Going grain-free means a lot of changes for the little Kidlets … the biggest of which has been no more Chic-Fil-La.
(Oh, their broken little hearts!)
It was the home of their favorite play-scape, their favorite waffle fries, and their favorite kid food: (whole) chicken nuggets. But, grain breading aside, the nuggets — yummy though they are — aren’t the healthiest. By a loooooong shot.
(we all know that right?)
And it isn’t easy finding a good “ready-made” healthy version at the supermarket either — preservatives, grains, and all kinds of stuff can be found in the paragraph-long list of ingredients on most nugget packages.
Enter the homemade grain-free, nut-free chicken nugget. I’ve made nuggets for the Kidlets before, but this is the first time to make a breaded nugget that has ZERO grains in it. Trying to figure out a way to replicate a wheat-flour breading without using wheat? Yeah, the winning combination didn’t happen the first go around. It took several tries to get a breading that was both flavorful and would pass the Kidlet/Husband test.
The secret? (1) A combination of flours: golden flaxseed meal, coconut flour, and potato starch (if you’re paleo, tapioca or arrowroot starches also work well in place of the potato starch). (2) Cool Ranch Seasoning — developed in “the old days” for my DIY Cool Ranch Tacos, this combination of seasoning works PERFECTLY with chicken. Wowza… seriously good. (3) Rendered bacon fat. BACON!!! It makes everything better, right? Well, in this case, whether you fry or bake these nuggets (’cause you can go either way), a little rendered bacon fat helps create the gorgeous golden exterior on the nuggets and brings out the “finger lickin’ good” quality of the chicken.
(ok, so I just switched to a different chicken chain … but, you get the idea right? These nuggets are GOOD!)
These Cool Ranch Chicken Nuggets are also freezer-friendly; after breading them but before cooking, simply place them on a parchment lined baking dish or sheet and flash-freeze them for one hour. After the hours is up, transfer the frozen nuggets to a freezer-safe bag or container. They’ll be ready to grab and go for dinner or lunch!
[exceptional-citing quoted=”featured-bento” template=”bubble-gray-round” date=”” ]In This Bento: Cool Ranch Chicken Nuggets, Honey Mustard dipping sauce, Roasted Seaweed (the Little Lady can’t get enough of this stuff), Apple, Blanched Veggies.
Stored in an Easy Lunchbox System.[/exceptional-citing]
- 2 pounds Chicken Tenders
- 2 Eggs
- 1 cup Golden Flaxseed Meal
- ½ cup Potato Starch (may substitute arrowroot or tapioca starch if Paleo)
- ¼ cup Coconut Flour
- 3 tablespoons Cool Ranch Seasoning*
- 2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp White Pepper
- Rendered Bacon Fat for frying (may use Coconut Oil or Ghee if desired)
- In a large glass bowl, crack and open two eggs. Whisk the yolks and whites together.
- Cut each tender into 4-5 nuggets, placing the nuggets into the whisked eggs.
- Once all of the nuggets are in the bowl, stir to throughly coat each nugget with the eggs.
- Next, in a large, heavy-duty Ziplock bag, pour the Golden Flaxseed Meal, the Potato Starch, the Coconut Four, the Cool Ranch Seasoning, the Salt and Pepper. Seal and then shake the bag vigorously to combine all of the ingredients.
- Open the bag and add 8-10 of the egg-coated nuggets to the bag. Carefully seal and then shake vigorously to coat the nuggets with the breading mixture.
- Open the bag and remove each breaded nugget, laying them on a parchment-lined baking dish or baking sheet.
- Repeat the breading process till all of the nuggets are coated. Discard any remaining breading/egg mixture.
- In a large, deep frying pan, heat 2-4 tablespoons of rendered bacon fat over medium heat. Once melted and hot, carefully place your desired number of nuggets into the pan, being careful to avoid over-crowding.
- Fry for 4-5 minutes per side, till evenly golden brown and cooked through.
- Remove to a paper-towel lined plate. Serve and enjoy!
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and then lightly brush it with melted rendered bacon fat. (the bacon fat will help the grain-free flours brown in the oven)
- Place your desired number of nuggets on the sheet.
- Very lightly brush the tops of the nuggets with melted rendered bacon fat (you don't need a lot -- a few drops will be enough!).
- Place in a preheated 400 degree oven. Cook for 15 minutes and then flip each nugget. Return to the oven and cook an additional 5-6 minutes till the nuggets are golden brown on each side.
- Remove and serve.
- After breading the nuggets and placing them on a parchment-lined baking dish or sheet, place the dish in the freezer for one hour. After one hour, remove the nuggets from the pan and place in an air-tight, freezer-safe container or bag. Thaw before cooking.
Time to share your lunch! What fun lunch boxes have you been packing for your family?
You can link to any kid-lunch/bento or family-friendly recipe on a blog post or via flickr photos — this linky is for any kind of healthy school lunch and kid-food, regardless if it is Bento-style or not. I want to celebrate our efforts to provide good and enjoyable school lunches for our families!
My only request is that you either add a link back to this post or include the Lunch Graphic (which links back) to your post so others can get here to view the linked lunches too!
Link up your school lunches and bentos! Please use a permalink for your post rather than linking your general blog/flickr account URL — this will help people go directly to your fabulous lunch!
Now — link ’em up!