How To Beat The Winter Blues | Lemon Blueberry Walnut Bread

Lemon Blueberry Walnut Bread | Once Upon a Recipe

Do you ever have days where you just can’t, and I mean CANNOT, muster up the energy to do something that you really need to do? As in, even if someone offered you $100 to complete this task, you still just couldn’t do it?

For example, today I just CANNOT do the dishes. The sink is full of them. Dirty pots and pans, crusty bowls, cups, even things that I really just should have put in the dishwasher, but even the idea of opening up the dishwasher door, pulling out the rack, and placing these items in their proper place was just too much for this old gal.

Friends, I haven’t done the dishes in 3 days. THREE. Eww. They’re even starting to…smell. (I can’t believe I just admitted that.)

Lemon Blueberry Walnut Bread | Once Upon a Recipe

And you know who is to blame? Winter. Cold, dreary, let’s-get-dark-at-five-o’clock-just-when-everyone-is-getting-off-work-so-they-get-zero-vitamin-D-cause-that’s-fun (not) winter. It is during these months that it takes practically all I’ve got to not change into my sweatpants, wrap myself in a snuggie (yes, I own a snuggie), and watch TV/surf Pinterest all night long with a bottle of wine and a plate of leftover Christmas cookies at my side. Hmm…that’s a frightening visual. My apologies.

Don’t worry, I’ve figured out a few ways to beat those winter blues. Running, yoga, and the thought of not being able to fit into any of my clothes come May, to name a few. Oh, and bread! Bright, summery, delicious bread!

Lemon Blueberry Walnut Bread | Once Upon a Recipe

A trick from Joy…rub the zest into the sugar to release the essential oils in the zest = flavor town.

Let’s take a break from hot soups and casseroles and other wintery things, mmm-k? Let’s smack winter in the face and enjoy the flavors of summer!

Real talk: I first made this bread back in September, when it was technically still summer. Blueberries were at their seasonal prime. BUT! I have seen fresh blueberries pop up at my local supermarket on more than one occasion as of late. And if all else fails, use frozen blueberries.

Lemon Blueberry Walnut Bread | Once Upon a Recipe

Don’t be discouraged! We’re all going to get through this together. Just make yourself a loaf of this bread, enjoy a slice or two with your morning tea or coffee, and let’s start plotting all of the fun we’re going to have this summer. It’ll be here before we know it!

Lemon Blueberry Walnut Bread | Once Upon a Recipe

Lemon Blueberry Walnut Bread (adapted from

It’s no secret that lemon and blueberries are a match made in heaven. The walnuts in this bread add a nice little twist, and the glaze adds some extra moisture and tartness. If this bread won’t get you out of bed on a cold, dark morning, I’m not sure what will!

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

Pinch of salt

1 cup sugar

Zest from 2 lemons

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 TBSP. butter, melted

2 TBSP. vegetable oil

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

For the glaze:

Juice from 2 lemons

3 TBSP. sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a dry skillet, toast the walnuts over medium-high heat for a few minutes or until just fragrant. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, lemon zest, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, melted butter and oil. Whisk to combine.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add  the liquid mixture and stir gently until just combined; do not over-mix. Gently fold in the walnuts and blueberries.

Pour the batter into a prepared loaf pan (8″x4″). Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on rack for 20 minutes; remove from pan.

For the glaze, combine the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and continue stirring until the sugar dissolves. Pour the glaze over the bread while still warm. Slice and enjoy! Wrap leftovers in plastic wrap and consume within a few days.

Lemon Blueberry Walnut Bread | Once Upon a Recipe

PS. For the health of all those involved, my sink of dirty dishes has been taken care of. No need to send help.

Intention | Kindness Cookies

What is your intention today?

That is the question that my yoga instructor asks of her students at the beginning of every class. In other words, what is your aim or objective for the next 75 minutes? A little self-love? Compassion? Forgiveness?

My intention in my very first warm Hatha class was to make it through the class without passing out. Me + intense heat + exercise does not typically yield the best results. But after a few classes, my body adjusted to the temperature and I learned when to push a little harder and when to hold back. My energy has shifted to other intentions, such as focusing on my breath and deepening each pose. Definite self-love. I cannot begin to describe the powerful flow of positive energy that runs through me during a yoga class. I rock warrior pose. I balance through tree pose. I relish relaxation in savasana pose.

Have you ever tried setting an intention for your day? Do you make a conscious plan about how and where you will direct your energy in a given moment? It’s more challenging than it seems. Certainly harder in real life than in yoga class.

Not long ago, I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. The main character, a shepherd boy named Santiago has a recurring dream about a treasure and travels to the pyramids of Egypt to find it. Along his journey, Santiago meets an old king who teaches him about discovering his personal legend – what he desires to accomplish in his life. The most important piece of wisdom that the king bestows upon Santiago is that “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” If you’ve never read The Alchemist, you should. I found it to be totally inspiring. Do I believe in the aforementioned “motto” of the book? No, not particularly. If it is true, then the universe has most certainly failed me on several occasions. However, I do believe that setting an intention is the first step to realizing your dreams and goals.

So…what is my intention today? At this point, I’m keeping it simple. My intention, each day, is to be happy. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of reasons to be happy. I have a wonderful family, amazing friends, an education, and a great job. And I do fun things. Often. But this is a crazy world that we live in. Have you noticed? War, famine, murder, natural disasters, untimely deaths. And fortunately for me, I live in one of the safest countries in the world. Much less crazytown than others.

But my point is, on some days, it’s not as easy to just feel happy. Despite this, my intention is to focus on the positive aspects of my life, rather than focus on the negative. I am going to be good to myself and to others. I am going to laugh more. Put positive energy out into the universe and it will come back to you…right? Someone get me a copy of The Secret.

My intention for these cookies was even simpler: stuffing them in my face. And sharing them of course. Because nothing makes me the same kind of happy as the smiling faces of people as they eat something delicious. And these are kind cookies. Kind to animals. Kind to the Earth. And kind to your body. Just ask Alicia Silverstone. Her book, The Kind Diet, is spectacular. Check it out if you have the chance.

*I made two variations of this cookie. In my first batch, I used whole wheat flour and molasses. The molasses are part of the original recipe. In the second batch, I used all-purpose flour, left out the molasses, and added in a pinch of nutmeg instead. Each batch had a very distinct but delicious flavor. The molasses batch had a bit more chew to them, but even a tablespoon of the stuff makes the flavor quite pronounced. The non-molasses batch really showcased the flavor of the dried cherries and walnuts, which I loved. However, I adored both cookies and will be making both variations again and again.

Kindness Cookies, aka. Vegan Oatmeal, Cherry, and Walnut Cookies (adapted from The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone)

1 cup large flake oats

3/4 cup whole wheat (or all-purpose) flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 TBSP. molasses (or a pinch of nutmeg)

1/4 cup dried cherries (cut in half)

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup dried coconut

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix together the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add in the maple syrup, oil, vanilla, molasses (if using) and spices. Finally, add in the cherries, walnuts, and coconut. Use your hands to shape the dough into balls (golf ball size) and then slightly flatten with your fingertips. Bake for about 10 minutes, until just golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Each batch made 14 cookies for me. Don’t forget to stuff them in your face.

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