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It’s about time that I fess up. Years ago, long before I jumped on the healthy whole food bandwagon, I ate (*gulp*) chicken nuggets. More than once. Dipped in sugary sweet mustard and ketchup. And no, they were not homemade. I won’t name restaurants, but I think you can guess where they came from. Much to my horror, I must shamefully admit that back then, I actually liked those nuggets, too. I would finish the entire cardboard plateful. (Cue the cringe.)
My, how things can change! I am so grateful that I turned a corner a long time ago and began eating real foods, leaving fast food in the dust. There are many things that I think we could live without these days, but if there’s any one thing that I wish was never invented, it would be fast food restaurants. (And soda.)
Although I’ve made changes for the better over the years, I won’t dismiss the fact that I’ve got some skeletons in my closet. Don’t we all? As much as I liked chicken nuggets years ago (and chocolate peanut butter cups, packaged cookies, and store-bought donuts, too), I know that if I ate one now, I would probably want to spit it out after just one bite.
I used to think that a root beer float was a treat. Now, I feel like I’m splurging when I drink a bottle of coconut water. It’s just proof that the more healthy foods we eat, the more our taste buds will adapt to appreciate the natural flavors and textures of those foods instead of craving sugar and salt.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that there’s almost always a healthier alternative to traditional “junk foods.” Even chicken nuggets!
These Coconut Lime Chicken Bites are the perfect healthy stand-in for the traditional breaded and fried nuggets you’ll find at any fast food joint. I came up with the recipe one night when I was craving something crunchy and good for nibbling. The nuggets are delicious dipped in grainy mustard or salsa.
In anticipation of your question….if you can’t eat eggs, I would try dipping the chicken pieces in olive oil or a flax egg instead of the beaten egg. I have not done this so I can’t guarantee successful results, but I’m thinking it would work.
What are your “food skeletons?” How do you make traditional junk foods healthier at home?
Coconut Lime Chicken Bites
1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 large egg
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a shallow bowl, combine the coconut, lime zest, cumin, and salt. Place the egg in a separate shallow bowl and beat lightly. Dip the chicken pieces in the beaten egg, shaking off the excess. Then roll them in the coconut mixture to coat. (I find it most efficient to work with a handful of chicken pieces at a time.)
Place the coconut-coated chicken pieces in an even layer on a rimmed baking dish or in a large glass baking dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes until cooked through. Serve immediately.
Heads up: Don’t over-bake the nuggets or they’ll be chewy and dry. Cut into one after 25 minutes and if it’s nice and white throughout, it’s ready!
Oh, one last thing I have to share with you…
Is this not the cutest watermelon ever??
I made it earlier this week and am so proud of how he turned out. I see a lot more fruit carving in my future this summer. It’s so fun!