Monday, June 30, 2014

Healthier Chicken Nuggets

Yummy note: My kids LOVE chicken nuggets. If they could have chicken nuggets for every meal, I think they would. So with the frequency it seems to come up in meal planning at our house, I wanted to make an alternative option for their processed chicken nuggets. We've been making chicken nuggets/strips like these, but they often bring up the fact that these chicken nuggets aren't quite the same as the processed ones, aka the texture and shape is different. So when I came across this recipe from MOMables a while ago, I thought i would give it a try as we've never tried using the ground chicken. Wow, it was a hit! The looks of these won them over and we've been using it for several months now. It is the best to try especially if you are looking for the same feel and look of processed chicken nuggets but on the healthier side. I have modified the seasoning a bit from the original posted here, as my kids have some allergies to watch out for, so we eliminated the parmesan cheese and just used more breadcrumbs in place of that. The beauty of this recipe is that you can make them ahead of time and freeze them and keep them ready for those quick meals to reheat and serve. I love how the texture of these homemade chicken nuggets is very similar to that of the processed chicken nuggets that they love. The biggest complaint my oldest child had was that the nuggets didn't get crispy enough for her, so I'm working on that technique still. But they really taste awesome, both for big and little kids ;) we even made a batch into larger chicken patties to have for chicken sandwiches. 

 Healthier Chicken Nuggets 
Recipe adapted from

Chicken mixture: 
1 lb of ground chicken 
1/4 cup of old-fashioned oats 
1/2 tsp of chicken seasoning (we like to use this
pinch of salt/pepper
optional: if the mixture seems too wet and not forming into shapes well, add in additional 2 tbsp of breadcrumbs or crushed saltine crackers 

1/2 tsp of chicken seasoning 
1/2 tsp of garlic powder
1/4 tsp of black pepper 
3/4 cup of breadcrumbs 
optional: add in grated parmesan cheese 

In large bowl, combine chicken, oatmeal, and seasonings and mix well. Moisten hands to prevent the chicken mixture from sticking to your hands and form about 1 tbsp of the chicken mixture into a ball and then flatten into your nugget shapes. You could also press the chicken mixture into a cookie cutter for shaped nuggets to make more appealing for the kids. (note, this takes some time to do though, I wouldn't advise it, unless you have some patience :) as the meat can get stuck to the cookie cutters. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs with remaining seasonings for the crumb coating. Press nuggets into crumb mixture and toss/pat down crumbs to coat evenly. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place nuggets on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Spray the top of the chicken nuggets with cooking spray for a crispier coating (optional). Bake 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken nugget, turning once halfway through. 

The biggest complaint my kids have sometimes with these baked nuggets is that they don't really get brown or super crispy. If extra browning or crispiness is desired, you could place the nuggets under the broiler for a couple of minutes or pan fry them at the end of cooking. If you opt for the freezer method, freeze the raw chicken nuggets on a cookie sheet, to avoid them sticking together. Once they are frozen, put them in a container or freezer bag and store them in the freezer until you’re ready to bake, Make sure you add an additional 5 minutes or so to the initial cooking time to make up for the frozen chicken nugget to bake thoroughly, as it is raw chicken and you want to make sure to cook it properly. You could take a temperature of the chicken nugget if you wish, and it should be about 170 degrees to be cooked thoroughly.

These nuggets start with simple ingredients.

Steps to make easy healthier chicken nuggets, similar to pre-packaged processed chicken nuggets. 

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