How Chicken Nuggets Are Made

Jamie Oliver did an experiment for his Food Revolution in which he shows children how their beloved chicken nuggets are actually made, hoping to sufficiently gross them out and help them to choose differently once they know the truth. Sadly, the American children were still happy to eat the monstrosity he created. In contrast, the British children he’d practiced on previously were unwilling to eat once they knew the truth. Maybe the fluoride in our water and the drugs for the ADHD have made our children so completely stupid that they cannot make good choices. Pathetic. Watch for yourself to have an idea how these nuggets get made; it’s interesting, in a disgusting sort of way.

What difference does it make what you eat? Parts is parts, after all. Right?

And, now for some writing.  This article explains exactly how those things are made, at the end is a recipe for making your own healthier nuggets. I’m not sure I’d use the cornflakes, but whole wheat breadcrumbs would work fine.

Chicken Nuggets
By Leanne Ely, C.N.C.

Admittedly, it doesn’t take much to get my nutritional feathers ruffled. I’ve seen a lot of things that have made me crazy over the years and you’ve heard me harp on them—from “healthy” whole wheat donuts to artificial sweeteners, Olestra and acrylimide. I’ve sang the siren’s song about good nutrition and what I believe too, to be common sense nutrition. Why would we drink something, in the name of quenching our thirst, that looks like toilet bowl cleaner or antifreeze?

Anyway, today I stop singing and start sounding the alarm. We absolutely must stop the madness that is fast food. We absolutely must stop the madness and the obesity and the rise in degenerative diseases. We are raising an unhealthy generation because we feed this junk to our kids! PLEASE STOP!

I know there are attempts at some fast food places to do better. As Oprah says, “When you know better, you do better.” Well, today you are going to know better about chicken nuggets, because today, I am going to tell you all I know about them.

First, McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets contain 38 ingredients. Yes, THIRTY EIGHT ingredients! Some of those ingredients are things you wouldn’t give to your DOG. Some of those things, you could use to start a fire—well, almost. Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) is a derivative of petroleum that is sprayed on the nugget or in the box that holds the nugget to keep it fresh. TBHQ is also a derivative of butane, also known as lighter fluid. It is furthermore a suspected carcinogen—cancer-causing agent.

The batter is set in shortening (hydrogenated oils) and in turn, it is cooked in partially hydrogenated oils at the restaurant. Some of the additives in there are antifoaming agents, emulsifiers, leavening agents, preservatives, fillers and binders. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it? Something you’d want to feed your kids?

The nuggets themselves contain 53% chicken. You wanna know what that 53% chicken is? I promise you it isn’t nice white chicken breasts! If you find those nuggets spongy and watery it’s because the chicken meat and skin is ground into a slurry, binders and fillers are added, plus lots of water, then formed into neat little nuggets.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ILL. Why do we manufacture stuff like this and then call it food? Where’s the value in it?

Please, for the children’s sake and for your own health’s sake, let’s stop this craziness with the food. It’s time to get back to basics and only eat food that is 100% identifiable. If you don’t know exactly what went into what you’re eating, you’re making a mistake. Our bodies do not need to contend with more pollution than what is already in our environment.

Here’s a quick and easy alternative to chicken nuggets:

Crunchy Honey Mustard Chicken Fingers
Serves 4

1 pound chicken tenders
1/4 cup honey, warmed
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup corn flakes, crushed

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.

In a small bowl, mix mustard and honey together. In another bowl, place the crushed corn flakes.

In assembly line fashion, dip the chicken tender in the mustard mixture, then roll in the corn flakes and place on the cooked sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes, or when cooked through

Copyright (C) 2010 Leanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved

Quinoa: A True Superfood

Have you ever eaten quinoa? It’s a small grain-like food, similar in size to couscous or millet. I first tried it a few years ago and was intrigued. I found out how highly nutritious it is, but when I tried to make it at home, I just couldn’t get past the bitter/strong taste of it, so I gave up.

I’ve recently been interested in trying again. So I learned a little bit more about it, and now I’m determined. Here’s why.

Quinoa is not actually a grain (from the grass family), but a seed.  It contains all essential amino acids, making it a complete protein all on its own. (Unlike rice, for example, which must be combined with beans to make a complete protein). And, it’s gluten-free, which is helpful for those who have a gluten intolerance or for infants (above the age of one year) who are first being introduced to grains.

I’m all for nutrient-dense food. I’m learning that by serving such stuff, I can both save money (not wasting it on things that may fill the belly but not provide much nutrition), and increase health in my family.  So, I decided to give quinoa another try.

I found out that the bitterness I objected to was due to saponins, and that the way to get rid of it is to soak the quinoa first and then rinse it. I also used chicken broth instead of plain water for cooking it, and it was pretty good.

I made this recipe for Sweet Potato Quinoa the other day. It turned out ok; I didn’t add the cayenne pepper though.

I’ll be trying more recipes for this superfood in the weeks to come, and of course, I’ll post any recipes I really like. If you have any good quinoa recipes to share, let me know!

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

Confession: We’ve been using imitation vanilla. As in Fake. As in, filled with chemicals and nothing good. And it doesn’t even taste good! Why, you may ask? Well, to save money. Vanilla extract is expensive–and that’s in the US, where it’s made. Add import expenses and taxes to that, and, … can’t even find it here without really looking. And when you do, you don’t want to buy it because of the exorbitant price.

A while ago, I saw a recipe somewhere for making your own vanilla extract. I thought it sounded interesting, but did nothing about it as I didn’t have the brain space and energy needed to hunt down real vanilla beans.

And then, the other day, I happened to find some.

I bought 3 for 20 shekels, which is about $5. Expensive, yes. But only about as expensive as ONE BOTTLE OF EXTRACT. And then I found that with those SAME 3 vanilla beans, I can make enough extract to last for YEARS!

I got mine brewing the other day and sadly need to wait 8 weeks. But then…..vanilla. In pancakes, desserts, drinks…..I love the flavor. Good stuff.

Here’s the recipe, found at

How to Make Vanilla Extract

Commercial vanilla extract usually has simple syrup (sugar water) added to the extract to give it a sweet aftertaste. You can do this if you want, but if you are using the vanilla for baking, there really is no need.


  • 3 vanilla beans
  • 1 cup vodka
  • glass jar with tight fitting lid


1 Use kitchen scissors or a sharp paring knife to cut lengthwise down each vanilla bean, splitting them in half, leaving an inch at the end connected.

2 Put vanilla beans in a glass jar or bottle with a tight fitting lid (mason jars work well). Cover completely with the vodka.

3 Give the bottle a good shake every once in a while. Store in a dark, cool place for 2 months or longer.

Lasts for years. You can keep topping it off with vodka once in a while as you use it, just remember to give it a good shake.

Searching on Vanilla for this post, I came across this music video. It’ll bring you back. (I was unable to embed it here. Sorry!)

Eggplant Torte Recipe

I’m always looking for more recipes that do not include meat and are both easy and inexpensive to make. This is one of them.
Eggplant Torte a la Provencal adapted from The Occasional Vegetarian by Karen Lee

1 large eggplant sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
2 medium potatoes sliced into 3/8 inch rounds
2 medium tomatoes sliced into 3/8 inch rounds
1 medium red onion sliced into 3/8 inch rounds
1 medium zucchini sliced into 3/8 inch rounds

3/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/3 tsp dried thyme

  1. For seasoned oil, combine oil, garlic, and thyme, salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Brush eggplant with oil & broil for 2-3 minutes until brown. Remove from oven.
  3. Toss other vegetables to coat (but keep them in separate sections in your bowl or separate bowls.
  4. Layer vegetables in an oiled baking dish, tucking basil leaves between layers.
  5. Repeat until all have been used up.
  6. Pour any remaining oil over pan
  7. Bake uncovered for 1 hour at 350F

Serve hot or at room temperature. This torte can be refrigerated for 1 day. Reheat before serving.

Tomato Basil Salad with Goat Cheese

This salad is simple, elegant, and delicious. It’s good for date night and yet my kids can’t get enough of it.

Tomato Basil Salad with Goat Cheese

2-3 large tomatoes, sliced
fresh basil
goat cheese
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper

  1. Arrange tomato slices on a serving dish.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil & sprinkle liberally with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  3. Cut ribbons of basil & sprinkle on the tomatoes.
  4. Sprinkle goat cheese

Don’t tell anyone how easy it was!

Menu Plan Monday-June 8

Another Monday. With all that’s going on around here (potty training, new bikes, forest fires causing us to evacuate–you know, the normal stuff), I didn’ t even remember that it’s Monday, and Monday means “post your menu plan”. And all I can say is that I am SO glad that I actually already had it planned out. In fact, if I’d been more on top of things, I could’ve already had it scheduled to post. Maybe next time.

Ha ha. I have to laugh. I just looked at my calendar and realized that I actually MISSED Monday, and today is Tuesday! Well, better late than never!

So, on with it.

Monday: Eggs scrambled with veggies. Toast.

Tuesday: Chinese Fried Rice. Pictured above.

Wednesday: Sweet n Sour Cabbage Soup. Dark rye bread.

Thursday: Mediterranean White Beans and Rice

Friday: Crockpot Sausage, Peppers, & Onions over pasta

Saturday: Leftover Cabbage Soup

Sunday: Mexican Taco Casserole

Have you made your menu plan yet for this week? It’s already Tuesday. What are you waiting for!

Middle-Eastern Rice and Lentils

Middle-Eastern Rice and Lentils Recipe

Another great recipe from my The Occasional Vegetarian book.

1 cup lentils
1 cup canned tomatoes, crushed
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock or stock of your choice (I use my chicken broth)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup whole grain rice
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, sliced

  1. Bring the lentils, tomatoes, bay leaf, cumin, stock, & pepper to a simmer over a high heat in a medium sized pot. Stir, cover, and turn the heat to low, and simmer until the lentils are cooked through and have absorbed the liquid, 45 mins to 1 hour. Add 1 tsp of the salt during the last 5 mins of cooking. Remove bay leaf
  2. Cook the rice in another pot during this time.
  3. Meanwhile, in a skillet, saute the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until golden, about 5 minutes (I like to make extra onion. It’s yummy)
  4. Place the rice on a plate, put the lentils on top of the rice and the onion on top of the lentils. Serve hot or at room temperature.

This recipe is very simple and easy to make. It’s filling and tasty. I double it for my family. Enjoy!

Menu Plan Monday-May 30

Here’s what’s on our menu this week:

Monday-Spaghetti w/ Simply Delicious Spaghetti Sauce, salad, garlic bread (I learned this great easy make-ahead garlic bread trick)

Tuesday-Middle Eastern Rice and Lentils

Wednesday- Potato Leek Soup and salad

Thursday- Pita Pizzas, veggie sticks with guacamole for dipping

Friday- broiled sole, steamed green beans, whole wheat couscous, Apple crisp

Saturday- leftover Potato Leek soup

Sunday- frozen pre-made veggie & tuna noodle casserole

The “Musical Fruit”-Frugal Fridays

“Beans, beans, the musical fruit. The more you eat, the more you…..”

I always found this little rhyme at least moderately amusing. It makes me giggle even now. I haven’t shared it yet with my guys because I just know they will probably not stop saying it & then collapse in hysterics. But, they are boys, after all, It might be time to teach them about armpit “honks”. Crass, yes. But some things are just funny.

But I digress.

Beans are extremely nutritious. See bean nutrition facts here. Beans, when combined with rice, provide a complete protein. Many Latin American countries rely on this combination for most of their dietary needs.

But why do I mention it here, on Frugal Friday? Because beans are CHEAP! Really, really inexpensive. Buy the dried beans in a bag, soak them overnight, and then follow any of thousands of recipes. I have some recipes for beans here on my blog;

Chickpeas and Spinach
Lentil and Potato Stew with Spiced Oil
Mexican Taco Casserole
Cuban Black Beans
Amazing Black Bean Burgers

Easy Hummus

Jamaican Rice and Peas

Have a good weekend!

How (&Why) To Make Chicken Broth

Other than eating a yummy bowl of chicken soup (especially with matzah-balls) once in a while, I used to think that there was no real reason I would spend my time making it. I mean, soup is for eating, right? Wrong.

I found out that chicken broth is for cooking with. From soups and stews to seasoned rice and sauces, chicken broth (or any good vegetable broth) is an absolute must-have for cooking. And although you can buy canned or boxed broth, it costs MUCH LESS to make it yourself. And it really is easy.

Oh, and you don’t need to use any MSG to make it delicious! I actually used to use chicken boullion in my chicken soup and didn’t know I could get it to be flavorful without it. I mean, our grandmothers must have been absolutely primitive to not have such a convenience item, right?

Freeze your broth in a muffin tin, then pop out the frozen servings for easy use.


  1. A BIG pot
  2. Bones or carcasses you’ve been saving from previously roasted chicken dinners. OR necks or carcasses you get on sale at the market. OR 2 whole chickens (this will be a little more work, but will give you meals out of it as well)
  3. Add 2 onions (halved), 4 carrots, a bunch of celery leaves/1-2 stalks
  4. Add a bunch of parsley and a bunch of dill (thanks to my cousin Wendy for teaching me!)
  5. Cover with water and simmer away.

If you are using the 2 whole chickens, take the meat off of one chicken after 1 hr, returning the bones to the pot. Simmer away. Save that chicken meat for another yummy meal.

After a couple of hours, strain and remove remaining meat. That meat will be tough but works fine for chicken salad, etc. Remove all solids, strain soup, cool, and freeze.