How to: Recipe Makeover – Crispy Coconut Chicken Strips and Mango Curry Dipping Sauce

coconut chicken strips

Eating chicken strips (AKA fingers – which always weirded me out as a name btw) transports me right back to the big chains restaurants of my childhood.

Ahhh, the 90s.

No matter the chain, I could always count on a plate of these scorching hot…delicacies, generally complemented by an equally elegant…sugar sauce.

coconut chicken strips

Though my palate has matured, chicken strips still turn my crank.

Criteria being: MUST be crispy (generally deep fried), must NOT be overcooked and MUST have a kick-ass dipping sauce.

Homemade strips, historically, haven’t made the cut. I usually don’t go to the trouble of deep frying at home and baked strips have a bad rap for lacking a good crunch and/or being overcooked.

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All this to say, I’ve got a cure for shitty homemade baked chicken strips!

And it’s pre-toasting the crumb! In this case a magical combo of panko and coconut.

This simple 5 minute trick seriously revolutionizes the homemade chicken strip, guys.  This is high level stuff. By pre-toasting, you’ll still get a golden brown, crispy exterior without drying out the chicken.

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Add a super flavourful batter to lock in the moisture, and a slightly sweet (but way more grown up and complex) dipping sauce and CHABANG! Chicken strips are back baby!

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It almost makes me want to relive the 90s.

Just kidding.

Never.

Erin

Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken Strips and Mango Curry Dipping Sauce

Serves 4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 12 minutes
Total time 22 minutes
Website Adapted from Recipe Tin Eats

Ingredients

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup medium unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Large egg
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard (or your mustard of choice)
  • water (a few teaspoons, as needed)

Mango Curry Dipping Sauce

  • 1/2 cup mango chunks (thawed frozen work well)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon liquid honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon curry powder

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375F. In a small bowl, combine panko crumbs, coconut, canola oil and salt until the whole mixture is evenly and lightly coated in oil. Transfer mixture to a lined baking sheet in a shallow layer. Bake for 4-5 minutes until golden brown, stirring halfway through.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk to combine egg, flour, mayonnaise, and mustard. Whisk in water, by the teaspoon, as needed to make a batter that evenly coats the back of a spoon and runs off slowly.
3. Add chicken pieces to the batter and toss to coat each piece well. Transfer chicken piece by piece to the panko/coconut baking sheet. Cover each piece generously with crumbs, pat gently and flip to repeat. Transfer coated pieces to a second lined baking sheet. Bake for 11-12 minute until chicken is just cooked through.
4. Meanwhile, combine all of the ingredients for the mango dipping sauce in a blender and puree. Alternatively, use an immersion blender.
5. Serve hot and crispy chicken strips with dipping sauce immediately.

How To: Snack Healthy – No Bake Chocolate, Coconut, Almond, and Date Snack Balls

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The other day I was wheeling a cart around my local grocery store and noticed that all the Passover foods were out on the shelves in all their unleavened glory. How on earth is it time for Matzah already??

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This Friday evening Passover begins once again – the time when matzah replaces the usual bread and quinoa (the only kosher for passover grain product) begins to make an appearance at every meal.

The hardest part for me isn’t the meal planning – some quinoa granola and yogurt for breakfast, a salad of some kind for lunch, and chicken/salmon with sweet potatoes or quinoa for dinner. Doesn’t sound bad does it? The hardest part is the snacks.

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Sure, fresh and dried fruit, vegetables, yogurt, almond butter, and cheese are all Passover friendly, but I usually reach for a granola bar, muffin, or no bake treat for my 3pm pick me up – all no-no’s during this 8 day holiday. Thank goodness for these no bake kosher for Passover snack balls!

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Whether you’re celebrating Passover or just in need of a quick and healthy snack, these no bake balls fit the bill. Loaded with dates, almonds, cocoa, and coconut they will satisfy your mid-day hunger and chocolate craving all in one. They come together with a simple whirl of your food processor and will keep in your fridge for a good couple weeks.

Easy, one bowl, AND passover friendly – I think I’ve hit the snack gold mine here.

Dara

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No Bake Chocolate, Coconut, Almond, and Date Snack Balls

Serves 15-20 balls
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Snack
Misc Pre-preparable
Website Adapted from The Healthy Maven

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dates (pitted)
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 Tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp almond milk

Note

These balls are the perfect on the go or post workout snack and will surely satisfy your chocolate craving! Walnuts, pecans, or cashews could all be substituted for the almonds.

Directions

1. Place dates in the food processor and process until they have come together in a ball.
2. Break up the date ball with your hands and add the almonds, cocoa powder, 2 tbsp coconut, and salt. Process for a couple minutes, scraping down the sides, until mixture is starting to come together and almonds are broken down.
3. Add in vanilla and almond milk and process until mixture comes together in a ball.
4. Remove mixture from the food processor and roll into small balls. Roll each ball in remaining 1/4 cup of coconut. The balls will keep well in a sealed container in the fridge for a couple weeks.

How to: Snack Healthy – No Bake Energy Squares

Turns out, as you age, boundless youthful energy fades.

It’s basically robbery.

So now that I’m a grown up (and I use the term loosely) I recognize that fuelling my body the right way at the right time is key to maximizing my energy level.

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A couple of weeks ago I played in a volleyball tournament that lasted the whole day. Being a good little dietitian, I brought lots of healthy fuel for the day. Thing is, there just wasn’t a ton of time to enjoy a leisurely vegetable and hummus platter.

I’ll admit, I got ‘hangry’ (hungry-angry) and as my hunger increased so did my competitive-psycho Erin behaviours.  I felt a little like I was starring in one of those Snickers commercials.

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And then, my brilliant teammate offered me her own version of a Snickers – a homemade energy bar.

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This recipe is a take on the one she made using ingredients you can find at any major supermarket.  I’ve never used dates in anything I’ve cooked/baked/made before and I’ll tell you, I’m hooked.

Even the most basic brand comes unsweetened and entirely preservative free.  A true ‘whole food’ that has a deep, rich sweetness.

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These squares pack the energy in so a small square should do you for snack time.  You’ll be getting healthy plant based fats, carbohydrates, protein, fibre and a boost of antioxidant power from the natural cocoa powder.

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If you’re looking for something with bang for your buck to tide you over during the afternoon slump, or a quick source of energy and protein post-workout, these are a home run.

Erin

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No Bake Energy Squares

Serves Makes 16 squares
Prep time 10 minutes
Website Adapated from Tara Miller via Catelaine.com

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup pitted dates (approximately 200g)
  • ½ cup tahini
  • ¼ cup natural cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ - ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup large flake oats
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds

Directions

1. In a food processor, combine dates, tahini, cocoa powder, maple syrup, vanilla and approximately ½ cup water. Process, adding the additional water if needed until a somewhat smooth and very thick paste forms.
2. Transfer wet mixture to a bowl, add pumpkin seeds, coconut, oats and sesame seeds and mix with a spoon or with hands until well combined. The mixture will be quite sticky.
3. Transfer to a 9"x9" parchment lined baking pan. Spread and press mixture around the pan evenly. Place pan in freezer for at least an hour. Remove from freezer and cut into to 16 squares. Wrap individually if desired and refrigerate or freeze until ready to eat.

How to: Weekend Breakfast – Coconut Pancakes

Rise and shine!

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The sun is peaking through the shutters really early these days and I am loving it.  Unlike pitch black winter mornings, the early light makes me feel like I’m supposed to be getting out of bed.

It also means my weekend sleep-ins are a little on the early side.  When we don’t have plans, I enjoy hours of leisurely coffee drinking and a good book. Or home decor magazines. Or Pinterest.

Yes, I know it’s obvious I don’t have children yet.

DSC_6239I also have plenty of time to contemplate what delicious weekend breakfast foods I am in the mood for.

While I usually crave savoury breakfasts (do not get between me and a breakfast sandwich,) every now and again I like pancakes.  The straight up, no frills kind. Here’s my go-to recipe which is approaching a stellar 6000 reviews on All Recipes.

DSC_6251For whatever reason, last weekend I was feeling a little sassy and decided to stray from my standard flapjack. I was rewarded. Handsomely.

DSC_6257It also felt pretty damn good to be eating something really delicious without refined flour/sugar guilt.

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Topped with thick and creamy greek yogurt and so-juicy-it-runs-down-your-face mango, these pancakes may be my new weekend obsession.

Erin

Coconut Pancakes

Serves about 12- 15 pancakes
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 25 minutes
Website Adapted from 101 Cookbooks blog by Heidi Swanson

Ingredients

  • 400mL can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea or kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs (lightly whisked)

Directions

1. In a small bowl whisk together coconut milk and honey until well combined.
2. Combine flour, shredded coconut, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Add coconut milk and honey mixture and mix until just combined.
3. Add a 1/2 cup of the coconut mixture to the whisked eggs, stir unil combined and add the mixture back to the remaining coconut mixture. Stir until just combined.
4. Over medium heat, pour about 1/4 cup of the batter into a non-stick pan for each pancake. Once the edges started bubbling, it's time to flip - about 60-90 seconds per side.
5. Serve with maple syrup, fresh fruit and or yogurt.
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