Whole Grain Cocoa Cereal

 

Gabe and I used to fantasize about the day when our kids could get out of bed and help themselves to breakfast. We thought of this as a major milestone in our parenting career and had visions of us lingering in bed with coffee in one hand and the paper in the other. Parents with babies in tow take note; someday this day will arrive and it will be every bit as wonderful as you can imagine.

Weekday mornings don’t allow for much lingering on our part. There are lunches to pack, school bags to get in order, dishes from last night’s party to tend to, and the most important thing – coffee to be made. To help avoid too much chaos (some is just unavoidable) we keep breakfast during the week very simple. Most often it’s cereal. I’ll admit it. But when I have life somewhat in order cereal comes in the form of whole grain puffs lightly sweetened with maple syrup and flavored with cocoa powder. I like to tuck in all sorts of puffed grains and by the time they are coated in a deeply colored cocoa syrup the kids really have no idea what they are getting into. Their most important task during breakfast – turn their milk into chocolate milk, which this cereal does so beautifully. There are enough whole grains from the cereal, plus we pair it with an 8 ounce glass of milk for an additional 8 grams of high-quality protein to help my munchkins start the day and give them energy to deal with math class before the lunch bell rings.

My favorite part? I can make a huge batch, relatively quickly so they have breakfast they can serve themselves all throughout the week.

 

*This post is sponsored by Milk Life. As always, the words, recipe, and images are my own. Thanks for supporting that brands that support me in doing the work I love.

Whole Grain Cocoa Cereal

Ingredients

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted

14 cups puffed cereal

1 cup puffed quinoa

1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

1/4 teaspoon sea salt (or more to taste)

Add ins:

Coconut flakes

Nuts

Oatmeal

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 300° F

In a small saucepan combine the coconut oil, maple syrup, and cocoa powder. Stir well and bring to a simmer.

In a large bowl combine the puffed cereal, quinoa, sesame seeds, and any other add ins you may like.

Add the cocoa mixture to the puffed cereals and stir well to coat. Transfer this to a large sheet tray (or two) lined with parchment. Bake for 20 minutes stirring halfway through.

Let the cereal cool before storing in an airtight container for up to three weeks.

Pair with an 8 ounce glass of milk.

 

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Creamy Spaghetti with Bacon, Peas and Mint

These are literally the things I tell myself, “Ashley, you can’t post another pasta recipe. Don’t you remember the cauliflower pasta from just a couple weeks back? You’re long due for a salad of sorts. People are going to think that all you eat is pasta.”

You know what self, I love pasta and I’m okay if the world knows it.  And I do know that you, my sweet reader, understand that I eat more than pasta but you also should know that pasta is our go to. It’s one of those “gah! I have no idea what’s for dinner and the kids are telling me their ‘starving’ and after I rant about how they’re not actually starving and I remind them how incredibly fortunate we are to not have to worry about where our next meal is coming from they’ll not only be hungry but also exhausted from all their eye rolling. So pasta it is, along with whatever I can find in the refrigerator.”

There’s not a fight when pasta is on the table. I don’t mean to paint such a bleak picture as our kids are generally quite good about eating what is on the table but it’s so disheartening when they wander into the kitchen while I’m contentedly cooking dinner, leisurely sipping on a glass of wine, the birds are chirping outside my sun lit window, perhaps I’m even humming a bit – you get the picture. And then I hear, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” The birds are silent, my palms start sweating. Should I answer them? But I know what they are going to say. Their little noses scrunch up, body buckles as if its been under intense pressure, eyes roll back and the moan begins as if they’ve just found out the world is ending or they lost their screen time. But with pasta for dinner I happily inform them, “It’s pasta!” And then wait for the cheers.

I’ve made this pasta twice because after the first time I received such rave reviews  -I even won the title of “Best Mom Ever”. So I’m here to pass along this magical recipe because we could all use a few cheers now and again and we can all, I think, do a better job of helping one another get a few cheers.

In our house we always have these ingredients on hand; bacon, frozen peas, cream, Parmesan and spaghetti. The mint is not necessarily a staple except in the spring when I can’t keep it from taking over my garden. But how many times do we buy a bunch of herbs or the ones that come in those plastic clam shells, we use about a quarter of the package and then leave the rest to wither in the fridge? Well, not today. Mint and bacon may seem a bit odd, I doubted myself a bit too, but it’s coolness tips this comforting dish into one that feels a bit like spring. In fact, when the fresh peas start to appear I’d recommend using those. Or, oh oh oh, you know what? I think halved sugar snap peas cut gracefully on the bias would be a really nice  when they’re in season. Although don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with frozen peas.

I hope this pasta brings you all the many cheers you deserve. Even if it’s cheers from yourself because we need those too.

Creamy Spaghetti with Bacon, Peas and Mint

Ingredients

8 ounces spaghetti

7 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup finely grated Parmesan

1/2 cup mint leaves

salt and pepper

Instructions

Cook the pasta in heavily salted water.

While the pasta cooks saute the bacon pieces until crispy. Drain off the bacon grease (save it for your eggs in the morning) before adding in the peas. Saute until just warmed through then stir in the cream. Add the pasta along with a splash of pasta water and toss the pasta around in the sauce. Simmer gently until the sauce coats the pasta. Stir in a pinch of salt and a good bit of freshly cracked pepper. Add more pasta water as needed. Stir in half of the grated Parmesan.

Transfer the pasta to a serving dish then tear the mint leaves over top. Finish with the mint and remaining Parmesan.

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