Healthy Chocolate Bark w/ Cranberry & Almond | Recipe

 

I wanted to continue with the healthy chocolate after posting my cacao pineapple smoothie two weeks ago and make actual homemade chocolate. Guys, this is de-freaking-licious. I genuinely, truly enjoy it just as much as regular chocolate if not a lot more since you're free to add the toppings of your liking, not to mention it's a nearly guilt-free feeling eating this to store-bought chocolate.

It's so simple to make and takes no more than fifteen minutes to actually throw together (well, chopping almonds took me about half a lifetime)! I'm not sure I'll be buying chocolate again after this. I chose to add chopped almonds and dried cranberries (it was heavenly) but that can obviously be switched out for anything of your choice. Here's the recipe:


RECIPE

☻ 1 cup coconut oil, melted
☻ 1 cup raw cacao powder
☻ 1/2 cup honey (I would add a bit more if you like sweet chocolate)
☻ 1 teaspoon vanilla powder (optional)
☻ Almonds, chopped or crushed
☻ Dried cranberries

HOW TO

1. Melt the coconut oil on low heat in a pan (or in a double-boiler / heatproof glass bowl over the pan on medium heat) until completely liquified
2. Stir in the cacao, vanilla, and honey. Important: make sure everything is properly melted and mixed together or the ingredients might separate later on when the chocolate is setting!
3. Line a large baking sheet or similar (mine was about 12 x 15") with parchment paper and pour the mixture in. Prepare the toppings to your liking (I chopped them) and drop them in
4. Put in the fridge for at least an hour

Break up into barks and enjoy the deliciousness!

△  It'll look a little like this out of the fridge.

△ Store chocolate barks in the fridge (or the coconut oil may melt)!



Comparison: How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People


1. We feel bad about ourselves & then make it worse
Comparison will immediately make you feel bad about yourself, it’s an instant way to attack and put yourself down, and that’s all there is to it. Or is it? What I've realized is that we go to a place of comparison when we’re already feeling not-so-great about ourselves, our situation, or life circumstances. Say, you’ve had a bad day - you didn’t get enough sleep, forgot to complete an important assignment, or butted heads with a co-worker; why would you go home in that negative state of mind and scroll through your social network feeds to see that other people have "spent their day" with a bouquet of pink peonies on one arm or having champagne at lunch, because life is that great?

It’s this insane, weird, unconscious reaction we have: we feel the need to confirm our crappy day, whether that is to validate and justify our bad mood or to feel sorry for ourselves. Either way, we end up feeling much worse. If I’m having an all around bad day - not feeling or looking my best - I won’t exactly go and seek out glamorous parties to show up to where there's a beautiful, happy crowd dressed to their teeth. But that’s essentially what we do, and going online is probably the last thing you should be doing if you're not having a good day.

2. “You don’t have to be better than anyone else. You should strive to be better than you ever thought you could be.”

3. Re-direct & transform that energy
It’s all about turning negativity into positivity, right? Turn comparison into inspiration. Transform it into admiration, aspiration, or a goal to strive for. Let it inspire you than poison you. Re-direct your energy and milk comparison for something good. If you find yourself feeling bad or disheartened by someone that's doing better than you; maybe it's a successful childhood friend or simply someone with a blog you consider to be better than your own - make them into a source of inspiration, something or someone to refer to and learn from.

Instead of putting this other thing or person in a position of “it’s better than what I am or have done” think of it as a mentor or role model, something to look up to or work for. I’m not sure comparison can be completely erased, it'll ominously sneak up on us when our guard is down. It happens and you just have to tackle it right. The good thing is that the kind of comparison that occurs over glowing screens and displays are more of a superficial nature - thus, easier to tackle. See someone with great hair? It makes no sense to feel bad or start hating on your own hair rather than go and try to achieve that kind of hair. We can all have great hair. We can all be great (and the best thing is: in our own way.)

4. “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”

5. Being happy for other people
After comparison and the accompanying act of putting yourself down, comes jealousy. And it goes off a cliff from there. We may even start to have bad feelings towards this particular person we're comparing ourselves to, which, is dangerous territory. We’ll never feel better about ourselves doing that. It’s nothing anyone ever admits to but we have all stared a hole through this gorgeous person’s forehead that catches the attention of everyone when they enter a room or given someone our soul’s evil eye because they were better than us at something. Maybe it was during our oh so dramatic teen years or specifically towards this one person that’s always haunted us a little. But we can all agree that this has happened, right?

Have you ever just gone: “why the hell am I thinking like this?!" In every one of these situations, find it in you to be happy for them instead. Try it once when you see someone you would “normally” compare yourself to or be jealous of, be happy for them. Damn, I’m glad someone looks this good. What a beauty. I’m happy for her. He's been working hard for that promotion, good for him. He deserves it. She’s doing so well with her life, I’m happy for her. It may sound and feel ridiculous at first, but in the long run, it makes a tremendous difference. When you’ve done it enough (and do it a lot), it will start to re-wire that reaction to seeing or thinking someone is, in whatever nature, “better than you" and lace it with the act of being happy for them (which, in turn, makes you happy.)

6. “A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.”

7. At the end of the day
Be realistic about things. If it comes down to it, just don’t expose yourself to what it is that makes you feel less good about yourself or your life. Work on improving yourself and when you’ve reached a certain level of self-love and happiness, comparison won’t occur easily. Be the best you and only strive to be a better you. You can do it.


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What do you do to not compare yourself?
Or to tackle comparison in general?


Nice Rugs & Carpets | Interior Inspiration


Being someone that personally prefers quite neutral interiors with a greater focus on accessories and decor, I find that a nice rug or carpet can really give a room a facelift. I'm a little torn between the geometric-patterned rugs that pop up a lot in stylish homes (I would probably get #1 or #8 - how beautiful is that color?) or the subtle, natural-looking ones (#16 or #17) that just beautifully blends in with the room. At the moment I have a semi-fuzzy gray carpet in the living room and a purple-toned rug by my bed; both I'm quite satisfied with for the time being, but I wouldn't say no to these:

△ 2, 3, 4, 5 source: # ph: andrew cammarano # # ph: hannah blackmore # ph: molly winters
△ 6, 7, 8, 9 source: # # # #
△ 10, 11, 12, 13 source: # ph: karin foberg # # #
△ 14, 15, 16, 17 source: # # # #

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What kind of carpet or rug do you prefer?
And what do you have in your home?


Beauty Tools | Most Used & Current Favorites


Current may be the wrong word for some of these items as I've been using them (beyond loyally) for many years on end, but I do have newcomers in the stash that I'm excited about and loving dearly so I thought that it might be fun to share my favorite beauty "tool" go-tos at the moment. Here are the eight of them:



Tweezerman Tweeze Set tweezers. I've used most drugstore and local makeup store tweezers since the day I started shaping my eyebrows and I've never been too happy with any of them. Though, worst in the bunch must be H&M's - you'll be extremely frustrated by the time you manage to pluck one hair. I spotted Tweezerman (not having heard of it before) at Sephora and decided to give one of their sets a shot as the four tweezers I owned were nothing to brag about.

This zebra-printed set includes a slanted tweezer and a pointy one for ingrown hairs. It's awfully impressive, "grippy", and easy to work with. Tweezing with these guarantees 95% success even on the shortest hairs (opposed to my previous luck-driven 50-60%!) I'll never go back to using anything else. I really like that it comes with a case (there's a tiny mirror inside) as I dislike having my tweezers loose in my makeup bag. I couldn't find the exact one I have on their website but I've linked a similar set.



Veet Wax Strips. Speaking of hair removal... throughout the years I've had various stages of hair-removal obsession. I just resent unwanted hair. When it comes to wax I've only worked with wax strips as it's the least messy and quickest option. Wax strips are ready-to-use after warming it up between your hands. It's good but not fantastic. The problem with warming up the strips between your hands is that you need to do it properly for the wax to stick to the hairs and it ends up being tiring and time-consuming. My big tip is to use a candle to warm the strips above, that will change the game completely (be careful about the wax getting too hot) and this is why it's earned a place here. I use the one for dry skin. (Always read description beforehand if you haven't used it before or are unsure of how to do it.)

Braun Silk-├ępil Epilator. I used epilator way, way before I gave in to a razor. So I've been at it for a long time and this particular one has been with me for nearly seven years - how crazy is that? It still works like a charm and has never had issues. Obviously this model is long gone and replaced with much improved versions currently on the market. If you haven't heard of an epilator, it's basically a "hair plucking device" so what you see in the opening at the top are a ton of "tweezers" - you turn the device on, roll it along your skin, and it'll pluck hair at rapid speed. Is it painful? Yes. Extremely so, some might say (I know friends that haven't been able to go on using it as they've found it too painful.) Some epilators include an ice pack or glove you can use to cool/numb your skin. The thing is, and why I love it: it's effective. If you continue to use it your hair will start to grow differently and pain will decrease for each use until you don't blink an eye.

- Waxing vs. Epilating? Waxing removes the hair quickly at once but probably won't get everything. Epilating is a slower and perhaps more painful process but it'll likely sweep the area.


Sephora Collection I.T Synthetic Foundation Brush (similar.) My go-to makeup brushes are by Sigma, MAC, and The Body Shop. I've used those forever and don't really get new ones (as much as I'm dreaming of Zoeva's and Real Techniques'!) As I don't use foundation I only own small brushes but I was looking for a larger one for concealer application and found this foundation brush at Sephora. And man, I'm definitely not stopping here. Who knew Sephora's brushes were so nice? I was really surprised by how soft and gentle this one was; it's so pleasant to work with and doesn't shed. I will say that I don't think that using this on a larger area leaves the smoothest finish, but under the eyes or around the nose is great. Unfortunately I couldn't find this one on their website but linked a similar-ish one.


Scrub glove. I use body scrubs when I want to treat myself but go for my scrub glove on an everyday basis. It's one of those things you start using and can't really see yourself ever be without again. I use this every single time I shower to smoothen my skin and get rid of dead skin cells as well as get the blood circulation going. I even, gently, scrub my lips with this which may sound harsh to some people but I find it to work so well for me and it leaves my lips super soft (lip scrubs are too ineffective for my taste.) I can't remember where I got this particular glove but you should be able to find ones at most beauty stores.

Tangle Teezer Compact Styler Gold Rush. I finally got one of these and remember telling someone it was "one of the best purchases of my life" and it's no exaggeration. I'm not a hair-brusher; my hair stays relatively tangle free, and when I brush it I just grab any crappy comb or brush around. What's so fantastic about the Tangle Teezers is how gentle they are, they don't tug or pull, and therefore don't damage. The brush sweeps along the length of your hair and leaves it tangle-free and soft-looking. I lose a lot of hair, the average amount times many (since I have so long hair one strand looks like five) and I feel that the Tangle Teezer has reduced the damage and loss significantly. I got the compact version which is so comfortable to hold and comes with a cover, so it's ideal to pop in your bag or travel with.


Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge. After lusting for the Beauty Blender I came across this guy by Real Techniques; since I don't wear foundation I couldn't justify the price for the BB and happily got this one. At first sight the color really bothered me, it just reminds me of a construction worker's vest and doesn't look particularly appealing on a makeup sponge. That aside, I'm pretty satisfied with it.

As I haven't used the Beauty Blender I can't compare the two but I can say that this sponge doesn't necessarily blow me away quality-wise (though, it's good) and one of the first things I noticed was that it's hard to squeeze every drop of water out of it. What I highly prefer on the RT sponge to the BB one is the slanted area, I love it - it's so suitable and great for concealer application under the eyes and the result is a smooth-looking and natural finish. (Here is an awesome review and comparison of both products on YouTube.)

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Do you use any similar items?
What's your favorite beauty "tool?"


Self-Help & Improvement Books | Recommendations


If you're looking for me in a bookstore you can head straight to the Psychology, Self-Help, or Self-Improvement section. I could browse those books forever. I normally use and love Kindle as it gives me access to so many titles I wouldn't have been able to find and purchase otherwise but when it comes to self-help books I need a physical copy, for some reason. Perhaps, on some unconscious level, I like the idea of being able to pass it on to friends and family if I genuinely feel like a book has had an impact on me and would help others; and these four books certainly did:



Healing, Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts

There couldn't have been a more suitable title for this amazing book. I picked it up on a whim at an airport during a time of intense heartache. I mean, emotional first aid? Yes, please. The chapters include: rejection, loneliness, loss and trauma, guilt, rumination, failure, and low self-esteem. Now, even though you haven't experienced some of these emotions or aren't currently (I only related to one at the time), the book is packed with incredible knowledge and tremendous insight. I had countless of "wow, I get it now" moments and was genuinely blown away while reading it.

'Emotional First Aid' is a practical book told in a familiar voice and with real-life examples, step-by-step treatment guidelines, and exercises - Winch walks you through everything in a simple, intelligible, and witty way rather than just dumping information on you. The book will open your eyes and perception, it's the band-aid to psychological cuts and is something I'd love to see in every medicine cabinet.



How to understand yourself and other people

I love the Brilliant books and would strongly recommend them to anyone interested in psychology that is written in a practical way. This book covers the basics of psychology and "why am I the way I am and why are other people the way they are?" - it's easy to follow, informative, and well-paced with many examples, stories, tips, and exercises along the way - and a helpful recap after each chapter.

'Brilliant Psychology' includes chapters about: understanding your intelligent mind; explaining your emotions; how you developed; insight into your personality; how people get along with each other; how and why people betray, cheat, and fight each other; the psychology of men and women; how the mind plays tricks; understanding psychological problems; and the psychology of happiness. After finishing the book I continued carrying it around in my bag for a couple of weeks to re-read whenever I got the chance as it was so good and thought-provoking.



How to know what's REALLY being said

I've read quite a few body language books and experience the majority to be very similar, only with varying words and depth, but essentially covering the exact same things. This was one of the first body language books I picked up and it's the first one I'd instantly go back and refer to. How do you know when someone doesn't enjoy talking to you? How do you know when someone's particularly into you?

'Body Language' has lessons on the language of the mind and body and how to interpret looks, facial expressions, tone of voice, various gestures, and detect when someone is lying. There are illustrations and celebrity images to demonstrate certain body languages throughout the book which makes it fun and comprehensible. You'll learn to be aware of your own body language and improve your image as well as being able to read other people's body language and the "secret" messages they're (likely, unconsciously) sending out. 



Change your thinking, change your life

On average we have 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts per day. And we can't have a feeling without a thought. But how does it work? Can we control our thoughts? How do our thoughts affect our behavior? What is the science behind negative and positive thoughts? Why do our bodies respond to fabricated thoughts as reality? You'll learn to understand your thinking style and alter your mind-set; take control of fear and anxiety; manage stress and anger; improve memory; develop a positive attitude; and feel more powerful in interactions.

'Mind Power' is a big "a-ha" book - it's factual yet written in a lighthearted and impressively enjoyable way. Be ready with your highlighter because I barely let go of mine while reading, and after finishing it I've been greatly aware of the magnitude of the mind and the power of a thought. This is a must-read if you're looking to live a happier, easier existence by improving your way of thinking.

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Do you read self-help books? Have one to recommend?


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