If you are like me, getting my children to eat and try new foods is nothing short of a miracle on a nightly basis. But, I don’t “whike” it. It is “wucky”. It is too hard to chew (my personal favorite). I often think to myself, why do I bother? But I do bother. Because I know that it is important.
A long, long time ago I made a decision. I was going to feed my family the freshest and healthiest foods possible. I was willing to make sacrifices to be able to afford to do this. I would drive long distances to find the products that I was after. We were going to eat together as a family. Every night. I was going to make as many of the foods that we ate from scratch as possible.
Did I do it? Well, yes and no. I remember the days when I had to travel to a grocery store an hour away to buy organic milk. I now buy my organic milk at Costco. I remember making my baby’s baby food from organic fruits and vegetables and lovingly putting the purees into cute little ice cube trays (that were probably laden with BPA) and being so happy that I was giving my child something that I made instead of Gerber. I remember making my son scrambled eggs and oatmeal every morning for breakfast and being so happy that he ate a healthy meal that I put in front of him. Now, I am happy with a Nutragrain frozen waffle. Do we eat as a family ever night? Yeah, but sometimes it is at the taqueria down the road. As my family grows, I have learned that sometimes you just have to give a little.
So now I have a few new rules.
1. I do try to buy the best ingredients. I buy organic milk and yogurt, and cheese. I try to only buy organic local chicken and grass fed beef. I pick and choose on which organic fruits and vegetables that I buy. I try to buy local. I don’t buy things with high fructose corn syrup (occasionally I will use corn syrup in a recipe, but it is under my control) if I can help it. I try not to buy overly processed foods. I spend a CRAZY amount of money on food. I get a lot of slack for my food spending habits (although a huge triumph is that my husband is now 100% on board with me) and that is okay. To each his own. It is important to me. No judgments either. If you feed your children regular milk, great! I don’t judge. Really, I don’t.
2. My kids are given one meal at dinner time. If they do not want to eat it, that is fine, but they do not get something else. I used to give them a yogurt or something like that and after awhile, they stopped even trying what I cooked. The boys will usually eat it, but my daughter will not. Many days she eats one big meal a day. I had a heart to heart with her pediatrician about it and he agreed with me. “Don’t make food a battle”, he told me. So I don’t.
3. There is no such thing as “kid food”in our house. Obviously, by this post, I make things that kids like, I am no ogre. But for the most part, we eat all kinds of different things. Curry, salads, roast chicken, pasta, you name it. I do not believe that children are to be raised on a steady rotation of pizza, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and grilled cheese. If we do not expose them to healthy and nutritious foods, how can we expect them to eat it? I am human, my children have had hot dogs for dinner and Papa Johns, but I try to give them a varied and broadened idea of the foods that are out there.
4. In order for children to have to try new foods and eat healthy, so do I. I used to be a pretty picky eater. I was definitely on the “beige diet”. I have grown out of my picky eating habits and now look forward to trying new things. I make an effort to show my children that when snack time rolls around, mommy will pick an apple versus the cookie. Although if I am being perfectly honest, I will eat the cookies, but only when they are in bed. Shh.. don’t blow my cover.
Are you tired of my preaching? Thank you if you have gotten this far. So sometimes, kids do want things that are stereotypically “kid food”. A few years ago when we were living in Canada, Jamie Oliver had a show called Jamie’s School Dinners. Very similar to the show he has now in America but this was the one set in the UK. Anyway, on it he showed how they make a processed chicken nugget. I have not eaten one since then. Here is a clip. If we do get fast food, it is Chic-fil-a. At least it looks like real chicken.
Part of the problem with trying to make a healthy version of something is that it tastes like cardboard. This is the recipe that I came up with. It is a mixture of a few different recipes. All I know is that my kids will eat and I don’t feel bad that they ate it. Yes, it has some sugar, but I can live with that since it helps with the non-cardboard thing.
4 chicken breasts cut into pieces
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup crushed cornflakes
1 cup panko crumbs
4 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
Cut the chicken into small pieces.
Cover the chicken with buttermilk. Let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight. It helps tenderize the chicken. If you do not want to do this, you can dredge them in flour and egg.
Put the other ingredients in a bowl and mix it up.
Drain the buttermilk from the chicken and drop into the crumb mixture. Coat well.
I line a cookie sheet with foil and put a cooling rack on top it the foil. I spray the rack with cooking spray. At this point, you can put these in the freezer. Just add an extra 5-10 minutes to the cooking time. Bake the nuggets in a 375 degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Even Clay will eat it!