This easy two-ingredient Flaxseed Chicken Tenders recipe is free of the top 8 food allergens, family-friendly, and is great for meal prep! Bonus tips for how to make different flavor variations!
You guys know by now that I’m all about making easy, delicious food that everyone can enjoy – including those of us with food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities! While it wasn’t devastating to have to avoid traditional fried chicken tenders when I went gluten-free (seriously, eliminating these massive life-altering side effects and being able to live a normally life again was worth anything!), I did occasionally miss a good chicken tender.
(Specifically the Publix chicken tenders, for any of my friends in the South – gosh there was something so magically delicious about their chicken tenders!)
So, while I won’t pretend these are a copycat of those favorite chicken tenders, these Flaxseed Chicken Tenders do make a super easy, tasty option when you’re getting tired of regular ol’ baked or grilled chicken.
Why flaxseed for the coating?
Well, I’m a little obsessed with flaxseeds. While they do contain important nutrients like vitamin B1, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phsophorus, and potassium, most of the health benefits associated with flaxseed stem from their Omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, and fiber content.
Flaxseed & Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) Health Benefits
Flaxseed is rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a mostly plant-based Omega-3 that’s an essential fatty acid, because it’s one that your body can’t produce on its own.
Flaxseed & Lignans Health Benefits
Flaxseeds can contain up to 800 times the amount of lignans found in other plants (6). Why is this important? Because these plant compounds have antioxidant and estrogen properties that can be beneficially to one’s health.
Wait, estrogen? Yes. Please don’t freak out and think it means you’re going to get man-boobs. These properties that lignans are rich in actually can help protect against certain kinds of cancer and offer additional health benefits (7). While more research is always needed, current research suggests flaxseeds can lower the risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and animal studies also suggest it may help prevent colon and skin cancers, as well (8, 9, 10, 11).
Flaxseed & Fiber Health Benefits
Flaxseed packs a mighty fiber punch, with 3 grams of fiber in just one tablespoon of flaxseeds. Furthermore, this fiber actually comes from both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Mostly insoluble fiber, flaxseed can be wonderful in aiding constipation prevention and can help those with irritable bowel syndrome and diverticular disease (6). The insoluble fiber basically draws in more water into the stools, increasing the stool bulk and making stools smoother and easier to pass.
Soluble fiber basically blends with water in the gut, creating a gel-like substance. (Fun fact: you can actually see this outside of your gut! Stir a tablespoon of ground flaxseed into three tablespoons of water and allow it to sit for a few minutes. See how it gets more viscous and gel-like? That’s the soluble fiber at work! Bonus, you’ve now created a “flax egg” which makes a great egg replacement in cooking and baking.) This can slow the rate of digestion, which can have beneficial effects on blood sugar regulation (12).
On top of all of these health benefits associated with flaxseeds, I also wanted to use a ground flaxseed to coat these chicken tenders because it provides a “breading” that’s naturally free of the top 8 most common food allergens. Many gluten-free chicken tender recipes involve a nut meal or flour as the coating. This can be delicious (I actually have an old Almond Chicken Nuggets recipe here on NTF – sorry about the old, ugly pics, ha!), but isn’t a suitable option for those who are allergic, sensitive, or just don’t digest nuts well.
This Flaxseed Chicken Tender recipe is incredible simple, in that it’s just chicken, flaxseed, and a pinch of salt. If you’re looking for more ways to literally spice it up and get some more varieties in your dinners, you can try the following variations to the basic recipe:
- Use half flaxseed and have grated Parmesan cheese for a Parmesan Flax Chicken Tender
- Add 1 Tablespoon Italian Spice seasoning to the flaxseed mixture. Bonus variation? Do half flaxseed, half Parmesan, and Italian seasoning, then serve with marinara sauce on the side for dipping – Pizza Flaxseed Chicken Tenders!
- Make Spicy Flaxseed Chicken Tenders by adding chili powder and cayenne powder (just a couple pinches) to the flaxseed mixture. If you really like it zesty, you can brush the chicken tenders with hot sauce or sriracha before coating in flax.
- Brush chicken with buffalo sauce or hot sauce before coating with flaxseeds, then serve with blue cheese dressing for Buffalo Flaxseed Chicken Tenders.
- Add 1-2 tsp curry powder to the flaxseed mixture to make Curried Flaxseed Chicken Tenders.
As you can see, there are plenty of different options that give you plenty of flavor and variety, yet still keep this dish simple!
We enjoy our Flaxseed Chicken Tenders on a big leafy green salad, with a base of any kind of leafy greens you have on hand, any vegetables you have and want to chop and add, and a sprinkling of hemp seeds for another boost of protein and healthy fats. We also enjoyed them with a side of veggies and my favorite homemade sweet potato wedges.
However you choose to enjoy your Flaxseed Chicken Tenders, have fun with it! Let me know what kind of variations you come up with, I can’t wait to see! Be sure to share your results on the NTF Facebook Page or on Instagram (tag me @nutritiontofit and use the hashtag #nutritiontofit so everyone can follow along!). Be well!