Recipe | Zero Waste Vegan Baked Oatmeal

I usually like my oats pretty simple. Hot water, fruit, sweetener. The other day I made this baked oatmeal for a brunch and it was a huge hit! It requires slightly more work, but it’s still really easy and can be made very low waste! This recipe is easily adaptable, you can swap out your favorite flavors and change it up often, make as little or as much as you want, and eat hot or cold!

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Ingredients
Quick oats
Dried spices. I used nutmeg and ginger.
Lemon Zest
Sugar
Frozen berries. I used bluebs and cherries.
Plant milk. I used cashew.

Equipment
Oven safe dish
Micro plane or zester
Spoon for mixing

Put your oats into your baking dish. I used about a cup of oats, but you can add more or less depending on who your feeding. Add dried spices, lemon zest, sugar to taste, and mix. Add frozen berries and twice the amount of milk as oats, mix well and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Mix again and pop in a 375 degree oven until oats are cooked and the top starts to brown a little. for the amount I made it took about 20 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or cooled. This would be great served with some warmed milk poured over it or with yogurt.

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A few notes:
- The lemon zest is key!! used about half a lemon’s worth of zest But I could have done the whole lemon. if you don’t have a zester or micro plane, you can slice off the skin and fine chop.
- I used white sugar bc that’s what I wanted to use up, but this recipe would be great with brown sugar, maple syrup or any other sweetener you like. You can also change up the spices and fruit added.
- To be extra fancy, sprinkle some brown sugar on top and pop in the broiler to brown and crystalize the top of your oatmeal.
- My oatmeal came out a little dry this time bc I didn’t add quite enough milk. It was still good.

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To make this recipe low waste, I used bulk oats and spices. I also used up some of my spices, which feels so good! I used pre packaged frozen fruit; I like the fruit from Whole Foods bc you can rinse out and recycle the plastic bags they come in. To make even more low waste, use fresh fruit or fruit that you have frozen yourself.

I didn’t plate mine up very beautifully, but it was still delicious!

This is an easy meal to make in advance. What are some of your favorite easy breakfast foods?

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Recipe | Zero Waste Dry Shampoo

In 2017 I started my zero waste journey. Zero Waste is the goal, mindful practice is the action. When I use the term Zero Waste, that is my ultimate goal, but Less Waste would be a more  accurate description of my evolving lifestyle. 

I don't really use beauty products. I don't put my face on, I don't wear makeup, I don't style my hair, I barely brush it. But I thought I'd talk about a few grooming staples I've come to know and love.

When I was young, I had to wash my hair every day. Had to. Or else it would become an ratty oily mess. Starting a few years ago, that changed. Now if I wash my hair everyday, it becomes brittle and dry. What the heck? 

While I still lived in Brooklyn, I found a dry shampoo in a spray can and tried it out. I had never used it before and it was great! I love dry shampoo. It allowed me to not feel totally gross between hair washes. Once I started reducing my waste and plastic consumerism, I figured dry shampoo was out. But I did a little research and not only did I discover that plastic free, zero waste dry shampoo was a thing but it's about the easiest recipe ever!

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Ingredients:
Arrowroot powder
Essential oils
Cocoa powder for dark hair

Equipment:
Container or shaker (I reuse one from Burt's Bees baby powder)

Combine ingredients and shake well.  I have blondish hair, so I omit the cocoa powder but I have head that for dark hair it works like a dream. 
To use, I either shake some on my brush or directly on my hair and comb through. Be careful not to use too much, you don't want to look like you're wearing a powdered wig. You can always add more! Make sure to comb or brush it through all your hair so it is coated and looks "clean". 

Now, this is easily a zero waste recipe. But truth be told, mine wasn't. I got the arrowroot in a plastic bag. Although I intend to recycle the bag, next time I'll get my arrowroot in bulk. Also, my brush and combs are plastic. I won't throw them away, until they are totally broken and not able to be used. But when my plastic brushes do die, I have my eye on a hand carved wooden comb from mermaidtrousers. I've seen some nice wooden brushes out there, too. 

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I also use this powder in my shoes in the summertime to keep my feet from getting sweaty. So from head to toe, I find this powder works great!

What are your simple zero waste beauty care swaps?

Something New: Home Made Oat Milk

I've been allergic to cow's milk for as long as I can remember. So although, I prefer skim milk in my coffee, I rarely drink it and I never buy. My preferred non dairy milk, especially in my coffee, is rice milk. Non sweetened rice milk is the closest to skim milk, in my opinion. But rice milk comes in tetra packs and often has a lot of gross ingredients (canola oil, why?), when bought commercially. So recently I went on the hunt for a rice milk alternative. I have found a few that I enjoy, but when my husband brought home extra oats the other day, and it coincided with running out of milk, I decided to try making my own Oat Milk. 

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I had been researching making my own non dairy milks for a while, but buying as many nuts as one needs can get expensive! Oat milk, as well as cashew, hemp and macadamia, was one of the milks I tried and liked when store bought. Oats are super cheap, and can be bought in bulk, so it was a no brainer to try making the milk. I read a bunch of recipes but in the end decided to wing it and make it as simply as possible. 

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Ingredients:
1 cup oats
3 cups cool or cold water

Equipment:
Blender
Fine mesh strainer (or cheese cloth or nut milk bag)
Jar

All the recipes suggest using rolled oat or stone ground oats, but all I had on hand were quick oats so I used those. Some say to soak the oats, some not. I soaked mine for about 10 minutes, maybe less. I added the oats and the water to the blender and let sit as I puttered about the kitchen. Next, blend on high, as high as you can, for 5 -7 minutes. You don't want to blend too long. Once blended, use a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth, etc... and pour into a jar. All I had for straining was a rather large stainer, but that worked fine. I just had a few oatmeal pieces in the jar afterwards. Refrigerate your milk. Makes about 1.5 pints. Use it in coffee, baking, etc... but shake before use! 

A few notes:
-Save the strained oat pieces, use as oatmeal for breakfast, in baking, etc...
-The recipes all say this volume lasts about a week but I'm almost done with mine 3 days in just from drinking in my daily coffees. 
-Don't heat this milk. Pouring it in coffee, or using in baking, is ok, but heating it on the stove will create a goopy mess. Think oatmeal without the meal. 
-Add sweetener and/or a pinch of salt if desired. I like my coffee unsweetened and even sweetened milk is too much for me.  
-Bring a spoon. This milk is a little gummy and heavier than most milk I'm used to in my coffee, so it tends to settle. I now have a spoon on hand to stir my coffee as needed. I also end up using more of this milk than I would another milk, so something to think about. 
-Make this milk zero waste and plastic free by getting your oats in bulk, recycling a jar for storage, and using the leftover blended oat parts.  

Over all, I really liked making my own oat milk. When I make my next batch, I will use more water to oats, to see if I like the consistency better. When I run out of our excess minute oats, I will try using stone ground to see if it ends up being less gloopy. I may make some sweetened to try it with cookies or for drinking. 

Next up, I plan to try rice milk! Who else out there makes their own non dairy milk? Tips, tricks?

Recipe | Zero Waste Hummus

In 2017 I started my zero waste journey. Zero Waste is the goal, mindful practice is the action. When I use the term Zero Waste, that is my ultimate goal, but Less Waste would be a more  accurate description of my evolving lifestyle. 

I don't eat a lot of hummus. But one day last month I got a hankering for it. I hate that it comes in plastic containers at the store, so I decided to make my own. It's very simple and easy and probably only takes about 30 minutes. It's a great beginner zero waste project!

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Ingredients:
Garlic - 1 clove
Juice of 1 lemon
Tahini - 1 spoonful
Chickpeas - 1 can drained and rinsed
Salt and Pepper to taste

Equipment:
Blender
Knife
Cutting Board
Can Opener

Open, drain and rinse chickpeas. Add peeled garlic clove, lemon juice, and blend until garlic is chopped. Add chickpeas, and tahini and blend until smooth. Add water or lemon juice to thin mixture if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Eat with crackers, bread, pita, etc...! I like mine with bread or pita and lots of veggies including red onions, tomatoes, radishes, lettuce, and or sprouts and extra good salt. 

A few notes:
-Keep the chickpea juice to use in other recipes. 
-Add more garlic if desired. I love more, but my husband does not. 
-You can make this recipe with a food processor, or by hand mashing. I just happen to have a blender. 

What makes this recipe near to zero waste? I use the lemon peels for cleaning solution and compost any other food waste. I recycle the chickpea can. The tahini came in a metal can with a plastic lid and it's contents will last a long time. When it's done, I plan on reusing the container for other food storage. To make it even more zero waste: Next time I buy tahini I'll get it in a glass jar, or make it myself. I could get the chickpeas in bulk to skip the can. 

What are your favorite low or zero waste snack recipes?