Planning ahead is one of the most challenging aspects of ADHD and restrictive diets. And rightfully so – if you’re caught off guard, you could deviate from the diet and show symptoms. Making food ahead to store in the freezer for busy evenings, impromptu babysitter nights or visits to a friend’s house is a good practice.
One of my son’s favorite meals includes chicken nuggets. I like it because I can tailor the ingredients to fit my son’s unique needs, and with the “shake-n-bake” method it’s quite easy to pull off. They give my son a good serving of protein, and I can fry the nuggets in healthy fats, which are great for brain health and ADHD.
When it’s time to eat, I pull the freezer meal out, pour it onto a plate and heat it in the microwave for about 1.5 – 2 minutes, then serve with ketchup and a convenient low GI fruit side, like an apple.
To create a chicken nugget freezer dinner, you will need:
- Chicken nuggets (gluten-free recipe below)
- Frozen fries, sweet potato fries, tater tots, potato smiles, or products such as Dr. Praeger’s Broccoli Littles (I was able to find this in the gluten-free section at Walmart)
- Ziploc-style sandwich bags
The potatoes and/or broccoli bites are easy enough to find at the supermarket in the freezer section. Some have funky looking ingredients on the label – make sure they aren’t off-limits according to the Feingold Diet.
Are you ready for the instructions on how to put together these make-ahead meals? They’re pretty intense…
Instructions on filling the bag:
- Fill the Ziploc-style bag with as many chicken nuggets and potatoes as you think your kid will eat
Easy peasy. Just don’t go overboard with potatoes on an ADHD diet – they have a high glycemic index. Balancing carbohydrates with protein and fat is key. Filling the bag with a half and half mix of nuggets and potatoes should do.
Let’s jump back to the chicken nuggets. You might see some in the gluten-free freezer section of the grocery store, but I’ve run into issues with other ingredients on the label. If you enjoy having TOTAL CONTROL like I do, you could make them using the recipe below. It makes enough nuggets for about 4 kid-sized meals. If you’re on go-mode and have ample space in your freezer, you could certainly double the recipe.
Chicken Nugget Ingredients:
- Olive oil or other high-heat healthy oil, like expeller-pressed coconut oil
- 3 chicken breasts, cut into 1 – 1.5″ cubes
- 1 cup gluten-free flour of your choice
- 2 tsps garlic powder
- 2 tsps onion powder
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- Depending on your taste, you may want salt (we don’t use much at our house and we feel that the recipe is tasty without it, but it’s an acquired taste and some people just really like salt!) – experiment with 1/2 tsp for starters and adjust your recipe if it’s not enough.
- Fill the bottom of a large pan about 1/2″ high with oil – set heat to medium.
- As oil heats, put flour and other dry ingredients into a gallon-sized Ziploc-style bag. Make sure the ingredients are mixed well.
- Add cubed chicken to the bag, close and shake until all chicken pieces are coated evenly on all sides.
- Add coated chicken to hot oil. Cook 4-5 minutes on one side or until golden, turn over individually and gently with cooking tongs, then cook another 4-5 minutes.
- Allow to cool before placing in plastic bags with potatoes.
Helpful Notes (read before cooking!!):
- In most of the breading recipes I’ve seen, the meat has to be dipped into egg or milk to make sure the flour sticks to it. I’ve found that this isn’t necessary if the meat is already moist. Raw chicken is usually moist, but if you notice the surface has dried, run it under water and shake it off a little so it’s not sopping. (Your family members will enjoy watching you wiggle a dead chicken’s breast).
- If you run out of space in the pan and have to cook the chicken in two batches, make sure to strain the oil after the first batch and scrape stray flour out of the pan. Stray flour that has fallen off the chicken tends to overcook in the oil and may get stuck to your next batch, making scorched-tasting chicken. Just strain with a fine strainer and reuse.
- Different flours will create different textures. I find that corn flour makes the nuggets a little bit crunchy, while almond flour makes a softer breading. You can test out different flours or flour combinations until you find your favorite texture. Experiment and ENJOY!!