Does anything epitomize kid food more than a chicken nugget? I doubt it. Chicken nuggets, mac n’ cheese and Cheetoes were some of my favorite foods when growing up. In fact, they still remain some of my favorite foods to this day. During my pregnancy I had vivid dreams involving those foods, meaning I’d wake up the next day and want to either make mac n’ cheese for breakfast or proceed on an epic but failed quest to find original Cheetoes in Beijing.
However, if you asked me if I would allow these same foods to be given to my child, I would have to say no. The reason is that in all my years of teaching and working with kids, I’ve seen the side effects of the modern child’s die. Chocked full of hidden sugars and artificial coloring, foods like these have been linked to hyperactivity in most kids. Furthermore, the right combination of fat, salt , sugar and artificial ‘flavors’ has turned food into a designer drug. Children don’t want to consume anything else.
As a result, childhood obesity is becoming a global problem. Not only that, but I’ve even seen young children with their baby teeth rotting out of the head from all the sugar either known or hidden in their processed foods. It would appear that food is no longer food and th world is becoming both malnourished and obese from over consumption of this bizarre “stuff” which doesn’t come from a kitchen but instead from a laboratory.
Now, I’m not advocating for you to never eat processed food because it is just not realistic. There will be times when you indulge in fast food, frozen and boxed meals and that’s ok. I do the same from time to time. However, I don’t make it a daily habit of it and instead do the majority of my cooking at home. I make nearly everything from scratch – french fries, fish cakes, my child’s spaghetti O’s, mac n’ cheese, pizza, pasta sauce, etc.
Although it may seem surprising, it’s not as difficult or time consuming as you might think. Plus there is an added bonus of it usually tasting better. Take for example this chicken nugget recipe. Get ground chicken from the grocer (if not already ground, ask your butcher to ground some chicken for you or do it at home in a food processor), add the herbs and spices, breadcrumbs, egg and combine. Form into patties, dip in batter, fry it up in a non-stick frying pan with some oil and voilà- done!
The hardest thing about this recipe is taking the thyme leaves off the stems. Other than that, it’s easy. I like to make a batch ahead of time and freeze the rest in ziplock bags in the freezer. They’re easy to take out, throw in the oven and warm up for a quick lunch or dinner. I must admit though that I’m always tempted to put some aside for me. After all, if my 1 year old throws a chicken nugget at me, it’s open game. I can eat it. And I do so…happily.
Homemade Chicken Nuggets
- 400 g/14 oz ground chicken
- 1 tsp fresh thyme (leaves removed from stems)
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- freshly cracked pepper
- 1 egg
- 2 1/2 tbsp breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp flour
- 90 ml/ 3 oz water
- In a large mixing bowl, combine ground chicken, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, sea salt and a sprinkling of cracked pepper together and mix until thoroughly combined.
- In another bowl, mix together flour and cornstarch then whisk in water to form a light batter. Mixture should be fluid but thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Using your hands, form 1 inch/2 cm sized patties. If you are having trouble with chicken mixture sticking to you, try wetting your hands slightly.
- Dip chicken patty into cornstarch/flour mixture.
- Shake off excess batter and fry in a light layer of oil a non-stick frying pan over medium/medium high heat until golden brown on both sides and cooked through.
- Transfer to plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess oil (there shouldn’t be too much), then serve with your favorite dipping sauce.