As a parent of a toddler, I spend most of my day pleading with my child to eat anything other than the stale Cheerios she finds in her car seat and under the couch. She used to be such a good eater, but then she turned one, learned how to walk, and started forming her own opinions. One of those opinions is that everything Mommy cooks for her is super yucky.
Out of complete desperation to get her to eat one night, I took her to the Burger King on our military installation and let her have an order of Chicken Fries. I knew she’d just throw her dinner on the floor if I made something at home, so at least if she did it at Burger King, I wasn’t the one wasting time cooking. Well folks, she ate every single chicken fry and slept peacefully through the night! I couldn’t believe it; was this a fluke?
I tried it a few nights later, and the same miracle occurred.
Unfortunately for me, this is now the only thing she will eat without a fight, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t possibly justify feeding my child chicken fries from Burger King every night for the rest of her life. There would be too much mom guilt and a possible chance for scurvy.
After some trial and error, I have come up with a suitable copycat recipe that my daughter absolutely loves. I tell myself “if it is homemade then it must be good for her” and that helps reduce the mom guilt even if it is not completely true. I have also discovered that if I let her help make the chicken fries, then she is more likely to eat them.
Plus, breading chicken doubles as a great sensory activity; it stimulates a kid’s sense of sight, touch, smell, and taste (taste ONLY after the chicken is cooked). We sniff the seasonings before putting them into the bread crumbs and stick our hands in each bowl comparing the fine, powdery feel of the flour to the coarse bread crumbs. The egg bowl is her favorite to stick her hand into. She giggles when the eggs slip through her fingers.
Once the chicken is in the oven baking, we always finish up by having her help me do the dishes. This ensures that her hands get scrubbed really well after touching raw chicken and eggs. My kitchen always looks like a disaster afterwards, but I don’t care. It is a great bonding moment and makes her so excited.
I’m happy to scrub dried egg and flour off the floor any day if it means my daughter goes to bed with a full tummy and happy heart.
If you are struggling like me to get your child to eat something nutritious, give this recipe a try. It is super easy, only takes 25 minutes from start to finish, and the result is the healthiest copycat version of Burger King’s Chicken Fries.
- 1 pound chicken breast tenderloins, sliced in half
- 2 cups plain bread crumbs
- 1 cup flour
- 5 eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Heat oven to 375˚F (190˚C).
- Season bread crumbs with salt, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, dried basil, paprika, and pepper. Mix well.
- Dredge chicken strips first in the flour, then cover in egg, and lastly coat with bread crumbs.
- Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway.