Saturday, June 1, 2013

Crunchy Tilapia (so good it makes me do my happy dance)

So I used to love chicken nuggets and I knew the greasy (yummy) fried ones were really bad for me. That being pretty much common knowledge for everyone on the planet, I started buying chicken and breading it (in Panko! OMG I love panko so much.) and making some awesomely tasty chicken nuggets in the oven free of all the grease, chemicals and stuff that generally falls in the bad for you category. I seriously ate this multiple times a week when I was pregnant and John was traveling for work. It was like my inner child was doing a happy dance since Mom finally let us go to McDonald's and get a happy meal (with a really good toy! And I wasn't allowed McD's as a kid. Or sugar cereal. or anything that might have been tasty in the 80's and early 90's. I literally had a t-shirt that said "if you love me don't feed me junk" Then I was all Mom you suck. Now I am thanking my Mom all the time. And blaming my food crazy obsessions on her.)

For the first half of my pregnancy I pretty much rocked some crispy crunchy panko breaded chicken on a regular basis. Then, towards the middle/end of said pregnancy chicken started to make me gag. Two years later it still makes me gag. I can't touch it, see it, think about it without getting a little gag-y. (All the books and documentaries don't help this situation.) I have pretty much sworn off chicken.

What in the world does all this chicken talk have to do with Tilapia? Well just because the thought of eating chicken makes my stomach cry doesn't mean I don't crave that crunchy nugget-ness that chicken has all the real estate in. What about fish? Fish sticks usually conjure up the image of lumpy soggy gross cafeteria food but there is no reason that fish can't deliver that happy dance to my tummy the way chicken used to.

I told you the pic was totally lickable!
So I have experimented with breading fish and it is really hard to get it crunchy! I don't know if fish just naturally makes things a bit soggier or what but I always ended up with one side kind of crunchy and the other side--well I just scrape all the soggy crumbs into the sink and eat that side naked. But looking at the picture of this recipe in the cookbook, Clean Eating for Busy Families, it made me want to lick the page. (I still want to lick the page, especially now that I have made it and found it to be fantastic.) Since I hadn't been to the store (I was doing a 3 day cleanse - read about that here - and I didn't trust myself not to open a giant bag of Smartfood white cheddar popcorn and eat it in the middle of the isle. That stuff is like crack. I have to avoid walking past it in the store or multiple bags of it seem to leap into my cart on by their own will.) I was working off of what I could find in the house. Frozen tilapia, check. Pistachios but I did have cashews. Zero eggs but I had flax (which really is an awesome egg substitute.) Whole grain totilla chips--absolutely not (we would have had the popcorn scenerio in the kitchen every day of this cleanse around 3 p.m.) But I had some Panko. Let's do this!

So I did it and it rocked.

This book rocks. Quick & easy recipes. You should get one (or two and give it away as an awesome present!)

Here is the recipe I followed. (Based on Michelle Dudash's recipe in Clean Eating for Busy Families)


1 flaxseed "egg"

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (I used dried cilantro so I cut this in half)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I used Annie's brand horseradish mustard)

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

1/4 ground up cashews (I threw them in the food processor and they made an awesome finely ground powder)

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon of chili powder (which I skipped cause I don't do spicy)

1 lb tilapia fillets


The "egg," cilantro and mustard get combined to make kind of a paste.

So all of rest of the ingredients (minus the tilapia) get combined in a bowl (or a long shallow tupperware as I find it easier to coat the pieces of fish.)

First schmear the fish with the cilantro and mustard goo (this could be super fun & messy job for kids of the appropriate age) then into the breading bowl the tilapia go. Coat well on both sides. (I found it to be easier to goo one side then place it in the breading and then goo the other side and flip it. But however you can get it to work.)

Bake for 14 minutes at 425. I baked them for 8 minutes on one side and then flipped them for the remaining 7. This allowed both sides to get crunchy (which made this heaven for me.)

I would love to try this recipe with the pistachios.  My cookbook tells me they are chock full of protein (1 oz has as much protein as 1 oz of red meat) and since my diet is generally meat-less I am always looking for plant based protein sources.

There is also a simple sauce that goes with it. Since I don't do dairy I would have to come up with a sub for the mayo but I will include it for all of you diary eating folk.

1/4 cup mayo
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 pinch chili powder
1 pinch salt

Blend all ingredients and viola sauce!

So easy. So quick. So great.

(and awesome on top of a big old yummy salad!)

1 comment:

  1. Thrilled to hear that you liked my tilapia recipe!
    -Michelle Dudash


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