Admittedly, it doesn't take much to get my nutritional feathers ruffled. I've seen a lot of things that have made me crazy over the years and you've heard me harp on them, from "healthful" whole wheat donuts to artificial sweeteners, Olestra and acrylimide. I've sung the siren's song about good nutrition and what I believe to be common-sense nutrition. Why would we drink something, in the name of quenching our thirst, that looks like toilet bowl cleaner or antifreeze?

Anyway, today I stop singing and start sounding the alarm. We absolutely must stop the madness that is fast food. We absolutely must stop the madness and the obesity and the rise in degenerative diseases. We are raising an unhealthy generation because we feed this junk to our kids! Please stop!

I know there are attempts at some fast food places to do better. As Oprah says,"When you know better, you do better." Well, today you are going to know better about chicken nuggets, because today, I am going to tell you all I know about them.

First, fast food chicken nuggets contain 38 ingredients. Yes, 38 ingredients! Some of those ingredients are things you wouldn't give to your dog. Some of those things you could use to start a fire. Tertiary butylhydroquinone is a derivative of petroleum that is sprayed on the nugget or in the box that holds the nugget to keep it fresh. It is related to butane, also known as lighter fluid. It is also a suspected carcinogen — cancer causing agent.

The batter is set in shortening (hydrogenated oils) and in turn, it is cooked in partially hydrogenated oils at the restaurant. Some of the additives in there are antifoaming agents, emulsifiers, leavening agents, preservatives, fillers and binders. Sounds yummy, doesn't it? Something you'd want to feed your kids?

The nuggets themselves contain 53 percent chicken. You wanna know what that 53 percent chicken is? I promise you it isn't nice white chicken breasts! If you find those nuggets spongy and watery, it's because the chicken meat and skin is ground into a slurry, binders and fillers and water added, then formed into neat little nuggets.

Why do we manufacture stuff like this and then call it food? Where's the value?

Please, for the children's sake and for your own health's sake, let's stop this craziness with the food. It's time to get back to basics and only eat food that is 100 percent identifiable. Here's an easy alternative:

Crunchy Honey Mustard Chicken Fingers

1 pound chicken tenders

1/4 cup honey, warmed

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 cup corn flakes, crushed

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. In a small bowl, mix mustard and honey together. In another bowl, place the crushed corn flakes.

In assembly line fashion, dip the chicken tender in the mustard mixture, then roll in the corn flakes and place on the cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or when cooked through. Serves 4.


Leanne Ely, a k a Dinner Diva, is the author of "Saving Dinner" and "Saving Dinner the Low Carb Way" (Ballantine).