Sunday, August 17, 2014

Overnight Oats - A Quick Healthy Breakfast

It has been a long, slow summer full of staying up later than we should and unrushed mornings sleeping in. Sometimes breakfast was more like brunch and since most mornings we didn't have to rush out the door, I had the time to cook our favorites, including banana pancakes, which I make often and just realized with surprise I have never shared with you. Wow, blogger fail. Anyway, we are back to work/school this week and I have been trying to figure out easy and fast breakfast recipes to help mornings run smoother. We are going to need all the help we can get until everybody is adjusted to our new routine. Nobody but the cat is a morning person in this house.

I've been seeing recipes for overnight oats all over Pinterest. This past week I decided to give them a try. The little man, to my delight, ate the oats all up two days in a row. I am also cooking up some freezer breakfasts, which I will share in another post, but the overnight oats will also be a great choice for our busy mornings. Just make up a batch the night before, grab out of the refrigerator in the morning, stir, and eat. Everyone gets their own grab and go jar. The flavor variations are nearly endless, too. We have enjoyed vanilla strawberry and blueberry cinnamon flavored overnight oatmeal so far. I think I will experiment with an apple walnut next. Little one loves apples. Oh, and with fall just around the corner, a pumpkin flavored one is a must.

Strawberry Vanilla Overnight Oats

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds or flax seeds
  • 1 tsp honey 
  • handful of fresh strawberries, sliced
Mix ingredients in a quart mason jar or other lidded container. Store in refrigerator overnight. May eat cold, or if you prefer, heat in the microwave. Enjoy straight from the jar. 

Blueberry Cinnamon Overnight Oats

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds or flax seeds
  • 1-2 tsp honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • handfull of blueberries, approximately 1/4 cup ( I used frozen wild blueberries)
Mix ingredients together in a jar. Refrigerate overnight. Stir and eat straight from the jar. May be heated in a microwave if desired. 

I see so many possibilities for overnight oats. If you change the milk to a nut milk and the yogurt to a coconut or soy yogurt, and sweeten with agave or maple syrup, these would be a great vegan breakfast as well. I know some recipes call for steel cut oats, but you don't want to use instant or quick cook oats or they may be too runny. If you decide to experiment with flavors and ingredients, let me know what yummy combinations you come up with. I'd love to try them.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Apple Cider Vinegar to Treat Common Warts

While I have, like most women, at times held harsh views toward my body, I have always liked my hands. Growing up I was told I had piano hands. As an adult, I was told how strong they are. But a couple years ago, while I was going through one of the most stressful times of my life, these annoying bumps began to appear. By this spring I had seven warts. One located on the outside of my index finger had become so large and painful I couldn't close my fingers together. It was embarrassing to have the young students I worked with asking me what was wrong with my hands. I didn't have health insurance and couldn't afford the cost of having them removed. Finally, I searched the internet. My first search took me to the duct tape method, which worked horribly for me. Plus, I felt a little silly walking around with duct taped fingers. The second method involved an expensive (at least for me) essential oil preparation I didn't even try. Finally, I stumbled on a blog post about using apple cider vinegar, something I regularly have in my cabinets.

I didn't take any before pics of my warts (yes, I'm just that sensitive about them), but if you really must see a photo and would like to find out more about common warts visit WebMD.

This simple method involves soaking the cotton pad of a band aid and wrapping over the wart, leaving covered overnight. Alternatively, you can soak a piece of a cotton ball and hold on with duct tape. During the day remove the band aid covering to allow area to dry out. The first thing you will notice is the wart turning black. Keep reapplying the band aid until the black area scabs and peels off.

During this process, which can take at least two weeks, you will need to file down the dead skin that covers the wart. Once the blackened core of the wart begins to fall off, avoid picking at it and allow it to fall off by itself. I picked at the first one that started to fall off and it left a small scar were the skin tore. Also, before you decide to try this method of wart removal know that the warts will likely become very sore when you first start using the vinegar. In fact, for some people it can be down right painful. Because of this, if you have more than one wart I advise you to not treat them all at once. You are basically burning the warts off with an acid. 

Overall, I am pleased with this simple, effective, low cost treatment you can do at home. I did experience some pain, especially with the largest wart. I consider myself fairly pain tolerant. After all, I gave birth to my youngest son without any pain medications. But I awoke in the night with such a throbbing pain I found myself ripping off the band aid like it was some predator attached to my finger. None of the other smaller warts caused me much pain, just some annoying tenderness.

Please note, this treatment is only for common or plantar warts. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Air Dry Baking Soda Clay: Five Ingredients for Summer Fun Part 2

Remember those five ingredients I talked about in my last post? We are going to dig into them again to make up some air dry clay.

You are going to need the baking soda, corn starch, and, if desired, food coloring. This mixes into a nice cold porcelain type clay that is soft and easy to work with for adults and kids.

Baking Soda Clay

  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cup cold water
Combine everything in a medium nonstick pan and mix until smooth. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring. Cook over low heat until mixture thickens into a similar texture as mashed potatoes. Remove from heat and allow to cool, covering with a lid or wet cloth. When it has cooled it is ready to sculpt.

We hand formed it and rolled out a slab to cut out shapes for necklace charms and ornaments. If you roll it, be sure not to roll it too thin.

If you make ornaments or charms, use a toothpick to create the hole before air drying. We also added the etchings while it was wet, though it is soft enough you may be able to do it after they are dry. If you need to stick pieces together you can dip your finger in a bowl of water to wet the edges, but avoid getting the clay too moist. 

Since we are having triple digit temperatures here, I set the unpainted finished shapes outside to dry. The smaller ornaments were ready to handle within 24 hours, but the larger pieces should have sat for two days. Once they are dry, they are easily painted using acrylic craft paint. We painted our pieces and, for extra durability, added a thick coat of Mod Podge to seal them with. 

I am starting a new job as the official art teacher at a Montessori school next week. I'm thinking this might be a great alternative for my students to experience using clay, since we won't have a kiln. Plus, it will be easy on the art budget. I will have to do a test run on cooking up larger batches. 

This, by far, was my favorite project using the handful of household supplies we had on hand. I think they turned out beautifully, don't you?