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Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?

October 5, 2010
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Healthy cereal ingredients

I will not eat blueberry pie for breakfast. I will not eat blueberry pie for breakfast.

See, this is what happens if I buy something like blueberry pie. It’s sitting there on the counter, calling my name at all sorts of inappropriate hours of the day! How rude.

Breakfast is probably the most problematic meal of the day for most of us. You’ve got nutrient-poor Dunkin Donuts egg white sandwiches. Or some kind of danish. A refined flour bagel. Maybe you’ve gone the “healthy” route and bought some cereal with claims of Omega-3’s and whatnot.

Guess what? That cereal is probably full of sugar. Sorry but it’s true. You’ll be starving by 10:30 when your blood sugar takes a nosedive. Don’t believe me? Read the ingredient list and look for anything with the words “sugar”, “cane” or “syrup” for starters.

There are 3 boxed cereals I’ll buy. (Not to say these are the only acceptable cereals out there, but these are available at the local store and fit my standards: only whole grains and zero sugar whatsoever.)

1. Uncle Sam’s
2. Kashi 7 Grain Whole Nuggets
3. Nature’s Path Organic Puffs Cereal (Millet, Brown Rice, Corn or Kamut)

I don’t mind a sugar-free breakfast. To me, it feels clean and nourishing and I enjoy the taste of whole grains. But my husband? Eh. Not so much. Like most people, he wants a little somethin’ somethin’ in his breakfast. And all of you with kids out there? They’re probably like my husband. (Insert joke here.)

My mission: To create a fast, low cost alternative to the standard cold cereals out there, and still appeal to my husband’s taste buds.

The solution: Fancy up those plain grains!

I started with millet puffs – a blank canvas for breakfast artistry. Lots of sugary cereals look like round puffy things, so this is a good start. The difference is regular boxed cereal is covered in sugar and artificial flavors. Mine would be covered in natural yumminess.

Flavors of Fall Cereal Puffs

Flavors of Fall Cereal Puffs
3 cups puffed millet
3/4 cup dried cranberries (sweetened with fruit juice)
3/4 cup toasted, salted pumpkin seeds
2 tsp. cinnamon

In a large bowl, combine ingredients until puffs are evenly coated with cinnamon. Transfer to tupperware containers or an empty cereal box.

One of my childhood favorite cereals was Cocoa Puffs (ingredients include Corn, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Cornstarch, Cocoa, Canola Oil, Caramel, Beet Juice Concentrate, Color Salt, Fructose.)

This inspired a healthy chocolate-centered idea:

Cocoa-Coco Puffs
3 cups puffed millet (corn puffs would actually be a better size to replicate the original)
1 cup pitted dates, chopped small
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1.5 Tbl. unsweetened cocoa powder

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients until puffs are well coated in cocoa. Transfer to tupperware containers or an empty cereal box.

Natural Cocoa Puffs

These easy cereals were well received by the man of the house, which is the closest I can come to testing on a kid. You’ll have to tell me how your kids respond! I imagine they might like to choose their own ingredients and mix it up themselves.

And if you’re looking for some healthy kid-friendly ideas, don’t miss Having a Healthy, Happy Family on Oct. 21st. I may not have pint-sized testers around here, but my friend Hannah sure does. Together, we have an excellent evening planned for you!

  • http://burpandslurp.com sophia

    Genius. And it’s so much cheaper than buying cocoa puffs from the box, too. LOVE the different textures, too.

  • http://joanne-eatswellwithothers.blogspot.com Joanne

    Instead of mix-your-own granola it’s mix-your-own cereal! And I bet that kids would be much more inclined to eat it if they helped to pick out the mix-ins themselves. Great idea.

  • http://makefriendswithfood.blogspot.com/ Eleanor @Make Friends With Food

    Re. “These recipes were well received by the man of the house, which is the closest I can come to testing on a kid.” LOL. I know just what you mean.

  • http://thewitchykitchen.blogspot.com/ Stella

    Good idea, Michelle! I might try this. I buy the organic puffed cereals too, though I must say that I don’t recommend the rice. It gets soggy so fast. I’m going to look for the millet next time I’m at the store…!

  • http://anecdotesandapples.weebly.com Monet

    What a great idea! I’m all about sugar-free cereal too…but my husband loves his Honey Bunches of Oats. I should try to make a more healthy variety of his favorite. Your blog lay out is wonderful, by the way…you have a stunning site. Thanks for sharing!

  • Michelle

    Sophia – oh, totally cheaper. Those puffs are $1.99/bag.

    Joanne – thanks! yeah, like granola, exactly!

    Eleanor – hehe I should cut him some slack, he’s VERY openminded with my crazy meals :-)

    Stella – The kamut stays pretty not-soggy I think too!

    Monet – Oh, thanks so much! Glad you stopped by.

  • http://itzyskitchen.blogspot.com Erica

    AMEN! I buy quakers puffed rice and wheat and love love them! So delicious. Great ideas.

    The DVDs are what I learn from (classes I teach pump, step attack: http://www.lesmills.com/)

  • http://anediblemosaic.com Faith

    This is such a great idea, I love your take on Cocoa Puffs! A nice treat, but definitely something I can feel good about eating. And my hubby would go crazy for it too! ;)

  • http://floridacoastalcooking.blogspot.com/ dawn hutchins

    I love these ideas! I think I already have the puffed millet on hand. I usually eat Shredded Wheat N Bran which doesn’t have sugar in the ingredients but it DOES have BHT in the packaging.

  • Michelle

    Erica – That whole body attack stuff you do seems to be popular in your area, huh? I’m not sure but I don’t think we have it around here…?

    Faith – oh good! Hope he likes!

    Dawn – Ha! BHT. That’s not something I see in an ingredient list every day. But I just looked and yeah, right there after wheat bran. Huh.

  • http://www.girlonraw.com GirlonRaw

    What great ideas for breakfast cereal. Would be delish topped with ice cold home made almond milk!

  • http://sendfood.wordpress.com jodye @ ‘scend food

    This looks awesome! My cereal addiction gets way too expensive, so I’m definitely going to try this out!

  • Annie Dru

    As the mother of four boys, there were many times I relied on this type of ‘healthy’ alternative to store-bought breakfast cereal. It wasn’t until recently that I became aware of the dangers of these extruded cereals… even the ones purchased from the health food store!

    Here’s an excerpt from an article called Be Kind to Your Grains by Sally Fallon of the Weston A. Price Foundation…

    Cruelty to grains in the making of breakfast cereals is intense. Slurries of grain are forced through tiny holes at high temperatures and pressures in giant extruders, a process that destroys nutrients and turns the proteins in grains into veritable poisons. Westerners pay a lot for expensive breakfast cereals that snap, crackle and pop, including the rising toll of poor health.

    The final indignity to grains is that we treat them as loners, largely ignorant of other dietary factors needed for the nutrients they provide. Fat-soluble vitamins A and D found in animal fats like butter, lard and cream help us absorb calcium, phosphorus, iron, B vitamins and the many other vitamins that grains provide. Porridge eaten with cream will do us a thousand times more good than cold breakfast cereal consumed with skim milk…

    Wow! That was a big wake up call for this mom.

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