By Isadora Baum
Who doesn’t love crispy chicken tenders or crunchy fish fingers? Sadly, breading and frying usually isn’t the healthiest option. But, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice that crispy, crunchy texture. With a bit of creativity, you can find a breading substitute that’s just as satisfying. Here are three to try.
Nuts are pretty much always a good idea. Using chopped nuts instead of bread crumbs gives you the crunch you’re going for, while adding flavor and nutrition.
“Using nuts as a coating is great because you are getting more fiber and healthy fat than you would from plain breadcrumbs,” says Chicago-based registered dietician Maggie Michalczyk. “I like using pistachios, almonds, macadamia nuts or pecans because of their texture and flavor,” she adds. “A combination of 1 to 2 Tbsp. of each mixed together would also make a crunchy and flavorful dish.”
Try a recipe: Pecan-Crusted Flounder from Wellness Mama
Like nuts, seeds offer the crunch factor as well as lots of good nutrition. Michalczyk’s top pick? Flaxseed. “You’re getting a healthy dose of omega 3s,” she says, and the flavor is pretty neutral, so it goes with just about any protein or vegetable.
Alternatively, try pumpkin seeds, which go especially well with fish. “Pumpkin seeds are high in iron and minerals like zinc and magnesium, which is great for active muscles,” Michalczyk says.
Try a recipe: Flaxseed-Crusted Chicken Tenders with Spiralized Sweet Potatoes from Inspiralized
3. Cassava Flour
Cassava flour is derived from yuca, a south American root vegetable, and its “earthy, nutty flavor is great for breading chicken tenders—especially for a paleo diet,” Michalczyk says.
It’s also a great source of fiber and minerals such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, and iron. “Some of these nutrients often lack in our diets so sneaking them in with cassava flour as a coating is a great way to get some more in general,” she says. “Iron is crucial for red blood cell production and manganese helps the body to metabolism protein, fat and carbohydrates.”
Try a recipe: Crispy Paleo Chicken Tenders from Paleo Running Momma