Over the years, I’ve tried to figure out the
perfect most reasonable dietary balance for my kids. Of course, I want them to eat healthy, but I also want to let them be kids — have fun junk food once in a while. But it is such a slippery slope. I mean, bad-for-you-food is everywhere. And because I know how harmful it can be on their bodies, it’s hard for me to allow it as often as it’s available to them which is almost daily. At the same time, I don’t want to deprive them. But we do make fun treats around here quite often. Good thing Alice likes to bake!
Anyway, I feel like there is such judgement on what we feed our kids from all sides (too much junk vs. too little). But no one knows the “perfect” answer, and you know what? There isn’t one. Each family and each child is so different.
I do think that trying to find balance with kids is just as important as the food they eat. For many of us, that balance can mean totally different things. We have to do what works for us, and you have to do what works for you and your family.
For my family, that balance got a bit tricker years ago when I realized that my son was sensitive to gluten (not celiac, just intolerance) coupled with the fact that he and my daughter have my autoimmune genes that I pray never express. So how do I control what he/they eat all the time? The answer is…I don’t. Control isn’t the goal. Tate is now 9 so it’s up to him to want to make good choice, and many times he will, but many times he won’t, and that’s okay. And the same with my daughter. They have to make their own decisions. I’m just hoping they make educated ones, and if not now, hopefully when they are older.
A couple years ago I came to this realization:
I can control what they eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and most of their snacks. They eat well enough with me that they know what it feels like to feel good, to be able to focus their best, and have lots of energy. So when they do eat out or choose a treat, they will understand how it may (or may not) affect them.
My aim is to educate them — to make sure they recognize that the foods they eat can have a quick and direct effect on how they feel, how well they perform on a test, how much endurance they have in lacrosse, and how their moods can swing. And not by telling them. They need to feel it to get it. I think this is how they will learn to make choices beyond what tastes the best.
Over the years, my kids have done food challenges where we removed certain foods for 3 weeks. After the 3 weeks, we added the questionable foods back in, one at a time, and a decent amount so we could really “test” for impact. Then we watched and waited for symptoms like:
- stomach aches
- diarrhea or constipation or bloating
- stuffy or runny nose or congestion
- focus and mood issues(tantrums if younger)
- fatigue and lack motivation (“mom, I’m too tired to do my homework”)
- skin rashes, eczema
If you or your child is suffering from any of the above symptoms, this 3 week challenge can possibly give you some answers. I know three weeks might seem like a long time but it can be invaluable information.
So will my kids go off to college one day and go crazy their freshman year? Very likely. But you know what, I grew up eating lots of junk and I went crazy too (at least I was eating fat free…ha 🙁 . But at least after they do go crazy, they will know what to do, how to find their balance, and how to feel good again. I wish I would have known back then. Real food sure would have tasted better than the Slim Shakes and fat free ranch with fat free pretzels (which only made me feel worse)! Gross….
Okay, with the kids in mind, here is a recipe that they, everyone will love!! Over the years, I’ve made many chicken nuggets but these are best by far. I use to be such a Paleo purest when it came to food for the family that I got into the habit of just using low glycemic foods like almond and coconut flour. And while those “flours” have their merits and I still eat paleo a majority of the time. For something like “breading”, some gluten free bread crumbs go a long way. I hope y’all like them as much as we do!
There is an extra step at the end that makes these things nice and crispy. and at first, I really did want to skip that step because as you may know, I am a pretty lazy cook. But the extra few minutes of frying makes these nuggets, have the texture of real nuggets! And, because I don’t want to cook two nights in a row (see I am lazy!), I doubled the batch so last night we had nuggets and tonight, we will have chicken parmesan! Done and done!
- 1.5 lbs chicken breast, bite size
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Dash Pete's Hot Sauce (or whatever you like)
- 1 cup gluten free bread crumbs
- 1 1/2 paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2-4 tbsp (or more if needed) of avocado or coconut oil
- Wash and cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and set in a large bowl.
- Add coconut milk and lemon juice and let sit for at least 10 minutes.
- While that is sitting, get a gallon sized freezer bag and add the dry ingredients and shake to mix well.
- Preheat oven to 400.
- After letting the chicken sit for 10+ minutes (we let our sit for a few hours in the frige), get the chicken, place a colander in the sink and pour chicken into it to let the milk and lemon juice drain out.
- Add a few dashes of Pete's hot sauce and mix the chicken with it (if you want or you can skip this).
- Next add the chicken to the bag of dry ingredients and shake well.
- Spray a baking sheet (use a rack if you have one and spray that) and place the chicken spaced where it doesn't overlap.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- Get out a large pan, I used my 6 quart pot so the "frying" wouldn't splatter and make a huge mess.
- Heat the pan, or pot, on high and add 2 tbsp coconut oil or avocado oil.
- Place the chicken in the pan/pot and let cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side until it's a nice golden brown.
- Take out the chicken, use a paper towel to wipe out the pan/pot and repeat until it's all cooked.
- I doubled the recipe so last night we had chicken nuggets and tonight, chicken parmesan!