It’s been a long time since I’ve started a new “diet” once January rolls around, but it’s also been quite some time since I’ve actually really paid attention to what I’m eating. Sneaking cheddar bunnies when I’m pouring them into a bowl for my kids… finishing their dinners when they don’t…eating carbs (white ones!) with abandon…you get the idea. As a result, I often find myself feeling sluggish and uncomfortable—not the best way to begin a new year. My new Pilates instructors swear by Isagenix, and a friend’s sister-in-law had success with it too, but I’m not much of a meal replacement kind of girl. I like food. I like to eat it, cook it, shop for it. The idea of drinking most of my meals did not appeal. I thought about doing a cleanse, but giving up caffeine didn’t sound like much fun either so that was out too. And then, last Sunday, I gave it more thought and I realized that the times I’ve felt and looked my best was when I was following The Zone Diet or a loose version of it. It’s relatively easy, you can eat normal food and it keeps my blood sugar in check all day long which makes me feel mentally clear (even when my teething little one has woken me up several times the night before). Mixing the right amounts of fat, protein and carbs is just a smart way to eat (Google The Zone Diet for more info on this) and I continue to be grateful to my friend, Heather, for introducing it to me so many years ago.
Since my last go-around with The Zone, The Paleo diet has become a THING and as I researched recipes, I realized that many Paleo eats are Zone-friendly as well. And there are some innovative Paleo followers out there! This one blog, Cook Like a Cavewoman has some tasty, low-carb recipes like this one, which I made for dinner last night. Seriously, these were the best baked “breaded” chicken fingers I’ve tried. They’re crispy and juicy and everything you want in a chicken finger. Even Johnny liked them and he’s never a fan of my modified chicken finger attempts. The kids will like them too! Healthy and good for the whole family? What more can you ask for in a recipe?
“Breaded” Chicken Fingers (from Cook Like A Cavewoman)
2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 cup almond meal/flour (If you can, buy Trader Joe’s Almond Meal. It’s so much cheaper than other brands.)
¼ cup tapioca flour/starch
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground mustard powder
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 whole eggs, whisked
2-3 tablespoons olive oil, for drizzling
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond flour, tapioca flour/starch, unsweetened shredded coconut, garlic powder, ground mustard powder, smoked paprika, sea salt, ground black pepper and cayenne pepper.
Cut each of your chicken breasts into about 6 lengthwise strips, for a total of 12 strips. Place them all into your egg bowl.
One at a time, remove a chicken strip from the egg bowl and dip it in the “breading” mixture. Make sure to thoroughly coat all sides of the strip. Lay it on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Once you’ve breaded all the strips, drizzle a little olive oil over the tops of each one – not too much, but not too little either!
Bake for a total of 17-20 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken fingers. Flip after 12-15 minutes of cooking time. (If the chicken fingers aren’t looking golden or crispy enough at 20 minutes, turn up the heat to 425 and let them cook an additional 3 minutes.)