It's been a long looong few days. As some of you may know, I wasn't around this Monday (as I usually am) since I was out of town visiting my grandfather in the hospital. Long story short, he went in with pneumonia... and incidentally they found a bleeding ulcer, three clogged arteries and stage four small cell liver cancer. He isn't in very good shape right now, but we're all being strong for him and each other as we go through this difficult time as a family. First thing is first, chemotherapy will be starting in the next few days and he's extremely determined to beat this!
So, I apologize if this is all a bit scattered and disorganized today. My mind is just elsewhere...
Anyway - on to the beautiful, colorful, brightness of this tasty tropical inspired dish!
I am not a huge fan of coconut so I'm really not sure what encouraged me to make coconut crusted chicken tenders a few years ago. For whatever reason, I did... and they were amazing. Much to my surprise, the taste of the coconut was very subtle and perfectly suitable for anyone like me who doesn't care much for coconut.
Of course, with coconut, I always start to think tropical so I went with a fresh pineapple pico to go over the top, adding just a bit of sweet and heat to an already rather fabulous dish! I also used toasted coconut flakes since they were the only unsweetened coconut flakes that I could find. Plus, I find that the taste of toasted coconut is a lot less pungent than regular raw coconut flakes, but either one would work just as well!
Even one of the picky eaters in my house scarfed this one down and gave two thumbs up over a rather empty plate.
If you want to make this dish entirely gluten free, all you have to do is use a gluten free panko or bread crumb like I did. You could also probably just substitute the panko for more coconut flake and be just fine too!
Skinny Coconut Crusted Chicken Tenders
Servings: 4 • Size: About 4 Tenders + 1/4 C. Pico • Calories: 313.2 • Fat: 16.8 g • Carb: 19.9 g • Fiber: 2.1 g • Protein: 21.1 g • Sugar: 5 g • Sodium: 92.2 mg
1 Medium Tomato (About 1/2 C.), Seeded & Diced
1/2 C. Pineapple, Chopped
1/4 C. Onion, Diced
1/4 C. Cilantro, Chopped
1/2 Jalapeño, Minced
1 Lime, Juiced
Salt & Pepper to Taste
12 Oz. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
2 Tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 Tbsp. Unsweetened Toasted Coconut Flakes
2 Tbsp. Panko (I used gluten free.)
2 Tbsp. Macadamia Nuts, Crushed
1/2 Tbsp. Sesame Seeds (I used some black and white.)
Salt & Pepper to Taste
In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the pico. Cover and set aside (or in the fridge if made well ahead of time.)
Cut the chicken into tenders. I got about 4-5 tenders per breast or 16 total - about 3/4 oz. per tender.
Toss the tenders with the olive oil to coat them evenly.
In a small and shallow dish or bowl, combine the coconut, panko, macadamia nuts, sesame seeds, and salt and pepper to taste.
Press the tenders into the coconut crumb mixture to cover all sides with that deliciousness.
Bake, grill or pan cook your tenders until cooked through.
To Grill: I used my indoor grill with it's 'flat' top grill attachment over medium-high heat for about 5-10 minutes per side.
To Bake: I would suggest baking the chicken at 350 degrees f. for 20-30 minutes, using a baking sheet lightly coated with non-stick cooking spray or lined with foil.
You will want to be careful when flipping during the cooking process as to not lose any of the coconut breading. It sticks decently, but you do have to use some finesse.
Plate and top with the prepared pico.
Serve right away and enjoy!
I served mine with a side of steamed asian mixed vegetables.