100% baked, gluten-free, refined-oil free Chicken Fingers and Fries
Happy first snow of the season, friends! I’ll admit, I’m not very happy about it. It’s all ooh’s and aah’s and omg! so pretty, for a bit. But as soon as we have to walk around NYC in the slush and deal with train delays, I’m bringing up my apartment-rental app to search for homes in Florida. The other craving, besides warm-weather, that comes with snow, is the craving for comfort food. We bundle up in cozy sweaters, use the holidays as an excuse to loosen the waistband, and have our favorite restaurant for delivery on speed dial. My all-time favorite comfort meal growing up was chicken fingers and french fries, both dipped in honey mustard. Years later, I still find myself craving that greasy, crispy comfort food. But, I know better and I want to keep my body feeling its best.
After one taste of my baked chicken fingers and oven-roasted sweet potatoes, I can promise you the fried stuff won’t even compare to being as good. The benefits of baking and roasting in the oven over pan-frying include:
- Less cooking oil is needed and meats retain their moisture in an oven, so they are lower in fat content, yet still super juicy.
- Roasted vegetables become caramelized, releasing their natural sugars, and slightly crisp, the result = way tastier than steamed veggies or overly-salted fried foods.
- Clean-up couldn’t be easier! By placing your veggies on parchment paper, the baking sheet hardly needs cleaning.
- By baking the chicken tenders on a wire rack, this will ensure even cooking and crispiness all the way around, without being oily and greasy to touch.
- Play with different seasonings to always keep your palate interested in trying something new! My personal favorite on sweet potatoes is Himalayan pink salt, paprika, and garlic powder.
For the coating of my chicken fingers, I used Simple Mills almond flour sea salt crackers, in replace of bread crumbs. This also added a little extra crunch and texture. In replace of white flour, I used Bob’s Red Mill super fine almond meal (aka: almond flour). If you or a member of your family has a nut-allergy, other gluten-free flours and crackers would work equally as well. I like to use these products because of their clean and simple ingredients. If you are going to swap for another bread-coating, be mindful of added sugars and flours.
For the oven-roasted potatoes, you can of course stick to plain potato wedges, especially if you are transitioning your picky eater to try foods in healthier ways. However, for a more nutrient-rich meal, I encourage you to play around with roasting a variety of root vegetables that resemble french fries. These can be roasted carrots, parsnips, a classic sweet potato, or the exotic-looking Japanese purple sweet potato.
Lastly, you can cook the same meal, and have it feel slightly different and new each time by switching out the seasonings. I love classic rosemary and thyme roasted potato wedges. My go-to will always be paprika and pink salt on sweet potatoes. Or get adventurous with cumin, Harissa, and paprika on rainbow carrots.
I hope you are taking care of yourself this weekend. Getting cozy with loved ones or enjoying a warming meal with friends. Wherever the weekend takes you, always remember to enjoy life, make choices that will make you smile, and #ShowYourselfSomeTLC
Happy FriYAY, friends!