'Tis the season for cookie exchanges and holiday parties filled with desserts. Eating sweets is probably one the best parts of this time of year, but for those of you that have dietary restrictions that prevent you from enjoying the average cookie here is a SUPER tasty chocolate cookie recipe created by Nicole Lee of Hey Dear.

When I was nursing Levi I had to change my diet dramatically to accommodate his sensitive stomach, and that led me to reaching out to Nicole. Nicole is an amazing food stylist, photographer and cook who has had to learn to cook gluten-free to help her body feel its best. She has three littles at home, so you know that this recipe has been taste tested by the ultimate experts. 

We hope you enjoy these cookies all year!



1-cup vegan butter – Earth balance soy free baking sticks
1-cup sugar – Raw Sugar, preferably organic
1-cup light brown organic sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
2 eggs
1 ¾ cups Gluten Free Flour – Bob’s red mill  one/one mix is great! 
1-teaspoon baking powder
1-teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups Gluten Free Thick rolled oats (bob’s redmill is the best!)
1 bag of vegan chocolate chips/ or favorite brand 

An electric mixer, measuring cups, ice cream scoop, parchment paper, and cookie


In an electric mixer cream the butter, sugars, and vanilla, add in one egg at a time. In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients, minus the rolled oats and chocolate chips!  While the electric mixer is still going slowly add in the flour mixture and until dough forms. Then take off the bowl of the mixer grab a spatula, dump in the rolled oats and the chocolate chips. Hand mix until evenly through the dough. 

Now this part is key, you need to let the dough chill for at least one hour. If you have patience let it sit overnight. Instead of the dough being soupy it will bake perfectly.

Once the dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 355 degrees. Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper, then scoop with a small ice cream scoop your dough and place on the tray. You will make rows of three about 1 inch apart from each other on the tray. Bake for 9-12 min. Until golden brown on the edges.

Once done remove the cookies from the cookie tray and place on a cooling rack until cooled. Then serve with milk and enjoy!

Styling Food for Pinterest - Do's and Don'ts


Just because a picture is super successful on Instagram doesn't mean it will be engaging on Pinterest, and just because a picture is really pretty doesn't mean that it will be clicked on. When creating content for the web you always have to keep in mind a couple of things: 1) Where is this content going to live? 2) Will people click on the image? We ultimately want to capture viewers so that our voices can be heard above the noise, but too often I see people creating pretty things thinking that's enough to engage views. The reality is there's a lot of pretty out there to compete with, and not all of it gets the views it may deserve.

I think many people have the taste level and eye to style a pretty photo, but knowing what's pretty and what drives traffic are two different things. I see many photos on Pinterest that are drop dead gorgeous, but will I repin all of them? No. And will I click to view the photo on a blog? An even slimmer chance, unfortunately. So, what makes an image on Pinterest engaging and/or clickable? That's the big question! In order to answer this big question we need to break things down by subject. Let's start with food. (I'll tackle fashion next!)

Pinterest Food Styling Comparison
Pinterest Food Styling Comparison

I did a little experiment for you guys and styled the same latte recipe three different ways. I kept certain elements the same, however.

Controls: Latte recipe Light Location Pinned to the same board

Variables: Cups Placement Text placement Font Pin description

Can you guess which photo performed the best? The answer surprised me at first, but it makes sense as to why. Latte A received the least amount of traffic with only 39,000+ impressions and only 127 clicks. Latte B received 58,000+ impressions with 197 clicks, and lastly, Latte C (the winner) received 63,000+ impressions with 213 clicks.

Why is this the case? When styling food people want to be up close and personal with the subject. Being able to see the drink through the glass matters. Photo C also has the best view of the donut even though that is not the star of the show. The donut adds an additional enticing factor for sure, so think about what complementary foods or ingredients can be added to your shots. Also, the text on this pin is the most readable, and I have the color black to thank for that.

Are all of these photos pretty? Yes, you an even view more photos from this post here to see what I mean. Readable text and being SUPER close to the subject your shooting so you can almost taste the latte matters as much as good light and photography.

For more Pinterest advice, check out these posts:

Under the Radar Pinners

How to Use Group Boards Effectively

How to Brand Your Business on Pinterest

Pinterest Meals

I've talked plenty about how much I love Pinterest, and it's pretty obvious how it's impacted my business - I can create inspiration boards for styled shoots, for clients, hone in on my personal style, etc. What you may not know about me is that I don't enjoy cooking or baking. It's just something that tends to stress me out mostly because of timing everything perfectly. BUT there are two things that have made it more enjoyable recently:

1. I LOVE my spacious kitchen and appliances.

2. Pinterest meal ideas!!!

I have plenty of cookbooks on my shelves, but either I just don't have the right ones or I'm not selecting the best recipes because I haven't really LOVED anything I've made from them. Even has failed me plenty in the past.

So, I was reluctant to pin recipe ideas to my Pinterest board, but after seeing some super yummy meal ideas in my feed I decided to give some of them a whirl. I'm sure glad I did because EVERY single recipe I've tried has been fantastic. No joke! I'm thinking it's because people tend to pin the best of the best.

So, although this has NOTHING to do with fashion, this has completely changed my personal life and I had to share it with you. Here are some of the recipes that I have come to adore, and my husband and dinner guests can totally attest to them!

Apple & Brie Melts - Um, need I say more? With this recipe I actually use wheat bread and a bit of honey instead of apple butter.

Tastes Like Lasagna Soup - I made this last night is it's dreamy good! Instead of bits of lasagna noodles I used campanelle. It looks just like mini lasagna bites and is easier.

A Healthier Spinach Artichoke Dip - THIS IS THE BEST DIP IN THE WORLD. I love spinach artichoke dip, but it's so terrible for you. When I saw this recipe I was intrigued by it, but I thought it would taste terrible because it's less fat. NOPE! It's AWESOME! I used the Greek yogurt option and skim mozzarella cheese. Oh, and make sure to use the white wine. It really makes the dish to me. I served it with pita chips.

Lemon Parsley Chicken with Couscous - I'm Greek, so I obviously love lemon on everything. haha! I also enjoy couscous, and it's one of those super easy things that make a dinner more special over something like brown rice or pasta. It's ridiculously easy and fresh tasting.

Autumn Chopped Salad - Salads are an easy go-to for me because I know I can't screw it up. I actually microwaved my bacon to make it faster, and it came out extra crispy. Perfect!

Baked Lemon Pasta - Okay, so this recipe isn't so great for you, but it's SOOOOOOOO yummy. Another one of those dreamy yummy ones that looks super pretty for dinner guests.

I'll be sure to share more as I discover them! In the meantime you can follow my recipe pins here,