Say Good Bye to Packaged Cereal

It has been too long since I last blogged about food. Anyone can tell just by looking at me that I love good food! So I thought today would be a good day to talk about how your choices in food can be good for your wallet, good for your health, and good for the environment. And if we are talking about good food and the environment in the same blog post we have to talk about granola.

First, lets make some granola. Then I’ll tell you why it is worth the time to make up a batch every week.

There are lots of recipes on the internet. Here is one that I have put together to get you started. You’ll soon be making your own variations! All measurements are approximate. Feel free to experiment, you really can’t go wrong.

In a medium size saucepan mix together.

  • 1/2 Cup Oil (I like to use strong flavored oils. Right now I’m using sesame oil because I got a gallon of it real cheap, but sometimes I will use coconut oil or a blend of the two)
  • 1/2 Cup Honey or Real Maple Syrup (More or less depending on how sweet you want your granola. You can also use white or brown sugar)
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix well, bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Allow to cool a bit then mix in:

  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla
  • other spices to taste, I like to add about a tablespoon of cinnamon and a 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, maybe a dash of cloves

While that is cooking, in a large bowl, mix together:

  • 8 Cups Old Fashioned Oats (I buy organic oats in bulk at the co-op for about .30/lb)
  • 1 Cup Wheat Germ
  • 1 Cup unsweetened coconut flakes (you can find unsweetened coconut at co-ops and natural food stores)
  • 1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds
  • 1/4 Cup Flax Seeds (or ground flax seeds)
  • 1/4 Cup Pumpkin Seeds

Pour liquid into dry mixture and mix well until everything is damp but not wet. Add a little more water if needed.

Spread mixture evenly on shallow baking sheets. Do not fill the baking sheets because you will need room to stir.

Bake in a slow oven (about 250 degrees).

I’m sorry I can’t tell you how long. Sometimes I cook the granola for 30 minutes and sometimes it takes over an hour. You just have to watch it. Check your granola about every 15 minutes, stirring each time. It is done when the oats have a nice brown color and everything is very dry.

Allow the granola to cool thoroughly. Then mix in:

  • 1 Cup Raisins or other dried fruit.

Store in an airtight container and enjoy. This makes enough cereal for my family of  granola lovers (2 adults and 1 growing teenager) for about a week.

Since I’ve been making granola I have pretty much quit buying packaged breakfast cereal.  It now seems to be a big waste of money.  Just yesterday I was looking at the cereal aisle and found that for the same price as a batch of healthy granola (around $4) I could get a brightly colored box with 12 oz. of  refined corn and high fructose corn syrup, with a few artificial colors and preservatives thrown in for good measure.  No Thanks!

I also don’t have all those brightly colored boxed waiting to go to the recycling center. Sure we can recycle the cardboard, but it is better for the environment if it is never produced in the first place.

My family loves the granola I make and love the money I save.  Plus, by making my own granola I can sneak in the flax seed and other healthy ingrediants my husband wouldn’t eat otherwise! Let me know how your granola creations go!

Valentines Day Gifts for All Your Love Ones

Today I am pleased to bring you a sponsored post about a company that I have been using for years! Most of my family lives out of town, and I find a great way to send them gifts is through 1800Flowers. I like to shop from home and the gifts are delivered right to the recipient’s door. What is nice about 1800Flowers is that despite the name, you can purchase more than just flowers. They have thousands of gifts in addition to flowers, including teddy bears, food baskets, spa sets and chocolates. All of high quality and sure to delight. I know my Mom looks forward to her valentines day gifts from 1800Flowers.

Today while looking at the site and searching for valentines day gifts I found their Valentine’s Gift Bundles. In this section alone I had over 100 great gift choices ranging in price from $19.99 for a cute stuffed dog with chocolates, to $1,000 for Love’s Lavish Luxuries. You know, men like to receive valentines day gifts, but they can be difficult to shop for. At 1800Flowers I found lots of choices, from a spa set for men, to a floral arrangement in a beer mug.

If you would like the convenience of shopping from home for valentines day gifts that your loved ones will adore, head on over to 1800Flowers.

An Alternative to Disposable Diapers

In the running for “what is filling up our landfills the most” is disposable diapers. So once you have done the easy step of giving up plastic grocery bags, the next step, at least for parents of babies, is to reduce your use of disposable diapers. Sarah, over at the mamapath, has an excellent post on alternatives to disposable diapers. You can read her post here.

Life Insurance

Today I am going to talk a little about life insurance. Not the most exciting topic, but one that is very important. Life insurance is an important financial tool that benefits those you leave behind when you die.

Reasons to Buy Life Insurance

To Provide an Income For Your Dependents

This is probably the most common reason for buying life insurance, to take care of those who depend on you for their financial income. This could be your children, your spouse, or even your parents.

To Cover Final Expenses

Maybe you don’t have anyone depending on you financially, but funerals can be expensive, and you don’t want to create a financial burden for your loved ones.

To Pay Federal and State Death Taxes

It is a sad but true fact, Uncle Sam taxes you when you die. Buying life insurance can provide cash to pay estate taxes, so your heirs do not need to sell other assets (like the family home) to pay taxes.

Types of Life Insurance

There are two main types of life insurance, Whole Life and Term Life. The most common type of life insurance is level term insurance. With this type of insurance you pay a monthly or annual premium, and as long as you pay your premium you are covered for a set benefit amount. Quit paying your premium, and you are no longer insured.
Whole life insurance is usually more expensive, but has an investment feature built in. As you continue to pay your premiums, your policy begins to have a cash value, which you can borrow against if need be. Hold your policy long enough, and the earnings from the investment portion will begin to cover the premium amount.

Which Is Best?

Everyones needs are different, and you need to do some research to find the most cost-effective policy that best suits your needs. One way to Save Money on Insurance is to go through an online broker such as AdvantageTermLife.com. There you can get a quote on different types of life insurance and find a policy that meets your needs and your budget.

Remember, life insurance is a good way to protect your family financially when you can’t be there. Find out which type of insurance is best for you and shop around. The life insurance market is highly competitive, there are some good deals to be found.

An Easy Way to Help the Enviroment

Sometimes it really is the simple things that can make the biggest difference. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that plastic grocery bags came on the scene, and the question “paper or plastic?”, became part of our shopping experience. Retailers loved the lightweight bags, that were just a fraction of the cost of paper bags. Consumers liked them for their strength and convinience. No more wet bags breaking on you as you bring in the groceries! Now, plastic bags are everywhere. And I mean everywhere. They are an eyesore on our nations’ roads. They clog our drains and sewers, and they threaten wildlife all over the world. They are even found in the Pacific Ocean, 1000 miles from the shore.

Some Facts About Plastic Bags

  • Almost a trillion plastic bags are produced world wide each year! The US goes through a billion of them. (Wall Street Journal)
  • If Americans gave up their disposable plastic grocery bags we could save 12 million barrels of oil every year!
  • Disposing of plastic bags is a problem. Plastic bags can take 1000 years to disintegrate. And because they are light weight and extremely aerodynamic, even properly disposed of plastic bags can float away and become a blight on the landscape.
  • Some studies suggest that up to 100,000 marine animals are killed by ingesting, or becoming trapped in plastic bags.

The problem seems huge, yet the  solution is quite simple. Say no to plastic shopping bags. And while you are at it, say no to paper bags as well. (That is another post!) Make it a habit to bring your own reusable bags. And reusable bags are not just for the grocery store.  Try bringing your own bags or containers for your other shopping as well. At the very least, try to reuse your plastic shopping bags, and make sure to dispose of them properly.