Chicken Nuggets? No – lentil nuggets!
I’m quite certain most toddlers and kids would eat chicken nuggets 7 days a week if their mom’s let them. I am always looking for new ways to secretly sneak in vegetables without getting the stink eye. My one year old has a bad ass stink eye. We tried these lentil nuggets and -low and behold – they were a hit! Red lentils are an awesome source of fiber and protein, and low in fat. Healthy fats are an important part of our diets, especially for kids, but there are lots of ways we can include healthy fats in our diet. Serve these nuggets with fresh avocado slices and voila – we’ve almost hit every food group. We adapted this recipe from the site My Fussy Eater. Lots of great recipes there for little ones. This recipe can be altered to meet any dietary restrictions – gluten free, vegan, lactose intolerant. Even better – make a double batch and freeze for those days when you are on the run with nothing in the fridge to easily prepare.
What you’ll need:
- 1 cup dried red lentils
- 3/4 cup bread crumbs. We used half panko and half corn flake crumbs because that’s what was available. The consistency when you’re shaping will determine if an extra sprinkle of bread crumbs is required.
- 1 medium carrot, grated
- 1 small zucchini, grated
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup frozen peas and corn – we had leftover corn on the cob that we scraped off and didn’t have peas, so feel free to use up what is in your fridge/freezer
- 1 tsp herbs – we use whatever we have on hand: Italian seasoning, rosemary, oregano, salt/pepper. There is really no wrong answer. Secret weapon: Epicure Cheese, Chives & Bacon (Epicure deserves a post of its own)
- 1 clove of garlic
- Optional: 1 egg. I found this really held the nuggets together but the original recipe didn’t use it
How you’ll make it:
- Soak the lentils in cold water for 3-4 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 400F and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
- Drain the lentils well and add them to the food processor with the grated carrot and zucchini. Blend until all the lentils have broken down and the ingredients are well combined.
- Add in the breadcrumbs, egg, grated cheese, frozen peas and corn and dried herbs and mix by hand. Sometimes over mixing can lead to extra moisture which may require tweaking if the nuggets do not easily form.
- Gently form the mixture into approximately 15-20 golf ball sized balls. Place on the baking tray and flatten with a spoon.
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, turning after 15 minutes.
- Allow the nuggets to cool for 10 minutes on the tray before serving (this helps them to firm up).
Enjoy! We also served with hummus, because well, dipping! Let’s be honest, kids are obsessed with dipping. As mentioned above, adding fresh avocado or oven sweet potato fries make for a complete meal that is sure to please. Let us know if these were a fan favorite at your house, or how you adapted the recipe to use the vegetables in your crisper. Mushrooms, eggplant or cauliflower could make nice substitutions if you didn’t have the above ingredients at your finger tips.