Coconut Crusted Chicken Nuggets for a Nut-Free School
Posted Feb 19 2013 5:40am
Lil One seal of approval!
I have mentioned on more than one occasion how picky my Lil One is with food. She does have a few key items that I know without question she will eat—chicken nuggets are one of those items. There is no way that I am buying anything from the golden M for her, and not even from the frozen food section of the grocery store—even with an organic label slapped on them! In the end they are processed to an extent and contain sugars that are unnecessary as well as additional sodium and a few other preservatives.
Lil One goes to a pre-school that is an entirely nut-free school—no questions asked due to the high number of Littles with nut allergies. Let’s face it, kids share food without even the slightest thought that what they sharing with their friend could cause them harm. While I do not have a child with a life-threatening food allergy, I have two dear friends who do—one with an egg allergy and one with a peanut and tree nut allergy. While it isn’t an inconvenience for me to adapt to that rule at school it did quickly leave out the homemade chicken nuggets that Pam makes for her kids because of the almond flour used. What is a Fit Mom to do? Improvise of course! Enter—coconut flour.
Why is coconut allowed in a nut-free school you may ask? Coconut is not a nut as its name would lead you to believe, but rather it is in palm botanical family. And the actual brown, shelled item we consider to be the coconut is in actuality a seed of the drupe. A drupe, sometimes also called a stone fruit, refers a fruit that is soft and fleshy and encases a hard shelled inner seed. Peaches and nectarines fall into this category too—the pit inside those fruits? Those are the equivalent of the coconut. With this in mind I set out to make my own, nut-free version of chicken nuggets for Lil One—and as you can see from this picture of her sneaking a taste test (her third taste test mind you) they were an overwhelming success! The one thing missing from my inital recipe was the texture that the almond flour provides–my solution was to add toasted shredded coconut to the mixture to provide the missing textural element to the crust. I have found that 4-split chicken breasts will yield me about 2-3 weeks worth of nuggets for her lunches (she only goes to pre-school for 3 days a week). These are easily frozen in batches once they have cooled. Quick and easy, these coconut-crusted chicken nuggets are a great alternative to store-bought and to those of you who are looking for homemade without the allergenic worry of nut flour. Want to get the kids involved? Instead of a bowl, put the flour mix in a giant zip lock bag and let them shake the bag (leaving you to handle the yucky, raw chicken of course).
Fit Moms & Full Plates: Nut-Free Coconut Crusted Chicken Nuggets
In a bowl mix together coconut flour, toasted coconut (you can toast your own shredded coconut by placing it in a fry pan over low heat and constantly monitor the color as once it begins to turn brown it will continue to cook quickly), and spices and mix together.
In a shallow dish begin to dredge the chicken strips a handful at a time, shaking the excess liquid off and dropping into the flour mixture. Using a fork, toss the chicken in the flour mix to coat the entire strip. Shake off excess flour mixture and place chicken strips on a lined cookie sheet.
When all chicken strips have been coated, heat a fry pan with coconut oil and pan fry the chicken strips for about 1-minute, turning over as the chicken browns. You are looking to brown the coating, not cook throughout as I choose to finish baking them in the oven on 325* for 5-minutes. You can certainly choose to pan-fry until cooked, I have personally found that the coconut begins to burn if I pan-fry for the entire time as opposed to giving the chicken a nice crispy crust and then finishing off in the oven.