Fast food chicken nuggets are a well-loved snack that many Americans simply can’t get enough of. But don’t let these tasty-looking, golden-brown bites fool you: They’re actually chock-full of artificial ingredients.
Case in point: Did you know that McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets contain synthetic chemicals like dimethyl polysiloxane and tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)? Other ingredients include sugar, leavening agents, corn derivatives and artificial fillers — all of which can wreak havoc on your health. In fact, only half of the composition of these McNuggets is actual chicken meat!
This is why I highly recommend you to stay away from fast foods and other types of processed foods and, as much as possible, cook your own meals at home. If you want to satisfy your craving for chicken nuggets, you can try this healthy version from Pete Evans. Serve this as an appetizer for your next party or whip up a batch as a filling snack for your kids.
Juicy and Flavorful Homemade Chicken Nuggets Recipe
Cooking Time: 10 minutes Preparation time: 15 minutes
- 2 pounds organic pasture-raised chicken thigh fillets
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 segments of preserved lemon
- 2 ounces tapioca flour
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 teaspoons paprika, optional
- 2 organic, free-range eggs, plus 1 egg white
- Dr. Mercola’s coconut oil
- 2 2/3 ounces filtered water
Serving Size: 20 to 25 mini chicken nuggets
- Dice the chicken into bite-sized nuggets. Crush the garlic and preserved lemon using a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a bowl along with 80 ml (2 2/3 ounces) of filtered water and mix well. Add the chicken nuggets to the garlic and preserved lemon and mix well. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for at least an hour, preferably overnight.
- Drain the chicken of any excess marinade. In a bowl, mix the paprika (if using) with the tapioca flour and season with pepper. In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs and egg white. Dust each nugget in the tapioca mix, and then dip it into the egg mix. Set the coated nuggets aside.
- Fill a deep saucepan with about 1 inch of oil and place over medium-high heat. Test the temperature by placing a small piece of chicken into the pan; if the oil begins to sizzle, it has reached the ideal heat for shallow-frying. Cook the chicken nuggets in batches for 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown and the chicken is cooked through.
- Remove the nuggets from the pan using tongs or a slotted spoon, and transfer to a sheet of paper towel to drain off the excess oil. Allow the chicken nuggets to cool slightly before serving.
Once You Taste These Chicken Nuggets, You’ll Never Go Back to Fast Food Nuggets
What’s impressive about this chicken nugget recipe is it’s fairly easy to make and doesn’t use many ingredients. If you’re serving this to your kids, though, I recommend skipping the paprika (or using a smaller amount), as they might not be able to tolerate the spiciness. Make sure to use coconut oil when frying the nuggets. Not only is this oil rich in healthy fats and lauric acid, but it’s also the only cooking oil stable enough to withstand high temperatures, meaning it’s less prone to oxidation, unlike other vegetable oils.
How to Find the Highest Quality Chicken and Eggs
Chicken and eggs are both great sources of protein and other nutrients. This is why many people often become enticed to purchase supermarket varieties, especially when they see the low price. But beware: Cheap chickens (and their eggs) actually have hidden costs to your health and the environment, as they are raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), where sickness is the norm.
CAFO animals such as chickens, cows and pigs are typically fed genetically engineered (GE) soybeans and corn — a far cry from their natural diet of seeds, green plants, worms and insects — which exacerbates the spread of disease. For this reason, CAFO chickens are often fed antibiotics. These antibiotics not only pose a direct threat to human health and cause antibiotic-resistant salmonella to thrive, but they also end up wrecking the environment by polluting the water supply.
So instead of buying cheap CAFO chicken and eggs from supermarkets, you should find a local farmer who allows his chickens to forage freely outdoors, so they can eat their natural diet. To see how pastured chickens are raised, watch my video below featuring Joel Salatin.
Be on the lookout for labels like “free-range” and “natural” — there are loopholes that allow the CAFO industry to use these labels, so don’t be fooled.
In addition, make sure to follow safe handling instructions and cook the chicken thoroughly. For example, washing the chicken is ill-advised, as it can actually increase your risk of food poisoning by allowing campylobacter bacteria to spread. You should also use separate cutting boards for vegetables and meats to avoid cross contamination.
Tapioca Flour: ‘Nutritionally Inferior’ but Highly Versatile
Even though tapioca has been called “nutritionally inferior,”1 it is no doubt a better alternative to most wheat-based flours, which may be made from GMO ingredients and contain gluten that can trigger gluten allergies.
There are 544 calories, 135 grams of carbohydrates and only 5 grams of sugar in a cup of dry pearl tapioca. And while there are virtually no vitamins aside from a small amount of pantothenic acid and folate, the same quantity still provides ideal amounts of iron and manganese.2
Plus, tapioca starch is gluten-free, making it an ideal alternative for people who are allergic to gluten.3 Try using it to make gluten- and grain-free bread. It’s also versatile enough to be used as a thickener or added to burgers and dough as a binder, improving moisture content and texture without making the food soggy.
Take Lemon’s Flavor a Notch Higher by Using Preserved Lemon
Aside from adding herbs and spices — garlic, black pepper and paprika — to flavor the chicken, another standout ingredient in this recipe is preserved lemon. But what exactly does it bring to the dish?
As its name implies, preserved lemon, also called lemon pickle, is a condiment made by fermenting lemons in salt and their own juices. It’s a common ingredient in many Moroccan and Middle Eastern recipes.4 The fermentation process not only makes every part of the lemon (including the peel), edible, but it also enhances lemon’s health benefits, such as helping ease infections, boosting the immune system against free radicals and aiding in digestion.
To make your own preserved lemon, Simply Recipes5 has an easy step-by-step guide you can follow. Just remember that this condiment has an intense citrus flavor, so use it in moderation to avoid overpowering the dish.
About Pete Evans
Pete Evans is an internationally renowned chef who not only has cooked for the general public, but also a royal banquet for the Prince and Princess of Denmark, a private dinner for Martha Stewart and even represented his hometown at the gala GʼDay USA dinner for 600 in New York City. Pete’s career has moved from the kitchen into the lounge room with many TV appearances including Lifestyle Channel’s Home show, Postcards from Home, FISH, My Kitchen Rules and Moveable Feast.
Pete’s latest endeavor, The Paleo Way, is a vibrant health, weight management and fitness program, tailored to a Paleo lifestyle. Its 10-week activation program teaches you the synergy between eating good food, moving your body every day, and looking at the positive sides and secrets to a healthier and happier life.
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