Chicken nuggets… (what ARE they anyhow?)

chix nugThe idea of chicken nuggets turns my stomach. I know they have (somehow) become a staple of American kids’ diets, but for my entire life, I have found them disgusting.

Recently there has been a bunch of hub-bub about what’s really in those chicken nuggets… and patties too (and I really wonder if they are worth of having “chicken” in the name at all!).

My kids, like me, consider them fairly gross.  Have you SEEN this photo? Yes, that pink stuff right there (that looks like strawberry soft-serve ice cream) IS the stuff those nuggets are made of.chix nuggs

Want to know what’s in them? It’s called “mechanically separated chicken”.  A machine actually removes all of the disgusting leftovers after the quality parts are removed… it removes the tendons, tissue, cartilage, organs, and other chicken extras, and grinds them into a fine poultry paste. An ammonia wash is used to kill the bacteria and, because it looks (and now tastes!) horrible, artificial colors and flavors need to be added to make them edible.  In reality, with all of the other additives, only about 50% is even some chicken “part”… and that doesn’t even get into the nutritional side of the story. The sodium and fat content is appalling.

I tried to show this to my kids and my daughter said, emphatically, “No… Mom! I can’t watch!” If you want your kids to break-the-habit, try to get them to take a look. (I actually have two videos… this one shows the kids rejecting the nuggets, but I will warn you… the embedded video below shows kids STILL willing to eat the grossness they saw… a testament to how we’ve allowed this “food item” to become acceptable!)

Just like any other food item, not all chicken nuggets and patties are created equal.  There are some semi-decent products out there but, buyer beware. If it says “mechanically separated chicken” on the package, throw the box and RUN! … because that icky pink stuff is what you’re buying.

Instead, pack up some healthy food (in reusable containers!) when you’re on the go… or serve up a rainbow of healthy foods in a muffin pan when you’re at home.  Just reconsider chicken nuggets.

Truly, there are so many better, healthier, nutritious options… chicken nuggets are not really chicken nuggets.

Waste: when “carry-out” food gets “carried away”!

condi pktAhh… Fridays.  The infamous Friday night “Carry-Out Food and Movie Nite” in the Mom Goes Green household.  The night when I don’t have to think about “what’s for dinner” and instead can rely on the simple question of where to get the food.

While this has become a tradition for us, it also brings the concern of all the waste that can be created when I don’t do the cookin’!  Who hasn’t experienced this with their order?: large, rustling bag; unneeded plastic utensils; mountains of paper napkins; a sea of condiment packets; towers of containers; single-use cups… the list could go on and on (and that list has a harsh consequence for landfill waste).

So, consider this when placing your next order:

  • Coffee – Americans use approximately 15 BILLION paper coffee cups per year.  If your order includes coffee, bring your own cup… they’ll fill it for you.
  • Condiments – really, if you’re taking it home, you probably have the same condiments waiting for you in your refrigerator.  Instead of thinking “Well, I PAID for them”, think “No thanks.  I have them already” and they aren’t in a dozen tiny packets, cups and containers.
  • Napkins – skip ‘em.  Tell them you don’t need any since you probably already use cloth napkins at home…. righplst frkst? 🙂 Right.
  • Utensils – goes without saying… we all DEFINITELY have those at home, so tell them you don’t need them either.
  • Containers – many restaurants provide you with some decent containers but, while it’s nearly impossible to refuse them, you can reuse them.  Clean them, reuse them and consider them the next time you reach for a Ziploc or other disposable storage container.
  • Cups – I certainly voiced my dislike of all the kids disposable cups during a dine-in meal, but many of those are also reusable, for beverages, storing craft supplies and lots of other projects.
  • Bags – walk in with your own.  Tell them you don’t need their oversized plastic version… after all, you ALWAYS keep your reusable bags in your car…. riiiight?  🙂

If you follow all of these suggestions, imagine this… you would have zero-waste…. AND you would have a nice relaxing evening, with a clear conscience and absolutely zero cooking too!

(Fast) food for thought… you’ll be shocked… or maybe not!

I have a story that NEEDS to be shared…

I recently attended a local PTA Council meeting and went to a special session on “Health & Nutrition”.  I had no idea what would be discussed, but having two young children, I’m always interested in the topic and how I can improve upon our overall health.

What I learned nearly made me fall off my chair.

burgrThe presenter began by asking everyone to pass around a plate that held a McDonald’s hamburger and Burger King fries.  My stomach churned at the thought, because we really avoid fast food (especially these two chains!).

When I was the (un)lucky recipient of the plate my stomach churned even more than expected.  Everything looked dried out and completely unappetizing… as if they had been sitting in a low-heat oven for a few hours.  (Note: they looked nothing like these photos!)

After the plate made its rounds, the presenter asked for thoughts about the “age” of the food.  Guesses ranged from a few hours to a few days.friese

Guess what?  That burger & fries were four and a half years old… yes, I said YEARS!

They had never been frozen, never been refrigerated, never received special “treatment”… they just sit around in their original containers.

The point?  There was no mold, no decay, no visible bacteria, no growing “green fuzzies”.  Nothing.

And what does this tell us? Essentially, these foods are so processed, so preserved, so lacking in enzymes and usable nutrition, that not even bacteria, mold or microbes could locate enough nutrients to develop and grow.  Can you, therefore, imagine was it does (or doesn’t do) for our bodies?!?

Enough said. The next time you’re looking for a “fast food”, grab a banana!

Can pizza boxes be recycled? The REAL answer!

It’s somewhat bizarre that this post follows my recent post about the psychology of food and how organic and healthy foods can psycholzza-boxogically help us feel better, but seriously… we all splurge and occasionally eat the bad stuff too.  Show me one person who doesn’t and I’ll show you a hundred who DO!

Anyhow, I often find myself frustrated with the inaccurate information about what can be recycled and what cannot.  Pizza boxes are a prime example because I’ve seen them listed on far too many “recyclable lists” without clear explanations.

Most are made of corrugated cardboard… a material that is normally recyclable, but I want to clear up this misconception…

PIZZA BOXES SHOULD NOT BE RECYCLED!

There are exceptions to this rule, so here is the 411 on pizza boxes.  As soon as foods (especially oils, cheese, etc.) absorb into this cardboard it become UNRECYCLABLE.  If recycled, the paper fibers will not be able to separate from the oils during pulping and a tainted pizza box can actually ruin an entire batch of paper during this process.  If some parts, like the lid, don’t have any oil or food on it, tear it off and recycle it, but if it’s dirty, forget it… and toss it in the trash.

This also holds true for any paper products that have been soiled by food… paper plates, napkins, paper towels, etc.  If your rationale is that these items will be weeded out before recycling just remember that they can cross-contaminate a lot of paper around them while they wait to be recycled, so you are also ruining a bunch of otherwise recyclable materials.

While I’m on this pizza box kick, check out this nifty creation from e.c.o. Incorporated.  It actually turns your pizza box into your plates and storage container.

It’s Friday… so after you take a break from a week full of cooking and call your local pizza joint, remember the real answer for recycling the box:  your recycle bin and all the other papers inside say “no thanks”!

Green your drive-thru and carry-out orders.

drive-signEven the greatest of moms have to occasionally rely on a drive-thru or carry-out to fill the dinner menu! While the nutritional content of the food already has us feeling guilty, a green mom often cringes at the waste and excess that accompanies the food.

Who hasn’t received an order that crushes all of our environmental rules?!

Here are a few simple ways to put at least some of the guilt at bay:

  • First, park the car! Truly… idling creates more emissions than actually driving your car! And contrary to belief, stopping and restarting your car does not burn more fuel.carry-bag
  • Skip the plastic utensils and napkins. If your order is going home with you, tell them you don’t need these items (that may only get thrown away).
  • Take only what you need/want. Avoid that 16-year old’s full grip on 12 packets of ketchup! Tell them exactly what and how many of the condiments you need instead of accepting those you don’t.
  • Say no to beverage holders. If you can manage it, use your car’s cup holders for beverages instead of taking a holder… but if you do take it, recycle it!
  • Use your own cup. If your order will include coffee, hand over your travel mug and ask them to use it.
  • Take your own bag in with you. Forgo that enormous, rustley, non-recyclable plastic bag that holds your carry-out order and tell them you’ll put your order in your own bag instead.

While these ideas might help satisfy your green side, I can’t guarantee that you won’t feel slow, sluggish or that overall sense of “ick” after your order gets consumed!