Sunday 29 May 2016

Thank you more please: Raw Chocolate & Seed Squares

It's been two months since I wrote about homesickness and homecomings. Two long, engaging, challenging, sea-filled, magical months. Reading back over my last post, it seems like I had the realization I had been searching after for years and then all that was left to do was let everything fall into place and more importantly, trust that the sediment of the last ten years of my life would settle and the world around me would be clear and I would be able to see myself, my life, my situation and my present for what they really were.

If Vietnam taught me anything, it was to be thankful. Not simply thankful for a first world quality of life but for the magic that everyday normality can bring. For years, little sis has been trying to get me to watch this film with Domhnall Gleeson called "About Time". I hate romcoms so refused, until two months ago. It's about a guy who has the power to travel back in time and fix up messes he's made or simply relive an exceptional moment. As he gets older though, he stops repeating his days, trying to milk out the last bit of fun and instead wakes up everyday and appreciates everything as if it's his second time to live out the day and he is fully aware of everything, person and moment that is fantastic in its own simple way. His film made me realize that little acts of kindness are magical gifts to others but also to yourself. It also reminded me that instead of getting caught up in the activities of an entire week and stressing, referring to google calendar for every inconceivable notification, it is so much more important and healthy to start everyday the same. For the last month, I've woken up with a short but clear idea. Today is a new day, it's a magical day and you get to live it. Each day that I practice it, I feel freer, relaxed, alive and content all at the same time. Shoveling shit on the farm for hours on end can be a pain sometimes but then I stop, look around and say to myself, "I get to do this. I'm surrounded by funny, loving, kind people who are doing the same thing. I'm healthy. I'm free to stop or continue to work at this. I'm outside breathing fresh air beside the sea". It's then that I feel so incredibly lucky and I wonder why I didn't try this approach sooner.

I think of months on end, years even, of feeling down, confused, irritable and stressed. It's then I realize how change can impact so greatly on our lives if we just let it. I spent so many years resisting change, trying to control the situation, fixing relationships, exhausting my emotions, focusing on what was wrong and wanting to make everything right. If the last few months have taught me anything, it's how important change is for growth, development and freedom. Letting the small stuff just go has meant I can concentrate on what's really important to me. Letting other people's expectations go, no longer trying to prove myself to anyone be it about career, relationships, values and or living situations, has been riveting. And I'm happier. How did that happen?

I think it's because I started to listen to my heart and stopped thinking that volunteering on a farm, surfing, swimming, cooking food for neighbors and friends and working in a cafe to pay rent were all valued parts of my life that I needed to explain to others. The moment I stopped explaining and just got on with it, the more I made time for listening to friends, laughing, playing cards, shoveling shit on the farm and chilling out, the more my life has started to resemble what I've always wanted. Community, friendships, love, food, the land and the sea. That's it. Simple.

These last two months have involved finding a new place to live, getting a job, meeting new people, making friends and getting to know neighbors and community members, business owners and passersby. It was a challenge but like non other. Fifteen years ago, I came to this little town and walked to beach in the Irish sun with my wetsuit rolled halfway down to my waist. I walked along the beach with short hair and a wiry attitude but nonetheless, told my parents then and there, "when I'm older, I'm moving to Clare". In that space of time I've gone to college, had a million different jobs, traveled and had my heart broken but I wouldn't change it because now that I'm finally here, home, in my base, I know I didn't hold back or miss out on anything. All those broken pieces fitted back together. They rearranged themselves into a different form, like a beautiful but complex mosaic and now I can take a step back and look at my life and remember the pointed edges with a sense of pride because they all led me to this point and I'm so happy it did.

Last night, walking home from the beach with my great friend and new neighbor, we tried to recall what we did this week but the number of activities were so great, varied and fun, we couldn't organize them properly. There was a pesto making class, two swims in the sea after work, time on the farm, new jobs, card games, beer pong, laughing out loud and one of the most epic barbecues I've been to in a long time. We got to help out neighbor set up a surprise birthday party for her boyfriend with lights, fire pits and mountains of food. There was a point that night where I walked out to our courtyard. The fairy lights when sending out a warm hued glow, the fire pit had reached an epitome of warming glow, everyone was sitting around the embers in a circle, snuggled beside each other and there was music being played and all I could think of was "I get to do this, this is my community that I get to share with these people" and at that point, I knew that unexpected change had led me to this and I was never so thankful.

These raw chocolate and seed squares are packed with so many delicious ingredients and are the best treats I've made in a long while to share. I made them to be neighborly and they didn't last more than a day once I had them made but if you're very good, you could keep them in the freezer for up to three months. Good luck with that!


1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
pinch sea salt
1 cup puffed rice (brown rice version is the best-healthy and nutty flavor)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup solid coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 inch fresh ginger, grated to a paste
4 tablespoons raw cacao powder


Place pumpkin and sunflower seeds with salt onto a dry frying pan on a medium heat and toast gently for 10 minutes (give or take) until seeds are lightly toasted and pumpkin seeds have started to pop. Add cinnamon and nutmeg and put aside to cool slightly.

Put coconut oil, honey, vanilla and ginger into a glass or metal bowl over a pot of hot water (like a double boiler) and stir gently until to oil has melted. Once melted, remove from heat and whisk together to combine properly. Add cacao powder to liquid mix one tablespoon at a time, whisking to combine. Stir the coconut honey mix through the seed and puffed rice and mix well to coat evenly. Line a rectangular deep tray with greaseproof paper. Pour mix in and flatten down well with the back of a spoon and give the mix a little shake to make sure all the chocolate mix settles well at the bottom. Place in the fridge for 1 hour, pop out onto a board, chop into squares and store in a sealed container in the fridge for a week or freezer for a month. Or just eat them all in one go. Most importantly, share, share, share.


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