Fuel for school: A gluten-free solution to your McD’s cravings

Culture Food | Drink
Jenn Takaoka (photo)
Jenn Takaoka (photo)

Now that midterms are in full swing and the rain is making a comeback, everyone is stuck inside. What better time to snack on some comfort food than on a rainy night with your textbooks?

My go-to comfort food is not the greatest. I get these nasty cravings for Chicken McNuggets, which are probably the only thing from McDonald’s I enjoy way too much.  Trying to eat healthy doesn’t always discourage me from the dangerously convenient two-minute walk to McD’s, but the rain just kills any motivation for me to leave my apartment (my umbrella happens to be beyond broken). I was told to pick up an Alive Magazine one time to check out an article, but as I leafed through for the article, I hit the jackpot for McNug cravers: gluten-free chicken nuggets. “Breaded” with ground flax seeds, herbs and Parmesan. Why this never occurred to me before, I don’t know.  But I knew it had to happen.

The first time I made this recipe, I found there was too much of certain ingredients. The melted butter added to the egg ended up making the nuggets a bit too greasy and soggy, so I halved it. The lemon zest was also a bit strong, although I dipped the nuggets in strong honey mustard, which didn’t compliment the tartness very well. Overall though, it’s a great twist on Shake ‘n Bake and a tasty alternative to McD’s. Serve with some homemade yam fries (I used purple sweet potatoes—purple skin, white inside), a (hopefully) good book that may or may not be required reading, and curl up in your snuggie to wind down after a long day of class.

Gluten-free Chicken Nuggets
(Inspired by a recipe from Alive Magazine)

(Serves about four)
1 large egg
10–15 ml (½–1 tbsp) melted butter
125 ml (½ cup) ground flaxseed
80 ml (⅓ cup) grated Parmesan cheese
2–5 ml (½–1 tsp) lemon zest (optional)
5 ml (1 tsp) onion powder
5 ml (1 tsp) garlic powder
5 ml (1 tsp) yellow mustard powder
Dash each salt and pepper
450 g (1 lb) boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) cubes

Preheat oven to 375º F.
In medium bowl, lightly beat egg and stir in butter. In another bowl, combine flaxseed, Parmesan, lemon zest, onion powder, garlic powder, mustard powder, salt, and pepper.

Dip each piece of chicken in the egg mixture, let excess drip off, and coat in flax mixture.

Place chicken on parchment-lined baking sheet and cook, flipping once halfway, for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

To make yam fries, slice one or two yams (or purple sweet potatoes) lengthwise into fry shapes. Place the fries in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and a sprinkle of cornstarch. Mix until evenly coated (there should be no white patches of cornstarch). Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake at 425º F for about 30 minutes or until crispy, flipping halfway.

Dip in whatever sauce your heart desires, such as honey mustard (combine honey and mustard to your taste).