Category Archives: Recipes

Banana cinnamon overnight oats

Most people hate oatmeal despite its nutritional value, so when I first became a mama I set out to help my children enjoy it from a young age. All our kids began eating oatmeal from the time they were toddlers and I’m glad to say they have been non-fussy, regular eaters of oats ever since.

I started preparing oats the traditional way, which involves cooking rolled oats in water over a stove and stirring occasionally. I quickly learned that doing this while having a baby riding on my hip took up simply too much of my time and energy.

That’s when I turned to instant oatmeal. What I loved about instant oatmeal was its simplicity – mix in hot water and voila! Done.

Instant oatmeal can taste pretty bland on its own, so I’ve always added a touch of fresh milk, ground flaxseed or chia seeds, fresh fruit (banana, apple, or mango) and a drizzle of honey. If I’m in a real hurry, I replace fresh fruit with dried fruit like raisins, cranberries or apricots. We have instant oatmeal like this between 2-3 times a week, served with eggs and a mug of kefir and the kids love it.

The convenience of preparing instant oatmeal definitely makes it a quick and easy option, but personally I have never liked its mushy consistency. Also, instant oatmeal is a processed version of rolled oats and therefore isn’t as great nutritionally.

Recently a friend introduced me to a fantastic way of preparing rolled oats without cooking it – overnight oatmeal. When I first heard about this idea of overnight oatmeal, I was disgusted. Eating raw oatmeal that had been soaked overnight simply did not impress me! However, missing the nutty flavour of rolled oats and having a possibility of abandoning processed, mushy instant oatmeal, I decided to give it a try.

I followed this recipe by Organize Yourself Skinny was pleasantly surprised! The kids oohed and aahed over it and Sweet Man enjoyed it too.

Overnight oatmeal, served in a jar, is now our favourite way of eating oatmeal. Basically, it is rolled oats soaked overnight in milk or any other nutritious liquid.

The best part I like about it is that because the oats get processed in the liquid, there is no cooking or additional work needed. I prepare it at night after the kids are in bed, and there’s hardly anything else to be done about it in the morning. Now that’s absolutely fantastic for a busy mama like me!

In the morning we just stir it up to loosen it, add a bit more liquid if we like, and enjoy. Sometimes we drizzle a bit of honey on top. We eat it cold, straight from the fridge and it’s a great refreshing start to the morning. You could warm it up on the stove, but since we all enjoy it cold I haven’t tried that.

So far I have used fresh cow’s milk. Recently I made almond milk and it’s sitting in my fridge now waiting to be used for our next serving of overnight oatmeal. I can’t wait to try it and will let you know how it goes!

So how do we prepare overnight oats? The two basic ingredients are 1 part rolled oats mixed with 1 part liquid. For the adults, I use 5 tablespoons oats and 5 tablespoons liquid. Our 9 and 7 year old kids manage 4 tablespoons of each, and our 4 year old eats 3 tablespoons. If we want our oats looser, we just add more liquid.

To enrich these basic ingredients, I add 3-5 tablespoons fruit, depending on how fruity I like our oats to be. So far, we’ve tried apple, banana, and fresh peaches – yummy! I also add other things to boost it up, like chia seeds (to add fiber, protein and omega fatty acids), organic raisins, and sometimes a dash of cinnamon.

Really, you could add any kind of spice, seeds, nuts, even chocolate chips. Just bear in mind that crunchy ingredients like nuts would be better added only in the morning so they don’t get mushy.

The method to prepare overnight oats is easy. Just 3 steps.

Step 1: Put all your ingredients into a jar, beginning with the oats, then other enriching ingredients.

oats

Step 2: Pour in milk, enough to cover the oats.

oats

Step 3: Stir contents, cap the jar, and leave overnight in the fridge.

Once prepared, overnight oatmeal can sit in the fridge between 5-8 hours before eating, so on the days that we have toast for breakfast I sometimes prepare overnight oatmeal in the morning to be eaten as an afternoon tea time snack.

Here’s a handy dandy printable for our most popular overnight oats recipe – Banana Cinnamon Overnight Oats! 

Banana Cinnamon Overnight Oats
Serves 1
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 5 tbsp rolled oats
  2. 1 small banana, diced
  3. 3 raisins, roughly chopped
  4. 1 tsp chia seeds
  5. 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  6. 5 tbsp milk, or enough to cover oats
Instructions
  1. Put all the ingredients into a jar, beginning with the oats.
  2. Pour in milk, enough to cover the oats.
  3. Stir contents, cap the jar, and leave overnight in the refridgerator.
Notes
  1. Before eating, stir contents and add more milk if desired.
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Have you tried overnight oats? Do you like it? If you have any other yummy and easy way of preparing oats, please let me know in the comments!

Kefir

Kefir in a cup

Kefir has become a staple drink in our family.

I was first introduced to milk kefir last August by a dear friend who passed me some of her milk kefir grains. She showed me how to brew the kefir and pointed out some useful kefir sites.

The first time I tasted kefir, I fell in love. So did Sweet Man and the kids. Kefir has a tangy flavour but the kids didn’t seem to notice or be bothered by the sour taste. We drank it as it was, chilled and plain. As a two year old, Piglet downed his portion with tremendous gusto and I wish I’d taken a photo of his thick milk kefir moustache!

I now drink milk kefir three times daily and the rest of the family consume at least one cup each.

Kefir is rich in protein, calcium, fiber and is a powerful natural probiotic – 10 probiotic strains! Research has shown it helps lower cholesterol levels and keeps the gut healthy. Drinking kefir has helped to strengthen our immunity and we have noticed that it improves our digestion and regulates our appetites too. I drank kefir during pregnancy as it was great not only for me but also for the baby. I am so glad our kids love kefir, even plain kefir, as it has so many health benefits for children.

If you want to know more about the benefits of kefir, check out the National Kefir Association. For lots of in-depth information on kefir, visit Dom’s kefir site. (He is the absolute Guru of kefir. You’ll know why, when you read his site.)

After Roo was born, I continued brewing our milk kefir every 24 hours for the first few days during my confinement. After a week, I decided I needed a break because, well, life is full as it is with a newborn and three other kids! I stored my kefir grains in the fridge following Dom’s instructions.

Two weeks later I was ready to resume kefir brewing again. My kefir baby was still alive and active and I was glad it took no time at all to produce the same results as before.

I embarked on a new way of drinking milk kefir quite by chance. It happened when I had to take a second break from kefir, when Roo was 8 weeks old and I had to go on a 2-week course of antibiotics as a precaution against infection, a risk when you have retained placenta remnants. Kefir is slightly alcoholic and so I couldn’t consume it while taking the antibiotic I was prescribed.

Nevertheless I continued brewing kefir everyday and gradually accumulated 3 jars of kefir in our fridge. I then had an idea of using our excess kefir to make a banana milk kefir smoothie. This is how I did it:

BANANA MILK KEFIR SMOOTHIE

Ingredients:

800ml milk kefir

4 bananas

1 tbsp honey

Method:

Put all the ingredients into a blender. Give the mixture a good whiz. Serve chilled, either as is, or with a sprinkle of cinnamon powder on top. If you wedge a slice of orange or lemon on the edge of the glass, you are guaranteed to get lots of oohs and aahs from admiring little ones.

Banana milk kefir smoothie was a raging hit from the first sip. It has a lovely fizzy zing. The moment he tasted it, Lamb proclaimed I was “The Best Mama in the World”. It can’t get easier than that!

Lately, we tried adding freshly squeezed orange juice and love the results.

There are other natural flavours we want to try, so this week I’ll be making mango kefir smoothies and we might try a honeydew version soon after.

Have you tried milk kefir yet? It just might revolutionize your life!

 

Homemade yogurt cheese

Homemade yogurt cheese is so easy to make. As with all things homemade, it’s also extremely satisfying knowing that our little punks can eat a yummy spread, free of emulsifiers, thickeners or conditioning agents.

You won’t sweat a bit with this one, I promise. Minimal effort, minimal cost!

I made this yogurt cheese following this idiot-proof recipe.

(I’m a dunce in the kitchen, that’s why. Working on it!)

Basically, I used my own homemade natural yogurt that had firmed up nicely, after sitting in the fridge for 48 hours. I found that using unchilled yogurt directly out of the yogurt maker doesn’t work as it’s too runny.

Pour 700ml natural yogurt into a cheese cloth, folded 12 times. (I started with the cloth folded 8 times, but found 12 times to be more effective in keeping the curds in.)

Tie up the corners with a rubber band. Attach a hook and hang in the fridge for 24 hours over a glass or ceramic bowl (to strain out the whey).

Warning! This curious sight is bound to attract pokes by wee fingers.

Warning! This curious sight is bound to attract pokes by wee fingers.

Voila! Yogurt cheese.

The longer the yogurt is left to strain in the cheesecloth, the firmer the result

The longer the yogurt is left to strain in the cheesecloth, the firmer the result

Add salt to taste and mix thoroughly.

Serve on a homemade cheddar biscuit and top with Italian seasoning. Or paprika, if you feel naughty.

A perfect snack for my ravenous brood

A perfect snack for my ravenous brood

 

Enjoy, my friends.

And kiss goodbye to store-bought cream cheese!

(Total cost using 700ml homemade yogurt: RM2.00. Yields 220g yogurt cheese.)