February 14, 2015 Leave your thoughts
Happy Valentine’s Day. I figured this was an appropriate way to start my post.
Since it’s Valentine’s Day–and you know me, I’m all about the holidays–I feel like I should say something about love. I guess I could talk about history too–I did write an article about the origin of Valentine’s Day for my seventh grade newspaper (created by yours truly, Queen Nerd of All Nerds)–but I think it’s more important to talk about feelings and such, because I dropped out of my AP Euro class after one semester and, as a teenage girl and a female in general, emotions are incredibly important to me.
I would tell you some epic love story about how I met someone who changed me, who changed my life, but it’s not my place to do that. I’m sixteen after all, and I’ve never had a boyfriend, let alone been on a “date.” I don’t think going to see Hop when I was twelve with a guy who wound up being a douche canoe really counts. Those are the perks of living in a town so small that I’ve gone to school with the exact same people since I was five.
If you grab a coffee with me and give me an hour or so, though, I will tell you some great stories that will make you laugh, because while I have never been in a relationship, I had some pretty big, embarrassing crushes when I was in middle school. There was the time when I drew doodles of bunny rabbits and other cute creatures and traded them back and forth with this boy in my math class. Several months later, I put them all in the shredder when I was home alone one night while listening to Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now” album because he broke my thirteen year-old heart. Then there was the time I asked a boy to hang out with me one Friday night to watch movies and he literally ran away in the opposite direction. Ouch. And of course there was the time I liked a boy who played clarinet with me; I stuffed his case with Crunch bars (his favorite candy) on his birthday. A few weeks later I switched to saxophone because he got a girlfriend and I was really pissed off.
And for a while–pretty much the summer before my freshman year through the end of my sophomore year–I didn’t like anyone because I was struggling with myself and was tired of being hurt. After all, it’s pretty hard to love others when you don’t love yourself, right?
When I finally began to peel away my layers of negativity and allow myself to be open again, I suddenly remembered what butterflies felt like…something I think every teenage girl should (and does) experience. Do you feel butterflies when you’re all grown up? It seems like such a childish question, but since you are probably older than I am, you likely know the answer.
I read plenty of things where people will say, “Oh, I felt such and such when I was [insert age under 25 here], but it wasn’t real.” I know I’m young and naive and still have a lot of things to discover, but I believe that one can express and experience “love” at any age, and that it still has sentiment and importance. No, loving someone at sixteen and loving someone at thirty-five or sixty-two or ninety-one are not the same thing, but that doesn’t make any one of them invalid.
Love to almost seventeen year-old Abby is thinking a person is beautiful regardless of what he or she is wearing, what his or her hair looks like, whether laughter or tears adorn the face. Love is staying up until 1:30 A.M. making a present because the smile you receive in return is worth it all. Love is feeling sad and absolutely terrified and confused yet happy and hopeful and grateful, because you are here and alive and this is what the world has given to you. Love to me is never wanting another person to feel lonely, because you would truly take that other person no matter what and it’s saddening to think that he or she ever cries alone.
If you love someone, you should express it with everything you have within you, because the most beautiful thing you can do for another person is to share how much you adore him or her. Love unconditionally, even if it makes absolutely no sense. Be present, listen closely, and remember…and by remember, I mean gather all of the intricate little pieces you can and put them in your back pocket, because truly knowing a person is wonderful. Let yourself be honest and open, even if it scares you a little (or a lot) sometimes, because love is when you see a person raw and vulnerable and awkward and you don’t cower in a corner…instead, you embrace, because you care, and there is no other way to describe it.
My friends will often chuckle and teasingly call me a dork, but if a dork is someone who feels as much as I do for the ones I love, then good golly, I want to be a dork to the power of twenty-three. So go ahead, call me a mushy hopeless romantic, a teenager who knows squat about love, a fountain of fluffy language, because this is my heart, and this is the only way I know how to love.
There’s this line from The Perks of Being a Wallflower–one of my favorite books of all time–that goes, “We accept the love we think we deserve.” It makes me pause every time I reread the book, because in our lives, we wallow so frequently in doubt and criticism, and we make ourselves believe that we are not worthy of love because we are flawed. Trust me, I’ve been there so many times, and it’s a place I still visit too often to this day. And you know what? It’s silly, because there is something to love in everyone if you just take a second and look. I wish we could tell ourselves we are ALWAYS loved, that we could ALWAYS find love in our lives…and unfortunately, not many of us can. I certainly can’t.
So until that day, I’m just going to keep on loving with all of my heart, and hope love finds its way back to me. I will also keep baking and cooking, because food will forever be one of the greatest loves in my life. And I think you’re going to love these white chocolate bars.
For most of my cooking days, I have scoffed at white chocolate. “It’s not real chocolate,” I’d say, rolling my eyes in disgust. “White chocolate is for weaklings who prefer copious amounts of sugar to the actual taste of the rich, sinfully dark stuff.” Yet somewhere deep in my heart, a dessert with white chocolate has been calling my name.
The only problem? Finding good-quality white chocolate, even at Whole Foods and other natural supermarkets, is incredibly difficult. Everything is filled with weird milk powders and odd-sounding soy thickeners, neither of which I want to be eating in my dessert. But then, I struck gold–literally–with these golden “white” chocolate bars, made with coconut nectar and…cashew butter. YES. These white chocolate bars, while absolutely delicious and really high quality, are not cheap, so please feel free to use whatever kind of white chocolate floats your boat. 🙂
These bars are definitely on the sweeter side, but something about them just screams “fun.” I mean, I think it’s pretty cool that they taste like chocolate but don’t look like it, you know? It’s a nice change of pace from brownies, which bore me to tears for some reason. (I basically refuse to make a batch of “normal” brownies…this is my life.)
This Valentine’s Day–or heck, any day for that matter–make these bars or your favorite baked good and just give some to somebody. Sharing is caring, and by sharing, I mean sharing these with someone other than yourself. 😉
It’s taken me two or three nights to type out this post (I can’t write sentimentally in daylight) and I’m feeling kinda sleepy, so I’m just going to proceed to the recipe. It’s super simple, and I don’t think you need to see pictures of me pouring oat flour into a bowl or grinding sugar in my Vitamix. 🙂
OK, so these are basically brownies without dark chocolate…so they aren’t exactly brownies anymore, but they’re similar, you know? Anyway, all you need to know is that these are delicious and a unique twist on a classic dessert, and you need to make them.
Adapted from Edible Perspective, one of my favorite blogs ever!
Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time 35 min
Total Time 50 min
Yield 12-16 bars
3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed meal
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of water
2/3 cup of organic cane sugar
1 cup of almond flour, finely ground
1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon of gluten-free oat flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of coconut oil (preferably refined)
4.2 ounces of white chocolate (I used this bar, which is vegan, but use whatever you’d like), chopped finely
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8 x 8 inch baking sheet with parchment paper and grease it well with coconut oil. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the flaxseed meal with the water. Set aside for 10-15 minutes to thicken into a nice gel.
In the bowl of a food processor, coffee grinder, or flour bin on a Vitamix, crush the sugar until a fine powder is formed.
Sift together the almond flour, oat flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium-sized bowl. Stir together until well-combined.
In a microwave-safe bowl or a double boiler, melt together the coconut oil and white chocolate until homogeneous. Pour into a large bowl and add the ground sugar and vanilla, then fold with a spatula to combine. Add the flaxseed and water mixture, stir a few times, then add the dry ingredients.
Scoop the batter into the prepared baking pan and use a spatula to spread it out so the top is even. Bake in the preheated oven until the edges have risen and the bars feel firm to the touch, about 35 to 40 minutes.
Let cool at room temperature for 15 minutes, then transfer to the fridge and let cool for at least another hour until firm. Flip onto a cutting board, slice, and serve. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze for later consumption.
Thank you for listening to my musings on the world, as always. What do you love this Valentine’s Day? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!
And if you want to listen to something absolutely lovely
that I’ve had on repeat for the past week, watch this.