Now, I'm not one to claim that I'm a perfect dog owner. Sometimes my dog Ezra has to paw at his water bowl to let me know he's thirsty or whimper by the door for me to let him outside. Recently, I had noticed that he was a little depressed. The holidays were a chaotic time for travel, and my family was gone a lot, and it seems it took a toll on Ezra. His mood changed. It's funny how we can sense these things from our animals. He wasn't necessarily curled up in a corner or whining all the time, but he was notably less affectionate and the expression in his eyes had changed. Sometimes we forget to show love to our pets, not because we don't care anymore but because we grow comfortable. In the past few weeks I have made extra efforts to pay attention to Ezra, and the difference in his energy levels and mood has been night and day. Reevaluating my relationship with my dog may sound trivial, but the principle applies to our human connections too. I decided to get in the kitchen and make something special for Ezra, but these treats were so easy that I will probably continue to make them in small batches. While he likes his milk bones, these are a cleaner option to make sure he doesn't get too pudgy.
DIY Dog Treats
1/3 cup of oat flour
1/3 cup of peanut butter
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 cup all purpose flour
Firstly, I made my own oat flour by grinding up oatmeal in my NutriBullet. I'm sure you could leave your oats whole if you wanted some texture in these treats. In a medium bowl I combined the banana and peanut butter. I mashed it with a fork and then beat it until it was one homogeneous color. Then I added the oat flour, which made the mixture gather into a sticky batter. After this, begin to add your flour in small amounts. You may need to add more or less flour depending on the fat content in your peanut butter. The goal is for the mixture to become a dough that is mold-able and won't cling to your fingers. I then took my dough ball and placed it between two sheets of parchment paper before rolling. The dough will be slightly springy but a good consistency for cutting out shapes. I used the screw top of a beaker as my cookie cutter, but if you own a dog bone cookie cutter, now would be the time to break it out!
After punching out my circles, I was able to fill 1 and a half cookie sheets. These treats were on the small side, so it yielded about 50. If you use a standard 2-inch dog bone cookie cutter, your yield should be half that. Bake them for 12 minutes in an oven set to 350 degrees F, or until they are golden brown. These treats have a cracker-like consistency (because of the ratio of flour). They reminded me of teething biscuits for babies probably because of the mild banana flavor, but they were perfect for Ezra. I stored them in an airtight container and will probably keep them in the fridge since they have no preservatives. I plan to make these again, but next time with different flavors such as grated carrot or pumpkin puree. I hope you have a chance to try them out, and more importantly, hopefully they brighten your pup's day!
With the start of a new year, it's no wonder that people are embracing change. It's a chance to start over. We are eager to dive into our newer, healthier habits, but while it may be overwhelming to tackle meal prepping, your new spin class, and home re-organization all at once, you can still implement one simple habit that can make a world of a difference for your 2018.
Most simply, its a morning cleanser. Some people pour themselves a hot mug of water with lemon. Others swear by their daily shot of ACV (apple cider vinegar, for you non-Pinteresters). And while a white or herbal tea could possibly be considered a cleanser as well, it's bolder counterpart coffee does not make this list. Even if you take your coffee black (props to you) it's diuretic properties and caffeine levels are a harsh start to your day compared to these morning cleansers. A good cleanser should slowly wake your insides after a hopefully long night of hibernation. You wouldn't want to be plucked out of bed and plopped down in an office meeting with unruly bedhead and no pants on. You should show some kindness to your gut in the morning, too.
I started off the new year feeling like Jeb Bush due to a sinus infection I seem to have caught from my holiday travels. While I drink this cleanser even when I'm not feeling sick, it helped me immensely to get through those first few days of feeling like a zombie. My version is a simple lemon "tea" that I throw together with basic spices that are always in the pantry.
Morning Cleanser Lemon Tea
1 8 oz mug of hot water
1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp of ground ginger
1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
a pinch of cayenne pepper
Firstly you heat the water by itself. When I'm lazy I just microwave my water in the mug, but if I have time I will boil it on the stove in my cute little glass teapot. I squeeze the juice of half of a large lemon into my mug and I will place some sliced wedges on top. I like a strong lemon flavor: if you include the rind in the water it will be stronger, but if the water is too hot and you keep it in for too long, it might become bitter. Then I toss in my spices. The measurements are just approximate, and you can add as little or as much as you like, as there is no science to it really. While I was scared to use cayenne pepper at first, I found that a small amount won't blow your palate. I make different variations of this tea depending what I have on hand. When we don't have lemons, I use lime. If we are out of ground cinnamon, I will treat myself to a whole cinnamon stick and use it to stir my tea. (It's also an added treat because my family buys the Mexican cinnamon, which is a brighter red and is more warm and mellow in flavor). On days when I feel a tickling in my throat I will add honey, but if you would like some sweetness and are vegan I would suggest maple syrup instead.
There are many elixirs and recipes you can adopt to create your very own cleanser. I have seen people include everything from chia seeds, to turmeric, to matcha powder in their morning drinks. It is all a matter of playing with different ingredients and flavors. The health properties of any ingredient can be endless, so it really depends on what you feel your body needs. Nothing is off limits here: if you are feeling adventurous you can try drinking bee pollen, as it has endless health benefits (although it is an acquired taste). I hope you have fun finding your morning cleanser, and happy 2018!
I'm Lisa Cecilia Garcia. I'm a freelance writer specializing in food and lifestyle but have experience in poetry, creative writing, and everything in between. I'm a recent college graduate residing in Valdosta, GA. I love sketching, running, and obviously cooking and eating. When I'm older, I plan to run away to the mountains.