Maybe Matilda: Coconut Chicken Strips with Basmati Rice

Monday, March 24, 2014

Coconut Chicken Strips with Basmati Rice

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Cooking Light and Real Simple, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #FreshandFab

Forrest is 3 1/2 right now, an age that comes with many fantastic, awesome perks—he’s so imaginative, so playful, so sweet and affectionate. But he’s also—and I hope that if you have or will ever have a 3 1/2-year old boy, he will not share this feature with Forrest—absurdly picky about food. He’s actually improving, believe it or not, and will now sometimes lick (seriously—just lick) new foods, but if it were up to him, his entire diet would consist of the same 20 or so foods day in and day out. It drives me absolutely nuts since I love to cook and bake, and especially love trying out new recipes . . . do you know how frustrating it is to spend an afternoon cooking something new and exciting and delicious only to have your child barely glance at it and ask for a peanut butter sandwich instead? (Spoiler alert: it’s super frustrating.) (Spoiler alert #2: he never gets the sandwich. He gets to go to bed hungry instead.)

But another perk that comes with being 3 1/2? He loves being a helper, and will often pull up a step stool to be my assistant in the kitchen. And this seems to me like a great way to get him more excited about his meals—if he’s right there with me, helping to prepare a snack or dinner, maybe he’ll be more likely to eat it. This is my theory, at least, so I am happy to have him help me out.

In an effort to expand his nutritional repertoire—and get something healthy into his system without him realizing it—we made a tasty dinner together over the weekend that was a twist on one of his all-time favorite, most-requested dishes: chicken nuggets. Instead of the high fat, deep fried nuggets he already knows and loves, we followed a recipe from the April issue of Cooking Light magazine to create a lighter, fresher version . . . crispy and flavorful oven-baked coconut chicken strips with a sweet dipping sauce, served with a side of lime-cilantro basmati rice and some fresh fruit.

Coconut Chicken Strips with Basmati Rice

He was so excited to help me cook, and seemed awfully proud of himself for having his own tasks to perform. You will never ever believe me, but I promise: no one puts him up to these facial expressions and poses. I tell you, it’s such a shame that this kid has no personality.

Coconut Chicken Strips with Basmati Rice

This dinner was really easy to pull together—with the exception of the basmati rice, I already had all the ingredients in my pantry, and it was just a matter of coating and baking the chicken to pull it together. Easy as pie. Forrest was in charge of getting the coating ingredients ready (with plenty of assistance . . . eggs + unsupervised Forrest = disaster), and he loved having his own task to do. Almost as much as he loved consulting the recipe, and then accessorizing his outfit with the recipe. (Once again, uncoached posing here.)

Coconut Chicken Strips with Basmati Rice

Coconut Chicken Strips with Basmati Rice

Coconut Chicken Strips with Basmati Rice
recipe from April 2014 issue of Cooking Light

3/4 cup basmati rice
1 cup unsalted chicken stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Bring rice and stock to a boil in a small saucepan; cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro and lime juice.

Chicken Strips:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
3/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup finely shredded coconut
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place flour in a shallow dish. Place egg whites in a shallow dish. Combine panko and coconut in a shallow dish. Sprinkle chicken strips with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken strips in flour, then dip into egg whites. Dredge in panko/coconut mixture, pressing to adhere. Place chicken on prepared baking sheet and coat chicken with cooking spray. Bake at 450 degrees for 6 minutes, then flip the chicken strips and bake another 6 minutes or until done.

Dipping Sauce:
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons Sriracha (or, for a sweeter and more kid-friendly sauce, replace with ketchup)
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Serve with chicken strips.

Coconut Chicken Strips with Basmati Rice

I love coconut, and I thought these chicken strips were a really tasty alternative to chicken nuggets. But the real question, of course, is what did Mr. Picky think?

Coconut Chicken Strips with Basmati Rice

Hooray! He approved! He refused to touch (or even lick!) the rice, which I wasn’t surprised by, but he ate two full chicken strips. Major success in my book.

Coconut Chicken Strips with Basmati Rice

Be sure to check out Cooking Light for more fresh and light recipes like this one! And heads up—if you buy the April issues of both Cooking Light and Real Simple at Target, you get a $5 Target gift card (offer available while supplies last)!

Get a $5 Target gift card when you buy the April issues of Real Simple and Cooking Light at Target!

Do you have any picky eaters in your house? I’d love to hear your favorite kid-friendly recipes.


  1. Looks like a meal my gang would love! And you let your child go to bed hungry? I'm calling the authorities. Just kidding. We totally employ this policy too. And for the record, Elliott has only gone to bed hungry once. So, it totally worked. (Girl loves food-like her momma.)

    And you're right, it's a shame Forrest has no personality. How could he ever charm people with a smile like that? ;-)

  2. That boy is seriously too cute. This looks delicious.

  3. I've never even heard of that! I'll definitely check it out. Thank you!

  4. He's an original, that's for sure. And it was tasty, we all liked it!

  5. I think I hear the CPS child repo van pulling up outside my house . . . :-) But Forrest must be more stubborn than Elliott--he's gone to bed hungry countless times. But I guess I'm more stubborn than him still, because I stick with it instead of giving him sandwiches for dinner every night

  6. Ditto--DI has broken my heart too many times. So tired of it! And I think it's way overpriced, too. I'm with you, though, I still stop by occasionally and every once in a while I'll find something I need/want, but I really hate DI.

  7. I live in Australia and have found the thrift shops in the last couple of years are filled with overpriced, Made in China dross. So disappointing - I used to love searching for treasures.

  8. Same here! There's one popular thrift store in my town and I just hate it. I think everything is so overpriced, and I never seem to find anything good. I miss great thrifting!

  9. I don't like DI or Savers either. Too picked over. Although the DI in American Fork and the one in Sandy are a bit better.
    I don't know how far south you're willing to go but there's a store in Springville called The Wandering Wardrobe and one in Spanish Fork called My Sister's Closet. Both are really good.

  10. Awesome, thanks for the tips! I have family in Springville and Spanish Fork so I end up down there occasionally . . . I'll check those stores out next time I'm down! Thanks so much!

  11. Forrest is just too cute! I think he must have heard about you bashing his infancy attitude (umm, newborn -3yrs?), and decided that he needs to be be super sweet and well behaved now to make up for it. You know, except for the picky eating part. ;-)

    Also, why does food always look prettier on a square white plate? I think I need one of those.

  12. He really is a sweetie lately. Some of the time. And I love my square plates!


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