GUILT-FREE CHICKEN STRIPS


IMG_7865We all have comfort food. For my houseful of teenagers, chicken strips are on the top of that list. When my kids were little, I used to dredge boneless chicken cubes in flour, dip them in lightly-beaten eggs, and roll them in Italian-style bread crumbs. Over the years, however, the recipe has slowly evolved into a much more healthy alternative, which, believe it or not, is even more delicious than the original. These are NOT McDonald’s chicken nuggets, folks. These are ridiculously healthy, although you would never know by the taste. The coating delivers a healthy dose of good fats, while giving you the taste and sensation that you are eating crispy, delicious, chicken skin. 

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(serves 4)

INGREDIENTS:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
3/4 cup chia seeds
3/4 cup coarsely ground flax seeds
3/4 cup whole wheat Panko
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper
Finely chopped parsley to garnish
1/2 cup olive oil

IMG_7863PREPARATION:
1. Preheat oven to 325 F
2. Cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 3 strips
3. Place chicken in a ziplock back with the juice of 1 lemon, 2 teaspoons Cayenne pepper, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Refrigerate for an hour.

4. Beat eggs and pour into a shallow bowl for dipping. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Shake chia seeds, flax seeds, whole wheat Panko, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a ziplock bag until well blended. Dump into a separate shallow bowl. 

6. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick pan over medium heat.
7. Dip chicken first into egg mixture, and then press firmly into seed/Panko mixture, until well coated.
8. Place in hot oil, turning once gently with tongs, until coating is crispy.
IMG_0198 (1)9. Remove from oil and place immediately onto a metal cooling rack over a cookie sheet in a pre-heated oven. (If you bi-pass this step and place the chicken directly from the pan onto a plate, the coating will stick to the plate). Finish cooking in the oven another 15 minutes.
10. Remove from oven and sprinkle with fresh parsley.

-Serve immediately with choices of dipping sauces and lemon wedges.
I’m sure some of you are saying, “What are chicken strips, without sauces to dip them in,” right?  Be careful though, the sauces are usually loaded with sugar. So, I’ve taken my favorites and made them a bit more figure-friendly.

MY FAVORITE DIPPING SAUCES:
Hot BBQ: Mix equal parts sugar-free BBQ sauce with Siracha hot sauce. (spicy!)
Ketchup:  Yep, Good Ol’ Ketchup. There is a ton of sugar in ketchup. So make sure this is organic, with no sugar added. I have found good recipes for sugar-free ketchup online, but it’s so rare that we eat ketchup in our house, so it’s not something I make on a regular basis.
Ranch: Mix one envelope Hidden Valley Ranch dressing packet with 1 cup plain Greek Yogurt and top with finely chopped chives.
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So there you have it, a very healthy alternative to an otherwise unhealthy meal. Comfort foods don’t always have to be fattening, folks.

There are some recipes, however, that I wouldn’t dare dream of making more healthy. They are just TOO good. Here is my confession: as I’m writing this healthy recipe, I’m eating a piece of Chocolate Racetrack Cake. My favorite! It’s a little slice of heaven my mother-in-law brought over last night. I almost licked the plate clean (or maybe I actually did; it’s all a chocolate-y blur). Does this make me a hypocrite?
Nope, just human.

Live Young,
Darnell 🙂

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