Pecan & Flaxseed Crusted Oven “Fried” Chicken

All-natural, free-range organic chicken is a great source of lean protein for athletes and non-athletes alike. And yes, I had to throw all those caveat adjectives in there because as a conscious consumer poultry can be one nasty business. If you haven’t read the December 2013 Rolling Stone article called “In the Belly of the Beast” on animal cruelty in the meat industry, it’s worth your while but, caution, it’s hard to stomach.

While I love the idea of chicken for its nutrition quality, it’s pretty boring on its own. Unfortunately, fried chicken or heavily sauced chicken wings just plain aren’t good for you and should only be had on rare occasions–i.e. the SuperBowl or when you’re on a road trip and find a hidden gem. One way to get the same flavor satisfaction of fried chicken while cutting several hundred calories is to bake it instead.

My Pecan & Flaxseed Crusted Oven “Fried” Chicken takes this one healthy step farther by removing any gluten from the batter and adding in superfood flaxseeds. Flaxseeds are loaded with brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids and are also a good source of dietary fiber. Combined with the heart-healthy fats found in pecans, ground flaxseeds significantly amplify the nutrient density of this easy recipe. Serve it over a big green salad with loads of vegetables, a little lemon and olive oil and you’ve got a tasty packed lunch for work or a simple weeknight supper.

Pecan & Flaxseed Crusted Oven “Fried” Chicken

Pecan and Flaxseed Crusted Oven "Fried" Chicken

{makes 4 servings, 3 chicken tenders per person/meal}

What You’ll Need:

  • 12-oz of free-range, hormone-free chicken breast (approximately 2 at 6-oz a piece), cut into 12 one-inch strips [save time: buy pre-cut chicken “tenders” or “strips”]
  • 1/3 cup roasted, unsalted pecan pieces, crushed
  • 1/3 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free flour of choice (oat is best but spelt, garbanzo bean and others would work)
  • 1 egg, beaten with a splash of water
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste

How to Make It:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Rinse chicken in water and pat dry with paper towels. Place gluten-free flour in one small bowl, egg mixture in another and crushed pecan pieces with the ground flaxseed and salt and pepper in a third. Create an assembly line by dipping each piece of chicken in flour, egg then pecans and finally laying the prepped poultry to rest on an greased cooling rack set on top of a baking sheet. Make sure to give each piece a little room to breathe–you don’t want them over-lapping.
  3. Bake for approximately 20 minutes (give or take a few depending on the thickness of your chicken and the heat of your oven). Remove and let cool for 10 minutes.

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