I started off 2016 with Hallie, my 2 year old, on my back. We dug out the baby carrier (the one she hated as a baby), put on our winter gear, and went out for a hike along the Mississippi. It was a warm winter day. Sunny but crisp, and cold enough to keep the fresh fallen snow fluffy. Hallie had been her typical twonager self that morning—grumping around about this and that. I’m sure I didn’t sound all that different. We were trudging through life. In that moment, I made a promise to myself. We would thrive this year.
This post is sponsored by naturally delicious Justin’s.
“Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming,” I told myself. I thought things would eventually get better on their own. After having Hallie, I never properly readjusted my schedule. I kept everything from before—co-running a small design business with Erin and feeding this space (a space that’s been with me almost as long as my beloved marriage)—and added on the task of caring for a tiny human. From home. While working. That’s not smart.
I was the first to go on the schedule.
I put my workouts on a shelf to collect a lot of dust. The pounding of running had always been my free therapy. I gave it up after swearing I wouldn’t. I worked at night until I got too tired. Then I started vegging out on the fictional lives of all my new favorite shows. My new form of therapy. I worked through the weekends, canceled the dentist appointment, and never scheduled the doctors appointment. I cut my own hair too. (It actually turned out well.) We survived for a really long time.
You can only lean in so far until you fall over.
In an effort to take better care of our lives, Erin and I decided to close down that business we started. We’re redesigning our own blogs now. (Mine just went live!) I’ve worked out more times this month than I did all of last year, made it two weekends without working, and just hired a part-time nanny. (She bakes pies too!)
As we trudged through the fluffy snow on the fifth of January, the sun burned off any lingering grumbles in our bones. We saw an eagle, the pale blue hues of the Mississippi’s semi-frozen waters, a woodpecker, and two tiny dogs. We felt alive again.
I am a non-negotiable. You are too. We’re so worth being taken care of. This is not a new concept, but a hard one. When we take care of ourselves, we’re better for everyone else. I’ve been taking extra good care of myself lately with these No-Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bars made with Justin’s. They’re heavy in natural protein, sweetened with honey, and laced with fiber-filled oats. But it’s in the glaze that I’m really caring for myself—a solid layer of Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Spread. Don’t fight the weakening knees. They’re to be expected. Because these bars are a non-negotiable too, we made a how-to video for you.
Line an 8 x 8″ pan with parchment or wax paper for easy removal. Set aside.
Into a large bowl, add oats, Justin’s Peanut Butter, honey, coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Stir together until evenly combined. Note: if your coconut oil is too solid, it will be difficult to incorporate evenly. Heat it slightly before adding into the mixture.
Pour mixture into pan and spread evenly using a spatula. For less mess, place a square of wax paper over the top. Press mixture down to compact. Place in freezer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter and melted coconut oil until smooth. Once the timer goes off, pour glaze over bars and smooth with an offset spatula. Garnish as desired. Place in fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Carefully remove from the pan by loosening the edges with a thin spatula or knife. Cut into bars or squares. Serve chilled. Store covered in fridge for about a week or in the freezer for about 2 months.
• For added flavor, lightly toast oats in two melted tablespoons of salted butter until just fragrant. Use as directed in the recipe.
• If using a pan larger than 8 x 8″, just go ahead and double that coveted glaze.