Homemade Chicken Strips
I like weird food. I like fancy food. I like to explore other cuisines and other cultures via the language of food.
But sometimes I just want chicken strips.
Unfortunately, most of the chicken strips out there just aren’t that good for you. They’re often made of that weird “pink stuff” which is supposed to resemble chicken, then breaded in white flour and fried until crispy golden brown.
Good, but not so good for you.
Thus, like other favorite foods of mine, I figured out a way to match yummy with healthy - because I like to have my chicken strips and eat them, too.
Tip #1: Start with Real Food
It’s really hard to make good food out of bad food.
This is why most Americans think vegetables are gross; vegetables purchased at a grocery store out of the normal growing season are just not that good. These veggies have been picked before fully ripe and shipped half-way across the country. When picked before fully mature, the vegetable lacks flavor. During shipping (and with time), the quality of the produce decreases. This is why I’m a believer in buying local produce, but that’s another story for another day (ahem: click here to read about local farmer Joe Miller).
This rule also applies to non-veggie foods: bread, coffee, fruit, and - no surprise - meat.
I start with real chicken when I make my chicken strips. It’s not homegrown (we’re not allowed to have chickens in the city), but it’s pretty fresh. The better the chicken you start with, the better the flavor at the end.
Tip #2: Bake it!
People have been talking about the trick for years: try baking instead of frying your food.
Each tablespoon of oil adds about 120 (often unneeded) calories. In addition, most foods are fried in less-than-healthy oils which contain saturated and trans fats. These types of fats are cheap, stable at high temperatures (i.e. no burning the kitchen down), and fairly robust so can be used multiple times. Unfortunately they’re not as good for your heart as they are in the kitchen - these fats raise LDL (lousy) cholesterol and lower HDL (happy - good) cholesterol.
The downside to baking is fairly obvious: foods tend to be less crispy and less flavorful. This is because oil is a flavor carrier and dropping a food in a bath of hot oil causes it to become crispy immediately.
As such, I recommend using a little bit of oil for flavor and baking at higher temperatures for less time to give food a little crispiness.
Tip #3: Eat what you Need (and not what you don’t)
You want to know the secret of healthy eating? There are two rules:
Eat when you’re hungry and not when you’re full
Eat a balance of quality food: about half your food should be a plant (fruit or veggie), a quarter should be protein, and that remaining quarter should be starch.
I definitely eat chicken strips - but I make sure to include a big ‘ole salad on my plate and often enjoy fruit for dessert. Bonus: this meals pairs great with sweet potato fries!
Learning how to follow these two rules is tough. It’s hard to learn to listen to your body’s hunger signals if you’ve been ignoring them for years. It’s hard to know how to plan and prep meals to eat enough fruits and veggies, especially if you don’t love cooking as much as I do.
You’re not alone my friend. If you’ve been struggling with learning how to balance life with healthy living, I’d love to chat with you. Send me an email and let’s set up a time to talk. You are worth eating well!
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this tasty entree. Start with one pound of fresh boneless, skinless chicken breast. Slice evenly into eight long strips and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together three tablespoons all-purpose flour, half of a teaspoon of salt, and half of a teaspoon of ground black pepper.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together one egg with two tablespoons water until yolks break and mixture is well combined.
Add about 20 Triscuit crackers to a gallon Ziploc bag; carefully seal the bag and smash crackers with a rolling pin. If you don’t have a rolling pin can use water bottle, glass jar, or bottle of wine (white wine goes best with chicken; try pairing this recipe with a lovely Pinot Grigio). Pour smashed cracker crumbs into a separate bowl.
Batter the chicken strips: dip raw chicken into flour mixture, then dip into egg, then coat with crushed crackers.
Prepare a baking sheet by spraying with cooking spray, then arrange chicken strips on the sheet with space in between. Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes, turning the strips over about half-way through cooking. Internal temperature of chicken should be 160 on cooking thermometer when fully cooked.
Homemade Chicken STrips
1 lb. fresh boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. water
1 c. crushed whole-grain crackers (about 20 Triscuits)
Prepare baking sheet by spraying with cooking oil. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
Slice chicken into 8 even strips and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together flour, salt, and pepper.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together egg with water until yolks break and well-combined
Crush crackers by placing in Ziploc bag and smashing with rolling pin (if you don’t have a rolling pin can use water bottle, glass jar, or bottle of wine). Pour crumbs into separate bowl.
Batter chicken strips: dip raw chicken into flour mixture, then dip into egg, then coat with crushed crackers.
Arrange chicken strips on baking sheet with space in between. Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes, turning the strips over about half-way through cooking. Internal temperature of chicken should be 160 on cooking thermometer when fully cooked.
Prep time: 20 min // Cook time: 20 min // Total time: 40 min - Serves 4 - Serving Size: 2 strips - Nutrients per serving: 269 calories -- 6g total fat -- 1g saturated fat -- 0g trans fat — 102mg cholesterol -- 379mg sodium -- 25g total carbohydrates -- 3g fiber -- 0g sugar -- 27g protein