Hi Honey! Chocolates


I’m going to level with you.  I really hate the Hallmark bullsh*t.  I hate that Valentine’s Day is about buying and spending and doing crazy commercially driven activities, like fancy dinners and extravagant gifts and weekend spa packages with rose petal facials. (Okay, maybe I don’t hate the spa thing).  But I do resist the traditional consumerism of Valentine’s Day.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like planning and doing special things and I look for every opportunity to celebrate.  You found a pair of jeans you like?  We’re throwing a party.  You ruptured your appendix?  I’m bringing soup and balloons to the hospital with a handful of confetti and a jar to bring that bad boy home in.  Your poetry was published in an obscure magazine in Newfoundland? We are popping corks and eating brie ALL NIGHT LONG.

But I don’t feel loved or celebrated when my husband gives me a dozen, over-priced roses or some expensive chocolates in heart-shaped box.  I feel…icky.  I feel like I’m a part of the machine.  And now that I’m a parent, I want this to be a family and fun-centered day, without the Hallmark trappings.  So, my husband and I are committed to thinking outside of the heart-shaped candy box and creating traditions without unrealistic expectations of what this one day should be.

When we were engaged, L and I started a Valentine’s Day tradition.  We lit candles, and poured cheap wine in regular kitchen glasses. We set up a fondue picnic in the living room, complete with hot cheese, toasted bread, veggies, fruit, melted chocolate and cubes of cake to dip it in.  We set a $15 price limit and gave each other gifts from our hearts.  We’ve carried that tradition throughout the last decade and it’s one of my all-time favorite things we do together.  Some of our best conversations happen over that fondue pot, and we end up giggling like teenagers and eating way too much.  It’s the happiest kind of celebration.

Tomorrow, we will start the day with heart-shaped pancakes, make cards with our son, E, and deliver these homemade chocolates to our friends.  Then we will share wine and fondue with our friends in the evening, welcoming them into our tradition because the whole point of Valentine’s Day is to share the love.  Okay.  And maybe make the love, too.  But just the two of us.  No one else is invited.

Um, now it’s awkward.

Here’s a recipe for chocolate. Because chocolate.

Hi Honey! Chocolates


  • 3/4 cup raw, organic coconut oil (I like Nutiva brand because I can buy it at Costco.)
  • 1/2 cup high quality cocoa powder (My favorite is Rapunzel cocoa.)
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (scant)


  1. In a small saucepan on low heat, melt coconut oil.
  2. Remove from burner whisk in honey, vanilla extract, and cocoa powder.
  3. Pour mixture into silicone molds, or a parchment-lined pan if you’re making bark.
  4. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of sea salt, and refrigerate until hardened.
  5. Refrigerate until ready to consume.  These chocolates melt at room temp!

For Maple Bacon Honey Chocolates: Follow directions above, but substitute honey for Grade B Maple Syrup, and add 1 Tbsp cooked, chopped bacon.

These were made in a bacon shaped silicone mold.  Unfortunately, they don't look like bacon.
These were made in a bacon shaped silicone mold. Unfortunately, they don’t look like bacon.

For Curry Honey Chocolates: Follow directions above and add 1 tsp of curry powder and a pinch of salt.

These definitely look like hearts.
These definitely look like hearts.

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day?

Thinking Outside of the Heart-Shaped Box,


5 Healthy Holidays – Day Five : Avoiding the Sugar Meanies

photo cred: foto76 on www.freedigitalphotos.net


You guys. It is so hard to resist sugar. This time of year, anyone would be crazy to not have a hard time. Unless they were born without a sweet tooth, but that’s like being born without a bicuspid or wisdom teeth. It almost never happens.

So, what gives? Well, sugar is basically like heroin to your brain. I’ve never used heroin, so I can’t say for sure what it’s like. But I can tell you that getting a hit of sugar makes everything better. Blissful. Euphoric, even. For about 10 minutes. And then everything goes haywire. I get moody, emotional, snarky, maybe even a little bitchy. Then my husband does something mildly annoying or my son won’t stop crying and then I just can’t cope. So, I eat more sugar to help me cope, which is the thing that made me unable to cope in the first place. It is a mean, terrible cycle and once I’m caught in it, I feel nearly powerless to get out. Turns out, there’s a reason for that. This study claims that sugar is even MORE addictive than heroin or cocaine. I believe it.

That’s great information, right? But how do we reduce our sugar intake over the holidays? Because the reality is this: sometimes not eating the sugar makes me grumpy and bitchy, too. But that’s my fault, not the sugar’s fault. I’m capable of saying no and still being a decent, respectful human being.  At least I’m pretty sure I am.

I’ve developed a few tricks over the years to deal with the sugar meanies (that’s what I’m labeling this condition). Here they are:

  • Eat a protein packed breakfast. Having a solid layer of protein to start your day out will greatly increase your chances of avoiding low blood sugar, which increases your ability to make good food choices and be a respectful human being. Sugar meanies = avoided.
  • Keep a protein snack with you at all times. I keep a bag of pumpkin seeds (shell on) with me all day. They are a perfect seasonal treat, and provide fiber, which helps me feel full, and protein to help keep my blood sugar stabilized until I can eat a proper, balanced meal. But let’s be honest here: sometimes I don’t even get the balanced meal because I forget to make it a priority. Protien-based snacks are the only way to go when that happens.
  • Don’t let sugar define your holidays. Discover the joy of savory seasonal foods. Make real food and you will feel full, satisfied, and stable.  Serve real food and everyone else will feel the same way.  Seriously.  Try it.  Fall in love with savory.
  • Bring a treat with you. How many times have you arrived at a party or gathering and found nothing you can eat? My fix for this is simple: bring something. Besides looking like a very thoughtful and contributive guest to your party host, you also receive the added benefit of having something to eat. It’s a total win for you and the party.
  • Drink lots of water. This is so hard to do, especially when we get busy. But this is so important! Many times, we confuse dehydration for hunger. 48 ounces of water is the bare minimum to consume during the day, but most folks need double that, especially when we are inside with the heat blasting. Forced heat dries us out much more quickly than we might realize. Shoot for 100 ounces of room temperature water a day! You’ll find your hunger curbed, and your skin will be soft as an added bonus.
  • Save sugar for last. You go to a party. You spot the decadent treats. You even see one that meets all of your weird dietary criteria. Say yes to it. But say yes after you’ve eaten all the veggies and protein you can handle and had at least a full glass of water. Then circle back around to the sweet thing that caught your eye and decide if you still want it. If you do, go for it. Enjoy it. Savor it. Then be done. Give yourself permission to have it, though. You might find that the act of giving yourself a choice is all you need to be able to say no. And if you do partake, you’ll have a tummy full of nutritious food to soften the sugar meanies.

If you’re still having a hard time wrapping your sugared brain around what savory (and slightly sweet) treats to make, head over to The Leaky Boob for a list of my favorite elimination diet recipes of 2014.

5 Healthy Holidays — Day Four: Stress Less


Yesterday, I came home from work, looked at my crazy mess of a house, tried to soothe my over-stimulated , screaming toddler and thought, “Good grief.  Is Christmas over yet?!”.  Yeah, super cheery.  I’m basically one of Santa’s little elves, right? And I probably said a few curse words instead of “good grief”.

I always find it amusing when my vocation overlaps with real life. I actively help people regain their health and reduce their stress and then I find that I need to take my own advice, just like yesterday. I was stressed. I was overwhelmed.  I felt done. I certainly wasn’t approaching my day in a healthy manner, and I didn’t know where to start.  I created and gave and helped people in their impossible places.  I also rushed around all day from the babysitter, to meetings, to work, back to the baby sitter and then to the doctor before coming home at 7:00.  No wonder I was stressed!

Then I remembered that I contributed a little post over on TLBfor Seven Ways to Experience Nurture During The Holidays.  I put away my phone, my computer, and my frustrations of the day and took my own damn advice.  And you know what?  I felt better.  Maybe you’ll feel better, too.

Healthy Holidays — Slow Down

stock image by sakhorn38 from www.freedigitalphotos.net
stock image by sakhorn38 from www.freedigitalphotos.net

I’m writing this and I don’t even fully know how to tell you to do it because, the very deepest truth is, I’m learning how to do this myself. I like movement. I like commotion. I like getting caught up in the shuffle. It’s exciting and invigorating. Even as frustrating as it can be, it’s a little electrifying and fun. And that’s okay. We all need fun.

But it’s also distracting.

When my body and mind are too busy, (which I slip into way too easily this time of year), I miss the really GOOD stuff. Like my son’s new hand mannerisms that appeared overnight, or my husband’s introverted co-worker who often gets overlooked at company Christmas parties but is delightful to talk to once engaged.

One of my very wise teachers told me she had a serious problem slowing down when she was a girl. At one point, it was so bad that she was almost expelled from school because she couldn’t stay focused on any task that required repetition. Her father decided to help her find a way to connect to methodical tasks that required her full attention. Her family ate rice at every dinner, and he gave her the job of washing the rice. She hated it. She had to stand still, be patient, sift the rice through the water. Fill, sift, wash, dump, repeat, until the water ran clear. She couldn’t leave her task in the middle of it and go do something else. When she took shortcuts, dinner was ruined and her family got angry. Doing this simple task brought her pride when done well, and the important life skill of learning how to slow down. Later, when she went to medical school, she told us how the simple act of washing rice, submerging her hands in water, doing this methodical task, would bring her back from her frazzled, over-stimulated state of being in a matter of 10 minutes.  It carried her through her partner’s heath crisis later, and her son’s teen years. It even helped her build a thriving medical practice.

She told me this as I sifted my own rice to make a slow-cooked curry dish. And as I stood there, listening to her story, I let the water run into my bowl and I felt each grain of rice, each gentle rush of water, and found my brain slowing down. She kept talking and I kept listening (kind of) but I was lost in the simple act of doing something slowly, consciously, and enjoying it.  I was shocked how much I allowed myself to find meaningful connection in a mundane task.

So, can we all slow down just a little? Find our awareness through small, everyday acts of service to those we love. Hell, you don’t even have to do anything more than what you’re doing now, just do them differently.  Do them with intention.  Do them with loving connectedness.

Here are a handful of places to start:

Watch your children. And I mean WATCH them. See how they move, find joy in their play.

Touch your partner with intention. A hand on the back, or a thumb swiped gently across a wrist.

Write a note to your parents. Express gratitude for something positive they did that shaped you. And if you don’t have those kinds of parents, send one to someone who helped bridge that gap. A phone call would work, too.

Wash dishes. Yep, washing dishes engages both hands in concerted movement, which means both sides of your brain are working together. This is excellent for your mental acuity and you have the added bonus of a clean kitchen when you’re finished.

Make slow food. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. In fact, simple is better. But there is something so satisfying about crafting a tasty meal from just a few ingredients and SITTING DOWN to eat it. Yep, that’s part of the deal. Sit down to eat.

So, in the spirit of slowing down, here is my favorite slow-food recipe, Korean Barbeque Beef. I’m sure it’s a far cry from authentic Korean food, but it’s rich, warm, satisfying, and makes excellent leftovers. It also goes well with rice. :)

2-3 lbs grass-fed chuck roast
1 onion, thinly sliced
5-7 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
I cup Braggs Amino Acids
1/4 cup rice vinegar (I use organic and unsweetened, but you might be able to use 1/8 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar instead.)
1/4 cup organic black strap molasses
3 Tbsp Siracha or other hot sauce
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
20-30 drops liquid stevia, or three Tbsp raw honey
1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes for extra heat

1) In a medium bowl, whisk everything together except for the onion and chuck roast.
2) Grease your crockpot using some toasted sesame oil.  It adds extra flavor and makes cleaning easy.
3) Put your chuck roast in the crockpot and add the onions around the sides of the roast.
4) Pour your marinade over the roast and onions.  You can add a little water if you’d like,  1/2 cup should do it.
5) Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  I think 7 hrs is perfect, but it’s up to you!

Korean Beef