Celiac Awareness Month & Celiac-Friendly Chicken Fingers & Cookies!
May is Celiac Awareness Month and a good time to remind ourselves of what exactly Celiac disease is and how to treat it. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects 1 in 133 Canadians. Although the number of Canadians affected seems to have increased in recent years, this could also be due to awareness of the disease helping people to identify symptoms that they’ve had for most of their lives. For those with Celiac, eating gluten (the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley) can damage the small intestine making them unable to absorb certain nutrients.
While some people may present with very mild symptoms, others may have unexplained weight loss, digestive issues, low iron levels, poor growth or an intense rash over their body. There is no cure for Celiac other than a strict adherence to a gluten free diet.
Having the support of family members is key to the success of sticking to the diet. If you do not have celiac (or non-celiac gluten sensitivity), there is no need to remove gluten completely from your diet. There are lots of other ways to support a family member, like learning to read labels and not making a big deal out of foods that contain gluten. However, there are going to be times when serving a gluten-free meal that works for everyone is the quickest, easiest (and sometimes tastiest) option. One crowd-pleasing, Celiac-friendly option is these DIY chicken fingers!
This recipe is just as easy as opening a box and popping them in the oven, but it’s so much tastier and better for you! You can control the ingredients, the sodium level, and the flavour to create a family-friendly meal you can feel good about. You can use any gluten-free breadcrumbs like PaneRiso or Kinnikinnick, but my personal favourite is to use crushed blue corn chips! This is a great way to get little hands in the kitchen learning to cook before they even know they are learning. For a cleaner crushing and coating approach, place chips in a ziplock bag and let the kids go to town crushing; or maybe you have had a one of those days and you need to do the crushing yourself. Either way this tasty crunchy dinner is sure to please everyone. Serve alongside with veggies to make this a balanced meal. For dessert try these gluten, dairy and soy free double chocolate chunk cookies!
Dietitian Tip 1: Skip the flour as the first step, it saves you time and gooey hands and isn’t necessary. Dietitian Tip 2: Bake on a cooling rack so the heat comes up from the bottom and you don’t need to flip them. Place cookie rack on a cookie sheet to catch anything if it drips
Blue Corn Chip Chicken Fingers
- 8 chicken tenders or 3 chicken breast cut into strips
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup crushed blue corn chips
- ½ tsp garlic powder (optional)
- Dash paprika (optional)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- In a shallow bowl beat eggs.
- Add chips to Ziploc bag and crush them into small even pieces. If adding herbs and spices add to Ziploc. Add oil and make sure all chips are covered.
- Dip chicken tenders in egg to coat. Add to Ziploc bag to coat with chips.
- Place cookie cooling rack on a cookie sheet and line chicken tenders on the cooling rack.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes.
Double Chocolate Cookies
- ¾ cup Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ cup salt
- ½ very ripe avocado
- ¼ cup apple sauce
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
- ½ cup chocolate chunks
- In a mixing bowl, mix dry ingredients flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In another bowl, mash avocado to smooth paste. Remove large clumps if necessary.
- Add applesauce, sugar, oil to avocado.
- Mix dry ingredients to wet ingredients.
- Add in chocolate chips.
- Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.
- Heat oven to 375F and bake for 10 minutes.
Maxine Silberg is a Registered Dietitian specializing in teaching cooking skills and increasing food knowledge around allergies and sensitivities.