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8 Foods That Shouldn’t Be Nuggets

8 Foods That Shouldn’t Be Nuggets

We’re not sure who thought these were a good idea

It may look like chicken, but it's actually chik'n.

There’s no denying that the nugget has invaded the American culinary landscape with a vengeance. From its beginnings as a way to use chicken by-products to its modern functions as a way to get kids to eat vegetables, the nugget is one of the more divisive food shapes out there, and we’ve rounded up 8 foods that just shouldn’t have been nuggified.

8 Foods That Shouldn’t Be Nuggets (Slideshow)

The chicken nugget was the invention of Cornell University food scientist Robert C. Baker, who in the early 1960s devised a way to batter and fry shaped ground chicken. It was nothing short of an engineering marvel: ground meat was held together without falling apart, and batter stuck to the meat without falling off during frying. His plan was published and sent out to food manufacturing companies in April 1963, and the rest is history.

But the nugget really reached its apotheosis in 1977, when McDonald’s began looking for a beef alternative in response to a sales downturn due to the federal government releasing dietary guidelines that advised less red meat. They hired Keystone Foods to mechanize chicken-chopping and fish stick manufacturer Gorton’s to devise a batter, and when Chicken McNuggets debuted in 15 Knoxville, Tenn. locations in March 1980 they couldn’t keep up with demand. McNuggets went national, and today are one of the most beloved food items on the planet.

So what is it about nugget-shaped food that we love so much? Well, the more appropriate question might be “What’s not to love?” They’re hand-held, salty, fried, can be dunked into a whole bunch of different sauces, and are inexpensive. But lately it seems as if everyone has been jumping onto the nugget bandwagon (including a new restaurant in New York that serves only nuggets), and there are plenty of foods that really just shouldn’t be nuggets. Read on to learn about 8 of them.


8 Super Bowl Foods You Should Be Making, Not Buying

These recipes are game day showstoppers. Making them helps you eat a little healthier and save a little money too.

Welcome to Thrifty. A weekly column where assistant nutrition editor and registered dietitian, Jessica Ball, keeps it real on how to grocery shop on a budget, make healthy meals for one or two, and make earth-friendly choices without overhauling your entire life.

I love football and come from a family of avid football fans. Growing up, every fall Sunday afternoon was spent relaxing with the game on. Over the years, I grew my own attachments to the teams. Attending Michigan State University during their football glory days helped, too. I&aposve even dabbled in Fantasy Football. To this day without fail, I find myself with a game on every Sunday afternoon. To be honest, it is one of the few things that gives me a sense of normalcy these days.

I realize not everyone is as enthusiastic about the sport (or any sport) as I am. However, I would argue that any occasion is a good occasion to celebrate these days, even if it&aposs just with the people in your household. Will I be throwing a Super Bowl "party" for my boyfriend and I with all my favorite game day foods? Yes, yes I will. Instead of spending a bunch of money on premade store bought snacks, I opt to make these classics myself.

Here are eight Super Bowl foods you should be making to save money, eat healthier and boost the flavor of your game day.


Do eat: Radishes

If you're looking for a veggie that's as tasty as it is nutritious, radishes will certainly not disappoint. Besides being juicy and full of flavor (either sweet or pungent, depending on the variety of radish), this root vegetable is extremely versatile, used in everything from salads to stews. Short on time? Give your radishes a quick slice and enjoy them raw for a super simple snack. "I like the peppery bite and nearly bitter taste of fresh radishes," Matt Bolus, executive chef at The 404 Kitchen in Nashville, told me. "To balance those flavors I like to eat them with fresh ricotta cheese, honey, and olive oil."

They're high in fiber and low in calories and carbs, so go ahead and get your munch on.


Nutella

Clare Beatty

Nutella loses its spreadable texture and distinct chocolate flavor when exposed to the cold. Optimal eating is at room temp.

Knowing which foods you should not store in the fridge and which need cooler temperatures to stay fresh will help you reduce food waste in your own home (not to mention your dinners will taste a lot better). The next time you come home with an armload of groceries, take a moment to consider the best way to store everything so you don’t waste any money on repurchasing ingredients.


Defrosted Meat

Chatham172/Shutterstock

Freezing meat once is fine. It's when you thaw it and put it into the freezer again that things start getting a little sketchy. Going back and forth between the two states is an invitation for bacteria to reproduce and grow on your meat. That's the last thing you want when whipping up salmon burgers or chicken tacos, so portion out your frozen meats and only thaw them for immediate use.


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We may love our freezer to bits, so it may come as a shock that not all foods are freezer friendly. While there are some foods such as thawed meats that shouldn&rsquot be refrozen for health reasons, these nine foods are simply unappetising once defrosted.

Milk
According to monkeytalknews.com, you can store milk in the freezer for up to a month, but that doesn&rsquot mean you should. Milk separates when frozen, meaning it may come out of the freezer quite differently to how you put it in. If you do freeze milk, it may be better to use it for cooking rather than drinking.

Some desserts
Chocolate pudding is better fresh than frozen. Creamy or custard-filled desserts are likely to weep, separate and lose their shape in the freezer. If you do make custard, and desperately want to save it, try to freeze it immediately, thaw it in the fridge and don&rsquot leave it in the freezer for more than a month. Similarly, meringue or gelatine-based desserts will not do well in freezer.

Russet potatoes
When prepared fresh, these popular potatoes are fluffy and delicious, but when thawed after freezing they tend to become doughy and lose their shape. If you intend to freeze fresh potatoes it might be a good idea to blanch them in hot water or steam beforehand. This stops the enzyme actions that would otherwise cause changes in colour, texture and flavour.

Lettuce
Sounds obvious, doesn&rsquot it, but most leafy greens will not hold up well in the freezer. Lettuce is mostly made of water which expands when frozen, breaking down the structure of the cells. When thawed, the water returns to its smaller state, leaving the leaf soggy and floppy. The same goes for many other salad ingredients including tomato, celery and cucumber. No fresh crunch here.

Mayonnaise
Unless you like your mayonnaise to be separated and clumpy don&rsquot try storing it in the freezer. The eggs, vinegar and oil in the mayo will split, leaving a water layer on top. Unfortunately, you won&rsquot be able to return it to its original form once it has separated.

Fried foods
As much as we may love fried foods such as hot chips and chicken nuggets, we can&rsquot freeze them for later and expect them to taste nearly as good. When thawed, they will become soggy and lose their texture and flavour, so it&rsquos best to prepare fried foods fresh on the day of their consumption.

Hard cheese
It&rsquos not that hard cheeses aren&rsquot okay to eat after being frozen, but they may just be significantly less appealing. They tend to become crumbly after being thawed, though this can work well for some recipes. Also, cutting up a block of frozen cheese can be a hard and dangerous workout. Grate or cut up your cheese before freezing it.

Frosting
Storing icing that has egg white in the freezer will cause the icing to weep and lose its volume when thawed.

Pasta
Try to avoid freezing cooked pasta. When thawed, frozen pasta tends to lose its shape and flavour. If you do need to freeze cooked pasta, prepare it al dente, and the firmness of the pasta should help it hold together. Alternatively, you can freeze fresh, uncooked pasta or pre-packaged pasta bought from the cool aisle at the supermarket. These are more likely to keep their shape and flavour when cooked.

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While we're on the topic of chicken, let's talk about chicken breasts. Slow-cooked breasts can tend to be dry or have a rubbery texture. These thin slices of meat cook so quickly, it's a good idea to prepare them outside of a slow cooker crock. Try chicken thighs instead.


Benefits of Eliminating Seed Oils

“It’s like a fog has lifted.” That’s what many people tell Dr. Cate after they stop eating seed oils. Other benefits include unlocking the ability to burn body fat, fewer headaches, a better mood, less anxiety, and overall enhanced mental performance. Less craving for sugar is another perk, which is why Dr. Cate calls these oils “the gateway drug to sugar addiction.” When you eat them, the resulting combination of locked-up body fat and depleted mental energy makes you reach for junk food—especially the sugary or starchy kind.

Photo: Adobe Stock

The good news is that it’s relatively easy to upgrade your oils with healthier options full of good-for-you fats. These are Dr. Cate’s top choices of multipurpose oils that can be eaten cold and used for all types of cooking:

  • Almond oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Butter
  • Cocoa butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Ghee
  • Macadamia nut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Tallow and lard

In addition to the above oils, hemp culinary oil can be eaten cold or used for low-heat cooking. Flax and walnut oils are healthy fats that shouldn’t be exposed to heat, so they’re best used for dressings and dips.


When should I introduce finger foods to my baby?

When your baby's between 8 and 9 months old, she'll probably let you know that she's ready to start feeding herself – by grabbing the spoon you're feeding her with or snatching food off your plate.

(Note that some parents introduce finger foods at 6 months. They skip the spoon-feeding phase and allow their child to grasp soft food and feed herself. To learn more about this technique, read our article on baby-led weaning.)

At first, your baby may just rake food into her hand and bring it to her mouth, but eventually she'll figure out how to use her thumb and forefinger to pick up food. This fine motor skill is called the pincer grasp.


1. Beans and Lentils

Beans and lentils really are nutrition superstars -- rich in protein, fiber, complex carbs, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.

Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, author of Read It Before You Eat It, says healthy foods like beans and lentils defy the recommendation to only shop the perimeter of the grocery store. "There are hundreds of essential foods like beans and lentils lining the shelves in the center aisles that should not be overlooked."

Beans are versatile and easy on your wallet, and Taub-Dix suggests you can lower the sodium in canned beans by approximately 40% by thoroughly rinsing the beans in water.

Elisa Zied, MS, RD, author of Nutrition at Your Fingertips, says, "Eating a diet rich in legumes can help promote weight loss and has been shown to lower LDL [low-density -- "bad" -- cholesterol] and raise HDL [high-density -- "good" -- cholesterol]," .

Toss these nuggets into soups, stews, salads, grain medleys, or greens, or create a veggie dip, like hummus made from chickpeas, by pureeing beans and adding your favorite seasoning.


Another Reason to Never Feed Chicken Nuggets to Children

As if you needed another reason to avoid feeding chicken nuggets to children.

Earlier this month, Tyson Foods, the Springdale, AR manufacturer of all things chicken, recalled more than 75,000 pounds of frozen chicken nuggets.

Seventy-five thousand pounds, in the grand scheme of food recalls isn’t all that much. It’s a drop in the bucket, really, especially when compared with some other recent recalls. But here’s why it’s worth calling out.

“The problem was discovered after [there were] consumer complaints that small pieces of plastic were found in the products. The problem was traced to a product scraper inside a blending machine,” reports Food Safety News.

Shoddy equipment malfunctioned, leaving pieces of plastic in food most often fed to children. Surely this wasn’t the first time this happened. How many times have unreported contaminants been consumed by children unable to distinguish all the ‘should be there’ ingredients in a chicken nugget from the ‘shouldn’t be&apos stuff? More than have been reported, that&aposs pretty much a guarantee.

This is what happens though when we make the justification for feeding our children processed foods. Chicken nuggets𠅎ven the organic kind𠅊re highly processed. They meet machine after machine before they reach your child’s plate. And bite-sized prepared foods make it next to impossible for a parent to inspect what’s going into their kids’ mouths. If a parent is going to feed his or her child processed food, they should at least be able to inspect it thoroughly. Because we simply cannot trust food manufacturing to deliver us healthy, clean and safe foods. That plastic bits are even a possibility renders the system seriously flawed.