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Monday, September 28, 2015

Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets: Tastier and Healthier

The cast

Our family recently made the Gluten Free move. It was not an easy choice. Part of me wanted to go my whole life without feeling well if it meant that I didn't have to give up pound cake, donuts, hamburger buns, and all of the other wonderful, gluteny things. But part of me wanted to listen to my wife's reason that our kids were having health issues that we could isolate to gluten intolerance. Oh, wonderful gluten, it has been a fun ride, but I must find a way to live without you.

Enter my fabulous wife, who decided that we needed to find a way to continue with some of our favorite family recipes while maintaining the strict gluten free diet. And boy do I love her chicken nuggets. So here is a delicious, easy chicken nugget recipe, made gluten free and entirely from Trader Joe's ingredients (all of which are available from any grocery store, but if you have a Trader Joe's close by, why not go there?).

Ingredients:

- Three large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 4 1/2 cups corn flakes
- plain yogurt (enough to cover chicken, about 1/2 cup
- 1.5 t. garlic powder
The curtain call
- 1.5 t. paprika
- 3/4 t. thyme
- 1/2 t. salt
- grapeseed oil

Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2) Cut up the chicken into nugget sized pieces and coat in yogurt (buttermilk may be used, but the thicker the creamy base the better the coating sticks).

3) While the chicken sits in the yogurt, run the cornflakes through a food processor or blender to completely crumble them (note: chewing them to pulverize them makes them soggy, so don't try that. Trust me on this one). Add the other dry ingredients and mix well.

4) Add grapeseed oil to a shallow baking dish to coat the bottom.

5) Plop some of the chicken pieces into the dry mixture and coat well.

The audience's appreciation
6) Put the chicken pieces in the pan to get some oil on the bottom of the pieces and then flip the pieces. The oil on the top and bottom helps to make delicious, crispy nuggets.

7) Bake for 30 minutes, until crispy golden.

8) Ration the amount your kids take or you will not get any.

These are a big hit in our house, so much so that we don't even miss the gluten-heavy mixture that we used in the past. Dare I say it's even better now? Yes, I dare.

So here's to healthier, tastier eating.



Monday, September 7, 2015

Seven Things Every Teacher Wants Every Parent To Know

This school year marks my 14th year in education. I have been a teacher, a curriculum writer, a coach, an Athletic Director, an Assistant Principal, a Principal, a Director, a Head of School. Basically, if it needs to be done in a school, I have done it. Yes, I have even filled in as a crossing guard and a janitor from time to time. Every year, as the school year starts off, I feel like one of my biggest jobs is to bridge the gap between school and home. When two groups of people as passionate about their jobs as teachers and parents are come together, it can feel like clash of the Titans. That's why I decided to share my list of Seven Things that Every Teacher Wants Every Parent to Know.

1. We are on the same team. There will be times this year when you will disagree with something that happens in my classroom, but you and I have the same goal and the same desired outcome for the school year: the education of your child. Please remember that I do what I professionally know how to do to educate your child, and I want your child to be successful. I will do what I can to support you, and I ask that you do what you can to support me.

2. If there is a problem, let's talk it through like adults. There will be times when your child is disciplined, is unhappy about a situation, or is struggling academically. You may get upset. I am happy that you want to advocate for your child. But please remember that we are on the same team. If you are upset about something, let's talk it through. Set aside some time so we can make sure that we are all - student, parent, and teacher - moving in the same direction.

3. Please take a day before sending an email when you are upset. I try to practice this as well. Email makes it too easy to say something out of frustration or disappointment that you would never say in person to another human being. Sometimes I write an email and then delete it without sending it. Please remember that we are both adults, and I really do want to hear from you. But let's both agree to take some time before sending those emails that we may end up regretting.

4. Your child can learn from everything that happens. Some in the education world call this "hidden curriculum." These are the things that your child learns that are outside of the particular curriculum that I teach. In math, I'm not just teaching your child math, but I'm teaching organization, logical progression, step-by-step instructions, and neatness. I'm teaching your child how to follow rules, even when he doesn't like the rules.

5. I am not perfect. I am more than willing to admit this. I may mess up, I may incorrectly grade something, I may say something that is intentionally or unintentionally taken the wrong way. If this happens, please see #2 above.

6. You have one child in my class, but I have many others that I also care for. I am glad that your child is your biggest priority, but your child is not the only one in my class. Please know that I am in charge of the success of all of my students. I need your support in this. You can help by making sure that your child completes the homework for my class, that she comes to school with breakfast, and that she knows how much I care about her success.

7. I am okay not being your child's favorite teacher ever. We all had our favorite teachers growing up, and we all had teachers that were not our favorites. We may have even had a teacher that we despised. I am not asking to be your child's favorite teacher. I am asking that any negative feelings you have towards me are not shared with your child. As long as I'm your child's teacher, please support me in any way that you can so that I can have the best possible chance of helping him succeed.

Being a teacher is hard, and being a parent is hard. There is nothing easy about educating children, either at home or at school. But if we can come together on these seven things, we are in for the best school year ever.