Friday, February 11, 2011


My son LOVES chicken nuggets. He's had them from all the major fast food chains and thinks they're all equally delicious. And I hate to admit it but I mostly agree with him: they are pretty good taste wise, but health wise I cringe and try to keep these outings to once or twice a month. He's a picky eater and because he eats these so well I wanted to incorporate them into our diet more often, but without all the fat and calories and maybe even with a little bit extra goodness snuck in. 

With this recipe you’re cutting out: 125 calories, 14 grams of fat, 301 mg of sodium, as well as adding fiber and a little more protein to your diet. Pair it with a salad or baked sweet potato fries and you have a meal that's as delicious as it is healthy. 

I'll admit: the texture is a little different and there's no breading, but I've yet to meet a child that cared about either. So when you have a little extra time this week try it out for yourself or on your little ones and let me know how it goes. 

Difficulty: easy-medium
Serves: 6
Prep: 20-50 min, Cook: 20 min
½ c Quinoa (dried)
1 c Water
4 Egg whites
¼ c Black beans (cooked or from can)
¼ c Corn (fresh or from can)
4 Chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
2 tsp Black pepper
2 tsp Onion powder
2 tsp Garlic powder
2 tsp Rosemary (dried)
2 tsp Mustard powder
1 pinch Salt

   1.  Bring water to boil in a small saucepan. Once boiling stir in quinoa, lower temperature cover and let simmer for 15 min.
2   2. While the quinoa is simmering add the rest of the ingredients into your food processor and blend until the chicken resembles a paste.
3     3. Check the quinoa at 15 min, the water should be completely soaked up into the grain (like when you cook rice). Take out of the pan and let rest in a small mixing bowl for 5 min to cool down, add the chicken mixture and stir until combined.

You now have two options: continue on to step 4, or let the chicken and quinoa mixture set in the fridge for 30 min to firm up for easier shaping (if you make this ahead of time simply put it in the fridge until you’re ready to cook dinner). Letting the mixture cool down helps later when trying to shape your nuggets, if you don’t care that they aren’t the iconic nugget shape feel free to start cooking as soon as you’re done mixing.
      4.Heat a large non-stick fry pan on the stove with a small amount of oil. If your mix has been in the fridge dip your hands in cold water or flour and shape into walnut size balls, then flatten to ¼ of an inch thick and place in hot pan.

If your mix hasn’t set in the fridge take a generous spoonful (about 2 tablespoons) and place in hot frying pan, use the back of your spoon to pat the nugget into the general shape and so it’s ¼ of an inch thick.
      5. These nuggets need just 1-2 min per side. Once their browned flip them over to the second side when it’s nicely colored take them out and place on a paper towel. When cooking chicken always check to make sure that the product is being fully cooked.

You should get 30 chicken nuggets, 5 per serving.

So why should you go through this trouble? It all comes down to nutrition.

This recipe                                            National Brand (frozen)
5 pieces per serving                               5 pieces per serving
Calories: 145                                         Calories: 270
Total Fat: 3 g                                         Total Fat: 17 g
Saturated Fat: .5 g                                 Saturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 38 mg                                 Cholesterol: 40 mg
Sodium: 169 mg                                     Sodium: 470 mg
Potassium: 185 mg                                  Potassium: --
Carbs: 15 g                                            Carbs: 15 g
Fiber: 2.4 g                                             Fiber: --
Sugar: 1.5 g                                            Sugar: --
Protein: 15.4 g                                          Protein: 14 g

This recipe is also a good source* of niacin, phosphorus, riboflavin, b-6, and iron.

*has at least 10% of your daily nutritional value. 


Karen Valinda said...

I need to put chicken thighs on the shopping list! Looks great, I'll get back to you on what Mutt and Jeff think ;-}

Post said...

Is this a Tami Blog. I love it. I'm never used Quinoa but I just read about how good it is for you.