There will always be a special place in my heart for “kid” food. I’m talking fish sticks, cheese and crackers, pizza pockets, mac ‘n’ cheese, chicken nuggets, sandwiches made in the shape of cute things. And ketchup – lots of ketchup. So many tasty memories!
These days we know that many of our favourite nostalgic treats weren’t exactly health food. Thinking back, my own personal faves—bagel bites! pogos! alphaghetti!—were processed, mostly frozen and practically begging for nutrients. This was in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, a time when nutrition didn’t get as much attention as it does now.
Thanks in part to the obesity epidemic, we as a society have started to clean up our act. More and more people are paying attention to how our food is made, where it comes from, what’s in it and how it affects our health and well-being.
Fortunately, the food industry is taking notice and the movement is slowly but surely extending to kid-friendly food. Think about it: in 1992, would you ever have imagined McDonald’s serving apples instead of French fries in a Happy Meal? Yeah, me neither.
I don’t have children but am definitely a kid at heart! Every now and then I like to take a culinary walk down memory lane and whip up one my favourite childhood foods but with a healthier twist. Happily, the majority of them can be re-made in a much healthier way but using fresh, whole ingredients.* And you know what? They’re much tastier.
*I don’t think it’s possible to make a healthy pogo, so let’s just let that one rest in peace!
- 1 1/2 Lb boneless, skinless chicken breast meat (about 4 chicken breasts), sliced lengthwise into 1 1/2-inch strips
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups panko
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Celery sticks for serving (optional)
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 375°F.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place the flour, egg and panko in three separate, shallow bowls. One at a time, dredge each piece of chicken in the flour, followed by the egg and finally the panko.
- Place coated fingers on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until cooked through and lightly golden brown.
- In a small bowl combine the Greek yogurt, chives, onion powder, garlic powder and parsley. Stir to combine. Serve as a dipping sauce for the chicken fingers and celery sticks, if using.
- When coating the chicken fingers, be sure to use the "wet hand, dry hand" method to prevent the coating mixture from building up on your fingers.