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If one Googles ‘autism and chicken nuggets’ you’ll notice it’s a thing. Yep, a popular search, and certainly the basis for many popular and overly-shared memes.
Some rebuke this as an awful stereotype, as we know it’s not necessarily a love for chicken nuggets, per se, but rather textural preferences. Or, perhaps it’s routine – knowing what comes next – that makes chicken nuggets a popular choice. Or, heck, maybe it’s just because your kid really does love nuggets, after all.
Personally, without casting judgement, I think memes are a way for exasperated parents to express the amount of work that goes into attempts at expanding their autistic kids’ pallet, using a bit of humor.
At any rate, I am not here to debate why it’s popular on Google, any more than why Gwyneth Paltrow’s candles are popular — it just is.
Speaking from my family’s experience, I know that my kiddo (who is awesomely autistic) loves her nuggets. And, when we find something she loves, we learn to love it too. She is the inspiration behind my pseudo-Micky D’s gluten and dairy free homemade chicken nuggets. That’s not to say we don’t partake in some pre-made frozen nuggets from time to time, with brands like Ian’s.
What I can say, is that I try to make a family dinner where she is not singled out, eating a dish that is completely different. Am I always successful? Nope. But by-and-large, I do my best to make a family meal (plus, it’s a time saver for me to make one meal) By incorporating the nuggets that she loves, she is more willing to try these spin-off dishes, and for those nights she is simply.not.having.any.change, she has plain nuggets.
So, that brings me to today’s post — how everyone can enjoy chicken nuggets – 5 ways. In our family, we use gluten and dairy free versions of our products – but certainly, you don’t have to.
My recommendation for cooking is to use an air fryer or oven rather than the microwave, especially if you like your nuggets a little bit crispy. I like to turn them over half-way through the cooking process so both sides get crispy. You can also heat them up with a little oil in a frying pan. (Personally, I find the frying pan method a bit messy.) For all of these ideas, the nuggets should be cooked first.
Here we go – Chicken Nuggets 5 ways!
- Chicken Parmesan. Pour your favorite spaghetti sauce over the cooked chicken nuggets and sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top — or some Daiya cheese to make it dairy-free. Pop it back in the oven for 5- 7 minutes until the cheese is melted.
- Chicken Sandwich. So many options here! Before adding the cooked nuggets, we like to add a little mayo to a toasted soft roll and top with sweet pickle slices. It tastes like our favorite fast-food sandwich. If you’re my kiddo, this dish contains a (gfdf) roll, NEVER.A.PICKLE, lettuce, tomato and ketchup. Did I mention no pickles?
- Chicken Wrap. Chop the cooked nuggets into small, bite-sized pieces. Add lettuce, tomato and any other topping your heart desires. We like Daiya’s ranch dressing. We love rolling everything up into Mission’s gluten-free tortillas! Some nights we put the fixings in bowls and have a make-your-own night. (Which could be make-your-own wrap, or make-your-own mess. Sometimes, it’s both. If so, plan this meal on bath night. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
- BBQ Chicken. On the roll (or wrap) of your choice, add barbeque sauce, (Daiya) cheese and an onion ring. (Ian’s also has gluten/dairy free onion rings, BTW).
- Cobb Salad. Admittedly there are too many textures for my kiddo, but this is something I like to eat while she has her favorite nuggets. Add diced (cooked) nuggets, bacon, blue cheese crumbles, cucumber, hard boiled eggs, tomato, avocado – this salad is hearty, and will make you forget that you’re eating nuggets.
The beauty of this list is that you can make one dish for the whole family, or easily mix-and-match. Make nuggets for everyone and from there it’s so easy to make a sandwich, wrap or parm – so that everyone can have a nugget experience of their own without too much work.
Transforming nuggets will make you feel a bit more like you’re adulting, and you won’t have to make something up on tomorrow’s Zoom call when someone says, “What did you have for dinner last night?”
Chicken Nuggets – Gluten and Dairy Free Recipe
Aldi’s – favorite gluten and dairy free finds
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