Tuesday, July 13, 2010
The kids eat oatmeal instead. They love oatmeal. They never even thought about cereal. Then they were introduced to fruity pebbles. We were at a church breakfast and there was a huge bowl of fruity pebbles, all colorful and sweet. They were really magical looking, and it didn't take long for my husband and two children to set themselves in front their little bowls of rainbows.
Shortly afterward I started hearing a lot of, "Why don't we have cereal?"
"Do you want the kid answer or the grownup answer?" I ask her.
Short pause to ponder, "Both."
"Well, the grown-up answer is that there are too many ingredients in that kind of cereal. All those ingredients have to get moved around the world to factories and that uses a lot of oil, and there isn't a lot of that left. The kid answer is that a lot of those ingredients aren't so good for you and are more of a treat food to eat every once an a while, and not for breakfast."
Silence. "But I like it."
"I know. But, hey! We can make our own cereal!"
Brightening, "Will it be colorful like the cereal at church!"
Oh man, no it won't little girl.
I have so many feelings when I am in the process of explaining things like this to my bright 4 year old. There is a large part of me that feels like I'm being really snobby, and I am self-conscious about that. I grew up on the foods I now tell my kids are "poisonous." We didn't have a lot of money and cheap food is just that. We ate mac n' cheese, ramen noodles, hot dos (in mac n' cheese), canned veggies, sugary cereal, processed American Cheese food, the whole deal. We didn't eat these things because my mother didn't love us, we ate them because they were a financial necessity. An alternative approach to diet was either unknown or unfeasible. I don't want my kids to be with other kids, see them eating something that I have made off-limits and have them tell the kids or a parent, "That food is poisonous and is killing the earth." At the same time, my kid demands answers that are real, and those are the real reasons we don't eat that sort of thing on the regular. I want them to have a sense of their responsibility to the earth and their bodies, and that means no fun cereal. Sorry.
We did make granola, though. She got to put all the ingredients in herself. She was mighty proud, and the the pride she took in seeing "her cereal" on the shelf seemed to make up for it's less flamboyant show in the bowl. When the supply gets low she looks to me and says with duty, "Almost time for me to make some more cereal," and this is the recipe she uses:
5 cups Regular rolled oats (not quick oats)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup melted butter or oil
1 t vanilla
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 T ground flax seeds
2 t cinnamon (or to taste, she likes a lot of cinnamon)
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup raisins
1/ cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Place oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, and flax in a large crockpot. Add the vanilla to the oil or butter. Pour oil or butter and honey over the oat mixture and stir until is it mixed through.
Cook on medium for 3 hours with the lid vented with BBQ skewers or set of kilter. Stir every 1/2 hour or when you can smell it cooking.
When the three hours are up, turn off the crockpot and add the rest of the ingredients.
I have found that the coconut over toasts and the fruit dries up too much if it is cooked along with the oats and nuts. You may want to experiment with the coconut, though. It is nice to have it toasted. It could probably be added after 2 hours and be fine.
Let the cereal cool and store in an airtight container.