Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Back to School Par-Tay

Ok, so it's not back to school from the summer and it's not September so there might be a flaw or five by choosing this song but I'm ok with that. Besides, I can't watch this through without laughing. The cheese in it kills me.

The winter break really settled into my kids bones and their first day back to school was pretty rough. Each had their own trials and tribulations. It seemed even the weather was trying to give them a hard time.

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Yes, those are palm trees and no, that's not a picture of our actual weather. But if those trees had been here, that is what they would've looked like. We had hurricane force winds yesterday. Have you ever tried to walk to school in hurricane force winds and rain? It's not a pretty picture. So there was a lot of driving and people were late.

Ok, this post might be getting confusing and I'm close to losing the point. The point! Right. The point is with such a rough day going back to school I thought it'd be an idea to throw my kids a little back to school par-tay. 

Over the weekend I saw someone's post about their Saturday at an All-American Diner. They had amazing pictures of burgers, fries and a massive old fashioned strawberry shake topped with whipped cream and a cherry. A little piece of me died. I miss foods like that sometimes. I don't eat food like that very often. I've been working on my health for a long time now and those just aren't very good options when you've put health as your priority. Now that I'm in England, I haven't found anything close to a real All-American Diner. 

It turns out that I wasn't alone in my nostalgic longings for greasy artery clogging foods. After the day my kids had, they were languishing in various positions on the couch, floor and chairs whining for burgers and fries. I became a mom on a mission, jumped in the car and hit the stores.

I wanted to do this smartly and not go off the deep end. I wanted pre-shaped patties to get as close as possible to that professional diner experience. I grabbed some of Sainsbury's Ultimate Steak Patties to start with but that wasn't really what I was looking for. Nothing on them indicated lean or lower fat so I hit another store. I was hoping to find Buffalo patties which I'd seen at Waitrose last week. 

I'll have to do a separate post about why I wanted Buffalo over beef. This post is already too long. In short though, it's leaner and got lots of goodies to nourish you in ways that beef can't. Excellent way to keep the quality of the meal from totally tanking. What we ended up with though were Waitrose's Aberdeen Angus beef burgers with red wine and herbs. Phew, that was a mouthful to say let alone type. Waitrose were out of the Buffalo Patties. 

But that's alright! What we ended up with instead was a battle between two of the leading Grocery Giants featuring their own brand beef patty products. Leeet's get ready to ruuuuuumble!

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I started with Sainsbury's Ultimate Steak burgers. These were no small patties. I couldn't complain in the slightest. It was easy to recreate the diner or drive-in burger with these things. 

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Bart's Steak seasoning did a great job of adding robust flavour. The fact that the patties were already shaped meant I could only add it to the outside of the burgers which helped me keep the sodium content down and still have them taste great.

Our family avoids cheese. We love it but it's not that easy on our systems and for some of us, it's just a nightmare. But how can you have a true All-American diner burger experience without some sort of cheese? Enter: Cornish Country Larder's mature english goats cheese. Goat's cheese has less fat and calories, is higher in protein and calcium than cows cheese, and it's easier to digest. This one in particular was perfect. Not too mild, not too mature, it managed to land right in the middle of the road which fit both the kids preferences and the adults. If you absolutely must have cheese, totes mcgotes use a goats. If you can't find a goat one that fits the bill aim for sheep. It's a close second to goats for all the same reasons over cows.

These bad boys were too thick to cook through and through on the griddle so after searing them on each side for roughly 8-10 minutes, I threw them in the oven for another 10 minutes.

{one patty is naked for the person who absolutely must avoid all dairy. Don't stare. It's rude!}

It was a total win with everyone. I have to admit, that was a lot of meat. Way more than our family is used to eating in one sitting. But, it was super tasty. I even had one kid who announced "Out of 5 stars Mom, I give this a 6." That made my night. After thorough polling and studying the results, I have to declare Sainsbury's Ultimate Steak patties to be the winner. They were the closest to an All-American diner experience. Waitrose's patties were tasty but they definitely had a sweeter and more complex herbed taste to them from the red wine. That's great for your hoity-toity burger moments but not even close to doing the trick when you're looking for that diner/drive-in experience.

We even managed to make our own shakes out of equal parts Worthenshaws Freedom Ice Cream and Oatly Oat drink.

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Boom! An American diner experience without the same number of calories, fats, oils, or as much dairy. If/when we fall off the wagon of health let's try to remember to duck, tuck and roll everyone, minimize the damage and let's not beat ourselves up too much. We can always dust ourselves off and climb back up in that wagon.



  1. OOOH, that looks so yummy!!!! I, too, love a classic burger, fries, and shake. OMG, it's so tasty at the moment, but I hate the feeling I get afterwards.

    BTW, I love Grease 2! Michelle Pfeiffer was such a *beep* in that movie. I liked it. Not as good as the first one, but come on...cute boy and girl, with a little singing and dancing, this is our version of Glee!

  2. Drooling already! I wish I could send you some burgers, fries, and milkshakes with extra whipped cream! I'll make sure to curb talking about my bad eating habits around you! Sorry!

  3. I have not tried oat chocolate before. how does it taste?

  4. You don't have to curb anything. It's great. I love listening/reading what other people are making so that I can find ways to make my own healthier version of it.

  5. I had the same thought about Glee when I saw it! That, and High School Musical.

    Yeah that feeling can be from a lot of different things but for me, it's too much fat. I have a weaker liver and that ends up making me feel nauseas. A weaker spleen can make you feel bloated and gassy from a meal like that. If I cut down the fat like using leaner meats and cheeses, bake the fries instead of having traditional ones, and replace the milk and ice cream with these alternatives, I can enjoy the meal without all the bad feelings. My only adjustment to this meal that I would happily make, is to cut the patties in half horizontally to preserve their shape but reduce the size. I know they were only 1/4 lb'ers but still, I was soooo stuffed. We really don't eat that much meat at one sitting normally.

  6. I thought it was surprisingly tasty. I put it in the refrigerator at least an hour before I used it and made sure to shake it well. It went really well with the freedom chocolate ice cream and the shake came out really creamy. I expected some runniness since neither product had the fat of traditional milk and ice cream but I think that we compensated by reducing how much milk substitute we used.

  7. cute clip!! The music is so energizing :) Happy new year Rachel! xx

  8. Hey Rachel, haven't read your blog in a while but thought I'd stop in say hi. You're line "toads mcgoats Choose a goats" made me laugh out loud and miss your witty humor!! It's actuLly ironic too cause I am thinking Haden has a cows milk allergy. Total bummer. I've been off it for a week and half now and his symptoms are starting to clear up(spitting up, rash). Reminds me of you guys and I knew you could relate! Hope your doing well. Nicole