Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Zucchini Nuggets

Okay, so you won't be fooling your kids by saying they're having nuggets for dinner...they are obviously not chicken. But you may get away with sneaking some more veggies into dinner this way!  I have had some fun and success with my nephews (ages 6 and 4) when I serve sort of a themed meal, for example, the stick meal (carrot sticks, fish sticks, and a fruit kabob).  

Add zucchini nuggets as a side to your next chicken nuggets, and you've got a "nuggets" meal.

Zucchini Nuggets (Makes 4-5 servings of 4-5 pieces each)
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Panko Crumbs
1/4 Cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder
1 Egg White
1/4 Cup Flour
2 Medium Zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch coins
Optional: Pizza Sauce (posted on 2/14/12) for dipping

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Mix together Panko crumbs, parmesan cheese, pepper, and garlic powder and set bowl aside. Whisk egg white and set bowl aside. Pour 1/4 cup flour into another bowl and set aside. Dip zucchini pieces into flour, then egg white, then coat with crumb mixture and place on prepared baking sheet. Spray tops of nuggets with olive oil, and bake on 450 for about 7-8 minutes. Then, turn nuggets over for another 5 minutes.
*If you want, cut zucchini length wise instead of into "coin" shapes if you're going for "stick" night! Also, these aren't bad cold! Toss a few in the lunch box the next day!

As a nutritionist, I am not too fond of adding calories to a basically "free" food such as zucchini. However, these are packed with zucchini flavor, with a crunchy outside and juicy inside. So, for little mouths whose taste buds are still learning, this is a great way to introduce the flavor of the vegetable without missing out on flavors to which they may have already grown accustomed. There is minimal flour in the coating, and using an egg white instead of the whole egg will only add about 15 calories and 3 grams of protein per serving. Panko bread crumbs are a crunchy alternative to regular bread crumbs, and you are saving about 20-40 calories per serving (depending on brand).

This is a great food to keep in your freezer, too. Just make an extra batch and store in a freezer bag. When you take them out to bake them, just add 3-5 extra minutes. You can get the kids involved as well: Ask them which shape they would like to eat; Have them crack the egg into the bowl (they have to learn sometime!); Set up an assembly line for them so they can do all the dipping. 

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