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


  • 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).


  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

For the End of Summer: 7 Ways to Take Care of Yourself

Friends, I am going through a bit of dry spell for blog creativity. I have no shortage of recipes to try, but I haven’t found anything of late that just really says “I’m a success and I need to be shared with the world.” I made some cantaloupe limeade the other day (basically you juice a cantaloupe and two whole limes, dilute with water, and add maple syrup to taste) and as excited I was about making an beautiful peach-coloured drink, it didn’t taste quite as good as I’d hoped.

dandelion fluff

So now, as I sip cantaloupe limeade (just because it wasn’t amazing, doesn’t mean I’m going to just waste it), I ponder what I should do next. After all, the summer is a time when fresh, seasonal, local fruits and vegetables are so available! I should be swimming in recipes to try. But, I don’t know what it is.

Did I mention my plum jam this afternoon burned and was ruined?

So, yeah, a tough month for ol’ Emily. But, instead of beating myself up, I’m trying to remember that a) summer is a busy time, and b) sometimes recipes and schedules just don’t go according to plan, and c) sometimes the answer to the blahs is taking the time to RECHARGE.

summer sunflowers

Summer is often an active time, with hot weather, long days, and lots we feel we should be doing/attending. Are you feeling drained, dull, or low on the creative juices? Peruse a few of these articles, try a recipe or two, and treat yourself well at the end of this beautiful, hot, gorgeous summer. Enter the Autumn feeling strong and vital, and give yourself that much needed boost as you transition to a new season and a new phase of the year.

  1. For Your Soul: Recharge with the power of a super moon! Who doesn’t love the idea of letting Nature help fill up our spiritual and emotional cups?
  2. For Your Body: Make yourself an easy, natural brown sugar scrub and indulge in the shower for smooth skin, exfoliation, and a circulation boost.
  3. For Your Baking Side: Use up some zucchini (which is always ubiquitous this timesimple and refreshing iced herbal tea with fruit and mint leaves of year) and make zucchini chocolate chip muffins, then enjoy with a cup of tea (or iced herbal tea!) and your favourite novel for a few stolen moments on your porch, in your favourite chair, or just sprawled out on your bed (with the fan blowing, if it’s hot where you live).
  4. For Your Spirit: If you’re in the mood for singing, take 20 minutes to sing along to your favourites. Singing is something so few of us do anymore in any real way (yes, the shower counts, except not really) and it’s so restorative and so, well, pleasant! Embrace your folk side with John Denver “Take Me Home, Country Roads” or maybe your country side with Tim McGraw “Sick of Me.” Or, go mellow and strummy with Pink and Dallas Green, “You and Me.” Sway around. Get into it.
  5. For Your Inner Child: In this hot weather, don’t forget about swimming! It gets your core temperature down and, if done before bed, can cool you down enough for a reasonable night’s sleep. Find your nearest local pool and try it! My friend Liz and I have been swimming several times this summer and it’s so fun! I forgot how delightful it is to just lounge in a pool and see the blue sky.
  6. For Your Tastebuds: Make strawberry summer sherbert or avocado lime ice cream. ‘Nuff said.
  7. For Your Heart: Be kind to yourself. Be your own best friend. Take some time at the gratitudeend of summer to reflect, journal, and think about what you’re looking forward to as Autumn approaches. Forgive yourself for anything you feel wasn’t perfect this summer, or make a commitment to yourself to try again at something that really matters to you. And, as always, take stock of the good things in your life. Sometimes a few moments spent reflecting on what we love about our lives can boost our feelings of harmony and joy, and bring us to a place of peace and connection again.

Happy Last Days of Summer!

avocado lime ice cream with coconut milk

(C) Backyard Owl



Cherish Yourself: 4 Tips to Cultivate Self-Love and Stop Negative Self-Talk

you yourself deserve loveI’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about self-love and what it means to be your own best friend. How many of you would say you smile when you see your own face in the mirror because that’s what you do when you’re greeting a friend? Because you are pleased to be you?

Not many, I suspect. And that’s a shame.  Because there is only one person that you will truly spend every moment of every day with, through good times and bad, for the entirety of your life, and that’s yourself.

Self-love isn’t about putting yourself above others, though; instead, it’s about each of us doing the work and taking some accountability for cherishing ourselves. Self-love means respecting and taking delight in your strengths and unique skills, appreciating your weaknesses and trying to grow or improve where appropriate, and loving your body for its power, health, and intricacy.

dare to love

Sadly, for a variety of reasons, most of us go through our lives berating ourselves, hating our looks or our bodies, feeling shameful, ugly, unattractive, undesirable, or unloved. If you pay attention, you might notice that you say mean things to yourself that you would never DREAM of saying to a friend.

This is what we call negative self-talk.

And negative self-talk:

  • decreases our self-esteem
  • decreases our capacity to create positive change
  • decreases our energy to go after our dreams
  • decreases our ability to believe in our own possibilities and potential successes, and
  • decreases our resilience to overcome failures, setbacks, and unforeseen bumps in the road.

And what’s worse, this kind of negative self-talk is reinforcing. The more you let it run wild, the more it will run wild. The brain creates pathways for efficiency. The more you think a certain kind of thought, the easier it becomes to think that thought again in the future, and the faster your brain knows to jump down that pathway.

In the beginning, retraining your brain to counter negative self-talk and to cultivate self-love can seem like really hard work, and it is – you are literally carving out new brain pathways and creating new default behaviours. That ain’t easy.

love is the great cure

But the reason I think it’s worth the work is is that I’ve become increasingly convinced that self-love is THE KEY TO IT ALL.

Imagine, for a moment, what your life would be like if the voice in your head (the one that is always talking – the Buddhists call it “monkey brain”) said the following to you:

  • yes, you can achieve what you want
  • yes, you can have your dreams
  • yes, you are talented, unique, and marvellous
  • yes, you have what it takes
  • yes, you can recover from a setback or a failure
  • yes, your body is beautiful and powerful
  • yes, your self and your individuality are precious
  • yes, you can do good in the world

If this was the voice in your ear, wouldn’t you feel happier, lighter, more joyful, and more powerful? You’d be unstoppable! So, how can you get started bringing more self-love into your life?


1. Affirmations: these might work for you or they might not, but they are worth trying. Try repeating them in the morning when you wake up and at night before bed. Or, try repeating them every time you see yourself in the mirror, or, every time you observe yourself being critical. If you use a mirror, look yourself in the eye and repeat the phrases out loud. Enjoy it. Use different dramatic emphasis. Speak with meaning.

A few examples:

  • I accept myself unconditionally right now.
  • I am glowing, healthy, and strong
  • I am beautiful just the way I am
  • I am clever, competent, and capable, and I will find a way
  • I am happy and loved
  • I love who I have become

2. Self-love goes hand in hand with self-care. Eat well, exercise, and take time to do the things that make you feel most like you: reading, writing, walking, socializing, listening to music, painting, cooking, dancing, whatever. Create space for relaxation but also for positive energization. Take a bath. Go to bed early. Stay up late watching your favourite movie. Do more of what makes you feel good.

3. Gratitude lists. I love gratitude lists. If you want to cherish yourself, make a list about yourself. What do you like about you? Your taste in sofas? Your ability to make people laugh until their beverage comes out of their nose? Your diligence at work? How your favourite colour is periwinkle? Identify what makes you YOU, and then take a moment (or many) to feel grateful about it.

4. Admire your life for 5 minutes every day: Take 5 minutes every day to be present. That could mean meditating for 5 minutes, if that’s helpful to you, or simply taking 5 minutes in which you do your best to be quiet and still, and just look around at your world. Look at your home and admire it with fresh eyes. Look at your pets, your children, your spouse or partner, your flowerpot, the soup you just made, your computer screensaver, whatever. Take 5 minutes and deeply appreciate the unique life you have and how pivotal you are in it! Thank yourself for building this life and feel appreciation for what you have achieved, and what you can do.

celebrate myself


© Backyard Owl