Earlier this week I attended an amazing dinner. I helped organize the dinner through work in collaboration with the crew at my favorite place to eat, Rooted Juicery + Kitchen. The dinner’s theme and conversation was all around the concept of happiness.
As I sat at the table, discussing, laughing, eating, I realized how much I needed this. I realized how much our lives are consumed by the pursuit of this happiness and yet so often we are blinded by our pain and stresses of the day that we don’t truly recognize the simplest bits of happiness in our days. This has been my problem, and for quite some time now.
My life changed forever on this day just two years ago. January 27 is a day I will never forget. It was the day we lost our first baby, Josie Florene. It was the day I learned what heartache really was in its rawest form. It was the day everything shifted. The way I viewed life, my own and life around me changed forever. And for these last two years, I have held on only to the pain of losing Josie, and then Eli less than a year later rather than allowing any happiness to filter through.
The thing I realized as I sat at dinner was this.
My happiest times of my life have been when I was pregnant. These times I was vibrant, present, and filled with unconditional constant love. I had a love and awe for my body that I never knew. I was so very happy. And yet, these past years, I have blocked off this piece of me because I am too consumed by the pain of the loss to even remember the beauty of those months I had with Josie and Eli. Over the past 13 months of trying to conceive again, I have looked on those who are pregnant or those with babies with such envy and have done nothing but pity my own self. I have constantly made it all about me and my pain and how unfair it is that I don’t get to have my babies here with me.
And all this time, I have forgotten the happiness, the vibrancy, the delight my two children brought me, even if for just a brief time. I have spent more time in the dark than I have allowed the light in. And in doing so, I have been the person I would never want my own babies to know me as. If Josie and Eli were here right now, I would be telling them to keep their chin up. I would be telling them to have hope. I would be saying all of the things to them that my mom continues to tell me month after month while I cry. So no more, at least not today.
Today I will honor my angels by holding on to the happiness and joy of the time I got to spend with them. Today I will celebrate what they gave to me and that they made me a mother. I will stop living only in the time without them and commemorate the time I had with them. I am sure there will still be tears and yes even some pain, but I will be strong for my angels. I will be the mommy that I know I am, and that will make me happy.
As always, after a dose of the heavy stuff, it’s nice to sweeten things up a bit.
It seems so crazy that growing up I didn’t really care for chocolate at all. Now that I am borderline obsessed with it I can only think of all those years I missed out on! Ultimately, I have to make up for lost time, right?
Cacao, the base for what we know as chocolate is really a very healthy and nutrient rich food. Cacao is packed with antioxidants, magnesium and iron. In fact, the amount of antioxidants in cacao is said to be higher than that in green tea or red wine. Not that we needed another reason to eat chocolate, right?! The issue, as it seems to be so many times is when things like cacao get processed and even over processed. This is where we lose the nutrients. Cacao powder is raw cacao beans that have been cold pressed and allow the nutrients to remain. Cocoa however has been roasted at high temperatures and unfortunately a lot of the health benefits are lost in this process. So if you want to most bang for your buck when it comes to any sort of chocolate recipe, opt for cacao if you can.
Recently, I discovered barkTHINS. At almost $5.00 a package, they are certainly not something I would indulge in often, but they are definitely delicious. The other thing is that they do have refined sugar in them so they are not something I like to have around the house. However, I have my own bark recipe and decided all I needed to do was make a few tweaks and I could easily have this treat whipped up at home!
I am a huge fan of sweet and salty so combining dark chocolate and almonds with a touch of sea salt hits the spot. Having this thin, crunchy Sea Salt Almond Dark Chocolate Bark for that after dinner treat satisfies my sweet tooth. Also, this version is a great way to add coconut oil to your diet. We have talked all about how good coconut oil is! This is what we call snacking with benefits for sure!
Sea Salt Almond Dark Chocolate Bark "Thins"
- 1 c cacao powder
- 1 c coconut oil unrefined, melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-3 T pure maple syrup or honey
- 1 cup raw or roasted unsalted almonds
- Dash of sea salt
- Place almonds in a plastic bag and seal. Using a sturdy wood spoon or an ice mallet, pound the almonds until they are chopped into small pieces mixed with crumbs.
- Set almonds aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together coconut oil, cacao, vanilla, sea salt, and maple until smooth.
- Pour crushed almonds into the bowl and stir to combine.
- Line a 9x13inch pan with parchment paper and pour the mixture into the pan and spread evenly with a spoon or spatula. If you want your bark even thinner, you can divide it between this pan and a 8x8in. pan.
- Allow to set in the freezer for about one hour.
- Remove from the freezer and break into pieces.
- Store in the freezer of refrigerator. Coconut oil melts at room temperature so these are best straight from a cool place!