Valentine’s Day Cupcakes and the Practice of Love

When I was growing up, Valentine’s Day was depressing. I always compared myself to my friends who received more cards, more gifts, and more attention. I convinced myself that they were prettier, more admired, and more lovable.  By the end of the day I felt short changed and invisible. To protect myself, I stopped celebrating it.

As I’ve gotten older and more connected to the deeper aspects of myself, I use this day not to compare the number of cards or flowers I get, but to celebrate my own practice of LOVE and my goal of being a more loving person. 

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“Big Magic” and a Carob Dessert Shake

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I’ve been engrossed in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic. In this enlightening book, she illustrates not only the importance of creativity but the idea that there is a touch of divinity or “magic” involved. Thus, it is critical for us to be receptive so when an idea or spark of genius comes flying towards us, we have an alluring vacancy sign attracting it.

Elizabeth is a beautiful writer whose sentences flow together like Tango dancers but she also understands and empathizes with the struggle of being creative. She recognizes the crushing perfectionism and self-doubt that hold us back. She’s been there herself and articulates it with heartfelt validation.

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Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

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With Angela Liddon’s help, I have found my inner domestic side. I was NOT a baker. I didn’t trust myself to bake well and lacked the basic equipment and fancy mixers needed. I heard women talk about how they “LAHVED” to bake and were impressed by the gorgeous indulgences they produced, but the joy of baking was lost on me.

Part of it was my attitude. I grew up with a single mom in the heart of New York City. Her liberal, career woman lifestyle didn’t include baking. The mere idea of baking implied a domesticity she couldn’t relate to. The message I received was that “independent” women don’t bake.

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Pumpkin Pie Spiced Sweet Potato Muffins

Spiced sweet potato muffins

The summer has ended and Fall is in the air. The cooler mornings have me shutting the windows and putting on my heavier robe. I love this time of year. The light is softer and the summer chaos is gone. The beaches clear out and the sun rises a little later. It’s the perfect time for making end of the summer vegetable soups and baking. These Vegan Spiced Muffins tick all the boxes. They are easy to make, taste amazing and no fancy equipment is needed. And the best part is that your house will smell heavenly.

I’ve made these as muffins and bread and each have their merits. The muffins are adorable and self contained in their own little jackets. And really, what’s cuter than a muffin? The bread is slightly more sophisticated and great to slice up anytime of day.  Make whichever you are feeling at the moment. I loved serving either with a hot mug of tea and homemade raspberry chia jam.

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Tantalizing Trail Mix Cookies

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Exercise has always been an important part of my life. Equally as important as eating a healthy diet. I have woven a life around these practices since they are integral to my peace, happiness and well-being. Therefore, I prefer to take active oriented trips that push me out of my comfort zone and provide exciting experiences in exotic parts of the world. Whether I am hiking in the Alps, diving off Maui, or doing a yoga retreat in Fiji, I grow with each new challenge.

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Vegan Avocado Brownies

Avocado Vegan Brownies

I’m a brownie fan which is why I can’t make them often or I’d eat the whole pan. But every now and then I like to bake a batch, especially when I find a recipe that’s healthier and vegan. I came across this one on Gimme Some Oven (such a cute name don’t you think?), and wanted to eat the computer. These brownies turned out deliciously moist and chocolatey. No one would suspect there is avocado hidden in them.

Vegan baking is perfect for anyone who is new to baking or doesn’t consider themselves “a baker”. You don’t need fancy mixers nor do you have to worry about creaming the butter perfectly or if your egg whites are stiff enough. Baking vegan is fun and easy and you can’t help but put love into it.

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Brazil Nut Milk

Brazil Nut Milk

I’ve been endeavoring to eat more Brazil nuts (or rather seeds) because they are an excellent source of selenium which is good for a healthy thyroid. My goal is to eat two a day but I heard they turn into a velvety smooth milk like cashews.

For a long time, I avoided making nut milks because it seemed complicated and I was certain I didn’t have the right gadgets. That was until I  tried homemade almond milk for the first time and was blown away by the taste and texture. It was like drinking a vanilla milkshake that was bursting with life. That day, I ordered a nut milk bag from Amazon and tried my first attempt.

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Easy as Pie: Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These amazing vegan chocolate chip cookies are for anyone who doesn’t bake much. They are fast, easy, and great when you want a warm cookie for dessert or want to bring something delicious to your non-vegan friends. They are rustic due to the raw sugar and Spelt flour and stay moist when you don’t over-bake them. My husband is a big fan off these, so I make them often. This recipe yields a smaller batch of cookies which I like because they are best (think soft and gooey) right out of the oven AND I avoid keeping tempting sweets in the house for days.

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