Chicken fingers (or chicken tenders, as the fancy people call them), are a staple on most kid’s menus. I’m talking about the menus at home, and at restaurants. Most people however, are cutting unnecessary corners and turning what could be a whole, healthy and simple meal into more junk food. My version of gluten-free chicken fingers that use a simple cashew coating is clean, simple and good for you, and yet still feels a bit like a treat.
When I looked up a leading brand of frozen chicken fingers, this was the ingredient list:
Chicken, Water, Salt. In A Breading Of: Toasted Wheat Crumbs, Water, Corn Flour, Wheat Flour, Corn Starch, Sugar, Palm Oil Shortening, Baking Powder, Salt, Spices. Browned In Canola Oil.
And so I went back to our friends Google to see what a typical recipe looks like. Most breaded chicken will include either generic breadcrumbs or something called Panko.
Panko is a type of breadcrumb commonly used in deep fried Asian cuisine. Some websites have stated that it’s basically breadcrumbs made without bread crusts. The ingredients I found are listed as follows: Rice Flour, Xanthan Gum, Salt, Leavening (sodium bicarbonate, gluconolactone), Canola Oil, Sugar, Yeast, Ascorbic Acid.
Sugar, sugar, sugar. Always sugar!
To make a long story short. If you are going to be breading chicken, there’s very little difference in terms of your time between ready-made breadcrumbs and creating your own coating yourself. That is where the cashews come in. Cashews are my coating of choice for these chicken tenders.
Culinary Nutrition Tip: Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs
Organic nuts are an investment, no doubt! If you want to stretch your breading a little, add some ground crackers to the breading mix. We make a point of saving the last bits and crumbs from crackers and grinding them down in the coffee grinder. I have a jar in the fridge that I just add to and that becomes a simple, ready to go breadcrumb option.
You can also do the same with the ends of gluten-free bread. Toast it up until well dried out and then grind down.
In the case of this recipe, I would recommend using half breadcrumbs as outlined above and half cashew mix as outlined in the recipe. Depending on the bread/crackers you’re using, you may need to play with the ratios a little to get the right taste.
Serve these with:
And of course– Crispy Sweet Potato Fries
Many thanks to my dear friend Livy for inspiring this recipe. As the mom of twin 4 year-olds, she knows what it means to have a family-friendly recipe that’s easy and always a winner!