Oh, Valentine’s Day.
There have been times in my life when Valentine’s Day was not quite as love-filled and cheery as it is now. Not that I didn’t feel the love from my family / parents / whomever I was dating — if I was dating — but I didn’t always feel the love for myself. I’ve found that it’s much, much easier to compliment someone else on their personality, their style, their new hair cut, and their new job than it is to praise ourselves.
In that sense, it’s completely natural to go through phases in our lives where self-love fluctuates. Be it poor body image, a recent break-up, being let go from a job, a diagnosis, etc., self-love can easily teeter from a surplus to a deficit. However, what I’ve realized is that it is possible to find a happy medium when it comes to self-love. But, it takes time. And hard work. Because let’s be honest, truly loving yourself is no walk in the park. Truly loving yourself requires patience, diligence, and trust. Truly loving yourself is an effort-filled, life-long journey.
But, when I have moments (or days) where low self-esteem, self-consciousness, and self-doubt creep back in, I practice self-love. I quiet the voices in my head. The voices that do not serve me. So, how do I do this?
I choose acceptance over disrespect. I choose gratitude over criticism. I choose patience over angst. In essence, I CHOOSE self-love. I PRACTICE self-love. Every day.
And, here’s the thing — you have these choices too. You do! But, I get that it’s complicated. It’s complicated because there will always be other internal and external factors that affect your thoughts, actions, and words. We are influenced by irritable people, frustrating experiences, and negative media. We are influenced by stress, sleep deprivation, and traffic. We are influenced by sadness and disappointment. We are influenced by shitty weather. This list goes on and on. However, the continual practice of self-love will always steer you in the right direction. It will guide you towards feel-good feelings. I promise. That said, if you’re wondering how you can practice self-love, here are a few of my tried-and-true suggestions: you can practice self-love through the positive people you decide to spend your time with, the uplifting media you choose to consume, the energizing exercise / movement you engage in, the delicious food you put on your plate, the fun hobbies you prioritize, and the memorable activities you plan. At the end of the day, self-love shows up in many different dimensions, forms, and opportunities. But, it’s up to you to actively choose it.
Switching gears a bit, I’m bringing you one of the most delicious creations to come out of my kitchen. Because for me, one of the ways I act on self-love is carving out time in my kitchen. I love cooking intuitively (i.e. taking inspiration from someone else and putting my own twist on it), and I love making food that my husband and I can share. Enter: these vegan, no-bake matcha blackberry cheesecake bars. Thanks to Dani Nemeh, we now have a new favorite dessert / snack / breakfast. These bars are incredible. They’re wonderfully filling (thanks to all of the healthy fats and complex carbs), absolutely delicious, and uniquely flavorful. They’re dense, sweet, and the texture is both creamy and crunchy. You won’t be disappointed 🙂
Vegan Matcha Blackberry Cheesecake Bars
- 3 cups granola of choice I used Gr8nola's matcha granola
- 2/3 cup melted coconut oil divided
- 1 1/2 cups raw cashews soaked
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup frozen organic blackberries
- 1 lemon juiced
- dash of vanilla extract
- In a blender, blend together the granola and 1/3 cup of melted coconut oil. Spread it onto a parchment-lined 8×8 baking pan.
- Rinse out your blender, then blend together the rest of your ingredients: soaked cashews (I boiled mine in water for 15 minutes, but you can soak them in the fridge for 4-6 hours), maple syrup, frozen blackberries, 1/3 cup coconut oil, lemon, and vanilla extract.
- Spread the cashew / blackberry layer on top of the granola layer. Set in the freezer for 1-2 hours. Slice and enjoy!
- Store these in the fridge so that they hold their shape. They'll last for up to one week.