Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Gluten-Egg-Dairy and Nut-Free Homemade Chicken Tenders

Years and years ago when I started this food blog I put up a favorite recipe at the time for making homemade chicken tenders. I made this dish all the time back then to add to salads, pasta, and leftover lunches. But since then I have needed to find a way to make them without corn or almonds because of allergies. So---I have been making this version of chicken tenders for the past few years and realized I never shared it with you. How selfish of me! So here it is.
I love making food that my people love. And my people love 'chicken nuggets' and 'chicken tenders' and so that is what I make for them. I love it that you can make these tenders without any added allergens of eggs, nuts, dairy and you still get the crispy crust over the chicken. Who would have thought?! And you think kids love 'from the freezer section' chicken nuggets- well the real deal it that more wonderful! I makes me feel like I did something great in the kitchen that day... homemade goodness that didn't really take much more than a few simple steps. {side note: if you are feeding your kids freezer section GF nuggets- NO JUDGEMENT to you- you are a fabulous mom and doing the best you can for each today--- I GET IT!- I also use freezer section goods for my kids and so much love to you!!!}
I truly like to keep things pretty simple in the kitchen. Yes, I do love to experiment with new flavors, spices and world foods...but when it comes to getting my kids to eat something more than just applesauce and potatoes.... I gotta  keep trying to find ways to get a balanced source of proteins and nutrients into their little bodies. This is a recipe I find myself making once a week or every few weeks. The tenders keep great in the fridge after baking for a few days to warm up and eat for lunches or dinners. It is just a great addition to salads, sandwiches and whatever you might want to add chicken too. I hope you give this creation a try if you haven't made this up yourself already :)
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, and Nut-Free Chicken Tender/Nuggets Recipe

Chicken soak mix:
3/4-1 cup of dairy-free milk (So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage is my first choice)
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar (or sub fresh lemon juice)
2 pounds of organic or free range antibiotic free chicken tenders

Dry mix:
1 cup of white rice flour
2/3 cup of tapioca flour
1/2 TB of each: garlic powder, Italian herb season blend, smoked paprika, sea salt
plus a pinch or two of black pepper

9x13 pan glass pan with 3-4 TB of avocado oil or a mix of olive and avocado oils

In a medium bowl, dump in your raw chicken and then cover with the milk and vinegar. If you want to have more of a nugget sized chicken piece then use a kitchen scissors and cut each tender into 3-4 pieces and you will have a more bite-sized nugget. Let sit for 5 minutes and stir- you will see how the mixture turned into a buttermilk type mixture and is soaking into the chicken. Then in another medium bowl, pour in your dry mixture and stir together. Then set up stations of the chicken mix, dry mix and your oiled pan. 
Use your hands and grab the raw chicken, dunk in the flour mix and then shake off and place each tender in the pan. Fill up your pan, it might be snug and it doesn't have to be perfect. Then bake in a 375-400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until they are golden brown to your liking. Let the sizzling chicken rest in the pan for at least 15 minutes before serving. This will allow the crust to stick better and oils to soak into the juices of the finished product. 
Then you can assemble your salad bar. I usually have a bed of greens, cucumber, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, herbs or green onions, and whatever other veggie is in-season as a favorite salad topping. Then I also like to add some warm rice or quinoa for added texture or warmth. In these pictures I had a black rice veggies dish that I re-warmed and sprinkled over the salad. I also like to add roasted sweet potatoes or other roots as toppings as well. If you are crouton lover- this will totally do the trick to get rid of the crusty chunks to add in some crispy roasted roots! 
So pile up greens, chopped veggies, warmed GF whole grain, warmed roasted roots, a few chicken tenders and a killer house dressing and you've got yourself a meal that will share with you for days to come. I love whipping up a simple house honey mustard salad dressing to dip tenders into or drizzle over your salad. Here is the estimated amounts to make that yourself...

Honey Mustard Homemade Salad Dressing
1/3 cup of pure raw honey
1/4 cup of mustard (any variety works)
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
1/4 cup of olive oil
pinch of sea salt
pinch of black pepper
pinch of dried thyme

Whisk quickly by hand all the above ingredients together in small bowl, or put all the ingredients in a Ball jar and shake up until it is emulsified together well. 
My kids love organic ketchup and the honey mustard dressing for dipping as well. This is a meal I can get the whole family to eat and is great throughout the summer months to just pull from the fridge or pack for a picnic. But it is also a great winter meal to remind yourself of what a fresh and warm salad tastes like. About this time of winter I start to crave greens and any veggie with a little crunch. This means spring must be coming... at least thats what I tell myself or my body is trying to tell me. 

I hope you are finding ways to keep things simple in the kitchen and ways to love on yourself and family with food choices. You deserve it!

Much love as always! xoxo

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