People always ask me if I struggled to give up meat. The short answer is no. I never liked meat and even though my family and many people around me ate meat growing up, I always hated it. I was so picky with my meat I basically only ate chicken in the form of chicken breast or chicken nuggets (no other type would do) and fish in the form of canned tuna and very occasionally some sort of fried fish. It didn’t take long until I stopped eating chicken nuggets too because I ended up getting food poisoning after eating nuggets at Mcdonalds and never wanted to see nuggets again. However, before that incident, I do remember being a typical child and enjoying all the nuggets and chips at birthday parties. As I grew older I developed food anxiety. The antidepressants I was on took away any tiny bit of appetite that I had left and eating became the biggest chore. Everything tasted disgusting to me and I was always afraid that I would throw up the little bit of food I could eat. I also had a huge phobia of vomiting in those days so the circle of anxiety around food was pretty intense. One day it dawned on me that every single time in my life when I had vomited, it was due to meat. I ended up doing research on the main culprits of food poisoning and sure enough meat (mostly chicken which was one of the only meats I ate) would come out on top. Giving up meat actually served as the biggest freedom from food anxiety for me, because I knew that sitting down with a plate of vegetables was very unlikely to ever give me food poisoning or make me sick the way chicken had in the past. This alone made eating plants much more enjoyable for me. Having said all that, for the first few months I did struggle with missing the crispy texture of meat and so have learned to replicate crispy crunchy textures in some of the plant foods that I eat (which I can enjoy without fear of vomiting).
Now that I have a three-year-old, I thought it would be cool to introduce him to one of the most loved kid foods I could think of, except do it without the meat. I have tried tofu nuggets before (which are also incredibly delicious) but they lacked the texture I was looking for. That’s when I decided to try chickpea nuggets. I love the idea of using chickpeas because they are great source of protein, dietary fibre and one of the biggest plant-sourced of vitamin b6 which is so important for both hormone balance, liver function and healthy neurotransmitters. The texture is very very similar to how I remember chicken nuggets used to taste. My three year old loved them (just like a typical child) I highly doubt any child could tell the difference with these nuggets. The texture turned out perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and chewy in the middle using my Ninja Dual Zone airfryer. I get asked a lot of questions about air fryers. I love all the Ninja appliances and have been using them for years. They are great quality but also versatile as they always have different functions that you can use. This particular machine is quite large, so you need the space in your kitchen or cupboards for it, but it is wonderful for larger families or entertaining where you want to whip up a couple of different foods at once. I cant fault the air fryer, I actually used no oil at all on the nuggets and they turned out perfectly crispy in a very short period of time. Of course, you do not have to use an air fryer, you can oven bake these as well but they will likely not get as crispy as they would in an air fryer. I whipped them up at the same time as making some chips (fries) and we have a delicious and healthy toddler-friendly meal with the family. It was lots of fun! The recipe is not gluten-free but you can use gluten-free bread crumbs if you wish.
|Vegan Airfried Chickpea Nuggets|| |
- 1 x 400g can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp vegetable salt
- pinch smoked paprika
- ½ cup buckwheat flour
- 2 TBSP water
- plant milk for coating (I use soy)
- 1 cup breadcrumbs (use gf if necessary) mixed with ¼ cup crushed corn flakes for coating
- Place all the ingredients except soy milk and bread crumb mixture into a food processor and process until well combined.
- Place a little plant milk in a bowl and set aside, in a separate bowl mix together your breadcrumb mixture.
- Shape the chickpea mixture into nugget shapes using your hands. I liked to be very free form and get natural-looking shapes. deep each nugget into the milk and then coat with breadcrumbs and place in the air fryer. Repeat until the mixture is finished.
- Cook in air fryer for about 10 mins at 200 C, alternatively you can bake in an oven for around 20-25 mins at 200 C