Remember Happy Meals? I do. I remember eating one virtually every Saturday afternoon from age 5 to 9 — and this was before McDonalds revamped its children’s menu with “healthy” alternatives. Why did my parents think it was a good idea to pump me full of french fries, orange drink and questionable meat nuggets on a weekly basis? Sure, those chubby years gave me some time to develop a stellar personality, but I would have made it there eventually. All I got from those Happy Meals were cheap Barbie figurines and stacks of embarrassing elementary school photos. And probably heart disease.
I recently found and made this “sneaky” recipe that uses lean meat and zucchini to make chicken nuggets healthier than those you’d find at McD’s (or even the bagged, frozen variety). I don’t have any kids to fool with this, but I think it’d work on my unsuspecting picky-eater friends. The consistency is on par with a traditional chicken nugget and they’re breaded, but baking them saves you some calories and clean-up time.
♦1 1/2 c. grated zucchini
♦1 lb. ground chicken
♦1 tsp. onion salt
♦2 c. bread crumbs
Mix zucchini, chicken, egg and onion salt until well combined. Form 1 to 2 tablespoons of mixture into small balls, press flat (until about 1/2-inch thick) and coat in bread crumbs. Transfer to lightly greased baking sheet. Once all nuggets have been formed and breaded, give them a light spray of cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 13 to 15 minutes. Serve with barbecue sauce, ketchup, honey mustard or — my condiment of choice — pure honey.
Total time? 10 minutes prep, 15 minutes bake.
Cost? $2.99 ground chicken, $1 zucchini, $1 bread crumbs
Overall success relative to expectations? 6 out of 10. Instead of grating the zucchini as the recipe recommended, I did some sort of chopping-slicing hybrid and ended up with pieces too big and visible to sell anyone on this being a “normal” chicken nugget. The bread crumbs were plain, and I accidentally used onion powder instead of onion salt, so I lost a lot of flavor points there. Still, these have potential to be a not-as-delicious-and-fatty-as-McNuggets-but-still-tasty-and-healthier meal or snack. Recipe yields 18-20 medium nuggets. Hot Wheels toy not included.