Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Guilty Pleasures Made Healthy

I love junk food. I love salads that pack more calories than the daily allowance. Similarly, I love chicken tenders. There were points in my younger years (okay, it wasn't that long ago) where I ate chicken tenders every single time I dined out. I also did not find it at all trashy that Britney Spears served chicken tenders at her wedding. I get it. I'll probably do the same but I'll one up her by having a dipping sauce bar.

That said, here are my "faux" fried chicken tenders accompanied with a mock cobb salad. Oh yea, and homemade healthy ranch dressing for dipping sauce.

Cobb Salad
(adapted from "Oxygen" magazine a.k.a my bible)
- 4 cups preshredded cabbage and carrot slaw
- 2 slices applewood smoked bacon (sub turkey bacon)
- 1 diced avocado
- 2/3 cup diced tomato
- 2 tbsp crumbled blue cheese
- Sliced green onion (as much as you like)
- Handful or two of roasted sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar (I sub honey and/or brown sugar to give it more of a sugar boost, I find it to be a little too tart with just 1 tsp sugar)
- 1 tsp salt
- Cracked black pepper to taste

- Cook and crumble bacon, let cool
- Chop veggies while cooking bacon
- Mix dressing, pour over salad

Additional notes:
This recipe actually only calls for 2 cups cabbage and carrot slaw, one slice bacon, 1 tbsp crumbled blue cheese and 2 tbsp diced avocado but here'se the thing, there is waaay too much dressing for this quantity of salad and when you buy preshredded cabbage and carrot slaw it doesn't come in 2 cup bags. So I kept the dressing amount the same as what the original recipe called for and doubled the other ingredients for a bigger batch. Additionally the recipe calls for diced chicken on top if you want to make it a meal.

Lean Chicken Fingers
I basically looked at a bunch of "healthy" friend chicken recipes and pulled elements of all my favorites together to come up with this version.
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken tenders
- 1 1/4 cup rolled oats
- 3/4 cup sliced almonds, crushed
- 1/4 cup Frank's Red Hot
- 2 cups low fat buttermilk
- 1/2 tsp garlic salt
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning

Combine the buttermilk and hot sauce in a sealable plastic bag. Add the chicken, turn to coat. Seal the bag and marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 12 (in full disclosure I threw all the chicken in the bag and breaded it straight away and it was still delish)
- Preheat the oven to 450
- Blend (or use your food processor) the oats and almonds till crumbly
- Add seasoning to oats and almond mixture in a large bowl, mix together
- Working one tender at a time, remove the chicken from the buttermilk marinade and dredge in the oat/almond mixture until fully coated
- Place the breaded chicken on a non-stick baking sheet (I coated it with cooking spray)
- Bake 20-30 minutes until browned and crisp on the outside and cooked all the way through

Mean-Green "Healthy" Ranch Dressing
From "Cook This, Not That" cookbook
- 1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt
- 1/2 cup olive oil mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 2 tbsp chopped chives
- 1/2 tsp garlic salt
- Cracked black pepper to taste

- Place all ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until thoroughly blended. Keeps for 1 week covered in the refigerator.

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