The Happy Little Chickens… (that made happy little tummies)

Over the past few months I have been getting some free range/GMO free chickens from a local farm, I really can’t say enough wonderful things about it- I’m helping support a family that is doing something they love, the chicken tastes SO much better than what you get at the grocery (even if it is ‘free range/organic’),  I know that it is healthier for my family, the list goes on and on…

Oh, and did I mention how easy it is to get several meals out of one chicken in less than an hour (not including cooking time) ?!

FIRST OFF:

Slice up an onion (I used a sweet onion) and lay it on the bottom of your crockpot- Don’t bother adding any water or anything…

I used the seasonings I had in my cabinets and kind of threw them all together in a small container- this is what I used (kind of from most to least… maybe… just get it all in there it will be fine…promise!)
Paprika
Garlic powder
Oregano
Tony’s
Thyme
Cayenne pepper
Black pepper/Salt
Mix it all up and spread it on the skin- if you’re up to it get it up under the skin too, and for good measure, stuff some butter in there too…

Into the crock pot it goes… I don’t know if this is standard procedure or not, I always turn it on HIGH for the first hour, then turn it to LOW for the rest of the time. I determine done-ness  by the whole house smelling delicious, the chicken falling apart when you touch it with a fork, and if you still aren’t satisfied  a meat thermometer (this particular chicken was in for about 8 hours on low- you can’t see it but we lost a wing on the trip to the plate…).

NEXT STEP:

Once you have de-potted the chicken (is that a term?) let it cool down enough to handle, or just be tough and use forks to do it. Don’t throw out the juiciness left in the pot, you’ll need that to make chicken broth- that’s right,  I said you’ll make chicken broth… Play it cool, it really isn’t as bad as you may think.  SO. Onward. Pick all that yummy meat off the chicken and put it on a plate or in a container, it’s up to you, just get it off the bird and somewhere else (away from dogs, that’s probably a pretty smart thing to do with juicy freshly cooked chicken…).
Once you have just the carcass and the skin remaining put it back in the pot (I would think you could use cheesecloth or something to keep the bones tidy and easy to remove, but haven’t tried it yet). Chop up whatever stewing veggies you may have- I added garlic, carrots, celery, and a red onion.  Once you get all your veggies in, start adding water (filtered water would be ideal- for flavor and health aspects… but that’s a whole other story!)
I added enough water so there was only a small portion of the carcass showing, it kind of looked like the headless chicken was soaking in a tub.
Leave your crock pot on LOW for another 6-8 hours, then pour everything through a strainer and into a container for storage.
I personally didn’t save the veggies, they were overly mushy cooked, now that I’m thinking about it they probably would have been perfect not-so-baby food… Crap… Next time.

NEXT NEXT STEP:
Make you meals of choice! I made some green beans that we ate with the chicken right away (we’ve been avoiding potatoes or they would have been included!).

Later that night, I threw a can of rinsed black beans into a skillet with a little olive oil, more of the seasoning mix that was rubbed on the chicken(but added some chili powder and cumin), shredded up a big handful of chicken, mixed it in with the beans and add a little of  the broth to keep everything from sticking- and to give it that nice sauciness. Serve it with rice and cheese, you can add some corn if you like (I like), make burritos, put it on a salad, eat it with chips, the possibilities are endless- and it’s hard to mess it up (I follow a similar method to make red beans and rice, I think I use different seasonings every time, but it’s always good!)

This is such an easy, go to left over and has so much flavor thanks to that happy little chicken and it’s broth.

And I still have plenty of chicken left to make a few more meals out of, and I have broth that’s going to last a while- Despite the fact that Ethan climbed into the refrigerator and dumped half a container on himself… He and the dogs were elated when they realized it was food and not just something cold and goopy!

Want to know a little more about where I got my chickens at? Full of Graze is the name of the farm located in Xenia, Ohio. If you’re in the area I highly recommend you check them out! They offer chicken, eggs, pork, and turkeys.  See their blog to learn more about them!

Out of the area and interested in finding a local farm to buy from? Check out Local Harvest, you can search for local farms, restaurants, grocery stores, and farmers markets that sell local produce and meats. You’d be surprised how many there are!

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Why of course I would like to save some money!

Well, before today I had never seriously considered buying organic baby formula. I honestly have no clue why, it just never crossed my mind!
My son has had Similac Advance since he has been on formula (from the time he was about 1 1/2 months old), we tried Gerber at one point and it didn’t seem to agree with his little tummy, so we went back to Similac Advance.

This morning I made our last bottle of what formula we had in the house and went on an adventure to the store. As I went to the baby aisle I found that Similac Organic was 1/2 price (?!), shocked, I asked one of the ladies working why it was discounted so heavily, turns out people around here don’t buy so much organic formula and they needed to get it off their shelves (!!??!!). Yay for me!

I did a quick google search on my phone to make sure there wasn’t anything crazy going on because I remembered hearing about arsenic in organic formulas recently (this was from brown rice syrup concentrate being used as a sweetener). Turns out, Similac Organic is made with evaporated cane juice, which has also caused some upset. I found several articles and community boards where people were expressing a concern that the use of cane sugar would lead to childhood obesity. It got me wondering,

1- how many of the current obese children were given formula sweetened with cane juice?

2- If this is a more naturally occurring sweetener than the other sweeteners used (usually lactose, corn syrup, rice starch,etc- depending on the brand) why is eating naturally sweet fruits not a concern for increasing risk of obesity?

3- Supposedly, over consumption of cane sugar can lead to type II diabetes and obesity… Crazy right? Not really, over consumption of any sugar can cause type II diabetes and obesity (COME ON PEOPLE!). In our society today we consume a ridiculous amount of sugar (confirmed by the USDA as seen in the table below). So if we are consuming roughly 40% more sugar now compared to 50 years ago, why are people singling out cane sugar in baby formula as causing a problem? Couldn’t it be our eating habits as a whole society and what we are teaching our children that is really the problem?

Image

I also saw some comments regarding the fact that infants and toddlers who are given formula sweetened with cane sugar, may start refusing to eat solids and refuse regular formulas. Don’t most kids love sweet stuff? I know my 7 year old would eat candy till his head exploded if I let him! Don’t we have the responsibility as parents to teach our kids to eat healthy and balanced diets? We can’t expect some research facility to decide what is best for our families, we need to take some time ourselves to learn about solutions to our problems, and make an educated decision based on that.

I wanted to add a little more about the differences between organic baby formula and non-organic.
Organic formula’s are made with organic ingredients (I know, a little obvious!), if it is labeled as USDA Certified Organic there are (supposedly) no pesticides, unnatural fertilizers, or GMO’s allowed into any part of the product.
Image Non-organic formula’s are allowed to have ingredients that have been treated with pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and bio-engineered ingredients. Considering the possible health problems that have been associated with pesticides, synthetic pesticides, and GMO’s- I’m thinking it may be a good idea to just sacrifice the extra couple of dollars from now on to buy organic formula, why risk it with my little man right?

Here is a comparison of Similac Advance Organic to Similac Advance… Just in case anyone is interested 🙂 There is really no nutritional difference as far as what nutrients your baby will be getting from it!