Thursday, December 4, 2014

Gluten-Free Coconut Crusted Chicken Strips

I have a client who has several food allergies that prevent her from eating dairy and gluten.  In all honesty, when I took on this (10-week) challenge I was a bit nervous that I would be limited in dishes to prepare. I thought it would be boring, and incredibly difficult to make foods that originally contain gluten/dairy to be delicious and diverse.

Example- for the egg substitute I use is a ground flaxseed and hot water combo. I basically whisk the two ingredients into a frenzy until it has a gooey and thick consistency. I tried a small taste and thought 'Ew, this tastes like a combination of fertilizer and sand'. That said, I continued through my recipe and realized that while the egg-substitute was lacking in delight on it's own, it really brought the entire dish together! My entire experience (now multiplied into 30-weeks and counting) of cooking for this client has been a wonderful experience of triumph and thinking outside the box.

All this to say,  I've realized that in the 1.5 years I've had my business, I've expanded my cooking repertoire 10-fold, and that's only because of the client's requests. By starting off with the determination to create 'completely customized meal plans' for my clients, I've subconsciously expanded my efforts and abilities to places I never thought I'd be.

If you have a serious food allergy, I'm aware that it's less than ideal. It's incredibly troublesome to have to avoid certain foods at all costs! I'm so eternally thankful that I don't have to avoid any types of food (quite honestly I'd be horrible at that). I bet you think to yourself 'what did I do with the time before I found out about this allergy?' now that you spend most of it researching and reading labels. Even-so, how awesome is it when you do figure out a food that is delicious that you CAN eat?!

I'm grateful to be part of that process for a few people. It's such a magnificent thing when a client raves about a dish that was created from start to finish with their needs in mind.  This week, I made a few gluten/dairy-free dishes that have been requested on multiple occasions. Check them out and let me know if you have any questions on cooking meals that require substitutions!

Coconut-Crusted Chicken Strips

Ingredients
2 tbs ground flax seed
4 tbs hot water
2 cups dried-unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried sage
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 pound chicken breast tenders (I used Kroger's Simple Truth)
Olive oil cooking spray (any cooking spray will do as long as it's not intended for baking)

Steps
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a shallow plate, whisk the flaxseed and water together until it becomes thick and gooey. In another plate, combine the next 8 ingredients and toss so that it's mixed completely.  Lightly season chicken strips then use your hands to press the egg-substitute on the chicken.  You don't need to drench it, just make sure the chicken is sticky.  Place chicken in coconut mixture and toss some flakes on-top, then press and make sure the chicken is covered completely in coconut.  Place on a non-stick baking sheet, or a pan coated with cooking spray.  Once you've done this with all the chicken, place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, flipping the tenders over halfway through. The coconut should be golden and crispy.

Cucumber Mango Salad

1 English cucumber, halved and sliced
2 mangos, cored and sliced
1 tsp dried dill
1 tbs red wine vinaigrette
1 tbs walnut oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Combine the ingredients in a small  bowl and toss to evenly distribute the dressing. Chill before serving.

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