Peanut Butter, Lemon Poppyseed, and Raisin Pecan Vegan, GF, and Sugar-free Cookies

Monday, September 8, 2014

It's been quite a little while since I've posted a recipe, so I figured it was high time I whipped up a little treat that my vegan, my gluten-free, and my sugar-free friends can all enjoy! Many moons ago, I posted about your basic oat cookie. Consider this the Oat Cookie 2.0! The new-and-improved edition! The rare sequel that was better than the original! Well... you get the picture.

These cookies are kid- and mommy-approved! (And let me tell you, those are two groups that are not easy to please...) But as far as sweet-teeth and health-nazis are concerned, these cookies (while maybe not exactly what you want to serve at a birthday party) are perfect for breakfast, post-workout re-charge, and a good ol' snack for anytime.

What You'll Need:

Base for all cookies:
Quick Oats
Stevia or honey
2 bananas

For the Peanut Butter Cookies:
2-3 spoonfuls of sugar-free peanut butter

For the Lemon Poppyseed Cookies:
1smaaaaalll lemon, or 1/2 regular-sized; juice and zest
1 tsp. Almond extract

For the Raisin Pecan Cookies:
Sugar-free raisins

Once you mash the bananas, using a fork, stir in enough quick oats so that you form a thick, dough-y base. You shouldn't see any banana chunks. Stir in a dash of cinnamon, and as much stevia or honey as you desire. Divide the mixture into three equal parts for the three different cookie flavors, stir in the add-ins, add a sprinkling of lemon zest and poppyseeds on top of the Lemon and Poppyseed Cookies, and pop in a 375 degree, pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes or until the edges are browned, and Voila! Feel free to dip in almond milk.

The Giver of Good Gifts

Sunday, August 17, 2014

If there's one thing I've learned about the personality of our Heavenly Father, it is that He is incredibly giving. Merciful? Most definitely. Wise? The wisest. These are most definitely attributes of godhood. Heavenly Father is all of these things and more. In His role as a divine parent, He is also a giver of gifts. We read in Matthew 7:9-11: "What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"

I have been reflecting lately on the many extraordinary and sometimes overlooked gifts our Heavenly Father gives to us. Of course, we are grateful for the gift of life, of families, of education, of the gospel, and of the Atonement. These gifts are everything. Several weeks ago I was attending the Provo temple by myself, trying to regain that special and beautiful spirit I felt had dwindled a bit while the temple was closed for the previous two weeks. Before those two weeks, I felt as if I had been trekking a spiritual mountain and was making good time. I was doing everything I was supposed to and attended the temple as often as I could, which sometimes meant a couple times a week. After the temple was closed, though, I felt like I was cramping as I tried to match my same pace. Part of that struggle was keeping that fire and excitement about serving a mission alive.

I sat in one of the pews, waiting to do baptisms, trying to focus on the scriptures I was reading. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the girl sitting next to me was smiling and trying to catch my eye. Though I'm still not completely in the practice of striking up conversations with strangers, I felt one of those so-subtle-it-barely-registers maybe-I-should-talk-to-her feelings and so I said hello and we talked a little bit about who we were and our majors and laughed about how we were the only 20+ people doing baptisms in a sea of youth.

As the conversation petered out, I suddenly felt a hey-maybe-this-is-a-prompting-but-maybe-not feeling that I should share the story of my decision to serve a mission with her. I crossed my fingers that she wouldn't think I was a windbag as I randomly began talking about how I had to rely on promptings and faith instead of logic and plans in my decision to serve a mission, about how I really just had to let go of my own ideas about my life and trust that the Lord will show me the way one step at a time and how that has brought me so much peace. She nodded politely as I talked and I thought to myself, "Well, crap-- I must have read that wrong."

We both ended up just talking about how much we love the temple and feel so much peace when we are there. She said, "I just love the temple so much. I feel like every time I come, I am uplifted and talk with someone who says exactly what I needed to hear... I've actually been struggling with my desire to have my own plans work out in my education in the nursing school. I really appreciated hearing your story about having enough faith in the Lord to let go and let Him lead you."

As I walked home from the temple, the sky fading to pink as the sun began to set, I felt dumbfounded. And overwhelmed. And incredibly, incredibly grateful to Heavenly Father for that sweet, special, perfect gift He had just given me-- the gift of confidence in myself to listen to promptings. I was worried about my ability to always be a vessel for the Holy Ghost as a missionary and Heavenly Father knew that. In His infinite wisdom and goodness, instead of just making me feel good again He gave me the gift of an opportunity to grow. He helped me to know that even after a rough week (or two, or more) with His help I can get back to where I was spiritually, regain my footing, and once again be able to hear and respond to even the subtlest of promptings. He wanted me to know that I don't have to be perfect 100% of the time to be a good missionary, that I don't have to feel downhearted when I mess up or have a difficult time feeling the spirit as strongly. This might seem like just the littlest thing but it was an incredible testament to the infinite kindness of our Heavenly Father. He is so incredibly kind. He is a giver of good gifts. What gifts has Heavenly Father given you today?

The Gays of BYU: Part Two

Sunday, May 4, 2014

I've learned two very important things that must be considered when addressing homosexuality from an LDS perspective: 1) We cannot fully comprehend the mind of our Heavenly Father, therefore we must exercise faith. 2) We are each incredibly precious and beloved of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

When my co-writer, Jason, and I did our first interviews after attending a USGA (Understanding Same-Gender Attraction) meeting, we were honestly at a loss of how to communicate some of the simple facts and stories we heard in an article for the BYU magazine, Insight. We were given accounts of blatant bullying, prejudice, and alienation-- all instances that occurred here at BYU. Though many do open their arms and their hearts to their brothers and sisters who struggle with same-gender attraction, many do not. Too many people at BYU, people who have taken a covenant to "stand as a witness of Christ at all times, and in all things, and in all places" have either decided to ignore the situation or let themselves be instruments of unkindness, intolerance, fear, and ignorance.

When we examine the life of Christ, we see that He loved and ministered to all men-- lepers, outcasts, sinners-- everyone. His love does not extend to most all but stop at those whose struggles were foreign to him. His heart, His love, His grace, His Atonement knows no boundaries. It is available in endless quantities to all. Sometimes we assume that we are disciples of Christ just because we go to Church, say our prayers, read our scriptures, do our callings, and pay our tithing. These are all things we must do to be true disciples of Christ, but I believe that we must dedicate the entirety of our hearts to walking His path, feeding his sheep, and ministering to His flock before we can feel satisfied in our work. We must love and serve, following Christ's example, but with the knowledge that judgement belongs to Him.

Heavenly Father's beautiful Plan of Salvation defines marriage to be between a man and a woman. Our prophets have that declared acting on homosexual feelings is sinful. Obediently holding to these teachings does not make one a bigot. Merriam Webster defines a bigot as "a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc... a person who hates or refuses to accept members of a particular group (such as a racial or religious group.)" Neither the teachings nor the life of Christ resemble this in the slightest. Our Savior openly and adamantly preaches against engaging in this type of behavior and having these feelings towards others.

The majority of the members of USGA are faithful Church members who promote BYU's Honor Code and work to maintain the law of chastity. They believe that, even though they do not fully understand why they are attracted to people of the same sex, if they continue faithfully, Heavenly Father will bless them in following His plan for them. Some have said that they believe they were born this way to teach them humility and charity. Some have said that they believe that this attraction is apart of their eternal identity. Others interpret Christ's teachings on a more personal level and decide different courses of action for themselves. There are some who attend USGA who have fallen away from the Church, either temporarily or permanently, and who attempt to figure out their lives alone. Regardless of where these brothers and sisters are in their testimonies, each deserves love. Love uplifts, gives strength, bears testimony, ministers, and teaches. We are commanded to love all, whether or not we understand them.

It was a struggle finding the perfect balance for our article, but we were finally able to write a concise, pointed piece that we hope will stimulate a wider-reaching conversation on campus concerning this issue and help people understand the role they play in creating an environment where the spirit of love can flourish.

You can find a link to the online Insight article, "A Candid Conversation," here.  For more information regarding the LDS perspective on homosexuality, visit

The Gays of BYU: Part One

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mormons Building Bridges march in Pride Parade Salt Lake City 2013

I recently read a Princeton Review article that called BYU 6th least-friendly campus towards homosexuals in the nation. (Since the actual article is unavailable to people without an account with the Review, the list can also be found here.) The poll was taken from a nation-wide, anonymous survey. While this ranking may not be shocking to some, it was shocking to me. As a student of BYU, I have always been under the assumption that our school (like our religion) was built on pillars of love, forgiveness, and Christ-like charity that extends to all, regardless of beliefs. From all of the material I've read about the LDS Church's stance on homosexuality, I was also under the assumption that we believe there is no sin in the actual orientation (tendency, predisposition-- whatever you want to call it) itself. I felt like there was a marked difference between the people and the practice, and that anyone who abides by the Honor Code is a welcome and valid student at BYU. So why were we ranked as being so extremely unfriendly towards our fellow students who identify themselves as gay?

My fellow Insight Magazine writer, Jason, and I felt like this title must be false and undeserved and we were determined to discover the truth. As we interviewed openly gay students in USGA (Understanding Same Gender Attraction-- the unofficial BYU club for LGB students), we realized the story was much bigger than we had previously imagined. Since the article that will be published on Insight's website will likely only be able to cover a small portion of the story (and only from a particular angle), I want to share as much of the story and our journey to find the truth as I can on this blog. We know that the subject of homosexuality and the LDS religion is a sensitive one, and we are grateful for the respect shown by all who have participated in the making of this article so far and ask the same respect of any who choose to carry on the conversation and comment on the subsequent installments. We also want to state that our only aim is truth and understanding and that there is no political agenda in this article. Stay tuned for part one!
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