For me, the challenge with having a special day to celebrate love is to not have it seem forced or unnatural. With all this “love attention” magnified on only one day out of the entire year, things can get a little unbalanced. Sure, it’s great to cook a special meal or go out for a nice dinner with your love. And it’s heart-warming to read cards filled with hearts and hear pledges of love spoken to you on February 14th. However, I’m wondering about what we do to show that we love during the remaining 364 days.
In other words, my challenge (and I believe it just may be a challenge for many people) is to show love to the people I most care about on a daily basis. I find it’s far too easy to get wrapped up in getting through the day of work, in the million little things that need to be done, and in other people’s needs. When the sun goes down I’m often left feeling completely depleted – just wanting a couple of hours to relax before getting to sleep. And then the same routine begins over again. And again.
I’ve discovered that the person who most needs my love and attention is me! First, above anyone one else. I almost cringe when I write those words! How selfish do they sound? Yet, I bravely forge ahead with the statement, knowing in my heart that on the days that I take excellent self-care, I am at my very best to show love to others. The days that I do both of my mediation sessions, exercise my body, drink enough water, complete the work tasks for the day, make healthy food choices, do one “treat time” thing for myself (read, pedicure, watch the sun set, buy myself flowers) … Well, those are the days that I’m a kinder, loving, more patient person to everyone!
So this year I pledge to take excellent care of myself each day, thereby extending that love out to those around me. More hugs, more listening, more spontaneous fun, more smiles, more words of encouragement, more love texts, more kisses, more being in the moment. When I do even one of those things daily, every day will be Valentine’s Day and next February 14th will just be a day like any other day of the year. ❤
Strawberry-Almond Protein Bars for Valentine’s Day
One very important way I take excellent care of myself is when I follow Arbonne’s 30 Days To Feeling Fit Detox Plan and then the 30 Days Lifestyle afterwards. Created by a PhD in Nutrition using the exemplary Arbonne health and wellness products, it is an easy way to detox your body, move more into an alkalized state, and to feel vibrant and focused and energetic. Loosing any extra pounds hanging around for far too long is a bonus!
(If you are curious and would like more info on this, please email me directly – see the “contact me” tab – and I’m happy to share/answer your questions)
To stay on track with my healthy food choices commitment, I created these Strawberry-Almond Protein Bars as a Valentine’s Day treat. One thing about the 30 Days Lifestyle is that we never feel like we are missing out on anything. That’s why it works and that’s why it becomes an easy, maintainable lifestyle.
Research on almonds indicates that they can actually lower cholesterol. 90% of their fat is unsaturated fat (monounsaturated fat = the good kind) and they are high in fiber, protein, magnesium, calcium, potassium, vitamin E and other antioxidants.
Strawberries have vitamin C, fiber and manganese, and are a good source of antioxidants (just behind blackberries, cranberries and raspberries!) and their pretty red color and heart-shaped slices are a perfect symbol of love!
1 ½ cups frozen organic strawberries, or fresh gorgeously ripe ones
½ cup raw, organic agave nectar
½ cup raw, organic almond butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon lemon extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
pinch of salt
1 scoop Arbonne Fiber Boost
4 cups gluten-free rolled oats OR 3 ½ cups oats Plus ½ cup shredded coconut
1 cup dry toasted sliced almonds
2 cups Arbonne Vanilla Protein Shake Mix
¼ cup chia seeds
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried hibiscus flowers, ground in a mortar and pestle (optional, you can get this from a spice shop or herbal hibiscus tea)
1 package (1.2 oz.) freeze-dried, unsweetened and unsulfured strawberries (Trader Joe’s brand is delicious) OR slices of fresh, ripe strawberries
How To Make Strawberry-Almond Protein Bars for Valentine’s Day:
Place strawberries and agave nectar into the blender jug and blend until smooth. Add in the almond butter, vanilla, lemon and almond extracts along with the pinch of salt. Blend well.
Into a large mixing bowl add: the Arbonne Fiber Boost, the oats (or oat and coconut combo), the sliced almonds, the Vanilla Arbonne Protein Shake Mix, the chia seeds, the dried thyme and the ground hibiscus, if using.
Stir the dry ingredients mixture well until everything is evenly distributed.
Stir the strawberry-agave- almond butter mixture into the dry ingredients with a sturdy wooden spoon until everything is mixed well until everything is incorporated.
Press mixture into a 9 x 13-inch pan, pressing down (with slightly wet hands helps) to evenly distribute.
Chill in refrigerator until set – about a couple of hours. Cut into bars (I cut mine into 1 ½ inch bars and get about 54 bars by cutting 6 rows down and 9 rows across the pan)
Top each bar with a freeze-dried slice of strawberry (or fresh). Enjoy with your favorite valentine. XO
Note: As the freeze-dried strawberries sit on top of the bars they will soften within an hour. They still taste amazing, just no crunch. Place them atop each bar with your texture preference in mind.