Healthy homemade “Chick” Nuggets. When I say healthy, I mean nuggets made to supply vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, like omega-3 and fiber, that kids tend to be low in, while avoiding the weird chemicals, bad fats, and excess sodium common to the fast-food versions.
Why make nuggets at all? In my experience, toddlers and teenagers alike are often happy to eat anything golden, bite-sized, crispy, and handheld.
In fact, several years ago, Jamie Oliver made the shocking and disappointing discovery that some young children will eat just about anything in the form of a chicken nugget, even if they know it was made with all the unwanted chicken bits.
However, many parents (me included) refuse to let our children grow up noshing on gluey, bad-fat battered chicken nuggets.
The main motivator for me is wanting my child to learn to enjoy a variety of nutritious homecooked food and flavors. When he was ten years old, he asked to try the fast-food version and I obliged him. He got a headache after a few bites and realized he hadn’t been missing much! That’s not to say he doesn’t appreciate a chicken nugget now and again. As I nutritionist, I just can’t help but make them a lot healthier at our house.
Health Canada finds that Canadian children are not getting an adequate intake of potassium or fiber, are below the estimated average requirement for calcium, and consume too much sodium, overall. Likewise, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, issued by the US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services, cites four nutrients of concern in adults and children living in the United States: potassium, fiber, calcium, and vitamin D. That means that these nutrients are routinely under-consumed by the general population. Some folks also under-consume folate, iron, and vitamin B12.
In other words, consuming something lower in sodium and higher in potassium, fiber, folate, calcium, B12, and iron is exactly what many kids (and adults) need to balance their diet. There is no reason such a meal cannot come be golden in color and uneven in shape, worthy of the name “nugget.” In fact, if you make the nuggets with chickpeas as I did here, you can honestly call them “Chick” Nuggets.
To be honest, this recipe is basically my version of handheld falafel, inspired by dietician Natalie at the fabulous Real Healthy Kids website. However, I decided to add a few Flora Healthy twists:
Each serving of “Chick” Nuggets is made with ½ cup of chickpeas and ¼ scoop of Flora’s Green Blend, so they will conservatively supply 25% of the Daily Value (DV) for potassium, 27% of the DV for fiber, 5% DV for calcium, 35% DV for folate, and 21% DV for iron. Not too shabby!
I also bake them instead of frying.
I use Sacha Inchi Oil instead of olive oil for the extra omegas; it provides 5.25 g of omega 3 per serving. I love this heat-safe omega oil, but Iknow that not everyone has that one on hand—that’s okay! You can use whatever heat-safe oil you like.
The option of adding a couple of spoons of nutritional yeast bumps up the B12, especially useful for all the plant-based families out there. If you add fortified nutritional yeast, each serving can provide 91.25% of the DV for B12 and a hint of cheesy flavor. If you don’t have it, you can just leave it out.
I think these are amazing served with homemade honey-mustard sauce on the side. I super-charged my sauce by using Manuka Honey. I know that not even a drop of that precious honey will go to waste because I have major #SauceLovers at my house.
The recipes are below – feel free to adjust everything to your liking.
- 2 cups chickpeas (garbanzo beans), cooked. If canned, drain well.
- 1/2 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 large eggs (flax, chia, or chicken)
- 2 tablespoons chicken or vegetable bouillon
- 1 scoop Green Blend / Beyond Greens
- 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 tablespoons Sacha Inchi Oil
- 1 cup flour (we used a chickpea flour blend)
- 1 cup breadcrumbs or panko
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Pulse the onion and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped.
- Add 1 egg, bouillon, green powder, yeast, baking powder, chickpeas, lemon juice, and oil to a food processor. Pulse until well blended.
- Scrape out the processor contents into a bowl. Stir flour into the mixture little by little until dough shapes easily into nuggets.
- Beat remaining egg in a small shallow dish. Place breadcrumbs in a similar dish.
- Taste the dough; if you want more seasoning, add it to the breadcrumbs.
- Form dough into nugget shapes.
- Dust the nuggets in flour, then dip in egg, and finally, in breadcrumbs. Place on a baking tray.
- Bake nuggets until they firm up a bit, about 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Serve immediately with honey-mustard sauce.
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise (pick one made with healthy fats)
- 3 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 3 tablespoons Flora Manuka Honey
- Mix all ingredients until well blended
For kids, I put equal amounts of honey, mayo and mustard, but most adults usually like a honey-mustard with less honey, and a dash of vinegar and cayenne.