Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Best Cereal Ever! Grain-free Granola

So, along with birthing a baby, recovery from said birth, homeschooling, ministry, etc., you know, all the normal day stuff, I've crazily developed an allergy to the protein in egg whites. It is incredibly taxing going from being able to eat something for 30+ years to having to watch everything you eat or you'll end up violently ill. Trust me, not fun. And then there is the inevitable craving of a cheesy Denver omelet or the amazing snack if a hard-boiled egg. To top that, I've been trying to limit my grain intake to see if my eczema (a.k.a. Freaky skin disease) will improve. So that greatly limits my breakfast options, which would have been low anyway since I gave up boxed cereal after reading this article by the Weston A. Price Foundation (did you realize your cereal kills rats?)

Anywho, on my search for morning sustenance, I stumbled across the paleo plethora of grain-free granola. Enter my new obsession. This stuff is incredible! Not only does it keep me full all the way to lunch and beyond, but it's chock full of yummy goodness. Now while the less refined palates of my men (little and big) still prefer death-in-a-box, I long for my bowl of perfection. So I thought I'd share the wealth and give a breakdown.
The Players

First, the "cereal" base. This is the foundation to the perfect bowl, but even this is customizable to your taste or experimentation, which I encourage.

In equal parts which will resemble cereal flakes:
Sliced raw almonds
Flaked coconut, unsweetened (not the sugary small stuff)

In equal parts, your coater, melted together:
Coconut oil (which is awesome, but you could use butter or olive oil, just please do your body a favor and avoid franken-oils!!!)
Honey, 100% maple syrup or molasses

For instance, if I had 1 cup of both almonds and coconut, I personally would use an eye-balled 1/4 cup of both oil and sweetener.

Now comes the fun part, the additions. Now it'd be perfectly good as is, but I always like more. Things to add:

Chopped raw pecans, walnuts, macadamia nuts, cashews, etc.

Raw sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseed meal, etc.

Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, etc.

Pumpkin purée, applesauce, mashed bananas, pear sauce, etc.

The possibilities are limitless! Just get it in your bowl and stir it up! You'll want to increase your coaters to cover your ingredients, but not drown.
For instance, my combo in the pictures is almonds, coconut, coconut oil, maple syrup, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin purée, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract. After putting everything together, my mixture was soupy with liquid pooling in the bowl, so I continued to add coconut (would've also added almonds, but ran out!!!!) until it wasn't soupy. Not exact science, I know but it'd be hard to mess it up, at this level at least. Spread it into a baking sheet.
Before baking; not too soupy, not too dry

Now comes the step where potential to mess up is great, trust me, I've been there more than I'd like to admit! Preheat your oven to 275. You could go lower, but please, please do not go higher!!! I'm serious! I've had many batches go in the trash and have eaten just as many that were Cajun-style, thinking I'll just watch it closely and get it out of the oven on time. It doesn't work, so please don't try!

Anyways, bake 275 for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring every 15 minutes. At 45 minutes, I start checking it every 5 minutes because it can go from golden goodness to crispy blackness quite quickly!

Take out, stir so it doesn't stick to the pan and let cool.
Golden brown perfection

To serve, is another palate adventure. You could eat it as is, but I like to add extras as I eat it (that way I can go with my cravings and not be stuck!):

Dried cherries, cranberries, chopped dates, apricots, dried apples, fresh berries, banana slices, chocolate chips (yep, I eat chocolate for breakfast occasionally)

Eat it by the handful, with milk or in yogurt. The other day I warmed up coconut milk and poured that over it, making an incredibly yummy hot cereal! The great thing about it is it's versatility and the fact that when I'm distracted by munchkins, it's not soggy 30 minutes later! I'm tellin' you, you need to try it! Then let new know your favorite combos!

My favorite breakfast, lunch, dinner & late night snack!!!!

Amazon.com saves us in time and money living out here in rural Alaska. I'm not sure what I'd do without free shipping and online ordering! Here are some of the items I use in this recipe.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Homeschool Epiphany

Hello! Yes, I know I've been gone for quite some time, but I have some pretty good excuses (though they are just excuses, and I should've tried a wee bit harder to write this summer...and fall!) So let me take a minute to update everyone on the Blackard family happenings.

On June 21st at 11:47 pm, we welcomed our Sadie Marie into the world. She just turned 5 months old and is so sweet. She loves her brothers, is sleeping through the night and is very,very tall.

Both sets of grandparents came to visit. We shared a garden with our good friends the Abels, bought 3.65 acres of raw land (woohoo, our own Alaskan cabin here we come!), and raised our ducks. So we've been busy.

We also started 1st grade this year, which brings me to this post and the restart of this blog. This year I decided to try Sonlight Core B curriculum with their science. We are continuing with RightStart math, since we enjoyed it last year. When the Sonlight box arrived, I was ecstatic! Tons of books, which are my favorite.

Yet after our first quarter, I was a little frustrated. Tucker is doing amazingly in reading, loves learning about animals and overall does well with school. But, it seems there is a disconnect. I'm trying to get all the facts, do all the assignments in the curriculum and get through the books. Math especially does not seem to be connecting. Now don't get me wrong. Tucker can spout answers and fill in worksheets with the best of them, but it just doesn't seem to be deep rooted knowledge. And the rest of school is the same. Aaaugh! This is not the homeschool I always dreamed of.

Enter the epiphany in the form of a book: The Three R's by Ruth Beechick.
Now I've had this book since July 2011, but like a lot of books that could help, I put it on the shelf and forgot about it. Until this week. In my desperation, I started reading it and couldn't put it down! I read the whole book in 1-1/2 days (which is a difficult task with a baby, two boys and Thanksgiving!!) The amount if wealth on reading, writing and arithmetic was more helpful than all I've read combined. Like with most epiphanies, the ah-ha moment was followed by the man-I-wasted-good-money moment. She explains the different modes of thinking our children go through, manipulative, mental image and abstract, and how most textbooks require children to think abstractly before they are mentally ready to, causing them to have the disease she calls "Arithmetic Anxiety", which I was seeing in Tucker and I know I have. Her solutions are so simple it's ridiculous! And math was just the tip if the education iceberg she exposed.

Now it's not a cure all book. However, if I had read it last year, I could have saved a lot of headache, heartache and budget. I will be using this as a tool throughout the next three years and have put her second book "You Can Teach Your Child Successfully" on my must read soon list. As we implement our changes, I'll keep you updated!

Have you had a homeschool epiphany?

Get The Three R's here:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Homeschool Giveaway

So I was going to www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com to look for some ideas to improve our school day when I stumbled upon a great giveaway being held. Now I'm one for winning free stuff and with the amount of items being raffled off, who could resist trying to win (though I hope my losing streak with raffles lately is done!)

Looking over the prizes, it is hard to pick one that would be totally and completely awesome to win, but if I don't win the big shebang I'm hoping to at least win the Hearts At Home giveaway of Switched-On Schoolhouse curriculum (I'm a sucker for a curriculum I have to do little planning for--judge me if you will, but I know my weakness!)

If you are a homeschooler or are thinking of homeschooling, sign up for the giveaway and the wealth of great information!

Sign up here http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/blog/2012/11/black-friday-giveaway.html

God Bless!