What’s in a Nugget?

I was recently at a friend’s house while her daughter was being served dinner. “She only eats chicken nuggets,” my friend said, “she’d eat them at every meal if I let her.” I began to think, what is the lure in this mysterious little morsel of processed meat? Why do kids love them so much? Do they really have any chicken in them at all? Would any food taste this good if you breaded and baked it?

Posted on | Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD | Comments ()

I was recently at a friend’s house while her daughter was being served dinner. “She only eats chicken nuggets,” my friend said, “she’d eat them at every meal if I let her.” I began to think, what is the lure in this mysterious little morsel of processed meat? Why do kids love them so much? Do they really have any chicken in them at all? Would any food taste this good if you breaded and baked it?

I decided to do some investigation and what I found was downright scary. Most people have heard this before. The “typical” nugget is basically a mixture of chicken parts grounded up into a mixture that is then mixed with refined flour and breaded with even more refined flour – yikes! It was really the bigger picture though that I thought of – and that is the picture of a processed frenzied nation, and it’s starting early. My friend’s daughter is 3.

A 2009 article in Time highlighted the 9 "kids' foods" never to feed your kids. A particular chicken nugget topped the list. But, amid the warnings, nuggets remain the favorite of most kids I know. Parents, you have an incredible responsibility ahead of you and that is to teach your little ones the value of healthy food choices and it can’t start too early. I’ve often said that the world is filled with thousands and thousands of healthy food choices and most of them are not found in the freezer section. Make your own nuggets with 100% breast meat and whole grain panko breadcrumbs and see how much your kids love them. Your homemade nuggets will contain 2 ingredients. Bet if you take a look at the nuggets in your freezer right now, they contain a bit more? Think about that.

Blog written by Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD
Kristin Kirkpatrick is a registered dietitian and Wellness Manager for Cleveland Clinic’s Lifestyle 180 program. Kristin has...