There will be another installment of The Lazy Mother’s Guide to Saving the Planet soon, but I had planned this post for the first night of Hanukkah.
It was sometime around mid-October when I realized that I was spending entirely too much time thinking about chicken nuggets. Now, I am used to spending a lot of time thinking about food. I like to cook; I like to eat; I like to think about cooking and eating. However, I usually obsess about foods slightly more sophisticated than chicken nuggets.
In the middle of the summer, I decided that Zachary was no longer going to be given commercial chicken nuggets. Frankly, I had never wanted to give them to him in the first place, but I was desperately seeking a protein source beyond peanut butter. He had agreed to eat chicken nuggets, albeit in limited quantities, so I had caved. Then, Benjamin started showing an interest. Since Benjamin is an astonishingly good eater, I decided that we were not going to start stooping to the lowest common denominator. Zach was going to have to rise to his little brother’s level.
So, I became one of those women I had sworn I would never be. You know – the ones who make home-made chicken nuggets. Yeah, that’s me making you look bad.
The nuggets I devised were actually phenomenally good. They are, to be precise, spinach-apple-chicken nuggets, made with organic chicken and whole wheat breadcrumbs, lovingly basted with olive oil and then baked till brown. Honestly, they are fantastic. J would like me to serve them for supper, but they are such a pain in the ass to make that I refuse. I make large batches and freeze them in bunches for Friday lunch.
Ben is crazy about these things, although he is pretty much crazy about all vegetables, sources of protein, fruits, and items requiring catsup. The nuggets suit him perfectly because he is still working on teeth, and since I puree the spinach, apple, and chicken in advance of forming the nuggets (so that there are no textures to offend Zach), they do not require mashers.
But Zachary? The intended recipient of the chicken nuggets? Yeah, you know what his response is. After nibbling off the breadcrumbs: “They’re green.” Kinda the point, baby.
I steeled myself. “He will not starve from missing lunch.” Every Friday for two months. “He will not starve from missing lunch.” Sooner or later, he was going to have to cave. “He will not starve from missing lunch.”
Early October: “Would you eat them if they were not green?”
Now, I was making apple-chicken nuggets. Still really good. Still really healthy. Still really sitting there on his plate.
Finally, I gave up. I was going to have to provide him with an alternative. It just was not going to happen. And now I had gotten the other one, the one who will eat anything, addicted to these pain-in-the-ass, take-me-an-hour-and-a-half-to-make chicken nuggets. I had devised them to make the older child eat something outside of the carbohydrate food group, and here I was, stuck making them in perpetuity for the younger child who considers kidney beans a really good snack and goes ape-shit over peas.
And then, on a Friday two weeks ago, a great miracle happened. Forget eight days of oil, forget virgin births. A real miracle happened here in my kitchen. Two Fridays ago, the kid picked up a chicken nugget and ate it as though he had never thought twice.
I was sure that was it. It was a one-shot deal, like blueberries, hamburgers, and broccoli, all of which he has had a one-day interest in. Raisins? He once ate and enjoyed two. Not two portions, just two raisins. I was certain we were facing a similar situation. But – and I weep while I write this – last Friday, the miracle repeated itself.
You just let me know if you want the recipe.