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A healthier kind of chicken strip

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Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 3:25 pm

April is here, which means baseball season is in full swing at my house. Whether you are in the stands or in the living room, a ball game is not quite a ball game without good food.

One of my all time favorite game time treats is Gluten Free Chicken Strips. Once I was old enough to realize how unhealthy chicken strips found in a ballpark, restaurant or freezer aisle are, I decided I could either give up this childhood favorite or recreate a healthier version I felt good about eating.

Thankfully, I chose the latter and this recipe has become one of my favorites. Not only do I use it to make chicken strips, but crispy chicken salads, chicken sandwiches and have even used it with white fish rather than chicken.

These are not the greasy, heavily breaded chicken strips you are used to. Starting my gluten free diet enabled me to discover the perfect “breading” for this recipe — cornflake crumbs. I used to buy a can of gluten free cornflake crumbs from the natural foods section at the grocery store. These work well, but now I toss some Trader Joe’s Organic Unsalted White Corn Tortilla Chips into the food processor. I prefer this method because I can control the size of the crumb and it is less expensive. Once coated, I cook the strips in a pan drizzled with olive oil, which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids. Be sure not to heat the olive oil too high, as the smoke point is relatively low and will brown foods too quickly. The following recipe yields 4 servings.

Gluten free chicken strips

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast pounded or sliced to 1/4-inch thickness

1 cup cornflake crumbs

1 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Salt and black pepper to taste

1/2 cup milk

1 egg (or 2 egg whites for a lower cholesterol option)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Slice chicken into strips of desired size. Combine cornflake crumbs and spices in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk one egg or two egg whites into milk. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Dip chicken strips in egg and milk mixture and then roll in cornflake crumb mixture until coated. Add to pan and cook until both sides are golden brown, flipping chicken halfway through (about 5 minutes on each side.)

The cornflake crumbs will clump if they become too saturated with the egg and milk mixture, so it is best to coat the chicken gently. Add more crumbs and spices to the bowl if needed. When cooking the chicken, be sure there is enough oil in the pan to evenly brown each strip. If the crumbs look dry and flaky, add a little more oil to the pan. If you have an olive oil mister, mist the top sides of the chicken strips prior to flipping them over. This is a great trick to ensure even cooking and great texture without adding too much oil.

These gluten free chicken strips make a great meal, especially when paired with baked garlic fries for a special game day treat! They are fantastic when chopped up and tossed over a bed of greens as a crispy chicken salad, or when placed between two slices of your favorite gluten free bread. For a vegetarian option, substitute zucchini sticks for chicken and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. As you can see, this recipe is extremely versatile and should be in every gluten free kitchen line up.

Katherine Neeley was raised in Galt and attended Lodi schools. She is a degreed nutritionist specializing in gluten free diets. She is also the preschool program director at Impact Sports Center in Lodi. She is engaged to Josh Terra and enjoys nutrition, fitness, baking and cake decorating.

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