As most of us parents with kids know, feeding the family can be a challenge. Between work and meetings and extra curricular activities, we still have to find time to make dinner. Add to that the fact that many kids are picky eaters, creating menus that are both exciting and healthy can seem impossible.
However, over the years, I’ve learned the fine art of deception. To be frank, I lie to my kids ALL THE TIME! And no one has been irreparably damaged or scarred for life. In fact, when my kids have figured out that I snuck in some strange, foreign vegetable (zucchini disguised as “herbs” in spaghetti sauce) or made them a dish with more than their self-imposed quota of healthy food (mashed “potatoes” that were actually potatoes, carrots, and parsnips), they’ve turned up their noses, gagged, and gasped, but they’ve survived and still continue to eat what I put on their plates.
Lately, my food deception has turned to creating fun dinners, comfort food, meals that there’s no way Mom could screw with us. Ohhhhhh the joy I will have when they realize that they’ve been eating healthy and didn’t know it! Ha Ha Ha (in my best evil voice)!!!
For this deceptive dinner, I gave them what they want…TACOS! and PANCAKES! and JAM! (and IT WAS HEALTHY!!!) This time, I gave them chicken tacos, in which the chicken was brined in sweet tea, the tacos were whole wheat-honey pancakes, the salsa was fresh strawberries & mangos, and they ATE IT UP!!!
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 c. water
4 regular size OR 1 family size tea bag
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. salt (table, pickling, or sea salt work just fine)
4 c. ice
1/2 lb. fresh strawberries-hulled & chopped
1 large mango or 2 small mangoes-chopped
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 TBSP honey
2 c. white wheat flour
1/4 c. honey
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
2 c. milk (yes, you can use almond milk)
1/4 c. melted butter
1 bag shredded slaw (cabbage & carrots)
8 oz. Greek yogurt
2 TBSP mayonnaise
1 TBSP fresh lime juice
healthy squeeze of honey
salt & pepper to taste
In a microwave safe container, heat water and tea bag to boiling in a microwave (approximately 5-7 minutes). Remove from microwave and pour into a large bowl with the sugar and salt. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add 4 cups of ice to cool. Stir until most of ice is melted and the tea mixture is only luke warm. Place chicken breasts in tea and cover with plastic wrap. Allow chicken to sit in the brine (in the refrigerator) for at least an hour, but you can do this in the morning and leave it all day, as long as the chicken & brine stay in the refrigerator.
Drain chicken from the brine. In a skillet, heat 2-3 TBSP olive oil over medium heat. Sear the chicken breasts 4-5 minutes per side, or until juices run clear. Remove chicken from heat and allow to rest 5 minutes before slicing. When ready to assemble tacos, slice chicken breasts against the grain into 1/2″ thick strips.
In a bowl, combine all salsa ingredients and pulse until chopped and completely combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.
In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and honey (to taste). Add slaw mix and toss to combine. Add salt & pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients. If the batter seems too thick, add a bit more milk to thin it out. Heat a buttered or oiled griddle or nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Pour 1/4 c. of batter onto the hot griddle surface. Use the back of the the measuring cup to spread the batter to a 5″ circle. Allow pancakes to cook until bubbles form. Flip the pancake ad continue cooking until done, approximately 2-3 minutes more. Remove from heat and prepare to assemble tacos.
For maximum, kid deception, layer the taco fillings into the pancake with the slaw hidden on the bottom and the colorful salsa on top.