Pecan & Flaxseed Crusted Oven “Fried” Chicken

All-natural, free-range organic chicken is a great source of lean protein for athletes and non-athletes alike. And yes, I had to throw all those caveat adjectives in there because as a conscious consumer poultry can be one nasty business. If you haven’t read the December 2013 Rolling Stone article called “In the Belly of the Beast” on animal cruelty in the meat industry, it’s worth your while but, caution, it’s hard to stomach.

While I love the idea of chicken for its nutrition quality, it’s pretty boring on its own. Unfortunately, fried chicken or heavily sauced chicken wings just plain aren’t good for you and should only be had on rare occasions–i.e. the SuperBowl or when you’re on a road trip and find a hidden gem. One way to get the same flavor satisfaction of fried chicken while cutting several hundred calories is to bake it instead.

My Pecan & Flaxseed Crusted Oven “Fried” Chicken takes this one healthy step farther by removing any gluten from the batter and adding in superfood flaxseeds. Flaxseeds are loaded with brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids and are also a good source of dietary fiber. Combined with the heart-healthy fats found in pecans, ground flaxseeds significantly amplify the nutrient density of this easy recipe. Serve it over a big green salad with loads of vegetables, a little lemon and olive oil and you’ve got a tasty packed lunch for work or a simple weeknight supper.

Pecan & Flaxseed Crusted Oven “Fried” Chicken

Pecan and Flaxseed Crusted Oven "Fried" Chicken

{makes 4 servings, 3 chicken tenders per person/meal}

What You’ll Need:

  • 12-oz of free-range, hormone-free chicken breast (approximately 2 at 6-oz a piece), cut into 12 one-inch strips [save time: buy pre-cut chicken “tenders” or “strips”]
  • 1/3 cup roasted, unsalted pecan pieces, crushed
  • 1/3 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free flour of choice (oat is best but spelt, garbanzo bean and others would work)
  • 1 egg, beaten with a splash of water
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste

How to Make It:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Rinse chicken in water and pat dry with paper towels. Place gluten-free flour in one small bowl, egg mixture in another and crushed pecan pieces with the ground flaxseed and salt and pepper in a third. Create an assembly line by dipping each piece of chicken in flour, egg then pecans and finally laying the prepped poultry to rest on an greased cooling rack set on top of a baking sheet. Make sure to give each piece a little room to breathe–you don’t want them over-lapping.
  3. Bake for approximately 20 minutes (give or take a few depending on the thickness of your chicken and the heat of your oven). Remove and let cool for 10 minutes.

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Hippie Fuel: MOAR Homemade Granola, please!

Granola is undeniably delicious, but cruncher beware. Like trail mix, granola can be deceptively high in calories and low in nutritional goodness. That’s not to say that there aren’t good varieties out there, but read the labels and look out for ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and ingredients you can’t pronounce. The best way to avoid an unhealthy choice is to make your own hippie fuel from scratch–and it’s pretty darn easy!

Hippie Fuel: MOAR’s Homemade Granola


What You’ll Need:

  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened reduced fat coconut
  • 1/4 cup walnuts pieces
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries, unsweetened unsulphured
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate bits (dairy-free)
  • 2 tbs raw honey
  • 1/4 cup almond butter

How to Make Them:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 ºF.
  2. Heat coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add oats, flaxseed, coconut and walnuts to pan, cooking for 3-5 min until toasty but not burnt.
  3. Remove from heat. Add cherries, chocolate bits, raw honey and almond butter to the now-warm dry ingredients. Give everything a good stir until it all comes together.
  4. Spread the mixture in an even layer across a 1/4 or 1/2 baking sheet. Bake at 350 ºF for 20 min.
  5. Let cool at least 30 min then enjoy!

Makes 6 servings at 300 calories a pop. You can stretch this by adding just a few tablespoons to your oatmeal or yogurt to spice up your breakfast routine. If you’re bringing along the whole bag, make sure it’s to fuel you for a hike, run, bike or another physical activity of choice.

10-Day Cleanse: Smoothies

Here are the recipes you’ll need for breakfast, days 1 through 4 of my 10-Day Cleanse.

Blueberry Beet Smoothie w/ Ginger:

Amy’s 10-Day (Moderate) Cleanse: Breakfast, Days 1 and 2

To Make: Blend together 1-2 medium raw beet (cleaned with skin on, roughly chopped), 1 cup frozen wild blueberries, 1 tbs grated fresh ginger, 2 tbs fresh lemon juice, 1 cup water, and a handful of ice. (Optional: substitute half of that water for a 1/2 cup almond milk)

  • This energizing smoothie is bound to put some pep in your step. The blueberries boast a high concentration of antioxidants and the raw beets are full of folate, vitamin B, and fiber.

Pineapple Banana Kale Smoothie:

Amy’s 10-Day (Moderate) Cleanse: Breakfast, Days 3 and 4

To Make: Blend together 1 cup fresh pineapple (cubed), 1 banana, 2-3 kale leaves (chopped with stems removed), 2 tbs ground flaxseed, 1 cup water, and a handful of ice. (Optional: substitute half of that water for a 1/2 cup almond milk)

  • This powerful smoothie is not only naturally sweet, but packed with dietary fiber, two powerful antioxidants (carotenoids and flavonoids) that are proven to help prevent cancer, and vitamins A, K and C.

Keep in mind this is a cleanse, so while these will taste refreshing and healthy they won’t be as sweet as a typical smoothie. If you are really struggling, try adding in the optional almond milk and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup or raw honey to these recipes–with the sweeteners these would also be great non-cleanse smoothies too.

Easy Multigrain Bread

Adapted from the New York Times infamous No-Knead Bread recipe, I started making my own version of this beautiful, easy homemade bread on the regular two years ago. This rustic bread is truly reminiscent of a French-style boule, which in my mind is as good as it gets. I love it’s crunchy crust and fluffy, air-pocked interior. It’s great for toast and even better for breakfast sandwiches!

Amy’s Easy Multigrain Bread:

What you’ll need:

  • 2 ¼ cups unbleached bread flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp instant/rapid-rise yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Rolled oats for a finishing touch

Note: You’ll also need a 6-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic). I use my trusty 5 1/2 quart Cuisinart dutch-oven and it does the trick!

How to make it:

  1. In a large bowl combine flours, almond meal, ground flaxseed, yeast and salt. Add 1 3/4 cups warm water and mix–using your hands–until it just comes together. The dough will be shaggy and sticky.
  2. Seal the bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rest for 12-18 hours.
  3. Sprinkle flour on a work surface and place your dough on it. Dust your dough with a touch more flour then fold it in on itself gently three to four times.  Cover it loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 min.
  4. Using a little flour to keep your dough from sticking too much, gently and swiftly shape your dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton dish towel with rolled oats, put the dough seam side down on the towel and dust the top with more oats. Cover with another cotton towel and let it rise for 2 hours. When it is ready, your dough will be more than twice it’s original size.
  5. A half-hour to 45-min before your dough is ready, pre-heat your oven to 500°F. Place a 6-quart heavy covered pot in your oven as it heats up (lid on).
  6. When your dough is ready (i.e. 2 hours have passed since you coated it in oats), carefully remove the pot from your oven. Slide your hand under the towel and turn your dough over into the heated pot, seam side up. Give the pan a good shake once or twice if you had a bad flip and your dough is unevenly distributed. No worries, it’ll sort itself out while cooking.
  7. Cover your pot with its lid and bake for 30 min, then remove the lid and bake for another 15 min until the loaf is golden brown. Let your boule cool on a rack for at least 20 min before diving in. Then, bon apetit!
Over-easy egg sandwich with arugula, lemon aioli, bacon and Frank’s Red Hot.

For a video tutorial on how to make the original recipe (i.e. just white bread flour) check out this video on YouTube.