, vibrant living.

So I hope you’ll continue to join me on your journey to best health! It’s kind of exciting to be envisioning a new future for my blogging and recipes, and to be able to combine that with my new education and expertise. I aim to help people move from feeling tired, sluggish, run-down, and unwell, to feeling energetic, vibrant, and happy. I’m excited to see how this evolves over the coming months.

Looking to the future,

Emily

© Backyard Owl


Autumnal Pumpkin Spice Muffins – Grain-Free, Dairy-Free

pumpkin spice muffins 1

As Mindy says on The Mindy Project: “Autumn is the time when the leaves go from green to orange, the lattes go from vanilla to pumpkin, and girls toss their razors out the window for there will be no bare legs seen until April.” Oh Mindy, so wise.

Personal grooming aside, as soon as the calendar passes the first of October, adding pumpkin to everything you bake isn’t a half bad idea. Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene and fibre, and a pumpkin spice muffin is the quintessential autumn baked good (along with ginger molasses cookies, though one could probably argue that ginger molasses is really more winter than autumn. So, pumpkin spice it is).pumpkin spice muffins

These muffins are a direct take from Against All Grain, a wonderful cookbook (and blog!) if you’re looking to find grain-free options that are simple, straightforward, and based on traditional recipes that might be among your favourites, like banana bread or oatmeal raisin cookies (sans oatmeal, of course).

Baking grain-free is not the cheapest excursion, I know. But, if you follow a paleo diet, or find that eating grain-free is something you prefer or need to do to keep you system vibrant and humming, then consider these muffins a worthwhile investment.

These pumpkin spice muffins baked up beautifully, tasted pumpkin spice-y, and were sweet but not overly sweet. And they were very filling. Pour yourself a glass of almond milk and set a few of these on a plate, and then open up those windows for the cool, crisp breeze and let it wash over you. #autumnmakeseverythingbetterpumpkin spice muffins

Autumnal Pumpkin Spice Muffins – grain-free, dairy-free

  • Author: Against All Grain cookbook (I just tinkered with the spices and upped the chocolate chips – modifications included below).
  • Recipe Notes: grain-free, dairy-free
  • Yield: 10 regular-size muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 3 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt/Himalayan pink salt (finely ground)
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 pastured/free-range/organic eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup or honey (if honey, should be warmed until liquid)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup dark dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (optional)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 325F.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, spices, and salt.
  • In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, whisk together pumpkin, eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup/honey, and vanilla.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until almost combined
  • Stir in chocolate chips and mix until well combined.
  • Scoop into an oiled muffin tin and top with pumpkin seeds, if using.
  • Bake for 22-26 minutes, or until lightly browned, spring back with pressed, and an cake tester inserted into the muffin comes out clean.
  • Store at room temperature for a few days, or pop into the freezer once cool.

© Eat Well, Live Vibrantly


A Little Soul Nourishment: 5 Ideas For You

Sedum in Fall

“There is no one like anyone else, ever…For it is the fate – the genetic and neural fate – of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.”

~ Oliver Sacks, Gratitude

Yesterday, I went to the funeral of my grandmother – my Oma – who was my last remaining grandparent. My Oma was a complex and intelligent woman, who experienced many struggles in her life, and who had a deep enjoyment of reading, especially poetry, essays, and books that made her think. She was also a talented and accomplished writer, and when I look out across my family – thinkers, writers, readers, linguists, teachers, wordsmiths – the shared history makes itself clear.

Funerals, like no other life event, confront with you thoughts of mortality and the meaning of life, and take you through this unique realm of family you don’t regularly get to see, people from your past, stories you’d forgotten, and the joys, sorrows, struggles, adventures, and mundane everydays that make up each individual life. It’s a liminal time where contemplation and reflection – soul work – feels important and necessary.

I spend so much time thinking and reading about nourishing the body (right now I’m reading No Grain, No Pain, by Peter Osborne – a useful read if you have any digestive diseases or discomforts, or think that gluten might be a problem for you) that I often forget to make space for nourishing the soul.

fall sedum 2

What nourishes your soul? I love poetry, photography (hence the fall sedum photographs, all from my front yard), reading beautiful nature essays, engrossing novels, making soup, chocolate chip cookies, playing pianoblog posts that give me perspective on life, books on happiness, and tea. Oh, and writing. I suppose that’s what this blog post is – a bit of a Tuesday outlet for my soul.

So here are five of the soul-nourishing options that I’ve been thinking about lately. Consider putting a book option on hold and giving it a read before bed (an excellent soul-nourishing time), or take this blog post and use it as a reminder to incorporate a little of your own soul-food this week, whatever that is for you.

  • Wait But Why: Life is a Picture, But You Live in a Pixel: Great title, no? What a cool concept. I’ll let the post speak for itself, and it’s a hugely worthwhile read, but the main point is: life is a series of Todays. Thinking about life only as exciting Tomorrows that are going to be so much better than our regular Todays is missing out on being present, and is ultimately missing the point. This wonderful post reminds us that thinking about life as a movie montage or a big picture with sweeping music, an overall theme and story arch, and whizzing frames that just blur past the hard, disappointing, or boring bits, just sets us up for regrets and unhappiness. We may find those epic stories in looking back on our lives, but the reality to make peace with is that no matter what, our lives are built brick by brick, Today by Today. And, our Todays might often just be “mundane Wednesdays.” What we can hope to do is make the best of our “mundane Wednesdays”, and so the post concludes with some tips for the scientifically proven things that actually improve our Todays over the long-run: gratitude, good health, satisfying and loving relationships, good sleep, and kindness/giving to others.
  • Gratitude, by Oliver Sacks. This short, small book contains four essays written by Oliver Sacks in the last two years of his life. I read it cover to cover in under an hour and felt my soul had been warmed. Oliver Sacks writes so positively about aging (in the first two essays, before he receives his terminal cancer diagnosis) and then so beautifully, bravely, and honestly about the remainder of his life in his final two essays. It’s also a marvellous book to marvel about writing, and the power of words to reach out across the ethos and capture emotions you felt but weren’t satisfactorily able to express. This little book gave me new ways to think about the beauties in life, the gifts that we’re given (even those that don’t seem like gifts), and the magic of a dialogue with a good book.
  • Upstream, by Mary Oliver. I love Mary Oliver’s poetry, and even though this is a book of essays, I can’t deny that reading it is like reading poetry – a luxurious pool of words that you spend time swimming around in. The book includes a wonderful essay called My Friend Walt Whitman, where Mary Oliver writes about poetry – and the experience of poetry – with such tenderness: “But first and foremost, I learned from Whitman that the poem is a temple – or a green field – a place to enter and in which to feel…I learned that the poem was made not to just exist, but to speak – to be company.” If this makes you wish to read poetry, try a few favourites: Whitman, for sure, and Mary Oliver, but also Wendell Berry, John Keats, Tennyson, and Shakespeare. All good and satisfying.
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies. I’ve been trying to incorporate more grain-free options, to see how that sits with me, and today I’m trying these Real Deal Chocolate Chip Cookies from Against All Grain. I’m all for nourishing my soul by also nourishing my senses (and stomach). *grin*
  • Herbal Tea: Lastly, if you’re looking for a new tea to try, consider fennel! It’s great for digestion, very soothing if you have any digestive issues, and it may also be anti-inflammatory, immune-supporting, and helpful for managing PMS symptoms. Plus, I love the licorice/anise flavour.

If you’re looking for other soul-nourishing and happiness-boosting posts, consider:

Thank you for allowing me to write about what’s on my mind, and for taking the time to read, even though this diverts from usual content. I’ll be back with more recipes soon. Until then, happy soul-nourishing!

“I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercouse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”

~Oliver Sacks, Gratitude

 

© Eat Well, Live Vibrantly


No-Bake Muesli Energy Bars with Almond Butter

no bake granola bars with pumpkin seeds

It’s a gorgeous day here – blue skies, breezy, warm but not hot, and no humidity. I’ve gone for a bike ride, bought strawberries at the farmers market, picked up my books from the library, walked about, and now I’m blogging and eating maca chocolate. In other words, utter perfection. Let all summer days be like this, says I!

I’m almost finished my program at the Canadian School for Natural Nutrition, and admittedly that’s why you haven’t seen many blog posts in recent months. But this beautiful day just sang to me and said, Emily, steal away a few moments and write something on the blog. So here I am.no bake granola bars with pumpkin seeds 3

This part of July is where summer really kicks into a higher gear. The farmers’ market is starting to show its colours – spring rhubarb is still available, but the strawberries are there, and soon I’ll see peaches, tomatoes, corn, and zucchinis overflowing on the tables. My own little farm here (I use the term ‘farm’ extremely loosely) has thus far produced 2 blueberries, 4 raspberries, and some purple podded peas. A tiny harvest, but a satisfying one. I can see the raspberries slowly turning from that light pinkish colour to the deeper red, so soon I’ll return to that glorious time when there are raspberries to eat every day when I come home from work.

It’s a nice time to be alive, isn’t it?

no bake granola bars with pumpkin seeds 2

To keep your energy up through the biking, walking, jam-making, hammock-reading, blueberry-picking, running, mowing, weeding, harvesting, swimming, kombucha-drinking, or whatever you have on the go this summer, whip up some of these energy bars (finally, I’m getting to the recipe!). They’re simple, offer protein, fibre, and healthy fat, and you can make them either as energy balls/bites or just press them into the pan and make granola bars. They’re best right from the fridge (structural integrity relies on the coldness of the coconut oil), but if you don’t mind eating them more as a melted crumble, tote them to the beach! Why not?

And of course, they require no oven, so the only breeze and warmth you feel will be that of the summer sun, wafting through your open windows.

Happy July!

No-Bake Muesli Energy Bites with Almond Butter

Recipe Notes: option for gluten-free (use gluten-free oats), option for plant-based (maple syrup instead of honey), dairy-free, egg-free, wheat-free

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups muesli (basically oats with a bit of dried fruit added – plain rolled oats are fine too)
  • 1/2 shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or himalayan pink salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • optional: sprinkle of ground cinnamon

Instructions: 

  1. Whirl the muesli, coconut, seeds of choice, chocolate chips, and dried fruit of choice in your food processor until you’ve turned it into very small bits, or almost flour. The dried fruit will remain in larger pieces – this is totally fine. The chocolate might also stay in bigger chunks – also totally fine, and in fact, quite delicious.
  2. Dump this mix into a large bowl.
  3. In a small sauce pan and over very low heat, gently whisk together almond butter, raw honey, coconut oil, pink salt, and vanilla extract until smooth and a bit pourable.
  4. Pour over the dry mix and stir until all dry parts are well coated and mixture holds its shape when squeezed into a ball.
  5. Roll into balls or press into an 8×8 pan and store in an airtight container in the fridge. For best shape, eat right from the fridge or keep cool.

© Eat Well, Live Vibrantly


Creamy Vanilla Cinnamon Breakfast Smoothie with Cashew Butter

cashew cinnamon vanilla smoothie

I finally found an answer to the age old question (and frankly, it’s not an answer I ever thought I’d hear myself say, but here it is): yes, it is possible to have too much chocolate.

Last week I realized I think I’d finally reached a maximum saturation of chocolate, after I noticed that one day I’d put it in everything: pancakes, trail mix, smoothies, hot chocolate, dark chocolate in the afternoon, and so on. I mean, raw cacao is indeed a superfood, but once you’ve crammed into nearly every food you consume, there comes a point when your body says, please! Another flavour, por favor.

And so I’m listening. I think I’m getting pretty good at understanding when my body is telling me it needs something new, and I try to listen to those subtle nudges. As a result, I’ve packed away my standard chocolate protein powder/raw cacao breakfast smoothie and replaced it with something that’s…well, I suppose basically the same in concept, but an entirely different flavour.

cashew cinnamon vanilla smoothie

Effectively this smoothie is kind of the like the green monster smoothie that people used to post all over the internet: non-dairy milk, nut butter, banana, greens (these will make your smoothie this glorious light green colour – though for the sake of photographic clarity, I left out the greens in this version), and some vanilla protein powder. I think french vanilla flavour would be best. I tried it with a ‘chai spice’ protein powder and it tasted exactly like eggnog, which was not what I was going for. You could also use plain protein powder, but consider adding a drop of two of vanilla stevia/or vanilla extract and plain stevia.

I also think you could totally use another nut butter in here if you’d prefer (I know cashew butter is quite expensive). Almond butter would be good (I once had a cinnamon almond butter that was heavenly), or maybe even sunflower butter! That said, cashew butter has such a lovely toasty nutty flavour – it just goes so nicely with cinnamon. Maybe treat yourself this once.

cashew cinnamon vanilla smoothie

So yes. It’s been a while since I posted last. It’s still a busy time – my part-time school program at CSNN is in its final, busiest months; work is really busy, and there is lots on the go. But, spring is here (heck, it’s practically summer) and I spent time planting today in the garden (tomatoes, beans, squash, oh my!), so I’m feeling a renewed sense of joie de vivre and possibility. I can get it all done, I feel purposeful (and not overwhelmed), and I have lots to look forward to.

And I’m having my cashew smoothie for breakfast tomorrow too. So many joys.

Enjoy the beauty of May!

Creamy Vanilla Cinnamon Breakfast Smoothie with Cashew Butter

  • Author: Eat Well, Live Vibrantly
  • Recipe notes: plant-based, gluten-free, protein-rich, healthy fats

Ingredients:

  • one cup non-dairy milk (add some coconut milk if want luxury!)
  • one frozen banana
  • one scoop of your favourite plant-based vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or more, to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons cashew butter
  • a few ice cubes
  • optional extras:
    • one handful of spinach
    • 2 teaspoons maca powder
    • 1 tablespoon grass-fed collagen powder (note: this is quite obviously not plant-based)

Instructions:

  1. Throw it all in a blender/nutribullet/swirly-with-blades type device and blend until creamy!

© Eat Well, Live Vibrantly


5 MORE Rockin’ Songs to Boost Your Mood and Make you Smile, PLUS Tips for Managing Stress

Clearly not my image – all credit to the amazing Bill Watterson!

So I have to tell you, I believe this post comes at a critical time. I was going to post a recipe for superfood chocolate chip cookies (look for those coming soon), but in a sudden moment of deep reflection, I realized that right now a list of cheerful, energy-boosting, drab-crushing music was what I wanted to put together for you, my dear readers. For you, of course, but also more importantly, for me.

So why not a moment too soon?

I asked my sister, a music guru, for her suggestions and she said, “I haven’t been listening to much upbeat music right now.”

I asked my boyfriend, and he said, “Hmm, I’ll have to think about it.”

People, we should all have a few songs at the very tip of our tongues that are surefire bets for making us feel better. Country, celtic, classical, pop, it doesn’t matter. If it makes you feel great, you should be listening to it on a regular basis. And that’s a fact.

I have been stressed lately. There it is. I’m trying to incorporate more self-care – reading my novel before bed, taking an epsom salt bath, watching a Sex and the City episode after supper – but when I get stressed, most things start to feel like tasks on my list, even the nice things. It all becomes one big checklist and I end up living in my head, thinking about the next ‘task’ as I’m ‘accomplishing’ the current task. And considering your relaxing lavender bath a task isn’t really the way you want it to be.

I know I need to manage my stress better. I know it. But it’s really hard, and doubly so because I tend to get stressed about being stressed. No solution seems perfect at the moment for me, but music helps. Music seems to remind me I also have a body, and that body enjoys singing, dancing, laughing, and smiling, AND TAKING A BREAK FROM THINKING.

Sorry for shouting. I got worked up there.

My cats help me with my stress. Isn’t this boy a beauty?

When we’re in the thralls of a stress time, we often forget the power of laughter and smiling. We forget to make a plan to find the upbeat music that brings us joy, to dance a little bit, and to take a moment to think about what really brings us the most pleasure and then to make sure we do it.

A few other things I’m trying right now to help with stress:

  • Kris Carr’s Self-Care for Busy People meditation album
  • romance novels (don’t knock these – if you find a gem, you’ve found excellent writing, compelling storytelling, and some good lusty sexual tension – it’s stress-busting gold, people, gold!). I particularly like Meredith Duran and Sherry Thomas.
  • walks outside (my sister and I made a rule that you could only talk about the present on our shared walk – anyone caught worrying, stressing, or future-planning got a big upper arm pinch)
  • morning affirmations – I like these ones for anxiety from The Anxiety Guy
  • an episode here or there of a favourite TV show. For me, it’s Sex and the City, The Mindy Project, Grace and Frankie, or (can I admit it?) the 90s Star Trek (c’mon! it’s kind of gentle and fun and imaginative. I find it calming.).

But anyways, below is my current list of mood-boosting songs. For other options, try my previous lists: Ten Songs to Boost Your Mood NOW and Ten MORE songs to Boost your Mood and Make you Feel Alive. Or, try 5 Songs and 8 Ways to Start Your Morning with Joy and Movement.

Music all over the place! The hills are ALIVE with the sound of music.

Enjoy!

5 MORE Rockin’ Songs to Boost Your Mood and Make You Smile

  1. Can’t Stop the Feeling byJustin Timberlake (the video is full of fun dancing)
  2. Can’t Stop the Feeling – The Piano Guys version (watch the video – it made me smile big time – it’s full of MORE fun dancing)
  3. Wasted Time – Keith Urban (reminds you that not everything has to be productive! sometimes the joy is in the wasted time. And as with all country music, you are reminded of the importance of wearing shorts and letting your hair be free).
  4. Hymn for the Weekend – Coldplay (Seeb Remix). (this jam is chill, and inspires you to sway around your home and maybe also throw an arm or two in the air to the sound of the beat. This song also reminds us to be grateful for the weekend. I certainly am. Please disregard all messages of being drunk and high, though I assume Chris Martin means, on life itself.)
  5. Bom Bom by Sam and the Womp. (while the lyrics are basically nonsensical, I defy you to stand still during this song. Those silver trumpets in the back? So fun! Especially if you pretend to play them in the air during the song.)

Enjoy!

© Eat Well, Live Vibrantly

 


Chocolate Chip Shortbread with Dark Chocolate and Coconut Oil – V, GF

chocolate-chip-shortbread with coconut oil

Well, it’s Valentine’s Day! This is a day to celebrate love, in all its forms. Love for your family, your friends, your pets, your lover, your garden, your home, and above all, yourself. Today is a good day to give yourself a little extra care. Maybe an epsom salt bath, maybe a special nourishing dinner, maybe an extra square of dark chocolate.

And you all know how I love my luxurious dark chocolate. The flavour of these cookies comes primarily from the chocolate, so please feel free to excite your palate with the 72%, 75%, 80% dark chocolate you’ve been eyeing for some time now but haven’t purchased for yourself. Now is the time.

chocolate-chip-shortbread with coconut oil

Because this shortbread uses coconut oil as the main fat, the cookies are more crunchy than crumbly. If you used Earth Balance or similar vegan butter, or a grass-fed dairy butter, I imagine you would get a feel more similar to classic shortbread. That being said, coconut oil is a wonderful, energizing, healthy fat, so I can sacrifice a little texture to get some more of that healthy fat in.

If you want a few other colours, feel free to add pistachios, dried cranberries, or maybe even some orange zest. Wow. That combo would be amazing (mental note for a future recipe).

chocolate-chip-shortbread-with coconut oil

If you’re looking for a nice meditation for the day, I used this solar plexus chakra meditation from Cauldrons and Cupcakes. The solar plexus chakra is your third chakra, and it’s where your will, self-esteem, and self-identity reside. It’s a great focus point for when you’re asking questions about what you need/want. And, this meditation particular is awesome for taking 10 minutes to ask yourself: what is best for me right now?

So happy love day! Feel all that positive energy floating around and let it boost you up.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread with Dark Chocolate and Coconut Oil – v, gf

  • Author: Recipe from Unconventional Baker, with full credit given to the recipe found here here. Tweaks (and the addition of chocolate) by Emily Joldersma, R.H.N.
  • Recipe Notes: dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, softened (use refined coconut oil if you prefer cookies without a coconut taste)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (room temperature)
  • 2 1/4 cups gluten-free flour blend (I used 1 3/4 cups white rice flour and 1/2 cup tapioca flour/starch)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt/Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate PLUS 1/2 cup dark chocolate (for melting and dipping).

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Beat softened coconut oil until smooth.
  3. Add maple syrup, vanilla extract, and salt and beat until combined. Scrape down the bowl.
  4. Stir in the gluten-free flour, ground cinnamon, and chopped dark chocolate, and mix until fully combined (the dough should moist, so that when you press it together it holds in a ball shape).
  5. Pour dough out onto counter (sprinkled with gluten-free flour to prevent the dough from sticking) and place some wax paper over the dough.
  6. Roll out the dough until it is your preferred thickness. and cut out shapes with heart cookie cutter (or whatever cutter you have on hand and want to use).
  7. Place cookies on baking sheet and chill briefly in fridge or freezer, for about 5 minutes.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned on bottom of cookie.
  9. While cookies are cooling, prepare chocolate for dipping. In a double boiler, melt chocolate until liquid and smooth. Individually dip cookies and place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper or silicon.
  10. Chill in the fridge until firm. The cookies can be kept in the fridge or at room temperature, though note that the chocolate will be most crisp (because it wasn’t tempered when melting) if stored in the fridge.
  11. Enjoy and share the love!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

© Eat Well, Live Vibrantly


Plant-Based Paleo Granola with Figs and Honey

paleo granola with honey and figs

Posting a paleo recipe on what is generally a plant-based blog? That’s right folks! Gird your loins – we’re about to break free from some labels.

Seriously, though. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about Paleo eating and I think there is a lot about Paleo to admire and adopt. Based on my (albeit beginners) understanding, Paleo is all about real, whole foods, minimal/no sugar, no additives or processing, low-starch vegetables, no gluten – or for that matter – no grains or flours, and no dairy.

Putting aside your feelings about the consumption of animal products, which is most certainly part of a Paleo diet, you have to admit this way of eating removes most of the major allergens – dairy, gluten, and soy – and for some people, that could be just the ticket back to optimum health.

paleo-granola-2

Plus, one of the best things to adopt from Paleo, I think, is the emphasis on real foods – foods that come from nature, and are unrefined and unprocessed. These foods are generally highest in beneficial enzymes, nutrients, and antioxidants. Paleo encourages people to think creatively about where a whole food can be used instead of processed food.

Paleo also is really good about promoting the health benefits of nuts and seeds, while also acknowledging that these plant-based foods benefit from some tweaks to make them optimally digestible by the human body. Nuts and seeds contains phytates (so does soy, for that matter), and the concern is that these compounds might bind to essential nutrients and prevent their absorption, effectively rendering the iron/zinc/magnesium/etc. content of your nuts useless to you. Soaking is one of the methods that helps reduce phytate content. Roasting also helps. So does sprouting.

So, this granola is the double whammy – soaking then roasting. It’s a phytate buster. And it smells DIVINE while it’s in the oven.

paleo granola with honey and figs

Now, full disclosure: because the nuts are soaked first, I would say they are more chewy than crunchy. The coconut, on the other hand, is very crunchy. Nevertheless, if soaking isn’t at all your thing, you don’t believe in phytates, or you only like crunchy nuts in your granola, skip the soaking step.

This Paleo granola recipe is from a cookbook I picked up at the library called “The Part-Time Paleo Cookbook.” I’ve made a few changes to the original recipe – I reduced the amount of sweetener and oil, and doubled the coconut, for extra chew. and fibre. I also soaked the nuts, and of course, I couldn’t resist adding some cinnamon.

I invite you to dabble a little in the Paleo world with this granola! And remember: unabashedly pick and choose from any dietary plan, no matter the name, and figure out what works best for you. That’s more important than eating according to a label.

Plant-Based Paleo Granola with Figs & Honey

  • Author: The Part-Time Paleo Cookbook, with tweaks by Eat Well, Live Vibrantly
  • Recipe Notes: grain-free, soy-free, naturally-sweetened, high in protein, fibre, and healthy fats.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 3-4 dried figs, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey (or if you prefer, maple syrup)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Soak almonds and cashews in filtered water for 4 hours or overnight.
  2. When ready to proceed with ready, preheat oven to 300F.
  3. Thoroughly drain water from nuts, and pulse in a food processor until finely chopped.
  4. In a large bowl, combine nuts with coconut, figs, orange juice, coconut oil, raw honey, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon.
  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly browned.
  6. Remove from oven and stir in dried cranberries.
  7. Let cool and store in an airtight container. Serve over coconut yogurt or with some almond milk!

© Eat Well, Live Vibrantly


Homemade Lavender and Peppermint Salt Scrub

lavender and peppermint epsom salt scrub

Ah, nothing says it’s festive season time quite like peppermint. Except maybe cinnamon. Or that unique smell of pine trees. Or even woodstove fire smell! They’re all pretty awesome too and I guess that means actually a great number of things say that it’s festive time. For today, though, let’s just talk about peppermint. And lavender.

I’ve made scrubs before (oatmeal sugar scrub)  and I’ve used peppermint before (body butter, anyone?), but this is my first foray into a peppermint scrub. I’ve seen a few different scrub recipes out there, and I thought it was a lovely idea to use epsom salts (provided you can find a particle size you like) as the scrub base.

lavender and peppermint epsom salt scrub

For one, salt has antiseptic/antibacterial qualities (salt water rinses for colds and sore throats are a wonderful use of salt), making it great for areas like, say, your bikini line where you want to both exfoliate and keep the area free from infection or other inflammation after a wax (IMMEDIATELY post-wax a salt scrub might sting, though, so perhaps hold off there).

As a second benefit, epsom salts are mineral compounds that contain high levels of magnesium – apparently epsom salt is a combination of magnesium and sulfate. (I’m not shilling for any specific brand, but this website has a nice list of the benefits of epsom salts). Magnesium is great for your body as a muscle relaxer, which is why people use it in baths – magnesium helps alleviate muscle cramps and pain. Epsom salts are also supposed to have detoxification capabilities, helping to draw wastes and flush toxins from the body.

Now, while I recognize that your body won’t take in as many of the benefits of epsom salts from this external, brief use (compared to say, bathing in an epsom salt solution), it’s a nice potential fringe benefit. And of course, another coarse quality sea salt will do too, if that’s what you have in supply.

lavender and peppermint epsom salt scrub

Another benefit? Peppermint and lavender essential oils are stress-relieving and help you avoid the use of chemical or synthetic fragrances, found in so many other conventional skin-care products.

So scrub on! I love using this scrub in the shower. It smells wonderful and the warm water in the shower swirls the peppermint smell around. The lavender buds are optional – they look pretty, but quite frankly they mostly just make a mess in the shower before bee-lining straight down the drain. So, your option.

Happy pepperminting. Let this scrub help you be merry and bright!

Homemade Lavender and Peppermint Salt Scrub

  • Author: Emily Joldersma, R.H.N.
  • Recipe Notes: gluten-free, depending on your choice of oils and salts; delicious-smelling

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 -1 cup epsom salts, or a mix of coarse and fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup skincare oil, like sweet almond, apricot kernel, jojoba
  • 4-6 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 6-8 drops lavender essential oil

Instructions:

  1. Mix salt and oil together in a small bowl until all salt is well incorporated and appears wet and sand-like.
  2. Add essential oils.
  3. Scoop into your favourite little mason jars or other containers. I like glass jars best – most sanitary and also you can see your scrub through the jar.
  4. NOTE: Unlike with sugar scrubs, I find the oil kind of sinks to the bottom after a while of sitting in the jar. So, after a few uses you might notice you’re able to add a bit more salt to equalize the salt-to-oil ratio.

© Eat Well, Live Vibrantly