The other night I was craving a crispy, flavor filled, warming and slightly indulgent meal.
I had 2 pounds of raw chicken breast staring at me from my chilly fridge. With an attempt to satisfy everyone around here, I came up with this light, lean, baked, and dare I say “Chicken Finger” kind of thing. I can’t believe I just muttered those two words. What the heck is a chicken finger anyway? A deep fried, waaaay too breaded, poor cut, of hormone filled chicken that is on kids menus…..everywhere. When my kids have these mystery “fingers” I cringe a bit and convince them to order fruit on the side rather than the extra helping of deep fried. Fries.
Just to make me feel better 🙂
and to lessen their belly aches later!
In an attempt to make a healthy version of restaurant kid fare I came up with this recipe. These Skinny Almond Crusted Chicken Strips are oh so good. A perfect mix of crispy flavor, health benefits and pure satisfaction. With organic chicken breast, almond meal, spices and cooking spray. No guilt and no icky feelings follow.
Do skinny and almonds go together? You betcha! Almonds are a great source of healthy fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals. They are high in mono unsaturated fats (the good fats) and they are known to lower bad cholesterol. Almonds contain the antioxidant vitamin E, Calcium, Magnesium and Iron too. All of this makes for a heart healthy nut! A true Superfit Superfood!
Eaten mindfully and in moderation, almonds are and excellent addition to a balanced, high energy diet!
A bonus: the satisfying healthy fats in almonds are great craving distractors. If I am in need of a few quick calories ’cause the blood sugar is plummeting and all I want is a calorie dense sugar filled thing, I grab a small handful of almonds instead. Bye, bye sugar craving. Hello feel good energy booster!
To read more about the health benefits of almonds, click the following links.
Almonds make the MayoClinic’s Top 10 List for Eating Well:
You might be wondering why this Fit, Foodie, Mom allows her kids to indulge in the occasional highly processed kids meal? Let me state this:
- We have never been to a fast food restaurant. (My kids are 3 and 6.)
- We have never been through a drive through….other than to satisfy mommy’s caffeine addiction. My standard, unwavering order is an Americano with a teeny tiny bit of steamed soy. Nothing more, nothing less. I find drive throughs to be lazy, this has happened maybe 4 times ’cause the kids are asleep in the back of the car.
- I let them have what they want (within reason) when we are with groups of other kids. This includes birthday parties, restaurants etc. I don’t want them to feel deprived………..because………….
- A sense of deprivation means we CRAVE that thing more. We become more CURIOUS the more something is FORBIDDEN. I don’t want my kids to go crazy bingeing on processed, junky foods when they are at friends homes and out on their own.
- Being that the majority of our meals are fresh, organic and home cooked, I need to allow for the occasional “out of my control” food moments.
- Healthy eating is consistently recognized, and my 6 year old agrees that she feels much better after a clean, healthy meal!
Skinny Almond Crusted Chicken Strips
about 8-10 servings
- I say go “Big Batch” here, the more leftovers you have the better!
- Source Organic ingredients when available
- Shop for ingredients at the MarlaMeridith.com Amazon Store
- As always, use your own taste buds to determine how you want to season your meal. My ingredient lists are wide open for interpretation! I would love to hear your take!
- 2 to 2.5 Pounds Organic Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast: Cleaned, trimmed of fat, pat dry. Slice into long strips.
- 1 Cup Almond Meal (I bought mine at Trader Joe’s. You can simply pulse whole almonds in your food processor until they are finely ground. Careful not to over process as they will turn into almond butter!)
- a pinch Garlic Salt
- a pinch Black Pepper
- 1 tablespoon Dried Parsley
- 1 /2 teaspoon Smoked or Plain Sweet Paprika
- 2 teaspoons Dried Mustard
- A few pinches of Nutmeg
- 1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour (I had Garbanzo Flour, so I used that. You can play with flour choice!)
- 1/2 Cup Egg Whites
- Cooking Spray
- Preheat oven to 350˚F with rack in the middle of the oven.
- Line a baking sheet with foil. Place a lightly sprayed wire rack in center of baking sheet.
- Combine flour, almond meal, salt and spices in a bowl large enough to dip chicken.
- In another bowl, whisk egg whites.
- With one hand dip the pieces of chicken in egg whites, let the excess drip off. With the other hand coat chicken in the flour mixture.
- Lightly spray both sides of the chicken strips. Lay strips down in a single layer on the greased rack.
- Bake in oven for about 20-25 minutes, until cooked through. Don’t let chicken overcook as you want to keep them crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.
- No almonds on hand? No worries. Sub in another nut choice, Hazelnuts, Walnuts, Pecans. These are all yummy, nutty additions. Yes, you will still maintain your nut health benefits!
- Top a salad with your baked chicken strips.
- Enjoy with a side of steamed or roasted veggies.
- Make a wrap with a whole wheat tortilla, baby spinach and salsa or BBQ sauce.