Monday, September 2, 2013

MOMables Monday: BBQ Chicken Shake-Ups Lunch(able)

Have I mentioned that I am also a contributor over at MOMables? Apparently someone other than myself thinks I'm awesome... I figure I'll enjoy it while I can, until they figure out how incompetent and irresponsible I really am! Hahaha!

My latest post over there was another healthier version of a DIY boxed lunch - Lunch(ables) BBQ Chicken Shake-Ups!
[This post contains affiliate links.]

The grocery store boxed version comes with a few unattractive-looking "nugget-shaped chicken patties," seasoning mix to shake them in to make them taste less like cardboard, fat-free (but not artificial-flavor or color-free) chocolate pudding, and a Capri Sun flavored water. (Totally filling and satisfying. *eyeroll*)
Here are the selling points: "Excellent source of Protein." "Chicken used is white meat only." "It's a great way for your kids to have fun in the Capri Sun."
...nothing about a healthy or balanced meal. No whole grains. No dairy. No fruits or vegetables. Unless you're counting the "cherry and other natural flavors" in the water.

On the plus side, the only thing we'd have to toss is the fake pudding! Well, and the nuggets, due to the gluten. But I won't count that against them.

Naturally, I couldn't just do it the easy way. No. I had to flub my first photo shoot, but not realize it until a certain little someone was already eating the lunch. Aaaaugh!

Take 1:
Just like Lunchables BBQ Chicken Shake-Ups box! Only home-made and healthier!
Nuggets? Check. Seasoning mix? Check. Pudding? Check. Water... Oh crap. But dang that pudding sworl sure looks nice! Oh well.

Take 2:
GF MOMables Chicken Nuggets, shake-up BBQ seasoning, MOMables PB Pudding with Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips, organic sugar snap peas and strawberries, agua fresca w/blueberries and red and golden raspberries
For the sake of realism, I didn't just go buy gluten-free chicken nuggets and a light-colored pudding to make it look like what we were going for, without me actually having to do all that work. Nope. I actually made the nuggets and pudding. From scratch! Including the seasoning mix and fruit water, that's FOUR recipes I made, for just one lunch! I don't make four recipes for dinner. Ever. 
Luckily, if you plan ahead and don't wait until the day before your deadline *cough* these are all elements that can be prepared ahead, and could even be left over from other meals. Well, except the water. You want that to be muy fresca! Haha!

I did, however, make a few substitutions to the original recipes, to accommodate our dietary restrictions. The nuggets are actually ground turkey instead of chicken, not that that makes a huge difference. But it's what I had in the freezer. No extra shopping trip? SOLD! I also used gluten-free breadcrumbs; half corn-based and half Panko-style (those are the weird white blobs you see. *sigh*) I think I used Lowry's Seasoned Salt instead of the Zatarains, and I skipped the pepper altogether. Not pepper fans here. (Except my husband, but he doesn't count!)

For the pudding I used a dairy-free coconut milk-based Greek-style yogurt instead of dairy. Still yummy, I promise!

The water bottle is one I got at Target in their stationary section, of all places! It has a snack container screwed onto the bottom, which I didn't utilize. But it was the only clear water bottle I could find, and the whole purpose was to show off the fruit in the water - real fruit flavor versus the mystery-ingredient "natural" flavors in the drink pouch.

On a related note, when I went to make the water, I realized I hadn't actually planned ahead for it... The only fruit I had was strawberries, which I already had strawberries in the lunch! So I ran out into the jungle my backyard and grabbed some blueberries and raspberries we have growing back there. Whew! Saved!
When I actually went to serve the lunch, I didn't bother including the seasoning mix. No way would Little Miss "That's too spicy!" go for it, and I didn't want to risk wasting the nuggets I'd slaved over. I also swapped out the nicer heart-shaped ones for some regular old lumpy-shaped ones. May as well save them for another attractive-looking lunch! Which turned out to be fortuitous, as I ended up needing them for the re-shoot!

Z also didn't like the pudding, despite the chocolate chips, which would usually lure her into eating virtually anything. But she's not a fan of banana mixed into other foods. Baby liked it though! And Mama used the extras as a fruit and veggie dip that week!

Since the girls were already eating at this point, the second lunch got deconstructed and put back into the fridge. Except for the pudding. Nomnom.

Another fun behind-the-scenes factoid; as you can see in the photo below, I took pictures with and without chocolate chips in the pudding, just in case. I liked it better with the chips, since it was closer to the chocolate pudding in the lunch we were healthier-fying, and visually more interesting.

Don't Let My "Perfect" Life Make You Feel Bad...
What food and craft photographers don't show you!
And since I've given you a little glimpse of the reality behind a freelance assignment with my first attempt at this lunch, here's a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how I make my photos look less crappy. And the stuff you don't see. Looking at food blogs you see how bright and clean and colorful everything looks. And maybe it makes you feel like a hopeless slob. But there's a seedy underbelly we hide behind cleverly angled shots, photo cropping, and Photoshop. See? We're human like the rest of you! Chances are good there's cat hair in the food too. And I'm often spotted on the back porch taking photos in bare feet and a bathrobe. (A few times, I was still dripping wet from the shower too! Whose idea was it to start school before noon?)

FYI, my "props" sit on a special shelf in the dining room. They don't actually get used. *gasp!* Wouldn't want them to get dirty! The fancy dishes for recipe shoots (not shown here) only get used after, if needed, for eating the photographed food. By me or Hubby only. Then they go back into the cupboard of mismatched one-each "nonono not that one that's mommy's" dishes!

Tools of the Trade

1 comment:

  1. Looking great! I love that you are an accessible writer and that you showed the ''behind the scenes'' peek. I think it's easy to read other people's blogs and just feel like their stuff looks amazing and their lives sound so simple! It's great to get to see you in your posts. :)


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