Slow Down for Fast Food

Most kids love the novelty of fast food, but it’s scary to think about what goes into a lot of the products they sell as “food.” These simple, kid-friendly recipes will be your family’s new favorite “happy meals.”

Story and Photography by Kerry Guice

Slow Down for Fast Food

Looking at the nutritional information on a lot of the big chains’ websites will leave you scratching your head. How do some of their salads have so many calories? Do they just inject fat into lettuce!?

I remember the first time my daughter had a fast-food hamburger, and she took a bite and then gave me a bewildered look and said, “I can’t chew this!” I was all at once punched in the gut with guilt for giving in to her, but also a little proud that she didn’t love it.

Fast forward to today, when my kids are almost 7 and 9, and yes, we have fast food on occasion. But not often, and a lot of times when they do convince me to get them a kids’ meal, I quickly realize that they really
just want the toy, as the fries go untouched and the burger is rarely finished. Some places are worse than others, but fast food is definitely not something I want to be a regular part of my family’s diet.

Hamburgers, chicken nuggets and pizza don’t have to be full of greasy calories and cheap “meat.” When made at home, these meals can be just as fun, but full of nutrients! When eating these baked chicken nuggets,
my son, Archer, said with a big smile, “There’s, like, actual chicken inside of these!” And I’d put my homemade pizza up against a $5 in-a-warming-oven-for-hours pizza any day of the week! There are so many ways to hide
veggies in a pizza!

Next time the kids beg for fast food, pull out these recipes (and have them help!), and enjoy a nice, slow meal with your family that won’t leave you full of grease and regret.

Baked Chicken Nuggets

Makes 2 6-nugget servings

1⁄2 cup all purpose flour
1⁄2 cup almond meal (almond flour)
1 1⁄2 teaspoons garlic powder
1⁄2 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 large chicken breast, trimmed and cut into 12 equal chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, beat 2 eggs. Add the chunks of chicken to the flour mixture, then shake off excess flour and add to egg mixture, then again into the dry mix (I do this 6 chunks at a time). Carefully shake off the excess flour and place on a plate. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the nuggets on either side just until golden, then place on a cookie sheet and cook at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce and fruit on the side.

Homemade pizza recipe

Homemade Pizza

For the dough (makes enough for 2 large pizzas):

2 cups very warm water
4 teaspoons rapid rise yeast
4 teaspoons sugar
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sea salt
4 1⁄2-5 cups all purpose flour (plus more for dusting countertop)

For the sauce (makes about 2 1⁄2 cups):

1 tablespoon olive oil
1⁄2 cup diced carrots
1⁄2 cup diced red pepper
1 can diced tomatoes
3⁄4 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic
1⁄2 teaspoon oregano
1⁄2 teaspoon onion powder
3 tablespoons tomato paste
Fresh herbs (optional)

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, add the warm water, sugar and yeast. Stir together and let sit between 3-6 minutes, or until the yeast “blooms,” making the top of the water foamy and
smelling yeasty. Add the olive oil and salt, then stir. Turn the mixer on low, and add the flour 1⁄2 cup at a time. You may only need 4 1⁄2 cups, but add only 1 tablespoon at a time after that just until the dough comes away
from the sides of the bowl. Remove the dough from the bowl then coat that same bowl with a little olive oil. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a dish towel, and put in a warm place for up to two hours, or until
doubled in size (to reduce rising time by half, set your oven to 170, and when it reaches that temperature, *turn the oven off* and place the covered dough bowl in the oven with the door cracked open).

While the dough is rising, make the sauce. In a pot over medium heat, sautee the carrots, garlic and bell pepper with the olive oil and seasoning until the carrots are soft (lower the heat if garlic starts to brown too
quickly). This should take about 7-10 minutes depending on how small you dice your carrots. When carrots are softened, add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste and stir, cooking for just another 2-3 minutes. Let cool and
add to food processor and puree. If using fresh herbs, add to the food processor before pureeing.

When dough is ready, punch down and place on a floured countertop. Make into an oval ball, then cut into two equal pieces. (Note: If you only need one pizza, make the other dough ball into a nice round ball, cover
with a little olive oil, and place in a gallon freezer bag and store in the freezer for another time. Just set it out on the counter the morning you want to use it and it will thaw by the time you’re ready to make dinner). Roll
the dough into a large circle and carefully place on pizza pan. Top with sauce, cheese and your favorite toppings, bake 7-10 minutes. I like using turkey pepperoni for a less greasy pizza.

Tips for a healthier pizza: Peel and grate just the flesh (not the seedy middle) of a small yellow squash, and mix that into the cheese! It will melt into the cheese and you won’t even be able to taste it!