One of my fondest memories of visiting my Grandmother's house when I was young is enjoying her endless supply of homemade cookies (ones that we didn't get at home). We all knew where her cookie jar was, and we were free to dip into it as often as we wanted. My mom didn't stop us from eating more, and I never remember going crazy eating them either. They were simply another reason why going to "Nannie's house" was so much fun.
My parents are the best grandparents to my kids. Both my Mom and Dad have a special bond with my three-year-old son, and they are quickly forming the same bond with my daughter. Going to "Nana's house" is probably the most exciting outing of the week, and whenever Nana and Gramps stop by, my son throws a little party, showing his Grandparents all of his newest paintings and crafts, and begging them to go downstairs to play with him (no begging is needed though—they jump at the chance).
When I was pregnant with my son, my mom asked me if I was going to be "one of those Moms" who didn't allow her kids' grandparents to give them treats, ice cream, and other dessert-like foods. At that point, I wasn't sure. I didn't know how I would react to extra treats given out at Nana's house. I knew that treats wouldn't be off-limits in our house (because I enjoy them, too!) but they would be moderated and offered randomly. I knew that we wouldn't play "food police" in any situation—at home or somewhere else—but I guess I didn't know how much my parents would spoil them with treats, so it was hard to say at the time.
It was hard to bite my tongue when my dad offered my son a second Girl Guide cookie after he had hardly eaten any of his dinner (he was two at the time), but then I thought about the fact that he never ate store-bought cookies at home because I didn't buy them. This is a once-in-a-while occurrence at his grandparents' house and, after all, I couldn't control every bite of food that went into his mouth. I knew that soon he would be exposed to all sorts of new treat-like foods at his dayhome, birthday parties, and eventually school. Although I wasn't happy with food that my dad was offering him, I also didn't want to say "no," as this would only increase my son's desire for it; it would add a certain "mystique" to the cookie, which it didn't really deserve.
Now that my son is old enough to know the difference between a "fun food" (treat) and an "everyday food" (nutritious food), I know that I am completely comfortable with my parents offering him foods that he isn't often offered at home, but only from time to time. He knows that when he is at Nana's house, there are delicious homemade cookies (or Girl Guide cookies, which are my dad's favourite), Kinder surprise eggs, fruit juice, breakfast sausages, and other not-so-healthy foods. My parents never go overboard, but it brings them joy to see the smile on my son's face when they hand him a treat and that brings me joy, too. My parents know that I never bribe my son with food, so they respect this and don't do it either. And offering my son special treats is only one little part of the fun experience of going to Nana's house.
What's interesting is that my son doesn't expect that he will be served the same "fun foods" at home. He knows that Nana's house is different than his house and has never come home from my parents house asking for treats that he is offered there. Maybe this is because I don't make a big deal out of it. I don't react in a negative way, because if I did, my son may start to wonder why it's such a big deal. Treats would likely become more sought after and desired and I would have a bigger issue on my hands. One that could eventually involve my son rebelling and sneaking treat foods when he shouldn't.
I know that my son is going to be exposed to treat foods more and more as he gets older, so I'd rather him explore them in a familiar and fun environment, where all delicious foods are celebrated and where he is free to try them and form a well-rounded palate as well as his own likes and dislikes. The more I restrict these sweet treats, the more he will want them, so I choose to allow them in moderation at home and fairly freely at Nana's house (again, my parents never go overboard). I am not threatened by the extra treat-giving at by his grandparents—or other relatives/friends for that matter—as I feel confident that what I teach my son about food and nutrition at home will shape his relationship with food for the rest of his life.
How about you? How do you feel about your kids being offered extra treats/junk food at your parents' house?
I love nothing more than walking in the door with my two kids on a chilly day and smelling the delicious aroma of a meal cooking in the slow cooker. Knowing that I don't have to scramble to create a healthy meal for my family at 5 o'clock is the best feeling ever. Especially these days when I have an active three-year-old and a four-month-old that doesn't like to be anywhere but in my arms. At. All. Times.
I don't even bother to put my slow cooker away; I keep it right on my counter, so that it is easily accessible. I cook at least two dinners in our slow cooker a week, and those dinners usually morph into leftovers for two more nights. I call my slow cooker my "magic meal maker" because it is. You do minimal preparation in the morning, toss your ingredients in, and turn it on. Four-to-eight hours later, you have yourself an amazing, warm meal.
This recipe is as juicy and delicious as pulled pork or beef, but just a little bit leaner and lighter. I used a combination of boneless, skinless chicken thighs and chicken breasts because that is what I had in my freezer, but you could use one or the other. I LOVE chicken thighs because they are still fairly low in calories and fat compared to red meat but are more tender and flavourful when compared to chicken breasts. Turkey meat is even leaner than chicken, so feel free to use boneless, skinless turkey instead of chicken if that's what you have.
You will enjoy this recipe all week long. We had pulled chicken sandwiches the first night and pulled chicken quesasillas the night after. And then, the following afternoon I topped a spinach salad with the chicken that was leftover. It's always great to have lean cooked meat in the fridge to add to pastas, sandwiches, soups, and salads.
Place chicken pieces on a plate or cutting board. Mix together paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, dry mustard, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture all over chicken pieces. Place the chicken in your slow cooker.
Pour 1/2 cup BBQ sauce over the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and cook your chicken on LOW for 5 hours.
Turn your slow cooker to the "warm" setting. Transfer chicken to a large bowl and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Take 2 forks and shred chicken (not too finely though).
Skim the fat off of the liquid remaining in the slow cooker (keep the rest of the liquid in there) with a large spoon.
Heat the remaining cup of BBQ sauce in a small saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat until hot. Pour the hot BBQ over chicken and toss. Transfer the chicken mixture back into the slow cooker (containing the braising liquid) and combine. Keep it on "warm" until your are ready to serve.
Recipe inspired by Pamela Salzman's Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ Chicken Recipe