Category: WFW Skin Edition

Skin edition is a less science-based, more fun-based approach to experimenting in the kitchen*. Each entry contains a recipe for a topical, all natural application for the skin that is paired with an edible recipe with the some of the same ingredients. I’m learning as I go, so not all recipes will be final versions, but you are welcome to experiment with me and let me know what changes you would make. Have fun and enjoy!

*I am a nutrition expert, not a skincare expert. I have no dermatological training, so use common sense – if you are allergic to a food when you consume it, don’t rub it into your skin.

DIY shiny hair masque (+cinnamon yogurt quickbread)

yogurtmaskIt’s been a long time since I posted a Skin Edition recipe!

Winter is fully upon us here in the northeast, and so is the less-loved phenomenon of brittle, dry hair.  My hair seems to be more sensitive…there’s a lot of it, but it’s very fine and even with a trim every 3 months the split ends are hard to keep away and it loses its luster.  This recipe is for a moisturizing hair masque, and the leftover yogurt mixture folds nicely into a lovely quickbread loaf.  Enjoy!

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After shot: the shine is back!


  • 1 cup whole greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey


Combine all ingredients, whisking until evenly mixed.  Remove 1/2 cup of the mixture and rub gently into the bottom 2/3 of hair shaft (over a sink! over a sink!).  Gently wrap into a bun and secure with a loose hairtie; cover hair with a shower cap to avoid smearing. (Alternatively; wrap your hair in plastic wrap.)  Wash normally after 30-60 minutes.

Cinnamon Yogurt Quickbread


  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly grease a loaf pan. Add milk to the rest of the yogurt mixture and stir.  Combine the other dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and then pour the wet ingredients in.  Stir until just combined and then scrape into loaf pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, until light brown and set.  Remove from pan to cool before slicing.

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Soft and spongy!

RecipeRedux: Rosehip & ginger chia tea

As part of this month’s RecipeRedux, we’re posting healthier drinks…lots of great ones were posted yesterday, and today’s batch is on its way up!2014-02-22 09.55.44

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I wanted to do something different, and I recently came into the possession of some rose hips (thanks Meghaen & Wafa!) so this was the perfect time to use them.  Rose hips are the fruit part of a wild rose blossom, and have been used for thousands of years medicinally – they actually have a pretty good body of evidence for their use as an antioxidant (they’re really high in Vitamin C!), to treat osteoarthritis, and to ease menstrual symptoms (can’t hate that!), according to the Natural Standard Database.

The ones I have are dried, so I brewed a tea, added some other flavors and chia, and apparently can now use the rehydrated petals in salads or to make jelly or a syrup.  All of these ingredients can be used topically, too, so set a side a small amount to use as a toner – just swipe on clean skin with a cotton ball overnight.  An ingredient I’ve never tried before, with this many applications?  Amazing!  Pick some up the next time you have the chance.2014-02-21 15.08.04

Rose hip & ginger chia tea (can be served hot or cold!)


  • 2 L water
  • 1 c dried rose hips
  • 2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • Zest (or peels) of half a lemon
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1/4 chia seeds

Heat the water until it reaches a simmer.  Add to a pitcher with the rose hips, ginger, and lemon peel.  Steep for 5 minutes, then drain or sift out petals.  Add honey and chia seeds, stir to mix.  Drink warm or chill and serve with lemon garnish over ice. (Taste a petal!)

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Costa Rica Coffee Farm (+spiced coffee body scrub)

The best part of my trip to Costa Rica was our tour of Don Juan coffee farm.  It was completely interactive and took us through every stage of coffee cultivation, and included tastes and recipes (spicy hot mocha anyone?).  They also grew chocolate and sugar cane.  Who wouldn’t love a place with all those things?  And since we went right before Christmas, several members of the family got coffee and chocolate as gifts – and I thought I’d give myself the gift of coffee, too.

My last experiment with a coffee scrub went pretty well, but I figured adding spices to the mix would up the level of flavor and make it smell even better!  Scroll through a picture tour of our visit and try using your coffee grounds to get rid of dry winter skin after your next brewing!  I’m treating myself to an at-home spa day to close out 2013 🙂

2013-12-15 16.02.32 How they hauled hundreds of pounds of coffee before tractors – with cows!

2013-12-15 16.07.57First stop: a green house to learn the life cycle of coffee beans, from seedling to fruit-bearing plant

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Coffee pickers wear baskets that they fill before dumping into a larger container.  I volunteered to get strapped in 🙂

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It’s kind of like picking blueberries.

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Each berry has two coffee beans inside…they’re white, and covered in a slimy coating – the guide encouraged us to taste them!  The gel is sweet, but the beans taste straw-like (nothing like coffee).

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This machine separates the beans from the pods

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They’re spread on the floor of another greenhouse to dry out

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Then they’re ready for roasting – like a cement mixer, this machine has a rotating bin so beans are evenly roasted on all sides

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Sugar cane is a fast growing crop…

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ach segment of the cane takes about a month to grow.  After the juice is pressed out, the fiberous stems are fed to livestock.

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Cocoa in its pod.

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Cocoa after fermenting, drying, and de-shelling

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You can speed up the de-shelling with a big mallet; Ali demonstrates

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Ground cocoa nibs with cocoa butter, pepper, and sugar – just add hot water for a delicious drink!

Spiced Coffee Body Scrub


  • 1/2 c brewed coffee grounds
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg (I added those before brewing, but you could also add after if you don’t want flavored coffee)
  • 1/3 c sugar (I used white, you could also use brown – granules of raw sugar are a bit too large)
  • 2-3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted (depending on how wet your grounds are)

Blend together in a bowl.  In the shower, scrub on body (too rough for face!) after cleansing and rinse/wipe off with a washcloth.  The grounds and sugar will exfoliate while the oil locks in moisture.

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Sunburn soother: Aloe Avocado Alleviator (+aloe mango popsicles)

Every year, I vow that this will be a burn-free summer.  Every year (and usually within the first 2 weeks), I underestimate the power of the sun like a tan-seeking Icarus and find myself pink and pained.

In my defense, this time I looked for my sunscreen before going to market, couldn’t find it, and told myself that I’d just stay under the tent.  Surely a flowy boat-neck tee would cover most of me, anyway?


So I whipped up – literally – 3 ingredients with skin-soothing, redness-reducing, and burn-alleviating properties – aloe, avocado, and yogurt.  I slathered it on, and since when you’re burned you pretty much think the idea of anything icy sounds amazing (and “how much of one’s body can really fit into the freezer” isn’t the most energy-efficient game), I added honey and mango and froze the rest of the batch into popsicles.  Creamy, rich, and delicious – these are pops with a nutritious punch!


  • 1 avocado
  • 1 c plain greek yogurt
  • 1/3 c fresh aloe (yes, it’s edible!)
  • 1.5 c mango (fresh or defrosted)
  • 2 Tbsp honey (or to taste – try the batter before you freeze to see if you’d like it sweeter!)

In a blender or food processor, whip the first 3 ingredients until smooth (see pictures below for how to cut aloe).  Remove as much as you need to put on your burn!  (Place on top of skin; cooling will happen instantly! Leave it on until it dries and then remove with a we paper towel, or for overnight, put on an old t-shirt and shower in the morning.)  Add the mango and honey to the rest of the mixture in the blender and puree again until smooth.  Pour into popsicle holders, or use champagne glasses and spoons! (Note: they can be a bit cumbersome to get out of the glasses; paper cups would also work!)

IMAG2421 Huge, right?IMAG2422 Chop off bottom.IMAG2423 Slice a section about two inches wide.IMAG2424 Cut down the side to remove spines.IMAG2425 Slice of the back, flat part.IMAG2426 Using a filleting technique, run the knife under the gel to remove.  IMAG2427 Add to blender with other ingredients!IMAG2428 Puree until smooth.IMAG2429 Pour, freeze, and enjoy!IMAG2448

Silky legs in a bottle + orange & oat scones


I pinned this recipe for a homemade body scrub ages ago, and finally got around to trying it!  My legs are definitely exfoliated and soft, so try this one!!  It is as simple and easy as it seems, and even after two applications as she advises, there’s still a lot leftover.

And I was making scones.

So I did a little experiment, and it turned out pretty deliciously.P1030049

I left sugar out of the scone batter, so I used the oil/sugar/lemon juice scrub mixture as a topper, which caramelized for a nice, sweet crunch with only a few teaspoons of sugar per scone.


  • 1 c oats, ground in a blender or food processor
  • 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c all purpose flour
  • 4 Tbsp cold butter
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c milk
  • zest from an orance
  • 1/3 c mini chocolate chips
  • 1/3 c “silky legs” lemon scrub mixture, for topping

Preheat oven to 425F. Blend the oats, flours, baking soda and salt in a blender (or bowl, by hand).  Add the butter and use a dough setting on the blender, or a fork or pastry cutter to incorporate into flour.  Place in a bowl, then stir in zest and chocolate chips.  Mix egg and milk, then pour into dry ingredients and stir until evenly mixed – don’t over-blend!  Drop with a spoon onto a baking sheet (leave lots of space, see below!), then pour a spoonful of the body scrub onto each one.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.

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Whoops.  Don’t put them too close together!


Tropical pudding parfait + coconut pineapple face toner

I’m always on the lookout for ingredients that double as both delicious to eat and beneficial for your skin – it’s the concept that this whole blog is based on – and this one was low-hanging fruit.  Or should I say nut?

Coconut water is what’s sloshing around inside those green, under-ripe coconuts – it’s thin, sweet liquid loaded with more potassium than a banana, and only 11g of sugar per cup.


It’s truly best straight from the coconut, which I got to enjoy on the beach here in Miami a few months ago.  Unfortunately, unless you have an extra large purse and a man with a machete hanging around to crack them open for you, they’re a little bit impractical.  Not Mother Nature’s best packaging job (she did so well with the banana…what happened?!).  Lucky for us, the coconut water industry has blown up in the past few years, and you can buy it at almost all grocery stores in convenient, lightweight bottles.

Since winter finally seems to be leaving us alone for the year, here’s a little recipe for a moisturizing rinse-off toner to refresh skin for spring that takes advantage of coconut water’s hydrating properties and the glycolic acid found in pineapple to remove dead skin and oil.  Trust me – you’ll want to lick your lips after this one!


  • 1 c coconut water
  • 1 c pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 a large banana
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 4 Tbsp chia seeds

Slice the pineapple.


Puree the chunks with the coconut water in a blender.


Remove about 2 Tbsp – this is your toner.  Add the banana and honey to the rest of the mixture in the blender and mix on high until smooth.  Pour into a sealable container, and stir in chia seeds.  Refrigerate for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent chunks.

Layer with greek yogurt for a protein and fiber packed breakfast (this one definitely fits my 5 Rules for Healthy Breakfast) or snack and bask in the sun with your revitalized skin!



By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Vita Coco and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time or the product.

Homemade Fruit by the Foot + Brightening Strawberry-Banana Mask

Between the ages of 7-10, I would have done almost anything for a Fruit by the Foot.

If you don’t remember, or weren’t a 4th grader in the 90’s, this is basically a flat, sticky gummy strip wrapped in paper that you could peel off and eat a bit at a time, or smoosh into a blob.  Either way, you were guaranteed a sugar bomb of rubber that stuck to the roof of your mouth and teeth.  (Trust me, every kid LOVES this experience.)


Fast forward 20 years, and you might have to actually pay me to eat one of these.  While they may be high in [added] Vitamin C and low in fat (duh…they’re almost 100% sugar…), these do not a healthy treat make, and a lawsuit was even filed because of deceptive claims in 2011.

The good news: it’s easy to make your own!  And these fruit leathers aren’t just “made with real fruit:” they ARE real fruit.  Bonus byproduct: a mask that brightens complexion and helps keep skin soft.


  • 2 bananas
  • 1 lb strawberries
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/4 c honey


Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth.  Remove ~2Tbsp to use as your mask.  Pour the rest into a pot on the stove, heat on high while stirring for 10 minutes to develop the pectin in the fruit.  Spray your slow cooker with a light layer of oil, and pour in the hot mixture from the stove. Heat UNcovered on low setting (you’re trying to dry here, so if the lid is on, you’ll only ever have a hot fruit soup!) for 10-12 hours or until desired consistency.  Run a knife around the edges and peel up; slice into strips and roll!  Great idea for a snack on the go, hiking, traveling, or camping.


Warning: these are JUST as addictive as Fruit by the Foot…I could have easily polished off the whole batch during my, ahem, quality control checks while slicing.  It’s still a good bit of natural sugar, but of course coupled with fiber won’t digest as quickly.

Treat yourself to a relaxing bath and the mask – just apply to face, and rinse off with water after 10 minutes. (Fruit by the Face? 😉


Mug cake, revisited + chocolate facial

Welcome to the Festival of Food Carnival. In celebration of the tradition of Easter chocolates, we’re sharing recipe ideas for healthier alternatives – sweets and treats featuring real cocoa. Hosted by Diary of a First Child and Hybrid Rasta Mama, you’re welcome to join us next time, or if you have a previously published recipe you’d like to share, add it to the linky below.

Well, confession time: this past week I’ve had a dangerous flirtation with some mug cakes.  Flirting that might have led to something more…something like eating a mug cake every night for the past 5 days…

I may be a dietitian, but I’m a human first, ok!  And I gave up alcohol for Lent, so that healthy evening treat has left a hole.

A hole that wants to be filled with chocolate cake.

To be fair, I have still eaten lots of fruits and veggies and been exercising every day, so I don’t think that this will have too many negative repercussions, but a calorie-laden sugar bomb is not an ideal finish to the day for anyone.  So I worked out a compromise, and came up with this recipe to make a chocolate mug cake that’s a bit healthier…enjoy, and let me know if you try it!


For the cake:

  • 2 Tbsp quick cooking plain oats
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1.5 Tbsp cocoa
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • (note: I didn’t have any on hand, but I strongly suspect a bit (~2tsp?) of applesauce would do nicely in addition here too!)

For the icing:

  • 4 Tbsp part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 4 tsp cocoa
  • 2 tsp honey


Mix all the dry ingredients for the cake part in a mug with a fork.  Add the oil, honey, and water, and stir until evenly blended.  Pop in the microwave for 2-3 minutes (depending on how strong your ‘wave is).  It’s done when it looks done..and is spongy but not gooey to a light touch.  Scrape around the sides with a knife, and immediately invert onto a plate.  For the “icing,” just mix the 3 ingredients listed until smooth, and schmear up that lil cake…you should only need about half (~2 Tbsp) of what you mixed.


The rest of the “icing” can be used as a hydrating facial! (Some sites claim that cocoa is good for protecting skin from sun and increasing blood flow, and honey has antiseptic properties.)  It rubs into skin really well, and serves as a nice cooling mask that smells delicious:


Enjoy with a fork.


See how jealous the little honey bear was that he didn’t get any?!


Please take a moment to visit the blogs of our other Festival of Food participants. The links in this list will be live by the end of the day, as participants are all in different time zones.

Stay connected! Be sure to “Like” the Festival of Food Carnival Facebook page.

Banish Winter Skin in 2 hours + Basil Parm Polenta

If you have:

  • Dry, cracked cuticles
  • Ashy elbows and knees
  • Skin that feels rough, lacks luster, softness, and touchability

Then this one’s for you 🙂

You CAN have soft, silky skin in the middle of winter – if you have 2 hours and a few inexpensive tools, and follow these steps.

And, since some of the ingredients in my all-natural moisturizing exfoliant are the same as polenta, you can also have a delicious meal to eat at the end 🙂

What you’ll need:


  1. Light weights or a resistance band and a Pinterest workout or two
  2. A 16-oz glass of water
  3. A box of baking soda
  4. A clean washcloth
  5. A scrubby viscose mitt (details in Step 4, below!)
  6. A nail clipper or cuticle trimmer
  7. The below recipe (containing cornmeal, olive or canola oil, and dry basil)

Do ahead: make the basil cornmeal body scrub (a version of the vanilla scrub I did previously).  In a mixing bowl, blend 1c cornmeal, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, and 1 Tbsp dried basil.  Add 1/4 c oil, and mix until coated – there should be loose clumps.  Remove 1/3 c of the mixture; place in a separate bowl.  Add another 1/4c of oil to what you just put in the bowl, and stir with a fork.  It will be grainy but fluid (see bowl on the right, below).
IMAG1660Bring that bowl along to the tub, and follow the below!

Let’s get started.

Step 1 (15 minutes): Warming your body from the inside out.
Working up a sweat opens pores and heats up your body, making exfoliation easier, and we’re not going to mess around with just shower steam – for this, you gotta MOVE!  I used these two exercise boards from Pinterest and the “Workout” playlist on Pandora to crank some tunes.  My room is 11×11 – no excuses of space or equipment (I jumped rope with an invisible cord) here!


Step 2 (5 minutes): Pound a glass of water
You just got a little sweaty, and you’re about to sweat more – hydration is key for healthy skin!  Drink up.

Step 3 (30 minutes): A warm bath
Time to soften up your skin.  Draw a nice warm bath, and dump in the box of baking soda – it’ll help the softening process and loosen the dead layer on top.  Bring a book.  Light a candle.  Play some music and relax, being sure to submerge as much of yourself as possible.

Step 4 (30 minutes): A cleansing shower
After you drain the tub, just shower normally – face, soap, shampoo…I won’t boss you around at this point, you’ve been doing this for years – and then it’s time to let that sweat and baking soda show you what it did.  I want to tell you about a handy little tool I discovered at a Korean day spa: the exfoliating mitt.


And cheap. Try the Amazon version – 8 pcs Asian Exfoliating Bath Washcloth – Red & Green – for around $2.50 a pop.  (They’re washable and reusable, you may never need to buy them again!  The packaging is all in Korean, so all I can tell you for sure is that they are 100% viscose, and are DELUXE, the only parts clearly stated in English.)


Start using in small circular motions around your wrist and then moving up.  This is the part where it gets a little gross, but is totally compelling. You will be simultaneously appalled that you had so much dead skin, and fascinated…that you have so much dead skin.


See those white flecks?  Isn’t it kind of disgusting?  Sorry if you’re grossed out.  But trust me, this process is amazing.  It should take you 10-15 minutes to be thorough on your whole body – ankles, feet, between your fingers, arms, legs, butt – do it ALL!  At the end, you will feel squeaky,silky clean.  Turn off the shower and towel off, but stay in the tub!

Step 5 (10 minutes): The moisturizing cornmeal scrub
Now you’ve succeeded in exfoliating, but your newly refreshed skin is delicate and at risk of losing moisture, so you want to lock in the steam from the shower before you dry out.  Grab your bowl of basil cornmeal scrub, and start rubbing!  The cornmeal will ensure that the oil is massaged into the small nooks and crannies of your skin and take care of any spots you missed exfoliating.  The basil will make you smell herby and lovely.  Again, be thorough here, especially around your feet and hands and parts that bend.

Step 6 (10 minutes): Rinse off
Well, you’re covered in bits of basil, pepper, and cornmeal, so it’s time to rinse off*.  Turn the shower back on (not too hot, as this can dry skin out) and rinse off – you’ll need a washcloth, but don’t use soap!  The basil also makes it easy to tell when you’ve gotten all your parts rinsed.

Step 7 (15 minutes): Dry off and trim
Dry yourself off thoroughly now, and chuck the towel in the hamper as you’ll probably get off some extra oil here too.  Your skin should feel moist, but not slick. Use a nail clipper or a cuticle trimmer to gently remove dead skin on your fingers and toes.

Step 8 (15 minutes): Paint nails (optional, but let’s face it, also kind of necessary at this point)
The two tricks to a salon-style paint job are:

  1. Never go all the way down to the cuticle and 
  2. Always use at least 2 coats of color and ALWAYS a top coat of clear polish to reflect the light better.

Pinterest tip that really works: spray your fingers and toes with PAM or sprayable olive oil to prevent dings!

My camera doesn’t take high enough resolution pictures to show the (huge) difference in my skin texture, but you can tell on the nails!  (Before, during and after pics below.)



Now that you’re dry and luscious, time for a small healthy meal – remember the rest of that cornmeal, the part you didn’t add extra oil too?  Well…toast it for a few minutes on high heat in a medium pan on the stove, then add 3c of water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, stirring regularly until it’s about the consistency of hummus.  You’ve just made polenta!  Fold in 1/2 c grated parmesan cheese, and serve with some broiled fish and spinach!


*Some notes and warnings:

  1. Be careful when rinsing the scrub in the shower – oil and water don’t mix, which means the tub might be slippery!  After you get out, use the washcloth and some soap to make sure it all goes down the drain.
  2. This is not for your face.  Stick to the neck down.
  3. Warning: your skin will FEEL AWESOME.  Try to refrain from inviting too many people to touch you.

Have a relaxing and wonderful #SkinEditionSunday!  Stay classy, healthy, and happy (and if you try this, let me know how it goes!)

Brightening Oatmeal Mask + 3-ingredient Cookies

On this chilly, quiet Sunday I decided to finally pay better attention to my dry winter skin.  Banana is great for moisturizing, and the enzymes are supposed to help get rid of dead skin, while oatmeal soothes and lemon juice brightens.

Ok ok, so I can’t take credit for this inspiration…ever since I saw this 2-ingredient cookie recipe go viral on Pinterest, I wanted to try it in combo and divert some of the “batter” to being a face treatment.

Oh by the way…WhyFoodWorks is on Pinterest now!  I’ll be posting things by what part of the meal they belong in, plus a special board for particularly innovative kitchen gadgets or DIYs.

So here’s what you do:


  • 3 bananas
  • 1.5 c rolled oats
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1/4c mini chocolate chips (optional)


Put the ingredients in a bowl.


Mix with a blender.  Separate out about 2 cookie’s worth; put aside for your facial!


Stir in the chocolate chips; portion onto a greased cookie sheet OR use a Silicone Baking Mat Set (2 pk.) Non Stick Surface(these things are SO worth purchasing…NOTHING sticks to them!



Bake for 15-17 minutes at 350F.

Meanwhile, put the oatmeal you set aside on your face; leave it on for as long as it takes the cookies to bake, then remove (probably put it back in the bowl and throw away, rather than putting it down the sink or shower as it’s pretty thick!)

Enjoy with some tea.  Ahh.  Look at that, my emails are practically writing themselves.