Coconut Lime Chicken Bites

July 5th, 2012 at 1:01 pm
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gluten-free, recipe, chicken

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.

gluten-free, dairy-free, recipe, chicken, paleo

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

Serves 4

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!

Comments

  1. OH yes, I do love your carved turtle!

  2. I am so with you on this topic…I remember my days of devouring those foods too and I’m so glad those days are long gone. Remaking, reinventing, and redeclaring some of those beloved foods as “healthy homemade treats” are the way we live now. I just use wholesome and in my case gluten/soy free ingredients. I like being in control of what goes in my food and in my tummy and my family’s.

    Chicken Nuggets, Asian Food(soy free & MSG free), Desserts…

    Thanks for sharing this recipe and that very cute carved watermelon turtle!

  3. The chicken looks delicious (pinned), we’ll have to try it. And your turtle is adorable. I’m not sure I have the patience for carving :)

  4. Wait, aren’t the chicken nuggets healthier than the quarter pounder? KIDDING! Your chicken bites look amazing!

  5. I can’t wait to try this as I have a ton of shredded coconut plus it sounds delightful. I need to clear the pesky foods. Thanks for your inspiration I am looking forward to following you!

  6. What about Chik fil A grilled nuggets? Are those considered in the axis of evil as well??? How can coconut water be cheating? I am seriously asking not mocking as I am new to some of these ideas. I have eaten what I consider healthy all my life but the chicken nuggets… I had some this afternoon! We have however been gluten free six months and are working on getting dairy and corn free… on the fence about completely going paleo.

  7. PS these look amazing! I am baking them tomorrow for my kids.

  8. These look great! Do you think the would be lunch box friendly?

  9. Jen: Thanks for your comment. When it comes to fast food restaurants, I believe that how the food is prepared (grilled, fried, etc.) really doesn’t make a difference. Most of these restaurants are using factory farmed meat from grain-fed animals raised in inhumane conditions. Not only is it poor for our health, but also the health of our planet. Chicken nuggets also tend to be made of only a little real chicken. The rest is “filler” and byproducts. I think I’ll take my business elsewhere! :)

  10. Kristy: Yes! These are great cold and would be a smart lunchbox option. :)

  11. Oh my gosh, that is the cutest watermelon ever!! :)

  12. Hallie, this recipe sounds awesome! I recently made cornflake and coconut crusted chicken nuggets and they were so delicious. The perfect alternative to the unhealthy fried chicken :)

    xo Alyssa

  13. Oh Hallie, no cringing necessary. I guess you’d be surprised at some of the things I would still admit to liking – on very rare occasions, of course! Besides, where else we would get the inspiration for dishes to make healthier and even more tasty :)

  14. Hi ! These look delicious. what do you think would be a nice dipping sauce with these ?

  15. Tracey: They’d be great with salsa, mustard, or a creamy dipping sauce like one based on sunflower butter or almond butter. :)

  16. Mmm.. yum I am making these tonight and am going to use a dipping sauce from another chicken recipe that is coated in crushed cashews. I think it is mustard, honey and white vinegar.. cannot wait for dinner .. but its only 4.30pm !

  17. Do you think a flax egg would work in this recipe? (egg allergy) Thanks!!

  18. Caia: Yes, I think that would work. You could also just dip the chicken pieces in oil, since you’re just trying to get the coconut mixture to stick. :)

  19. Thanks! I will try this and let you know how it works!!

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I'm Hallie Klecker, a professional recipe developer, author, and passionate gluten-free foodie. As a certified holistic nutrition educator, my goal is to inspire others to live a balanced, nourished life through eating well and living pure—one bite at a time. Learn more.