How to Make Delicious Homemade Chicken Nuggets You Feel Good About Serving Your Family

When my daughter was eighteen months old I proudly, and a little bit smugly, watched as she downed just about every food that was put in front of her; broccoli, asparagus, cheese, steak – she ate with abandon and glee. I naively believed that we had escaped one of the most difficult and frustrating parts of parenting – the picky eater.

Then she turned two, and it was as if a switch was flipped on her birthday and my adventurous eater who used to wolf down a baked potato loaded with butter, cheese, bacon, chives, sour cream and broccoli would only eat sour cream and cheese – alone, with a spoon. She turned her nose up at everything I put in front of her, even things she used to love.

One day we were out to eat and she stole a chicken nugget off of one of her friend’s plate. Before I could scold her and make her give it back, she did something incredible – she ate the chicken nugget. All of it. And wanted more. Ever since I have been on a quest to perfect the chicken nugget. Those frozen nuggets you can get at the store might taste good, and are great in a pinch, but if my daughter was only going to eat one kind of meat I wanted to know exactly what she was eating – no mystery, processed chicken parts coated in unknown and unpronounceable ingredients. Below is the basic recipe that we love in my family, and the best part is that you can tailor it to your family’s needs and tastes. Even if you don’t have picky eaters, this is sure to be a winner at the dinner table.

How to Make Delicious Homemade Chicken Nuggets

Ingredients:

  • 2lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cups mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Using panko bread crumbs give the nuggets a great, crispy crunch but you can use whatever you have available. I have also found that using mayonnaise keeps the chicken nice and moist while it is baking, but you can also use 2-3 whisked eggs as a coating.

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
  2. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
  3. Place the chicken in a small bowl along with the mayonnaise and stir until all the chicken is covered. Sprinkle mixture with salt and pepper.
  4. In another bowl, mix together panko bread crumbs, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese*. Add the chicken to the bowl and stir until the chicken is well coated. You may need to press the chicken into the mixture.
  5. Place the chicken on the baking sheet and bake, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!

* This is a great step to customize your chicken nuggets. You could use garlic and onion powder, cayenne pepper, Italian seasoning, taco seasoning or ranch dressing seasoning to change the flavor of the nuggets.

Image Credit: pixabay.com

 

How to Make Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter

The combination of honey and peanut butter has long been a favorite of kids and adults alike for sandwiches. Adding in cinnamon makes it even more desirable. And the combination is rich in nutrients that are good for you.

Peanut butter, which is full of non-meat based protein, may lower your risk of heart disease, since all of the fat in peanut butter is heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Honey is known for quickly boosting the performance and endurance of athletes as well as reducing their muscle fatigue. Cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels, help your body fight infections and may reduce your risk of heart disease.

Here are four recipes for making your own honey cinnamon peanut butter, either from scratch with real peanuts or by using pre-made peanut butter, either smooth or chunky. Our recipes include ones that are heavier on honey and ones that provide either individual servings or enough to make a week or more of sandwiches for your kids. Honey cinnamon peanut butter can be used for sandwiches or as a dip for apples, celery, crackers, pretzels, cookies and more.

How to Make Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter

Recipe #1: Yields One Cup of Peanut Butter

Ingredients:

3/4 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup honey

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

This recipe is about as simple as it gets: Combine all of the ingredients and mix them thoroughly until smooth.

Recipe #2: Yields 16 Ounces of Peanut Butter

Ingredients:

1 (15 oz.) container of creamy peanut butter

3 tablespoons honey

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Again, eezy peezy! Fold the peanut butter, honey and cinnamon together until well blended.

Recipe #3: Using Raw Peanuts

Ingredients:

2 cups raw or lightly salted peanuts. Use an additional ½ cup if you want crunchier peanut butter

2 tablespoons pure raw honey

½ tablespoon coconut oil

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Salt

Directions:

Use a food processor to process 2 cups of peanuts on high for a couple of minutes. If the peanuts start to clog up on the sides of the food processor, stop the food processor and scrape down the sides. Do this as often as needed.

Once the peanuts become a paste, add in the honey, coconut oil, cinnamon and salt to taste. Continue to process the peanuts on high until the mixture is as smooth as you desire. If you want even crunchier peanut butter, add in the extra ½ cup of peanuts and pulse them until you are satisfied with the consistency.

The peanut butter will keep in an air safe container in your pantry for several weeks.

Recipe #4: Snack Size Portion

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons creamy or crunchy peanut butter

2 teaspoons honey

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, to taste

Directions:

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together until they are well blended. Because the portions in this recipe are small, use it mainly as a dip for a snack with apple slices, carrot sticks, or celery, or use it as a spread for bread, muffins, crackers or bagels.

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Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Kids

So often we are short on time in the morning and there is not a lot of time for a healthy breakfast.  You sometimes need to go food that can go on the road to school.  Or even a sit-down breakfast with the whole family where we can share a healthy meal to get fueled up for the day ahead.

Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Kids

Popsicles for Breakfast?

Yep.  Made with the healthy deliciousness of simply yogurt and fruit, these popsicles are sure to be a hit with the kiddos.  Use non-fat yogurt, any kind you like, and add fresh fruit and freeze.  They can even look good.  Add a small amount of yogurt to a Popsicle mold then slide sliced fruit down the side so it will show through the yogurt and add more yogurt and fruit until the mold is full.  Use any kind of fruit your kids like – kiwi, blueberries (lots of antioxidants), strawberries or peaches.  You can add a side of granola for dipping if you want.

Going Bananas

In keeping with the Popsicle theme, go for frozen bananas on a stick dipped in yogurt, granola, and blueberries.  Yum!  To prepare, cut the banana in half, and place on a Popsicle stick then in yogurt (non-fat) and roll in granola or crushed cereal or graham crackers.  Store these in the freezer until they are all gone.

Blueberry Citrus Shake

If you have a need for speed in the mornings, this is it.  It’s a one minute breakfast in a cup.  Combine one cup of berries with the juice of any citrus you have on hand, like oranges or tangerines or just ready-made orange juice if it’s all you have.  Add a shot of non-dairy milk, like Almond Milk, add ice, and water and blend until smooth.  Grab a cup and hit the road.

Yogurt Parfait

Put some of those empty mason jars back in service with this yummy breakfast parfait.  Everybody loves a good parfait.  Layer yogurt with fruit and granola, pop on the lid and put in the fridge for the morning crunch.  Use whatever fruit is in season, and in the winter, use frozen or canned.  It’s a great quick way to rack up your daily allowance of fruit with a serving of dairy to boot.

Breakfast Burrito

This burrito is cut into bite-sized portions like sushi so it’s fun to eat and a great healthy option to up the vegetable quota.  Chop red and green bell peppers, sauté with some eggs, spread on a whole wheat tortilla, roll up, and cut into sushi bites.  Grab and go.

Banana Open Face Sandwich

This is almost too pretty to eat, but you will get over it.  Cut the banana in half length-wise and position with the flat side up.  Spread with almond butter, honey, chopped nuts, and raisins.  It’s wholesome and tastes fantastic.

American Flag Toast

Okay, sometimes you have to do fun food because it’s, uh, fun!  This is a sit-down breakfast so do it on a weekend.  Take a piece of whole wheat toast, spread with fat-free cottage cheese, spread strawberry jam over all, leaving the top left corner open.  Arrange nine blueberries in a square in your open corner, cut four slices of banana and cut each in half.  Arrange the banana alternating with the jam to make stripes.  There you have it, a red, white, and blue breakfast!

Food should be fun as well as nourishing.  Feed the ones you love well and teach your kids food can taste good and be healthy.

 

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Peanut Butter Stuffed Cupcakes

Peanut Butter Stuffed Cupcakes

When it’s time to be bad, you’ve got to go all the way. Don’t buy a supermarket cake when you can make your own beautiful confections for just a little more energy. Besides, you can make bigger batches at a cheaper price, which means more fun munching in front of a nice movie. And if you’re a peanut butter and chocolate fan, then you’ve got to try these amazing peanut butter stuffed cupcakes.

Making the Batter

If you want a rich chocolate, then there’s something you’ll have to learn about making great cake. You need a secret ingredient, and you’ll have to decide which one you want. Some prefer to substitute eggs and oil for a few nice dollops of mayonnaise, while others enjoy the richness sour cream brings to the cake. If you want to experiment, try both for a super moist cake. For this dark chocolate batter, you’ll need:

¾ cup cocoa powder
½ cup boiling water
1 cup buttermilk
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flower
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ sticks of butter, unsalted
1 ½ cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Figuring out how to mix these items together is different for everyone, whether you mix the butter and sugar together first, or wait to add the wet items until the very end. Try it however you’re used to, and be careful. These ingredients need to be very well blended before you pour them into the tin. With this mixture, you can easily make 12-24 cupcakes, and can bake them at 350 degrees for 20 to 22 minutes. And for the best result, keep checking them to make sure they’re baked through but not burned.

The Peanut Butter Filling

Now, you could try to shove plain and simple peanut butter into the cupcakes, and if you enjoy that idea more, then of course, you can do that. But for a really nice and creamy mix, you’ll want to try something new. Try making a mixture with these two ideas:

3oz. cream cheese
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon milk
or
1 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

While these ingredients make different amounts of the batter, it’s easy to change to make the changes you’ll need. Pick one and melt them all together, working to keep the mixture creamy and thick. You’ll need the right equipment for this, so make sure you have a pastry bag with a star edged tip. Using the bag, push the tip into the now cooled cupcakes and slowly fill them with your new peanut butter mixture.

Don’t Forget the Frosting

While you could just go buy your favorite store frosting, and use that to cover up the hole made by stuffing the cupcakes, it’s more fun to make your own super sweet frosting. For simplicity, you can use either of these frosting recipes for the perfect topping to your sinfully sweet peanut butter chocolate cupcakes:

1 cup heavy cream
8 oz chocolate chips
or
1/3 cup butter
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
6 tablespoons baking cocoa
4 tablespoons milk

Melt either of these into a saucepan, using caution and low heat to keep the ingredients from burning. Let cool, and then apply the frosting to your new cupcakes. Try these amazing cupcakes today for a sweet cheat on your new year’s diet!

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Yogurt & Fruit Pops

Ice Cream

Kids love having a popsicle as a treat, especially during the summer. A store bought pop made of Kool-aide is sugary, has artificial flavors, and provides no health benefits. Why not turn their love for a popsicle into a way to sneak fruit into your child's diet? Fruit is absolutely necessary for optimal health. Low in calories and high in fiber, fruit is a key ingredient in helping to combat childhood obesity, a big concern these days.

Fruit helps protect children from certain illnesses and diseases. Fiber-rich foods keep your child's digestive system working properly and helps prevent heart disease and Type 2 diabetes later on in life. Fruit supplies important vitamins and minerals that can help kids avoid cancer and other diseases. Children around elementary school age need at least one cup of fruit each day, and teenagers should have about two cups.

The best way to make sure children have adequate fruit in the diet is using it to replace sugary treats. A cool popsicle is a real treat for children, especially in hot weather. The trick is to replace choices like Kool-aide with a healthy popsicle. Don't just simply freeze fruit juice to make popsicles. Use whole fruit with ingredients like yogurt and honey to make a delicious popsicle that will be more attractive to kids, as well.

For your popsicles, use about three cups of fresh fruit such as strawberries, blueberries or peaches. Puree the fruit in a blender. If you use strawberries, you can remove the seeds by pouring the pureed fruit through a strainer. Mix the fruit with about 1/3 cup of water, 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of honey. If you have time, mix the yogurt in only half of the fruit mixture, then layer for fun striped pops.

Blackberries, kiwi, citrus and some peaches are naturally tart. In addition to honey, adding about 1/4 - 1/2 cup of sugar will make the pops more palatable. Always taste first so you don't add more than needed. Even with added sugar, these pops will be far less caloric than other sugary treats.

Mix all ingredients well in a blender. Funnel the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze for about 4-5 hours, or overnight. Now you will have a cold, healthy pop the kids will love anytime, especially in hot weather.