Thursday, November 6, 2008

Revamping the food around here...successfully!

Since I found out about Bella's weight issues, as well as her high cholesterol, I've been revamping the food around here. I told the kids once all the "unhealthy" foods were gone, that I would not be replacing them....that included the frozen french toast sticks, the boxed mac-n-cheese, the bagel bites (those are actually Tim's but the kids like to eat them when he has some) and the frozen chicken nuggets. I was actually most worried about the chicken nuggets because the only ones they'll eat are the Dino Nuggets. They claim to be all white meat chicken with no trans fat but I know if I made chicken nuggets myself, they could be a whole lot healthier. I also told Tim that I would not be replacing his crappy sugar cereals....the top of our refrigerator looks like one of the shelves at the grocery store....Apple Jacks, Fruit Loops, Cap'n Crunch, Corn Pops....you name it, we have it. I have a box of Kashi Go Lean Crunch that I keep for myself (and incidentally I gave some to Cole and Bella the other day and they liked it, with the exception of the sliced almonds). And I have Cheerios and Kix for the little twins. And no sodas either....that man goes through Coke like no one else I've ever seen before. His body will probably go through withdrawals and he'll be shaking and twitching all day long. He can have all his crap food away from home...nothing gets me angrier than when he has a soda and the kids ask if they can have some and he lets them! Especially the little twins...the first time I saw him giving them a sip of his Coke, I flipped out. He couldn't understand why I was so angry and he actually said, "what's the big deal...it's not like they're gonna be addicted to it or anything" which I countered back with, "oh really? Says the man who can't go an hour without having a Coke?"

So back to the food...boy, I sure did get off on a rampage about Tim's eating habits....on Sunday morning, I told the kids that I'd make them french toast. Their little eyes bugged out and they asked, "but Mommy, do you know how to make french toast?"....this is when I had to explain that Mommy has been very lazy about feeding them healthier foods and that as I popped kids out of my body, left and right, I got lazier and lazier and suddenly it seemed that the most convenient thing to do, esp on busy weekday mornings, was to reach for the frozen french toast and slap that on their plates. This excuse may have worked well for me when they were toddlers and the little twins had just been born and I was so freakin sleep deprived and overtaken by PPD that they were lucky they even got fed, even if it was crap, but now there's just no excuse...I need to make time to make healthier meals for my children.

For the french toast, I used whole grain bread (which Tim told me would be absolutely horrible for french toast...as if he's Emeril Lagasse?) and instead of using all whole eggs, I used only 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites, mixed in a little fat-free milk, a splash of vanilla and a couple dashes of cinnamon and got started. Bella wanted to help and I figured if she helped, maybe she'd be more into eating something different. It smelled really good while they were cooking so I hoped they'd taste as yummy as they smelled. So.....the little twins wouldn't touch them but Cole and Bella loved them. In fact, they each asked for another piece!!! Which then posed another problem for me....they shouldn't really be having seconds on the french toast. I offered them more fruit but they both turned that down. Okay, so yet another hurdle to get over but I'm making progress....


Then came for the revamp of the chicken nuggets. The dino nuggets had been used up the other day and so I had nothing to fall back on. I found a recipe online for baked chicken nuggets and it looked pretty good. I mean, how can you screw up chicken nuggets?? Well, I guess if anyone can, it would be me. But these actually turned out super yummy....so yummy in fact that Tim raved about them and said "hey, when you make these next time, you should cut some into long strips so we can have them on sandwiches". Cole and Bella asked if they could have some for lunch tomorrow but I had only made a small amount just in case they didn't like them, which would leave me on the hunt for another recipe. I told them I'd take some time in the next few days to make a huge batch of chicken nuggets and french toast to freeze so we could have them on hand, ready to go.

I also revamped the meatballs I make with spagetti. I'm using ground turkey and instead of putting bread crumbs in, I use rolled oats. And I also throw in some grated carrot and zucchini, along with the other typical meatball ingredients. Instead of using regular spagetti, I switched to whole grain spagetti. Yet another successful meal....the kids loved it and actually requested the leftover meatballs for lunch the next day. No more ground beef for anything anymore....I'm using all ground turkey for my meatloafs, meatballs, in place of italian sausage in some of my other recipes. And no one seems to be the wiser. No more shake-n-bake on the chicken....I started using Panko crumbs, which actually tastes better and seems lighter in taste.

My biggest challenge has been switching to fat-free things, esp dairy. They do eat fat-free yogurt but the cheese is gonna be a hard switch. Same with ranch dressing, which they sometimes like to dip their veggies in. Bella actually doesn't mind the fat-free dressing but Cole won't touch it. And I can't say I blame them....after being so used to eating the light versions of these things, the fat-free items taste horrible. It's a work in progress....

So far, so good....I think it's the little changes here and there that will make a huge difference. Just cutting out the frozen chicken nuggets and the frozen french toast, substituting ground beef with ground turkey, throwing extra veggies into things like meatloaf, meatballs and soups, and going with fat-free versions of some of the light items they've been eating, as well as sprinkling ground flaxseed into a lot of the things I've been making, should pay off. Also, cutting out the bedtime glass of milk with a light snack should make a difference too.

We're supposed to go back in 2 months to have Bella's cholesterol checked again and I'm praying we see a significant drop in her numbers. We'll be meeting with a nutrionist next week, who will monitor her weight and give me some suggestions and feedback on other changes we can make. I feel like we're headed in the right direction and it's been much easier than I anticipated!!

Edited to Add: Some people have asked me to post the recipe for the chicken nuggets....here it is with a couple revisions....Baked Chicken Nuggets:

I made some changes based on the reviews. To cut down on the fat, instead of using butter to dip the chicken in, you can use low-fat buttermilk. I didn't have any on hand so I used 1 cup skim milk with 2-3 tsp of white vinegar mixed in (essentially buttermilk after you let it sit for a few minutes). I didn't have any stale whole grain bread to make breadcrumbs with so I just used store-bought breadcrumbs. I didn't add any additional salt like the recipe calls for because I figured between the parmesan cheese and the bread crumbs, it would have enough of a salty taste. To kick up the protein and fiber, I added some ground flaxseed and oat bran to the bread crumb mixture (no one will even notice!). After the chicken nuggets are coated, put them on any type of cooking rack (like a cooling rack or a broiling rack so they are not laying flat on the baking sheet), and then put them on a foiled-line baking sheet. This will allow the nuggets to get nice and crisp....don't worry about turning them over. If you cook them on the rack, they will get crisp all over. I cooked them like the recipe said for about 15-20 minutes and then I broiled them for about 5 minutes to get them browned.

You can serve them with any kind of dipping sauce. They are yummy! My kids have been asking for these everyday for lunch since I discovered this recipe!

20 comments:

Kim said...

I'm with you on the fat-free. Your family has to figure it out on a food-by-food basis. None of us can stand fat-free ranch dressing, but we're fine with other stuff like low-fat sour cream, 1% milk, no-fat half & half, etc. Some recipes taste gross with fat-free; you can't even tell the difference with others. Trial and error.

One thing I started using years ago (and my family never even noticed) was whole wheat tortillas and pastas.

About a year ago, I made a vow to myself that I would no longer make the kids Kraft mac & cheese. I was raised on my mom's homemade mac & cheese, which I LOVED, but found myself giving my kids the box stuff. I am so happy to say that now my older girls much prefer my mac & cheese.

Sorry this is so long, but your post struck a chord with me. You could probably do a niche blog on this subject and you'd have a ton of readers!

Heather (How to be a Woman..?) said...

Good for you, Helene. You are a great Mom and such an inspiration. I got a bit lazy after I had my second baby - I can imagine how hard things are after four.

I want to try those chicken nuggets! I will look for a recipe for homemade ones. I love panko crumbs as well. I didn't realize they were healthier than shake n' bake. Good! What do you top the french toast with?

I'm really on your wavelength here as I want to better up my eating habits, and get my kids on the right track for life. I can't do non-fat, though.

Please keep writing about your healthy changes!

joy said...

That's great Helene, keep up the good work!

Christine said...

Way to go Helene!! I know me and dh eat a lot of the Boca stuff and veggie burgers, nuggets, ect... We try to keep our kids on super low fat stuff, but we tend to have a problem with our kids not gaining weight. Celery and PB is a huge hit in our house and you can add raisins for ants (my kids won't touch rasins :0( ) We also switched to using tortillas either wheat or spinach ones instead of bread for sandwhiches. Let me know how you did the turkey meatloaf, I tried it once, but the texture was so bad no one would eat it :0( I have lots of healthy food ideas if you are ever in need of some ideas (My dh is a health food nut) Bella is lucky to have such a wonderful mommy to make all these changes and teach her how to have a healthy lifestyle in her youth. This is an impression that will last a lifetime! HUGS

Michele S said...

I don't recommend fat free anything. It's all chemicals and very very bad for you.

But, holy smokes, GOOD GOING!! I love that you are making it happen. I made french toast this morning and it really takes, what? 5 minutes? It's much easier than pancakes.

You are doing a great job. I'm so proud of you. Don't tell Tim, but once you change his diet, it will actually affect his personality. You watch. He's going to get nicer! Saving his life against his will. That's my motto!

Michele S said...

Also wanted to add that you should post your nugget recipe!

Michele S said...

Oh. And one more thing! Order the Coremega fish oil that tastes like pudding. You can find it on vitacost.com. If you give it once a day to Bella, it will raise her good cholesterol so high, it will drop her total into the healthy range.

Hajar said...

I make some awesome homemade mac & cheese with pureed butternut squash instead of cheese. My babes are still too small to eat things like that, but I'm working out the menu before they get to that age. I'm hoping to avoid the type of dilemma you have encountered.

twinmama said...

I am so proud of you!! You are taking control of this situation and that is exactly how to respond. And you have also inspired me. I need to change the girls' diet too to be more healthy. We do the chicken nuggets, too. I would really like your recipe - can you post it for us?

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

Way to go on the changes! We've been making them slowly here for awhile. It's an uphill battle with picky eaters. the one thing about fat free things as someone else said, it's all chemicals. You might be better off healthwise just cutting back the portion size of the regular or low fat versions or just dropping that item all together.

jayd said...

thank you so much for your kind comment! the past 20 yrs have really flown by, I still can't believe it's really been that long!

Cant Hardly Wait said...

Good for you! People don't realize how hard that can be, completely rearanging everyone's diets. Good stuff, right there!

Paula Constable said...

Good for you! I'm sure it will be an adjustment for your husband, but it's worth it!

ParentingPink said...

I think it's wonderful that you are trying to help your family eat healthier. I know it's tough - I don't even know how you manage with two sets of twins +, but when my third was born I found myself getting "lazier" too. However, I have found some really GREAT things that are QUICK and work FAST that my daughters love.

For breakfast - try the Quacker instant Oatmeal with apples and cinnimon in it. It's quick and healthy. For snack, my girls love sliced apples (peeled of course!) dipped in peanut butter. You can even buy a "honey" mixed peanut butter at the grocery store that is amazingly good too! My daughters also love baby peeled carrots and celery dipped in ranch dressing. The "dips" are a big hit around here. I'm sure you've tried all of these things, but wanted to let you know what was "quick" that worked for me :-)

Creative Junkie said...

We just couldn't do fat free, except for salad dressings. It just tastes so bad. So we do everything low fat.

I'm trying to get everyone to eat a little healthier over here as well. My eldest is supposed to be keeping a food diary for the next two weeks and then we schedule a visit with a nutritionist, as it turns out that my daughter's cholesterol is high as well.

Doré said...

It sounds like you are making some great progress with the kid's nutrition. I definitely need to take some tips from you. I am a huge fan of the Eggo Cinammon French Toast squares and frozen chicken nuggets... they are just so easy. Guess I need to look for my domestic side... actually, I'm not sure I have one of those!

newlyweds said...

Great job. I try to make healthy choices as well. I also have a really great recipe book called deceptively delicious, that has tons of way to "hide" more veggies in foods for kids.

Elle said...

We're trying a few changes around here too. Our youngest has food allergies and sensory issues, so I've been way too lenient with his meals. We've been upping the whole grains and fruits and veggies. It hasn't been easy, but it's a work in progress. Good luck!

Elizabeth Channel said...

WOW--you have pressed on full-force! I am so glad your children like the chicken nuggets. Mine don't like them, but of course I used the gf.cf bread crumbs...

Around here if you get some apple juice, you are in hog heaven...it's lean dealings.

Friends don't even ask for snacks anymore.

rjleaman said...

I hear you about trying to get them to take the fat-free dressing! Same problem here with He Who Hogs The Power Tools...

Being sneaky about it was pretty successful, though: I just told him I was getting the fat-free dressing for me, and then kept mixing it in with his full-fat dressing until more and more of it was the fat-free kind. By the end of a couple of months, he couldn't tell the difference.

Oh, but shhh! Secret! I still haven't 'fessed up to him about pulling the switcheroo.

I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr



 
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