I have a confession to make. Despite all the clean eating, nutritional guarding, and healthy living we do and carry out over here, I love fast food. I try to deny it but I’m Lovin’ It, Having it My Way, and Eatin’ Mor Chikin’. However, let’s be real – you indulge in that pure yummy eating too much and you become your own worst enemy and a heart attack waiting to happen. It has been no secret that our household is constantly trying to cut back on the bad stuff: cutting down on sodium, sugars, and saturated fats in exchange for more veggies and good eating.
I figured you might appreciate the normalcy and understanding that even those of us that preach healthy do have some skeletons of indulgence. So, how do I fight the demons? I am going to offer one proven “copycat recipe” that we used recently and has helped curb a HUGE sodium monster in my life. In the next stage, I’ll share a few healthy suggestions when you lack time and have to succumb to the “take out temptation.” For any of us working, full schedules, overstressed, busy people this may help when you are not so “perfect.” You are human, I get it.
The story of how this recipe was road-tested in our house is a sweet one. I just LOVE Chick-fil-A. I love their service, their community outreach, and most of all the FOOD. Chicken minis, biscuits, sandwich, nuggets – OH MY! At my old job, it was so close by that it was simply so easy to hit the drive thru and know that I would have a good meal and amazing service. Good on ya, Chick-fil-A. Unfortunately, in one sandwich, nugget meal, etc. you more than hit your daily sodium intake and while some indulgence is not a bad thing, the health effects can affect YOU. We have had a lot more nutritional examination in this house and when I started looking at the numbers, Chick-fil-A and I needed to part ways for my own personal health. I couldn’t stop the temptation unless I went cold turkey.
And then my birthday came around – being a foodie you would think I would run out and dine at the best. However, I was craving those delicious nuggets of joy. Stumped, I consulted the inter webs and WOW apparently I wasn’t alone. Found a ton of recipes to “copycat;” however, the one on Damn Delicious sold me because of the simplicity and measure of healthiness that I could adapt to fit our nutritional needs. Consulted with my husband, and he volunteered to make dinner. His extent of the surprise was huge and he even got our neighborhood Chick-fil-A in on it. He turned my birthday dinner into our own private “dining out” at home as you’ll see in the picture below.
Now your house doesn’t need to turn your kitchen table into a restaurant, but you can now appeal to the kiddos or “big kids” in the family when cravings hit AND be able to serve up the meal QUICK AND EASY. I love the original recipe over at Damn Delicious so I highly recommend using that one. The one below is adapted outside of the frying pan and baked with a slight change in ingredients. Either way, you’ll satisfy cravings
Baked Copycat Chick-fil-A Nuggets
Marinade 1 cup white, distilled vinegar (marinade)
2 tablespoons water
1 tsp dill seed
1 tsp mustard seed
OR EASY STEP: 1 c of pickle juice *we just really are cutting back where we can on salt!)
4 skinless boneless chicken thighs
2 Egg Beaters
1/8-1/4 c flour and panko bread crumbs
3 tsp. sugar
Sprinkle of salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1⁄2 teaspoon pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon oregano
1⁄2 teaspoon basil
1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder
Steps to Cook
Marinate chicken overnight. This step just works, trust me. Combine 2 tablespoons water and egg in a shallow dish; dip half of chicken in egg mixture. Mix breadcrumb/flour and spices mixture in a Ziploc bag. Add chicken to bag; seal and shake to coat. Remove chicken from bag; arrange chicken in a single layer on a cookie rack on a baking sheet. Repeat procedure with remaining egg mixture, panko, and chicken. Bake chicken at 400° for 12 minutes or until done. Be sure to check and move around to prevent burn spots! AND SERVE!
Adapted from Damn Delicious
I have one lovely tip I want you to consider that is helpful in the food waste category too, PICKLE JUICE. Stick with me on this one. I have found amazing ways to re-use and eliminate food wasting with my leftover pickle juice and canning juice as MARINADES. I probably should just do a post on it but for now, DON’T DRAIN your juice after you finish the pickles, I re-use in marinades (like the one above for nuggets) with chicken, pork and fish. I’ll even throw some in with a roast or beef. While you raise your eyebrows, it really tenderizes with the vinegar and is EASY to throw together in the morning and cook your marinated poultry/fish/meat in the evening. Just a thought…I’m not alone in this one. Tasting Table: 5 Ways to Use Leftover Pickle Juice