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Unwrapped Recipe: Chocolate Strawberry Cookies

Our Unwrapped Recipes feature ingredients that can frequently be found in grocery stores without excess packaging. Have one to share? We'd love to hear it!

Iconnected with Katie Blauser of Eat Pretty Darling not long after I joined Instagram. I was immediately drawn to her bright photos of beautiful and easy-to-assemble meals. Clean, nutritious food presented in a fun and inviting way. She’s a mom of three boys, foodie, and professional photographer. Meet Katie!

So which came first for you: the food or the photography? Professionally, the photography came first! But I started a major love of food as a young girl. Many of my favorite childhood memories revolve around a recipe or a meal shared with loved ones. I also plan all vacations around where to eat. I never pursued cooking as a career until I started blogging, although I was taking pictures of my food before it was "cool". I got my college degree in Commercial Photography, and went on to photograph weddings, families, and events for 10 years. I’ve since moved on to branding photography and content creation, and get to do a mashup of photography and recipe development! It's really a dream come true.

What kinds of things do you have in store for us this year? At the end of 2020 we were hit with the news that my oldest son ( 5 ) has celiac disease. He's also my pickiest eater, so it has been a huge learning process for us. I hope to share more about the disease and how we handle it in our house. Luckily we live in a time that there are a ton of amazing gluten free companies making food that is safe and yummy for my kiddo to eat. So expect to see gluten free recipes, more picky eater tips, new Darling Delivery kits, and maybe even a book ;)

What’s the most recent thing you’ve learned about eco-conscious living? Those milk and beverage cartons are recyclable!! I recently had the opportunity to spread awareness on carton recycling. Working with the Carton Council taught me a lot, and I love getting to work with brands to share more about these topics!

Although Katie isn’t making her amazing 4-ingredient cookies these days (many celiacs can have a reaction to oats), they remain a staple in our house. They’re nutritious, quick to make, and extremely versatile. And with oats (a very common bulk bin item) as a key ingredient, this recipe is a win on so many levels!

CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY COOKIES

1 ripe banana, mashed

3/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup diced strawberries

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix all ingredients together and spoon out onto a silicone baking mat liner cookie sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Makes around 6-8 cookies!

You can find more of Katie’s pretty healthy, pretty yummy, and pretty fun recipes on IG @eatprettydarling and at eastprettydarling.com!

How to Drink More Water

AAnyone else go through phases with their water consumption? I find that when my routine is the same day after day, like during the school year, it’s easier to maintain a steady water-drinking plan. Before the days of Big Bee, Little Bee, when I used to work in an office, I spent about 6 hours at my desk and had a 20-minute commute. I was excellent with my water-drinking routine during that time.

I’d drink a bottle of water on the drive to work, a bunch mid-morning, more mid-afternoon, and another bottle on my way hope. Except for that one very uncomfortable situation on the freeway* the routine worked really well for me. Having a regular schedule like that made it easy to remember to drink my water.

Although I no longer work in an office 20 minutes from my home, I still have a fairly regular routine and am I able to plan my water intake. But when schedules get a little more irregular, like during the summer, I can easily forget to drink it consistently. And summer’s certainly not an ideal time to stop drinking water considering that the higher temperatures make dehydration more likely!

Scheduling your water intake is just one way to make sure you get enough of it throughout the day. Here are some of the strategies I use most frequently:

Set an Alarm

Just not remembering to take those swigs? There are plenty of ways to get a virtual tap on the shoulder. If you type “water tracker” into your phone’s app store, you’ll find several well-reviewed freemium water tracking apps. Alternatively, you can build daily “water appointments” into your calendar program, or even just set plain old alarms. The thing that feels the most comfortable to you is perfect!


Make it Taste Good

Or at least make it taste less bad.

My husband is one of those admirable people who like the taste of water. He sips on it all day because he enjoys drinking it. Me? Nope. Don’t like the taste at all. If it weren’t so good for my health, I probably wouldn’t touch the stuff.

To make water more palatable, I almost always doctor it up in a small way. My go-to flavoring is lemon juice, and when I’m at home I just pour a bit of it right into the bottle. When I’m out and about and refilling my bottle, I bring some packets of dried lemon juice to add to it. There are a bunch of other options available too, like grapefruit, lime, and some blends. I like these.

If you want to get fancy, you can fill a pitcher with water and drop in some fruit or cucumber. Give it some time, and the flavor will infuse the water. I tried this method a few times, but the habit didn’t stick. I quickly lost motivation to prep the fruits, and the flavor wasn’t strong enough for me.

If you go the flavor packet route, I recommend reading the ingredients. There are some companies out there marketing drink mixes as water enhancers. I fell for one of these “water enhancers,” only to get home and find out that the packet contained all sorts of stuff, including artificial color and sweetener. While that may be a lovely drink, it isn’t water.

Use a Wide Straw

For some reason, you can drink more quickly when you drink through a straw, rather than sipping straight from a cup or bottle. I’m sure there’s a scientific reason behind it, but I’m not going to pretend to know what it is. All I know is that it works.

What works even better is drinking through a wide straw. You want to get the job done quickly? This hack is your best bet. The diameter of a typical drinking straw like our Classic Build-A-Straw is about 6mm, whereas the diameter of our Extra Wide Build-A-Straw is 8mm. 2mm may not seem like much of a difference, but it makes a big difference when it comes to drinking water.

Check out the pic of the pitcher I use when I’m sitting at my desk. Big old pitcher, big old straw.

Stick with Room Temp

Nothing beats a big bottle of ice water on a hot day or after a workout (or so I hear…I’m personally allergic to working out). But while it feels so refreshing and helps you cool down a bit, you’ve probably noticed that you can only drink a bit of it at a time. After a big swig, the muscles in your neck will start telling you to pause.

As a childhood voice actor and jingle singer, I was in and out of recording studios all the time. In every sound booth there would be several bottles of water, and they were always room temperature—never refrigerated. Why not ice water? Because ice and very cold water can constrict the muscles that surround your vocal cords, and that in turn decreases the flexibility of the cords. Everything tightens up in there when the muscles get “shocked” by the cold.

When you’re trying to hit a water quantity goal, it makes sense to choose the temperature that will go down easily, so you can drink more of it at one time. And that’s going to be room temp.

For some people, going from all ice water all the time to room temperature water can be a big change, but it’s worth trying to get comfortable with it. If you’re used to having 8 ice cubes in your water bottle, trying taking small steps and cut it down to 7, then 6, and so on.

That said, if you truly can’t stand the room temperature water, just go ahead and stick with the cold. If you’re completely miserable while drinking your water, it’s highly unlikely that you’re not going to make the whole water thing a habit.

Drink Between Cups of Coffee

If you want to start your day on the right (hydration) note, drink some water before your first cup of coffee or tea. And then drink another before your second cup—if you have one.

Yes, I know this can be a lot to ask (one of my best friends can barely walk to her coffee maker without first having a cup of coffee), but it’ll be worth it to try. Caffeinated drinks like coffee cause you to lose water, so for every caffeinated cup you need more water.

Try keeping your bottle of water on your nightstand so it’s ready to drink in the morning. Do you scroll through social before you get out of bed? Sip while you do.

Can’t imagine drinking anything before your first cup of coffee? Commit to drinking at least the same number of ounces in water right after that coffee cup is empty. After a while, alternating coffee and water can become part of your routine.

Get a Water Bottle that Makes You Happy

Most of the time, I’m a “use what you have on hand” kind of person. In this case, I’m not. Drinking more water requires motivation, and I’m not sure that a faded plastic bottle that says “Team Building Exercise '99”** is very motivating. I love my water bottle. There’s nothing terribly special about it, but I like looking at it and I like filling it.

I suggest getting one you like to look at and would feel good taking out with you in public. Since you’ll be taking it out with you, you’ll probably want to consider one that’s lightweight and leak-proof as well. Maybe with a handle or strap. I love my silicone-wrapped glass bottle, but it’s not leakproof and it’s definitely not lightweight. While pretty to look at, I wouldn’t recommend it for use on-the-go.

Refill Before you Need To

Did you just finish the last bit of water in your bottle? Get up and refill it. Don’t let it sit there empty. Make sure there’s always water very close at hand for the next moment you’re ready to sip.

*I was on the freeway about 5 exits from my office when traffic came to a complete stop. I was basically parked between two exits, so there was absolutely no way to get off the freeway. We sat there in park for almost an hour, and I’d already finished my bottle of water. In that moment, I was cursing my water routine. LOUDLY.

**Ok, "Team Building Exercise '99" is technically a Flight of the Conchords reference, which would definitely make me happy. So I suppose this was a poor example if you're a Flight of the Conchords fan.