At three o’clock this afternoon, I got an email from a parent in my daughter’s class that said, “In honor of Charlie’s birthday tomorrow, we will bring lunch from Chick-fil-A for the entire class. It’s his favorite meal: chicken nuggets and fruit.”
My first reaction was, “Uh-oh, how am I going to make this right for my little one?” She is severely allergic to gluten, and we know from experience that the wheat in Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets makes her wheeze, and fight for breath. I knew she would be sad to miss out Charlie’s birthday treat.
And then I came to my senses. What a great opportunity! The perfect way to remind my kids that there is ALWAYS a yummier, and healthier, choice than fast food.
I did not grow up in the South, like many of my friends here in Atlanta, and my mom was more of a baker than a chef. So, I have no experience with frying anything. But tonight I would finally try my hand at frying chicken, and I would do it in a crazy healthy way.
We also don’t eat meat very often, so I was surprised/happy to find one package of organic chicken breasts in the fridge. All systems GO.
I cut the chicken into small pieces, dipped it in egg or egg replacer, then dipped it in a mixture of Pamela’s Gluten-Free Baking and Pancake Mix, salt, and pepper. I think of myself as an intuitive cook (translated: I find it hard to follow recipes, and would rather figure things out as I go), so I just guessed at how much baking mix, salt and pepper to use.
I also guessed at how to work with the oil. Grapeseed oil is flavorless and has a high smoke point, so this seemed the best option for frying (coconut oil is healthier, but I thought the taste would be too strong). I doubled the amount of oil I usually use to sauté veggies, and let it get nice and hot over medium-high heat, before adding the chicken.
And then I thought, why not go all the way, and replicate the Kids Meals at Chick-fil-A?
Hmm…how to recreate the sides in a hurry? Toss new potatoes with grapeseed oil and salt, and roast them at 450 degrees for ten minutes. Slice some apples, and voila! Faux Chick-fil-A in a crazy healthy way.
Not as nutrient-dense as most of our dinners, but we all need to live a little, right? The best part: all three of my girls said tonight’s dinner was better than Chick-fil-A. Way better. Everyone had seconds, and I still have enough to send with my youngest tomorrow, so she will not feel left out.
Recreating Chick-fil-A at home was easier, and more satisfying than I expected. In 20 minutes, I went from doubting my ability to create a healthy substitute, to showing my kids that Chick-fil-A might taste good, but we can do better.
Turning doubt in opportunity. That, in a nutshell, is what this crazy healthy life is all about.