Archive for August, 2011

Avocado: a Love Story

Avocados are one of my favourite things ever.  Almost to the point where I would use an expletive to emphasize the depth of my love, except that my Mom reads this.

avocado

Little known fact: they stand up on their own.

Why you ask?  Well…

They are damn good for you. Sorry Mom. But avocados are full of the good monounsaturated fats, fibre (soluble and insoluble), folate, potassium, and many other vitamins and minerals. Heck, I even read somewhere that they might actually help fight belly fat accumulation (and I will get you that citation shortly). More concrete is the evidence that monounsaturated fats can help lower your cholesterol.

Like all diet choices, you need to decrease bad choices while increasing good choices. For example I’ll recommend mashing avocado onto a piece of bread instead of using butter, and then making your sandwich like normal. You just replaced artery clogging saturated fats with a vitamin rich and heart healthy alternative! Go you!

Guacamole is delicious. Smash up avocados with yogurt and lemon juice, and find some low sodium seasoning to top it all off. Then just try not to eat it all in one go… like I do.

It’s good for your skin. No I said that. Those oils and vitamins I mentioned earlier make this a great ingredient in homemade masks. My favourite goes as so:

*Grind oatmeal into a powder.
*Blend it with avocado
*Add milk or yogurt and blend until you get a smooth, thick paste
*Maybe also cucumber, if your skin is irritated
*Smear on your face and hide around a corner
*Scare the next person who walks by.

I hear you can also use avocado as a conditioning mask for dry hair, so if you try that, let me know how it goes!

The word avocado means testicle. Maybe you don’t see that as a good thing, but apparently I am still five and find these things funny. I was going to quit while I was ahead, but so much for that I guess!

Better than Pledge

We have an old wooden coffee table that is subject to constant abuse.  For starters, it doubles as an ottoman.

The footstool version.

We also don’t use coasters.

So once in a while I get it into my head to give this thing a little attention and polish it up.  Having lost my can of Pledge, I decided this was a good time to find a homemade version and share it with you all.

If this is your first time at Lazy Hippie, you should know that my criteria for DIY versions is that

a) it be better than the commercial version (preferably in price but if not that, then at least in effectiveness) and
b) I have the ingredients in my house already.

So I felt pretty happy to find this recipe, which is simple and effective.  I cut down on it because I really only polish the coffee table, so here’s my adaptation. You will need:

*1 teaspoons Olive Oil
*2 teaspoons Lemon Juice
*2 teaspoons Distilled Water

Mix together in a small bowl.  The lemon juice will break up the olive oil and help it all combine.  Then dip a paper towel into it and start polishing.  Once you’ve covered the whole thing, rub it over with a dry paper towel and let sit.

I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but this amount actually did the whole coffee table with a bit left over.  And the thing looks amazing now, and better than it ever did using commercial polishes.  I’m getting this weird feeling in my guts like I might actually want to be nice to it in the future.

On the Making of my Own Yogurt

I am really struggling for yogurt puns.  All I can think of is the dude from Spaceballs.  Moichandising!

So now that that’s out of the way, let’s dive right to it:  Making your own yogurt is super easy, and here’s how.

You will need:

*Plain Yogurt
*Milk
*A Pot
*A Container that is neither metal or plastic (this and the pot should be capable of holding 1 quart of liquid)
*A Kitchen Thermometer

1) Go pick up a little thing of plain probiotic yogurt.  What you want here is something for which the ingredients read “Milk, bacterial cultures,”  period.  No flavours, added sugars or preservatives.  You don’t need a lot, so go ahead and get an expensive brand.  You will also need just over a quart of milk from whatever animal and in whatever fat percentage you want.  Full fat, skim… it’s all good!

2) Mix two tablespoons of yogurt and two tablespoons of milk in a small dish.  Set aside.

3) Heat 1 quart (32 ounces) of milk to about 180 degrees Fahrenheit (80 degrees Celsius).  Do this slowly to avoid burning.

...like so!

4) Carefully pour the hot milk into your Container.  I use a Pyrex mixing bowl, but Corningware would work too.  I just don’t want plastic particles to melt into my yogurt and the conductivity of metal would make handling hot liquids difficult.

5) Cool to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius).  You can let it sit or put it in a partially filled sink of ice water if you want to speed things up.

Note the happy frog scrubby holder. This is critical to making good yogurt.

6) Once cooled, pour the yogurt and milk mixture from earlier down the side of the container, so as not to disturb any skin that may have formed on top.  Do not stir.

7) Cover your container with a clean dish cloth (don’t seal it!) and place it somewhere warm and dry where it won’t be disturbed.  I like to hedge my bets by placing it on an electric blanket on medium-low heat.

8 ) Come back in 8-12 hours!  The longer you wait the more tangy the yogurt will be.  Wait much longer than 12 hours and you may find it too sour.

9) Carefully drain any excess liquid off the top.  This, by the way, is called whey (there’s my pun!) and you can add it to smoothies for extra protein if you like.

10) Refrigerate until cold, and enjoy!

Really what we’re doing is “extending” the yogurt.  The initial heating breaks down the proteins, and the continued low heat allows the bacterial cultures to replicate and convert the milk into yogurt.  Putting it in the fridge causes the cultures to cease and desist.  It may sound a little gross, but it’s the basic principle of making all sorts of dairy products, and these cultures are beneficial!

You may find homemade yogurt to be runnier than storebought, simply because many of those brands have thickening agents added.   You can thicken it at home through the following steps:

1) Place a colander in a larger bowl or the sink and line it with cheesecloth

2) Pour the yogurt into it.

3) Bring together the corners of the cloth and twist them to squeeze extra whey out.  Tie it up tight and let it drain for a couple hours.

4) Give it one last squeeze.

You should get a thick, greek-style yogurt!  Unfortunately this will come at the cost of about half your total weight…sadface.

Now just remember save a couple tablespoons for the next batch!  You can keep this going indefinitely if you’re careful.  I have heard that you can freeze samples in an ice cube tray for later, which may be helpful if you’re the kind of person who regularly finds furry blue creatures nesting in your leftovers…like me…

I’ll let you do your own research on the health benefits of yogurt,  but here’s a start with the Globe and Mail’s recent headline: A Yogurt a Day may keep Heart Disease Away.   Enjoy!