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Kickin’ Chicken

Ever notice that all kids seem to love chicken nuggets? I mean reallllly loooove them? My five year-old nephews do. In fact, they eat them almost every day. Why is that? What is so alluring about a dried-up lump of pressed mystery meat, battered and fried within an inch of its life? It can’t be because they taste so great. Most of the kinds I’ve tried taste a lot like damp cardboard. Gross! McDonald’s [1] Chicken McNuggets aren’t too bad, but have you ever wondered what they do to those nuggets to keep them moist? Ew! I’ve read that young children have more taste buds [2]than adults do. Also, those unadulterated, little taste buds are said to be much more sensitive than our older, worn out ones. Maybe that’s it. Maybe my mouth is missing the chicken nugget taste buds.

Just for fun, I checked out the ingredient lists and nutritional value labels of some of the more popular brands of chicken nuggets. The ever popular McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets [3]boasts the following ingredients:

(WARNING!!! Reading this list may cause your eyes to bug out and your hair to stand up on end.)

“White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, chicken flavor (autolyzed yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil, dextrose, citric acid, rosemary), sodium phosphates, seasoning (canola oil, mono- and diglycerides, natural extractives of rosemary). Battered and breaded with: water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, whey, corn starch. Prepared in vegetable oil ((may contain one of the following: Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, partially hydrogenated corn oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness), dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent).”
Whoa! What the hell is dimethylpolysiloxane!!!!!
Have I made you sick yet? Just wait!

A 6 piece portion of Chicken McNuggets contains 15 grams of fat, which is 54% of the total calories. Banquet’s [4] frozen chicken nuggets contain 13 grams of fat for 5 measly nuggets, and only 12 grams of protein. Tyson’s [5]version ups the ante to a whopping 18 grams of fat against a mere 14 grams of protein. Huh! You mean these chicken nuggets have more fat in them than actual protein? Why then, do they even bother to call them chicken nuggets? Why not call them artery-clogging, coagulated fat nuggets?

Do you really want your kids to eat this stuff? Do you want to eat it yourself? Would you even want someone you didn’t like to eat it? NO, NO and…..well, maybe (but that’s between you and your therapist).

If you’d like to learn more about the journey your food takes up and down the food chain, take a look at The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals [6], by Michael Pollan. It is a fascinating and eye-opening treatise on the way Americans eat and how it has evolved over time. You’ll never look at a Chicken McNugget the same way again!

So, what do you do when your kids turn their noses up at your exquisitely prepared coq au vin and demand chicken nuggets instead? Try my Krispy Kickin’ Chicken Strips! They’re made with real chicken, lowfat buttermilk, Panko [7] and packaged salad dressing mix. I use Hidden Valley Ranch mix [8], which is fat free, but any similar product would work just as well. If you don’t like buttermilk, you could substitute lowfat yogurt instead. The Panko crumbs give the chicken a crunchy, but light texture.

These chicken strips take very little time to prepare and are a much healthier alternative to those other things. They taste great, with no dimethylpolysiloxene [9] in sight!

Oh…..and if your kids are still skeptical, just tell them they came from McDonalds.

Krispy Kickin’ Chicken Strips

1 1/2 lbs chicken tenders or chicken breast cut into 1″ strips
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1 cup low fat buttermilk
2 cups Panko crumbs
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing Mix

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Add salad dressing mix to Panko and mix well.

Coat chicken in buttermilk. Then, dredge in Panko mixture.

Place on a baking sheet coated with non-stick cooking spray. Drizzle the melted butter over chicken and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden.

Serve and enjoy!