Handheld food doesn’t have to be unhealthy.
In fact, some of my favorite real food meals can be eaten in their entirety without even a mention of a fork. For instance, these sweet potato collard wraps.
And when I’m within the comfort of my own home, some foods that generally require the use of utensils also become handheld…because, it just feels right.
But these coconut crusted chicken lettuce wraps are without question my new favorite handheld meal. They are so perfect for summer, and the mango lime salsa is good enough to eat all on its own.
Not with your hands though. I mean, have a little class.
Pairing it with crunchy, coconut crusted chicken and the fresh bite of butterhead lettuce is pretty much perfection though, so try not to polish off the whole bowl before you’re ready to assemble.
To me, August is to summertime as Sunday is to the weekend. It’s obviously still summer, but you can’t help but feel the end drawing near. And in August, like on Sunday, you are afraid that you won’t fit all the things you had planned into the dwindling time you have left.
But August (and Sunday) have housed some of my very best memories, and I’m trying to keep that in mind and really be present in the moment.
Even as I focus on the present moment (typing words through my laptop to send to the wide open space of the blogosphere) I can’t help but recall the good bit of fun I had playing with these coconut crusted chicken nuggets.
Kind of feels like a craft project, except the end result is delicious.
And, yes, if you minus the lettuce wrap and the salsa, you are left with chicken nuggets. They are certainly handheld, and if you forgo the rest of the recipe and just focus on creating these golden, juicy nuggets of coconut crusted heaven, I will not blame you.
But the package deal is also pretty satisfying.
And more of a round meal, which is always something we should be aiming for. I used organic chicken thighs for my nuggets, because I am a huge fan of dark meat (and to make up for the disproportionate amount of chicken breasts I ate before I discovered nose to tail eating).
Regardless of what you go with, there’s not much that a coating of crispy coconut can’t improve upon.
I plan on savoring the final stretch of summer with a few more rounds of these lettuce wraps, because they do a pretty good job of keeping me grounded to the present moment.
The fact that you can eat them with your hands–judgment free– makes them that much better.
- 1 mango
- juice of 1 lime
- 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, packed
- 1/2 jalapeno, deseeded
- 1 lb chicken (breasts or thighs)
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 3/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- coconut oil
- butterhead lettuce leaves
- shredded red cabbage
- lime wedges
- Remove chicken from refrigerator to remove chill.
- Dice mango, bell pepper, and red onion. Mince cilantro and jalapeno. Add to a bowl with juice of one lime and mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate.
- Cut chicken into small pieces, keeping the size consistent. (You can do strips or "nuggets", like I used in this recipe)
- Crack egg into a small dish and whisk. Add coconut flour to another flat, shallow dish, and add shredded coconut to a third dish. Season coconut flour with paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper. Mix to combine.
- Start by dipping chicken into coconut flour, followed by a dip in the beaten egg, and finally, into the shredded coconut. Place onto a dish until you have "breaded" all of the chicken.
- Heat a cast iron or stainless steel pan to medium high heat and enough coconut oil to coat the pan.
- Add chicken to pan and cook for about 3 minutes per side, depending on how thick your pieces of chicken are. You may need to work in batches to not overcrowd the pan. Add more oil as needed.
- After removing the chicken, sprinkle with salt while it is still warm.
- To assemble, distribute lettuce leaves, add chicken, top with salsa and shredded cabbage. Serve with lime wedge.
*salsa can be made ahead of time, and the flavor is enhanced with time to marinate *Breasts or thighs can be used in this recipe, although I used thighs because I love the flavor of dark meat. Another poultry can also be substituted. Remember that it is important to source all animal products responsibly. Coconut flour can be replaced with another flour, if preferred. The amount needed may vary.
Don't let me do all the talking! Let me know what you think in the comments.