White Bean “Chicken” Nuggets

healthy chicken nuggets for kids toddlers familyI went to Aldi the other day, and like every trip to Aldi, you kind of have to just get what they have. FYI, I was looking for kidney beans, because, for whatever reason, my son loves kidney beans. I don’t ask questions when he actually just likes something healthy; I accept and am grateful for those rare occasions. But alas…no kidney beans at Aldi. All they had was a bag of dry white beans. Beautiful dry white beans.

No worries, I told myself. White beans can be fun…right? They’re basically a blank slate.

Clearly, I needed to turn white beans into chicken nuggets.

Who cares that there isn’t actually chicken in these nuggets? This recipe killed it at dinner. My son ate about one million of them, and asked for more. WARNING: Only make this recipe if you’re ready to be the family hero. If you can’t handle that burden, put a frozen pizza in the oven.

What You Need

  • 1 cup Dry White Beans. Let the beans soak in water for at least 24 hours, until you begin to see them sprout. Literally, look for the sprout. This is a trick for any bean recipes – if you soak them to the point of sprouting, there is WAY less gas in them, so baby’s (and mommy’s) tummy is way happier later. This is sprouted. This is not. You’re welcome.
  • 2 cups or so of broth. Or water and bullion. Seasoned liquid in which to cook beans…that’s what you need.
  • 3 Eggs.
  • 1/2-1 cup Shredded Cheese, depending on how much you love cheese. Feel free to use any shredded cheese you already have and/or the kiddo likes. The more cheese, the more gooey the texture, but also the more scrumptious.
  • 1/2 cup Oats. Whatever is in the pantry – you’re gonna blend it up, anyway.
  • 1 cup Frozen Spinach. Defrost and drain the 💩 out of it. Seriously, no liquid allowed.
  • Breadcrumbs. As much as it takes (probably about 1/2 cup). I also love to add 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast, for a little extra kick of vitamin B and cheesy taste, but if you don’t have it already, no big deal. Seriously. Do not drive all over town looking for this. It’s not worth it.

What You Do

  1. Sprout those white beans at least a day in advance. Don’t try to sneak to step 2, or you’ll be sorry later.
  2. Bring to boil, cover, and then simmer the beans in chicken broth (just barely cover the beans with broth – they’re already so water-soaked that they don’t need tons of extra liquid) for about 30-45 minutes. Most of the broth will be absorbed, and the beans will be even fatter when they’re done. The only reason I’m suggesting chicken broth is that these are “chicken” nuggets, so it felt appropriate, for some reason.
  3. Preheat your oven to 400. Put some parchment paper on a cookie sheet, so you don’t have to wash the sheet later, because no one wants to do that. Spray the parchment with oil of any kind. If you don’t have spray oil, just put some on a paper towel and rub it around the parchment. Easy peasy.
  4. Drain the cooked beans, and set aside.
  5. Put the oats in your food processor/ninja/whatever you have that blends things. Make sure the device is DRY. Blend the oats until they’re powdery. Set aside in a big mixing bowl. Then add the beans, eggs, and spinach to your blender/ninja/etc., and blend it all together until it’s smooth. It will have a hummus-y texture.
  6. Add the bean mixture to your mixing bowl, and mix with the oats. Be sure to mix thoroughly, as the oats like to hide in the bottom of the bowl. Then add the glorious cheese. If you wanna get naughty, or if you have a particularly picky eater, throw in some (gasp!) crumbled bacon. Add a pinch of salt and pepper (optional), to your own tastes.
  7. Put a pile of the breadcrumbs and nutritional yeast (if you have it) on a plate. If you want, add salt and pepper, but it’s not necessary. This is your breading. Ta da!
  8. Shape your bean mixture into nugget-ish shapes. Don’t spend ages doing this, but it’s kind of fun, so give it a shot. I got about 26 nuggets out of one batch. Coat each “nugget” with breading and place on your cookie sheet. I like to give the tops of the nuggets an extra spray of oil – helps them brown a bit better in the oven.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes, or until they feel solid all the way through. Take ’em out, flip ’em, and stick ’em back in the oven for another 5 minutes, just to get both sides browned. When done, take them out, and PLEASE let them cool before placing them into little hands!
  10. Watch with amazement as your entire family devours this super healthy meal with all major food groups, baked right in (pun totally intended 😂).

What it Looks Like

Categories: Main Dishes, Toddler+

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