Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Food, Glorious Food.

I'm having another one of those days where signs keep showing up pointing me in a particular direction. For a few days I've been struggling with trying to write about food. Yes, food. It's been on my mind lately (well, let's face it, food is on my mind often) but this time it's because I was lamenting the disappearance of our children's favorite chicken nuggets from the aisles of Whole Foods. This led to my having a discussion with friends about what snacks our kids eat, which resulted in the inevitable "what do you put in their lunch boxes at school?", which then got me thinking about how particular my once easy eaters had become. As if that wasn't enough, a post came in today from one my favorite blogs, Zen Family Habits, about family dinners. Ok, ok! Enough already! I need to write about twins and eating apparently!

Nuggets of Love
So let me begin with chicken nuggets. What is it about these things that children devour them like manna from Heaven? We somehow stumbled upon the Alexia Broccoli and Cheese nuggets which were so delicious my brother-in-law began referring to them as "Nuggets of Love". These became my go-to meal when nothing else would suffice. They worked for play dates, they worked for the school lunch box.  They were genius! And day...GONE! No one at Whole Foods knew a thing. Some mysterious conspiracy was afoot. I polled other moms (as I know we all have a nugget that works for us) but nothing would do. I tried Jessica Seinfeld's "Deceptively Delicious" recipe to no avail. Finally, I broke down and wrote a plea to Alexia begging them to divulge where I might find these damned nuggets! Send me a prayer that I get an answer soon. I promise to share the wealth when I do!

Mmmm. Cereal bars!
So, being totally bored with the same old snacks I give my kids, but still trying to give them things they'll eat that are healthy, I began a discussion with a couple of friends. I figured, if I'm bored with packaging the snacks, God knows the kids must be bored of eating them! Here's a list of the things that are winners for us, and some new things my friends serve that excited me (and although I am easily excited by chicken nuggets, I am not easily excited by food):
  • Every type of fruit on the planet
  • Whole Foods (365) fruit filled Cereal Bars
  • Protein shakes (good for breakfast too). We use Jay Robb whey protein, almond milk, a banana, frozen berries and about a tablespoon of flax seed oil. I alternate between using the whey protein and using a scoop of chocolate Kidz SuperFood along with the almond milk, fresh and frozen fruit and maybe some yogurt. The SuperFood is packed with so much good stuff that it's like getting 3 servings of fruit and vegetables in one glass! You can get single serving packets of the SuperFood; it can be an acquired taste and you might want to experiment a bit before you spend $25 on a can of the stuff.
  • Carrots and hummus (I like to buy our hummus at the local farmer's market, but Sabra is a yummy brand our kids like too).
  • Homemade ice pops made from 100% juice (I like R.W. Knudsen's) which you can cut with water. Alternately, a milk/yogurt/fruit mix works well too. If you (or your kids) are too impatient to wait for them to freeze, try this William's Sonoma popsicle maker which makes them in as little as 7 minutes! Come to think of it, this is a great activity to do with your kids, especially if they are done that quickly! Nothing like (almost) instant gratification!
  • Frozen Peanut Butter (or soy nut butter) Bananas. Peel bananas, slice it lengthwise (not in half, but put a cut in the banana lengthwise) put peanut butter inside. Freeze. Then take it out and slice it into small circle chips that have a bit of peanut butter in them.  It is sooooo delicious!
  • Frozen Dipped Yogurt Bananas. Insert a popsicle stick into the banana. Dip it in yogurt and add sprinkles (or nuts or chips). Then freeze it and you can give to the kids like an ice pop. 
  • Fruit/Veggie muffins. These are courtesy of a website called Raise Healthy Eaters. My friend, Jackie, who makes these muffins adds this comment: The nice thing about these is you can cook up a batch, let them cool and then freeze them. When you want a muffin, you just pop one in the microwave and they are ready (and fresh tasting!) in 30 seconds!!! I usually double the ingredients.
  • Happy Melts. These are my new favorite find. I buy them at Whole Foods (yes, I still shop there even though they arbitrarily eliminated my nuggets) and they are simply freeze dried yogurt drops. Strawberry, banana or mixed berry flavor. They melt in your mouth into little splashes of yogurt. And no mess!
  • Greek yogurt (more protein and even the non-fat is rich and creamy) blended with fresh fruit and a bit of agave nectar if it needs sweetening. I like the Fage (pronounced Fa-yeh) brand of yogurt best.
When it comes to meal time, one of the things that another friend suggested was to get creative on presentation. For example: plan picnics either inside or out, serve dinner as "appetizers" with everything cut small on tapas plates and using toothpicks, have "upside down day" and eat breakfast for dinner. Getting out of your rut is good for everybody! There are some other good tips about family dinners and why they're so important in Wednesday's post from Zen Family Habits.

Lunch from
Now, anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not an amazing cook. I can follow a recipe and I know what I like and what tastes good (to me). But I do like to experiment when I have the energy and when I do, I go to a few websites for ideas. Here are three I really like:
  1. Weelicious for amazing kid's food ideas (all beautifully photographed). Everything on her site sounds so delicious and while it is not as simple as popping some nuggets in the oven, it's so worth attempting to broaden their repertoire. Check out the "Cilantr O's" and "Wee granola" in this lunch box photo! Take some time to surf through her site, you'll find delicious treats like mini phyllo cheesecakes and PB and J breakfast muffins. Mmmmm. Yummy!
  2. Out Of The Box Food" for a terrific look at how "real" food compares to pre-packaged food including good, simple recipes. I love how she deciphers the labels on the boxed food we buy; once you really know what sodium lactate or PGPR (Polyglycerol polyricinoleate) is, you may think twice about what you serve your kids.
  3. The aforementioned Raise Healthy Eaters is written by a mother who used to be in my local MOMs club and who is also a dietician and nutritionist. She was actually just featured on Jen's List with a 5 part series of posts on picky eaters. She has some great recipes, but she also posts often about attitudes toward food, health tips, feeding strategies and more.
So, now I had a few new ideas about what to make for the kids' school lunches and I realized I hadn't bought them new lunch boxes yet. There are so many lunch box varieties out there and after a year of school I realized that little kids don't do well with multiple plastic containers and Ziploc baggies full of things. Nor is it so great for the environment. After a bit of research (and frustration because I waited too long and some things were sold out) I decided upon the Go Green Lunch Box and was really happy with our first day using it. It has a bento box style food compartment and this cool "turn 'n lock" key that allows you to put things like yogurt or applesauce alongside your pasta or sandwich without ending up with a gooey mess. So far, so good on that front. For other great "green" school lunch ideas check out Green My Lunch Box

I'm inspired to try some new things now that I have this cool, new lunch box to fill. I think I may head to the market to stock up. And, if my somewhat picky kids start eating all of these great new treats, I might not even need to have a word with the Whole Foods store manager about those chicken nuggets!

Thanks for reading!
The Twin Coach

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4 Great Comments Made By Clicking Here!:

The Twin Coach said...

I heard today from Alexia about my beloved chicken nuggets:
Dear Mrs. Osher,

Thank you for contacting us. We are always pleased to hear from our consumers but are sorry to inform you that we no longer produce Alexia® Chicken Nuggets with Spinach & Feta Cheese or Alexia Chicken Nuggets w/ Broccoli & Cheddar Cheese. We do apologize.

As consumers' preferences for products change, so do the varieties of our products. Only the products with the greatest consumer appeal remain on the store shelves over time. Unfortunately, this product did not have enough consumer interest for us to continue manufacturing it.

We will also be sending you a coupon via regular mail that is valid for nine months. Please allow 1-2 weeks for receipt.

Thanks again for your feedback. We're listening!

Consumer Affairs
Ref: 053020808C

If anyone wants to join me in starting a campaign to bring them back, let me know. I"m only half joking. :-)

Jackie said...

Were you and I the only ones buying those darn nuggets?! I feel like we need to spread the word and start a nugget revolution :)

BTW - I was dealing with the "many container" lunch box issue and was trying to find a solution. Your post was perfectly timed for me. Thank you!

Sarah said...

I found your site because my 15 year old daughter texted me from school to tell me she's craving the spinach-feta nuggets. I really don't want to have to tell her they're not making them anymore.

The Twin Coach said...

Sarah, that's so funny. :) I think its only the chicken nuggets they discontinued. an year & a half later & I am STILL sad about it!

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