• 22Mar

    Contributed by GMM Community Health Dietitian, Laura Delfausse MS, RD, LD

     

    I have had a lot of clients ask me lately about chicken nuggets. Do we or don’t we serve these to our children? My answer, which is the same answer to just about any question, is that everything fits into a healthy diet with moderation. Are they the worst food on the planet? Certainly not. Are they the best? Certainly not; but if this is a food you and your children refuse to forgo, I can provide some tips to help you make the most informed decisions about the nuggets you are bringing to the table.

     

    Essentially, chicken nuggets come in two forms:

    1) Press and formed: These are the type of nuggets that you may be used to getting from your favorite fast food joint. The process of making these nuggets, involves liquefying the chicken and mechanically separating it into meat, water and fat. This creates a meat paste. Then a binder, like modified corn starch, is needed to get this paste into a nugget form. Finally, because much of the fat has been removed, the chicken left behind is quite bland. Therefore, different flavor additives like salt, autolyzed yeast and artificial flavors are added to put some flavor back in.

    2) Whole meat: These are your chicken tenders or chicken strips and they are called whole meat because that is exactly what they are. There is no need for binders, because there has been little mechanical manipulation of this meat. Sometimes they are pumped with flavor enhancers, like salt or rice starch, so you should look out for those.

    So which kind is the best? Hands down, I would say the whole meat. As a general rule, the less processed is the always the best choice. One weakness of both forms is in the fact that they are both breaded and fried. There is no way to get around this, unless you make your own and oven bake them, such as in the following recipe: http://www.marthastewart.com/897986/baked-chicken-nuggets). I made them myself, so I assure you that they are delicious.  If you are buying your nuggets, go for the least breaded variety, they will hold the least amount of fat.

    One last caveat, the meanings of the term “chicken tenders” or “chicken strips” are not  enforced by the USDA. Therefore, many pressed and formed varieties are sold under the term “chicken tender,” which can be very confusing. One thing you can do is read the labels. If there seems to be too many ingredients, then it is most likely pressed and formed. You can also tell by just looking at it. If it is perfectly formed, it is probably not a tender. Finally, your best defense is your mouth. You know what it tastes like to bite into a piece of whole chicken, vs. the soft pressed and formed nugget. If you have been duped by a product, thinking you were getting a tender, then oh well. You’ll just know better next time.
    All in all, it is inevitable that we will sometimes make less-than desirable food choices for the sake of convenience or preference. My recommendation is to minimize the casualties by educating yourself on the lesser of two evils.  If you still have questions, consider consulting a dietitian.  At Good Measure Meals, we have dietitians equipped to answer your questions regarding food, weight loss and medically related dietary concerns (i.e. diabetes).

    And in non-nugget, but still pretty exciting poultry news, GMM is releasing  oven-”fried” chicken on our new Spring/Summer 2013 menu, set to begin rolling out April 2. No additives, no hormones, just healthy. Oh, and delicious!

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • 12Mar

    Contributed by GMM’s Registered Dietitian, Rachel Stroud

     

    The history of St. Patrick’s Day has been long lost on us. No longer do we spend the day recognizing Saint Patrick’s contribution of Christianity to Ireland, or observing the richness of native Irish culture.  Instead St. Patrick’s Day has become the grand excuse to wear green (and pinch those who failed to check the date), make green cupcakes, and drink “Irish” drink in an attempt to feel connected to a commercialized version of Irish Heritage.

    But whether our celebration of St. Patrick’s Day is authentic to the origin of the day or not, it provides us with a reason to celebrate—a reason to gather with friends, cook new recipes, drink new  drinks, and connect for a day.  In my opinion, no matter what the occasion is, gathering together is always a positive thing.

    As a dietitian and a foodie, I am a strong believer in the fact that every chance to attempt a new recipe should be taken, and that if it’s green – you have a 70% chance that it’s moderately healthy (the other 30% contains a large amount of food coloring).  If you’re at all like me, and are looking for creative ways to fold green into your St. Patrick’s Day recipes and celebration, see my 3 latest Green Food Ideas below to get your creative juices flowing:

    3 Recipes to Get More Green (that do not include food coloring):

    Pesto – Most of us get stuck on the fact that pesto must include basil, olive oil, lemon juice, nuts, and parmesan…I am here to tell you that there ARE other options, and they couldn’t be simpler.  Take out the basil and substitute in ANYTHING green.  Cilantro, Broccoli, Arugula, Peas, Parsley, Mint…feel free to get creative.  Use as dippings for your Irish Soda bread, or drizzle on top of corned beef and cabbage for a little spin on the traditional.
    Grown-Up Grilled Cheese – My life changed the day someone suggested I put pickles on top of Grilled Cheese.  Disclaimer: I’m not even a big pickle fan.  I saw the suggestion as adulterating something simple and delicious and wanted nothing to do with it for the first 5 times it was suggested.  And then…the 6th time came.  They’re glorious. Some dill pickle slices on top of a classic grilled cheese sandwich are the perfect addition to your St Patrick’s Day dinner or appetizer spread.  Consider cutting them into small squares and placing a pickle round on top with a toothpick through the center.
    Roasty Toasty Broccoli – Calling all vegetable haters! Would you eat broccoli if it crunched like a pastry and was as sweet as fruit?  Broccoli has natural sugars in it that come out and caramelize when exposed to high temperatures and a little extra help.  Cut broccoli into spears, toss in olive oil, sprinkle with a dash of salt, and a pinch of sugar.  Roast in a 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until the tips are brown and crisp, and then I dare you to refrain from eating them off the pan.

  • 05Mar

    Contributed by GMM Registered Dietitian, Joy Goetz

    One interesting food trend that has accompanied the Paleo diet and the gluten-free craze is the re-emergence of ancient grains. Quinoa*, kamut, spelt, emmer, einkorn, and amaranth are no longer confined to food history classes. These grains that nurtured our ancestors are gaining popularity among chefs, foodies and health-conscious consumers from coast to coast. While most people have never heard of emmer (I hadn’t before listening to a continuing education webinar last week), chances are you have seen it labeled by its other name: “farro.”

    Farro is the Italian name for emmer, where it has long been used in soups, salads, side dishes and risotto. In fact, it was a dietary staple for ancient Romans. Its chewy texture and rich, nutty flavor makes it an interesting alternative to rice or other grains. As an added bonus, farro retains its texture well and doesn’t get mushy when overcooked or reheated.

    I would eat farro just because it is so delicious, but it is a nutrition powerhouse as well. Bonus!

    It is higher in fiber and protein than commercial wheat and is a great source of magnesium and B-vitamins, which are needed for the body to turn the food that we eat into useable energy.  As a type of wheat, farro contains some gluten, and is not recommended for those with celiac disease or gluten allergies. To get the best nutritional bang for your buck, look on the food label for “whole farro,” not “pearled farro,” which has had bran removed and is not a true whole grain.
    Good Measure Meals uses farro in several dishes including farroto (farro risotto), farro and bean salad, and farro breakfast cereal.  Be on the lookout for farro bean salad this week (Friday’s lunch!), and let us know what you think!

     

    *Although quinoa has many grain-like properties, its true horticultural classification is a chenopod

    Links:

    Whole Grain council http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/whole-grains-a-to-z

    Clemson University Chef and Child Foundation’s Ingredient of the Month publication http://www.clemson.edu/cafls/cuchefs/files/farro.pdf