Friday, April 26, 2013

Homemade Flavored Cheerios

If you know me or have read my post on the best cereal ever, you know that I'm not too terribly thrilled with boxed cereal.  The process the grains go through are just a little too scary for me.  Yet, despite my opinion, my family loves cereal.  In fact, they eat cereal pretty much everyday and will pick cereal above everything else offered.  Since it is not the only thing they eat, I'm not too worried about them dying like the rats whose diet consisted only of cornflakes, and we rarely, as in a few times a year, get anything sweeter than frosted mini-wheats or life.  The boys, like all kids I suppose, always ask for the flavored sugar-coated 'candy' found in the cereal aisle.  After running across a post on The Cupcake Project about making your own honey-nut O's, I thought to myself, 'Now why couldn't you make other flavors for Cheerios?"  Which led to today's experiment in homeschool...which flavors can we make for the morning bowl of cereal?

The Ingredients
So I started out by making the recipe found at The Cupcake Project and found it really was easy peasy in just 3 minutes!  This got me a little excited the possibilities here.  Think about it...I can get a double box of Cheerios at the store for around $7 here in Tok, less if I get it at Sam's in Fairbanks.  Flavored cereal of any kind is a lot more expensive with ingredients I don't even know how to pronounce!  (Really...check out how many ingredients are in Honey Nut Cheerios!!!)   Where my honey nut Cheerios has 3 ingredients: honey, pure almond extract and Cheerios.  Hmmmm.
Throwin' in the peanut butter
Helpers of all ages!

I then gathered the boys, had them test the batch, then asked them what flavors they wanted to try and make.  After looking up at me with scrunched noses and foreheads suggesting a brain overload may appear, I gave them the flavors I wanted to try and then they were off.  In the end, we ended up with 6 different ones to experiment with: strawberry, peanut butter, blueberry, chocolate, cinnamon roll, and apple cider.

The seven final products...& two smiling chefs.
We started out with the basic recipe then adjusted and added according to flavor.  Here's what we did:

The basic recipe:
2 tablespoons honey
2 cups of Cheerios (don't like Cheerios? Try corn flakes, rice krispies or bran flakes.)

2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon freeze dried strawberries, ground
2 cups Cheerios

Peanut Butter
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon peanut butter
2 cups Cheerios

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons freeze dried blueberries, ground
2 cups Cheerios

2 tablespoons honey
1-1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups Cheerios

Cinnamon Roll
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups Cheerios

Apple Cider
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon dry apple cider mix
2 cups Cheerios

Pick your flavor, put everything in a pan.  Heat on medium and stir for 3 minutes.  Spread onto waxed paper and cool.  See...easy peasy!
Hmmm...Strawberry or Cinnamon Roll?
The verdict?  They all are scrumptious!!!  We tasted all of them and had to pick our favorites.  Tucker thought his favorite would be Apple Cider, but loved the Cinnamon Roll.  I thought I'd like the Chocolate the best, but ended up liking the Peanut Butter a little bit better (though it was really hard to pick between them all!)  Titus...well he wanted to pick them all as his favorite.

I think I will probably in the future play with the ratios a bit, less honey, more flavoring.  Some of the flavors stuck together too much, like strawberry and honey-nut, but I might experiment with placing the cereal in the oven at 250 degrees to see if it helps with the stickiness.  Overall, it was a great homeschool experiment, using our math, reading and science skills and some fun, family time in the kitchen.

What a great selection for the morning!
Look...really strawberry pieces!
Future flavor possibilities: maple, pumpkin pie, gingersnap.  Can't wait!  Let me know what you come up with!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Shampoo and Spelling

So last month I posted about making my own shampoo bars which was a lot of fun.  However, the lasting result was not very satisfactory.  After several days, my hair became a greasy mess.  So I've done some research.  It is one of two reasons why my hair would react in such an offensive way:

1. The most hopeful, the oils and butters used were too moisturizing, creating a build-up upon my hair.  This can be fixed with adjusting and experimenting with the formula.

2. The most likely, the extreme hardness of the water here in Tok is not conducive to the shampoo bars and the no-poo method.  The only fix to this would be hooking up a water softener, which is just not a direction we will go.

So where am I now?  I have gone back to using commercially produced shampoo called Avalon Organics, which I am thoroughly enjoying.  I originally started using what I had on hand (I believe Dove or Herbal Essence), but after only the first shampooing, my hair started falling out in clumps again and I had itchy sores on my scalp.  Not very fun or attractive.  I think it may have to do with the laurel sulfate and my skins aversion to it.

Next step in hair care for me?  Well, as much as I like the Avalon Organics, it's like $7+ for a teeny bottle.  So, as soon as I'm able to get my hands on all the ingredients, I'm going to be testing a recipe for homemade liquid shampoo.  I'll keep you posted.

Now...on to spelling!!!

We have recently added a new spelling program to our homeschool regime.  We originally were doing the Sonlight spelling, but by the end of the week, Tucker was still not doing so hot on spelling.  So, I came across a program called Sequential Spelling.  This is a 7 level spelling workbook system that systematically builds on a students ability to build large words from small words.  In Tucker's first week of lessons he built from in, pin and sin to thinner, skinny and beginning.  Not only did he have an unconcious  understanding of spelling rules associated with the root word -in, but at the end of the week he was able to do the entire spelling test of 25 words with only a couple of mistakes.

By far, I've been incredibly happy with this program.  I see in him a deeper grasp of spelling and an increase in his success, spelling words that are typically 6th grade level words.  I'm actually going to be trying out their Engaging Language series that is an extension of the spelling.  So my conclusion...if you want your kid to be proficient spellers, Sequential Spelling may just be the ticket for you!

***Pictures to follow*** My phone melted and my pictures for this post with it.